Devils hope experience matters in tough Ches-Mont
WEST GROVE >> Entering his sixth season at the helm of at Avon Grove, and his the 35th season over all, head coach Harry O’Neill is now the longest tenured coach in program history. The 2019 Red Devils return a wealth of varsity players, all ready to make this a memorable season.
“After 35 years of coaching, I still look forward to being on the field every Friday night with this group,” said O’Neill. “They are very coachable, respectful and willing to do whatever I ask to help us be successful in 2019.”
Quarterback JT McDonald enters his senior year with the fourth best career stats of any signal caller in the Ches-Mont, with 987 yards and 6 TDs. Protecting McDonald will be one of the top lines in the area the past few season, anchored by seniors Rhys Whitehouse, Briggs Godfrey and TE Max Paschall. That big o-line has broken big holes for AG running backs the past few years, and will look to continue to do so for senior fullback Wyatt Kirby and junior RB Colby Riddell.
Kirby, a LB on the other side of the ball, leads a trio of All-Ches-Mont players on defense, along with fellow linebacker and team captain Matt Walsh, and DB Jackson Scheck. The Red Devils return nine starters in all on defense.
Avon Grove could have a secret weapon on special teams in kicker Bobby Smith. Smith, who attended kicking camps over the offseason, is ranked as one of the top 25 kicking recruits in the nation, and has hit from beyond the 50 in practice.
“I feel our strengths are experienced senior class, and our running game,” said O’Neill. “Both the offensive line and the running backs all have experience. QB McDonald has a tremendous arm and we have some good outside receivers in Hershey and Jones.”
O’Neill has never shied away from competition, and has had one of the toughest schedules in the county the past couple seasons. Last year, nine of the Red Devils’ ten opponents qualified for playoffs or won their league (Malvern Prep.) This year is no different, with the likes of Bonner, Perkiomen Valley and Owen J Roberts on the slate.
“I think players realize we are willing to line up and play almost anyone and compete,” said O’Neill. “There are no easy games on our schedule, which prepares us to play Downingtown East and West, Coatesville and Shanahan, all traditional playoff teams. We are thankful we play in such a good division every Friday night in the Ches-Mont National. We will show up and compete on a weekly basis.”
Avon Grove 2019 Schedule
PLAYERS TO WATCH
JT McDonald, Quarterback >> With 987 total yards in his career, McDonald is often forgotten in the QB-heavy Ches-Mont. But his arm should help Oxford hang with the Hornets’ tough competition.
Wyatt Kirby, Linebacker >> One of many returning players, Kirby was a first team All-Ches-Mont linebacker, and anchors an experienced is a returning first teamer Red Devils defense.
By Bill Rudick, For MediaNews Group