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Avalon is no day at the beach for Episcopal Academy

NEWTOWN TWP. — Inauspiciously enough, a team arrived at Episcopal Academy from suburban Washington with around 30 players and very little to show on tape. They made the two-hour-and-change drive because it’s four weeks into the season, and this is what private schools need to do to play games.

Episcopal Academy realized relatively quickly Friday that its opponent from The Avalon School had come to play, and that it had brought some pretty talented players. The Churchmen were overwhelmed, 35-14, by the visiting Black Knights. They surrendered 459 yards of offense and had some banged up bodies by the end of it, including stud back DeeWil Barlee.

It was Episcopal Academy’s first loss of the season after winning two straight to begin the year. Avalon, stationed in Gaithersburg, Md., is now 3-0. The Churchmen were down 14-7 at halftime and 21-14 midway through the third quarter. It got out of hand from there.

“We schedule these games for a reason,” Barlee said. “They (the coaching staff) believe us seeing these looks is going to help us out later in the season.”

While it’s unlikely Episcopal Academy will see the size and speed Avalon offered, the silver linings of September defeats are needed after such a performance. The Churchmen mustered just 70 yards on the ground (Barlee had a mere nine and nursed a minor injury in the second half) and 88 via the arm of Marcus McDaniel.

Avalon put together big passing plays from strong-armed quarterback Clay Vance. Tailbacks Amir Jordan (quickness) and Anton Reed (power) ran freely. The receiving corps, led by Todd Simmons, made plays down the field.

There was a ton of size up front, too. It was more than the Churchmen could handle.

“Something we probably haven’t seen,” coach Todd Fairlie said. “You won’t see (it) around here too much.”

Episcopal Academy got its first touchdown on a two-yard run by Barlee midway through the second quarter. That answered two straight Avalon drives that ended with Vance touchdown passes. It was followed by Jack Bush’s second interception of the game. Perhaps momentum had swung.

It didn’t. McDaniel was picked to start the second half. Vance tossed another score. The Churchmen did answer that with McDaniel’s pretty 37-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Folk, but Reed took over on the next drive and housed a 10-yard run. McDaniel was picked. Vance threw another scoring pass. The Churchmen punted.

It was over. The stadium’s scoreboard wasn’t operating all game, but the point was made. The starters were pulled. On to next week.

“We stayed in it, I give our guys credit,” Barlee said. “They fought to the very end. The outcome is not what we wanted, but we learned about ourselves tonight. Our season doesn’t start until the Inter-Ac. But games like this, it’s very important for us to learn from our mistakes and see how we respond to the adversity.”

The Churchmen have Hill School next week and three more weeks before Inter-Ac play begins. There will have no choice but to learn from this. They are optimistic they can.

“We can grow from this and the nonleague stuff, it’s just an opportunity to get better,” Fairlie said. “The score is what it is, but there’s opportunity to grow.”

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