High School Sports
With talent and experience in the right places, expectations high at Avon
If football games are decided in the trenches, Class 6A No. 2 Avon has to like its chances as the 2018 high school football season begins.
Four Avon offensive linemen have Division I offers, including four-year starters DJ Bowles (6-3, 296, Navy commit) and Addison Batton (6-4, 290, Air Force commit); three-year starter Luke Martindale (6-2, 250); and sophomore Blake Fisher (6-6, 285).
“DJ and Addison, they’re like player-coaches now, and Luke has played every spot on the line, even tight end,” Avon coach Mark Bless said. “Blake, he hasn’t played a snap of varsity yet, but he has the body everybody wants and will develop the skillset as we go.”
They’ll clear the way for running back and Ohio State commit Sampson James (6-1, 200), who ran for 1,782 yards and 20 touchdowns last season.
“Sampson was more of a basketball-minded athlete early on, but I think when he was up with us as a freshman and got some carries during our semi-state run, it really electrified him for football,” Bless said. “When he rotated in with Bryant Fitzgerald (Indiana) as a sophomore, he was more of a downhill runner with not a lot of shake. He broke out last year, with more elusiveness and breakaway speed. He’s really picked up his leadership ability this year.”
After losing star wide receiver Isaac Guerendo (Wisconsin), wideout Luke Shayotovich (Indiana) and quarterback Cameron Misner (Indianapolis) to graduation, Avon can lean on its line and James while new players develop.
“I think if you need to be experienced in some spots, as long as you have it in the run department, you can certainly build around that,” Bless said.
Henry Hesson (6-1, 175) will start the season at QB, while Mason Miller (5-11, 150) backs him up and splits time at receiver, where standout cornerback Jalen Peterson (5-11, 174) and Wallace Stovall Jr. (5-11, 150) will see action.
With improved quickness and a squat-max nearing 700 pounds, Division I recruit Nathaniel James (6-0, 255) should terrorize opponents at nose guard.
“He’s been our strongest player, but what’s caught our eye is how fast he is now,” Bless said. “He’s an explosive young man who started every game last year as a sophomore, maybe overwhelmed at times, but I think the game has slowed down for him, so he can play with more confidence and use his tools of strength and speed.”
Linebackers Caden Hubner (6-1, 215) and Alex Griffith (6-1, 212), and defensive ends Matt Bromm (6-1, 210) and Trey Howe (6-4, 220) bring aggressiveness and leadership, while corners Peterson and Kamryn Molton (5-10, 165, Holy Cross commit), and safety Nathan Conley (5-8, 175), lock things down in the secondary.
The Orioles have an ace long-snapper in Ethan Warren (5-10, 180). Mason Stemler will handle punts and Nick Bandy placekicking.
Friday night in Plainfield, Bless wants to see players in all facets take charge.
“Offensively, we need to be able to execute our assignments, take care of the ball and avoid any mistakes,” Bless said. “Defensively, we need to put pressure on the quarterback. We have to win the turnover war in the games we play.”