BY DAN STICKRADT
AUBURN HILLS — Perfectly coined, Auburn Hills Avondale’s new student section is nicknamed “Rumble Bees: We Bring The Sting.”
It’s a theme the Yellowjackets hope to ride the coattails to the OAA Blue Division championship and a third straight postseason berth this season.
Avondale took the first step in that general direction Thursday at home, rolling over visiting Hazel Park, 42-6 in an OAA Blue Division season opener.
After beating Hazel Park, 66-44, in a marathon contest that lasted 3 hours, 35 minutes, last season, the Yellowjackets vowed not to allow 40-plus points on the visitors scoreboard once again.
“We didn’t let them breathe,” said Avondale coach Steve Deutsch, who returned most of his team this year.
Avondale rumbled past the Vikings in every facet of the game. The Yellowjackets amassed 285 yards of offense and dominated the line of scrimmage with a physical and experienced offensive and defensive lines.
“People forget we brought a lot of these kids up three years ago (and) two years ago and we knew we would struggle on defense back then,” continued Deutsch. “They are seniors now and some of them are three-year starting juniors. This is the year we pointed to. Our defense is going to be a lot better and we have to have that (this season).
“Our offense showed that we can still score (a lot of points),” said Deutsch. “We just can’t relay on Michael (Johnson) and have teams key on him. Spencer Smith is a great quarterback. He did a good job. We have good wide outs and our offensive line did a good job for us. We’re going to be tough.”
Forcing the Vikings to fumble on their first possession, Avondale (1-0, 1-0) picked up possession on the Hazel Park 31. Four plays later, senior Spencer Smith put the ‘Jackets on the board with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Avondale, which led 27-0 at the half, started inside the Vikings’ 45 on each scoring drive of the first half.
Johnson, a senior who finished with 72 yards on 10 carries, pushed the lead to 14-0 with 11 minutes to go in the second quarter by plowing in from 5 yards out.
Smith connected with TreyVonn Munson for a 9-yard TD strike with 4:20 left in the half, while the same duo hooked up again with 25.2 ticks remaining in the half, this time on a13-yard fade pass.
Sophomore Joshuwa Holloman, a member of Avondale’s Division 2 state championship track team in June, scored his first varsity touchdown on a 3-yard jaunt midway through the third quarter, while he also scored the Yellowjackets’ final touchdown with 20.1 seconds left in the third, this tie on a 9-yard sprint.
Kyle Siroka was 5-or-6 on extra points. Holloman added 11 touches for 67 yards, Grant Sharkey contributed 50 yards on five rushes and Smith finished 5-for-7 passing for 64 yards and also had six carries for 31 yards. Munson totaled 43 yards on three catches for the Yellowjackets.
Avondale was far from perfect and needs some fine-tuning to corral defending league co-champion Birmingham Groves next week.
“We made some mistakes tonight,” said Deutsch. “But if we play defense like that and our offense keeps us out there scoring, we’ll be all right. We still have a long way to go. Groves is going to be very tough. They beat us up pretty good at their place last season.”
Hazel Park never came close to scoring in the first half. The Vikings (0-1, 0-1) finally spoiled the shutout with 2:49 left in the third when senior QB Andrew McClellan found a wide open Gary Tyner on a 35-yard pass play, which cut the deficit down to 35-6.
Hazel Park never threatened again.
The Vikings, which amassed just 176 yards of offense, only had four plays of over eight yards — and three of them came in the final three minutes of the contest.
Tyner led Hazel Park with 50 yards on five carries.
Hazel Park coach Scott Guthrie counted only 30 players on his roster and that included many first-year starters and five freshmen and three sophomores in that group as there is no junior varsity or freshmen teams this season.
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