No 2. Avon to face No. 3 Wall in 9B semifinals Saturday
AVON -- Running the ball has been a staple of the Avon football program since Tom Culver became head coach in 1999. The 2013 football campaign has been no different, as the Avon rushing attack has embodied the coach's plan. "Ninety-five percent o...
AVON - Running the ball has been a staple of the Avon football program since Tom Culver became head coach in 1999.
The 2013 football campaign has been no different, as the Avon rushing attack has embodied the coach’s plan.
“Ninety-five percent of our offense has been running the ball,” Culver said. “If we know we are going to run the ball, the defense knows we are going to run the ball, and everybody in the stadium knows we are going to run the ball. We do it and that takes their heart away.”
No. 2 Avon will stick to its routine Saturday as it takes on No. 3 Wall in a Class 9B semifinal-round game. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. in Avon. Only one team will remain unbeaten after the contest and is one of two semifinal games with undefeated teams to face off. The other undefeated teams meeting are Wolsey-Wessington and Leola/Frederick in Class 9A.
In 10 games, the Pirates (10-0) have rushed the ball 392 times for a total of 3,651 yards and 51 touchdowns. More than half of those rushing yards have come from the backfield tandem of senior running back Brandon Kocmich and junior running back Devin Tolsma.
Kocmich has 1,689 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground, averaging 17.6 yards per carry and 168.9 rushing yards per game. Tolsma, the Pirates second-leading rusher, has a total of 983 yards and 13 touchdowns on 73 carries, averaging 12.4 yards per carry and 98.3 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Logan Mudder also plays a vital role in the run game for the Pirates. He has rushed the ball 55 times for 414 yards and six touchdowns.
“Brandon and Devin have been unbelievable this season,” Culver said. “They have really improved this year, and they are very important for our team. They both also do a good job of blocking for the other, which makes it difficult to key on either one of them.”
While the Avon offense has been impressive, rolling up 463 total points for an average of 46.3 points per game, Culver said his defense has been just as impressive. The Pirate defense has given up 91 points in 10 games.
Defensively, Avon is led by Tolsma, Kocmich, sophomore defensive tackle Alex Balvin and junior defensive end Jacob Knodel.
Tolsma has a team-leading 124 tackles, Kocmich has 50 tackles and Knodel has 30, including 8.5 for loss and a sack. Balvin has 28 tackles and a team-high two sacks. Avon’s opponents have only converted on third down on 17.7 percent of the time, while the Pirates have held their opponents to an average of 166 total yards per game.
The Pirates must bring their best effort in hopes of returning to the state title game. Avon, which fell in the quarterfinal round last year, made the 9B championship game in 2011, when it took runner-up to Waverly-South Shore.
The Eagles, who played in Class 9A last season, were knocked out in the quarterfinal round. Wall also made the title game in 2011 and fell to Canistota in the 9A championship game.
Culver said Wall’s offensive scheme contrasts with his team’s as the Eagles are a passing team. Wall (10-0) is led by senior quarterback Lane Blasius. Blasius’ go-to receiver is senior Trevor Anderson.
“They will probably pass the ball more than any team we have faced this season,” Culver said. “Our defensive line has to get pressure on their quarterback. If we can do that, we should be okay.”