Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More on Avella's play from scratch

Nobody drew up anything in the dirt or on the underside of the football schoolyard-style, but when Avella football coach Ryan Cecchini noticed West Greene's secondary cheating up into the box, he thought he'd have an opportunity to complete a pass to wide receiver Zach Thompson deep and over the middle.

The halftime adjustment worked.

Big time.

The Eagles scored 27 unanswered points -- two on long touchdowns utilizing this crafted-at-halftime play -- and beat West Greene, 27-13, to move to 2-0.

This part of Joe Tuscano's story intrigued me Thursday morning: Avella trailing, 13-0, at halftime, Cecchini and Thompson coming up with this play. Me? I thought they drew up the play right there; you know, like you did playing pick-up football with your buddies.

Draw it on a chalkboard. In the dirt outside the locker room. Something. 

But when I called Cecchini, I learned this was simply an old play that they hadn't run in awhile, though one Cecchini figured would work -- the point of it to suck the safety up, then throw to Thompson over the top.

"We knew their safety was cheating up, so we decided we wanted to get Zach in the slot to attack the seam," Cecchini told me. "We have it in our playbook. We have the ability to call it at any time. We hadn’t worked on it that week, so we had to go over it at halftime. They seemed comfortable with it. We felt confident it would work."

Santino Paris, a first-year starter as a sophomore, threw those passes to Thompson -- 64 and 80 yards -- and finished 4 of 13 for a total of 181 yards.

Avella, which won back-to-back games for the first time since 2002 and sits one win away from matching its win total from the previous five years combined, also got a 67-yard interception return from Shawn Carl and a 4-yard run from Jake Temple.

Quite a ride for the Eagles, right?

Avella is attracting plenty of attention for its 2-0 start ... and for good reason. When I talked to Cecchini, I asked him what the biggest difference was now that he's coaching an undefeated team.

"There’s a lot more of you guys calling," Cecchini joked.

He went on from there to insist that not much has really changed -- or at least that's what he's saying. Same practice routine. Same schedule. Same everything.

"Practice is the same," Cecchini said. "We don’t vary from our routines. We do the same things Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We try to keep the kids focused on the next game. We can’t look off into the future."

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