AVON, IN- It’s not the national spotlight alone that packed the house.
At the roots of the Brownsburg/Avon football game, it’s a rivalry between high schools separated by just seven miles. It’s a game highlighted by two quarterbacks who will be playing for highly-competitive colleges, Avon senior Brandon Peters traveling north to University of Michigan and Brownsburg junior Hunter Johnson will head south to play for the Tennessee Volunteers.
Student sections on opposite corners of the bleachers packed standing teenagers from the railing at the bottom by the track to the rails at the top nearly thirty feet off the ground. They waved American flags that matched the hats and shirts they all wore, a subtle memorial to never forget September 11, 2001. Touchdowns resulted in showers of “USA, USA” and flagmen dashing in front of fans to continue the ever-present theme. Even one brave fan wearing American flag running shorts and a President Obama mask jolted from goaline to goaline during a TV timeout and (as fans put it) was “long gone” into the darkness south of the field.
But as the game’s tide changed from a back-and-forth battle to a blowout, the energy that had built up in the entire stadium drained from the purple half of the field. Those parents and students backing the team in black let their voices boom as their Orioles tacked on 29 unanswered second half points, the final score 56-21.
It’s apparent why Peters will dawn the Wolverine maize and blue in the Big House. He threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns from 19 of 25 passing.
In every Avon drive, the 6 foot, 5 inch giant handled the snaps with poise. He waited behind his protection as Matt Moore and Andrew Griffin would run their routes up the sidelines and across the middle. When the Bulldog defensive ends would approach from the corner of his peripheral, he’d stride two or three times forward in the pocket. And when those options were eliminated, Peters could (and did) sprint 10 or 20 yards down field for a first down using his legs.
On the flipside, Johnson looked to match Peters’ performance, but instead piled on four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble lost). On a positive note, he threw for two touchdowns on 13 of 23 passing.
The things that his opposition did right just weren’t coming as easy for Johnson. His passes to his downfield receivers weren’t hitting their mark near as consistent. And the ones just a bit off, Avon defenders contested, a testament to the night they had.
Through the first half, scores were traded back and forth, accompanied by the thunderous cheers of that team’s fans. Just minutes into the contest, Peters found a long touchdown pass to Griffin, followed shortly by a tying pass from Johnson to Ray White.
But the third quarter was the period of time that all but sealed the game for the Bulldogs. To open the half, Avon’s Bryant Fitzgerald fielded a 30-yard kick down his right sideline, shrugged off two or three tackles and pranced into the endzone. To follow that, Griffin, who had played holder for all the PATs, stood up after the snap and rolled out to the right for an easy two-point conversion.
After those sequences, it felt as if Brownsburg’s balloon was slowly deflating.
Away from the battle of the quarterbacks, Brownsburg’s Toks Akinribade, who is committed to play for Iowa next year, was the anchor for the majority of the Bulldog offense with Johnson playing in somewhat of a slump. He rushed for 206 yard on 28 carries, also accounting for one of the first half touchdowns, a 79-yard scamper that tied the score at 14.
Now that the national cameras are pointed away from the two Indiana towns for the time being, both schools move on to their next opponents, Brownsburg playing Fishers at home and Avon hosting Whiteland. Both games kickoff next Friday at 7:00 p.m.