Story by Matt Lofgren
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
It was the win head coach Larry Laird had been waiting over a decade for as his Avon Lake Shoremen trounced the Lorain Titans 56-7 in front of a big home crowd Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Bouncing back from a rough week one loss to rival Avon, the Shoremen got back on track with a dominating performance on both sides of the football. Forcing seven turnovers on defense and accumulating 397 yards of total offense, the Shoremen showed they are still a dangerous football team.
For Laird, the win meant a lot to him personally.
"It's always big, getting that first win as the head coach somewhere,” he said. “I've worked hard over the years to put myself in this position, and it feels really good to finally be the head coach at Avon Lake.
"There's no other job that I've every really wanted since I've been here. I love this place and send my kids here. It's a very exciting time for me and my family," he said.
Laird's first win as a coach started with his defense forcing three turnover in Lorain's first three possessions. All three Titan miscues resulted in Shoremen touchdowns as Avon Lake took a quick 21-0 lead and never looked back.
Resorting back to the "Shoremen way" of ground and pound football, the Shoremen found a lot of success on the ground. Running back Wyatt Ohm paved the way for Avon Lake with nine carries for 119 yards and touchdown runs of 6-yards and 18-yards. Fullback Colin Lucas also chipped in rushing for a tough touchdown as well.
"We went back to the basics, back to the fundamentals,” Laird said. “I thought that that showed this week in practice and then especially tonight.
"Our guys were chomping at the bit to get last week's game behind us. We were looking forward to playing Lorain, and now we move on."
Even Avon Lake's quarterback David Winkel said he had fun watching his teammates pound the ball on the ground.
"Pounding the ball is always fun," Winkel said. "Even as a quarterback, it's fun to watch those lineman just grind them up, and then running backs score. It's the best. It's just all about the teammates, and it's fun to watch."
Avon Lake got strong contributions late in the game from junior Tony Mango, who had eight touches for 56 yards, and sophomore Sam Klimkowski, who added 49 yards on the ground on nine carries.
While the Shoremen got back to basics, Laird didn't abandon the passing game with the skill of second-year starter Winkel running the show. Winkel dazzled against the Titans with 153 yards through the air on 5-of-8 passing and two scores. He also added a score on the ground.
Completing passes of 54 yards and a 71-yard touchdown pass, both to senior Max Seipel, Winkel said that his defense getting so many turnovers almost tired him out.
"I was a little tired at one point because we got so many turnovers in a row," Winkel said. "I mean it's just fun as soon as you see one of your teammates get an interception, a fumble. You get all excited, you get all rowdy then you come up and throw a touchdown. It's just a momentum shift."
Just one week removed from what Laird called an "embarrassing" loss to rival Avon, the Shoremen offense pulled a total 180 to get back on track. They got this win by controlling the football on both sides of the ball, he said.
"Our kids really responded. They didn't like the taste of last week," Laird said. "We're not used to - let's be honest here - getting embarrassed.
“Our kids were embarrassed, and I thought they responded this week in a mature way and a senior-laden way. Our seniors really led us."
Avon Lake's defense was highlighted by many heroes in the game. Senior defensive tackle Al Pivcevich made himself very familiar with the Titans as he was in on several key plays with multiple tackles for a loss.
Junior Jeremiah Campo had himself an impressive outing for the Shoremen in the win. Campo's big day was highlighted by an interception on defense, a 7-yard touchdown catch from Winkel and completed a pass at quarterback.
The Shoremen will take on North Canton Hoover next Friday at home.
(You can follow Matt Lofgren on Twitter @MLofgrenDKS. Follow the website @BeAFanatic)