By Ty Bartell

PARMA OH- In 2017 The Archbishop Hoban Knights football team moved up from Division 3 to Division 2. In the six seasons prior to this once, since 2017, The Knights have met The Avon Eagles in the playoffs on four different occasions, besting The Eagles in all four of those meetings. However, each game Avon has gotten closer and closer to finally getting over the hump. On Friday night, those two teams would renew their playoff rivalry with their fifth meeting in seven years at Byers Field in Parma, Ohio.

The stage was set and the two squads were ready as they would ever be, coming in as two of the top defenses in the state. With Hoban allowing just a bit over 7 points a game and Avon allowing a hair over 9 points a game. Defense was the focal point as both squads pitched a shutout in the first quarter with some key stops. Scoreless heading to the second quarter, The Eagles would strike first when Blake Elder laser beamed a dime to Matt Maxey from 17 yards out to open up the scoring for Avon. Owen Warrick’s kick was good, making the score 7-0 in favor of The Eagles. Defense would set the tone the rest of the first half until the final two minutes when Hoban was able to get into field goal range for Jeremy Hammel to boot a 24-yard attempt through the uprights, trimming The Knights deficit to four going into halftime.

The Knights would be denied any points on the opening possession of the second half and Avon would respond with a big run by Jakorion Caffey to get them in the red zone before Caffey would cap off the drive with a touchdown run from 6 yards out, effectively making it 14-3 Avon! Things were looking cloudy for The Knights, needing a response and needing it quickly, well, X was gonna give it to ya! Hoban put together a nice third quarter drive, highlighted by a big strike by Xavier Williams with a 39-yard touchdown run to put The Knight back within four at a 14-10 Eagles lead heading into the final quarter.

With Avon in the midst of a drive to end the third quarter, they opened up the fourth with the ball. That is when the Hoban defense, which had not created a turnover to that point, got a big time interception from Elbert Hill to give The Knight the ball back. Hoban put together another effective drive, getting it to the goal line and finishing it out with a touchdown run from Caleb Jones 2 yards out! The extra point from Hammel just hooked inside the left upright to make it 17-14 Hoban, late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles would have an opportunity to have the final drive which they were able to get into a long field goal try; however, the attempt would fall short by a few yards to seal the game 17-14 in favor of Hoban in the closest game between these two teams yet! Xavier Williams, one of the Players of the Game, finished the night with 99 yards on 8 carries and a touchdown. Find his interview, as well as interviews with Elbert Hill and Coach Tim Tyrrell can be found below!

The win for The Knights (13-1) gets them on the doorstep of completing the comeback from the last season as they will square-off with longtime rival, The Massillon-Washington Tigers (15-0). These two teams have been on a collision course all season long and the most anticipated matchup in Ohio high school football is now slated for Thursday, November 30th at 7 p.m. at the historic Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium with The Division 2 State Championship on the line!