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The 1985 and 1986 Ava High School football seasons seem to be twins of each other. Both years Ava won district and conference championships, and both years they lost to Republic after the regular season.
In 1985, the Ava Bears went 10-2, scoring 309 points while only allowing their opponents 79 points.
“This team was characterized by an extremely good defensive side, like in 1977,” Coach Larry Silvey said.
In 1985, the Bears had their lowest ever points allowed per game. There were 79 points scored by their opponents in 12 games, for an average of 6.4 points per game.
The squad was also characterized by a powerful running game, Silvey said.
“It was led by an extremely good offensive line, headed by Scott Williams and Joe Spurlin.”
The squad ended the regular season with a record of 9-1, and was state-ranked through the entire season.
Their only regular-season loss was to Mt. Vernon, who beat them 6-0.
The Bears lost to Republic in the state quarterfinals by a score of 12-8.
Former player Eddie Horn said that he most remembered back-to-back wins against Mountain Grove.
“It was the last conference game of the season and the first district game, and we won both,” Horn said. “That was a big game for us.”
Ava had their third-most total offense yards in a game in 1985 against Gainesville.
The Bears threw and ran for 574 yards in that game.
The Bears also had the third highest rushing yards in a season with 3012 yards.
Scott Williams had the fourth highest number of rushing yards in a season in 1985.
Williams ran for 1631 yards in 1985 (behind Chance Dry, 2004, Chance Dry, 2005 and Chance Davis, 2006).
Williams also has the second-highest number of rushing yards in a career at Ava High with 4136 yards over four seasons.
Williams also had 24 games with over 100 rushing yards in his career, good for second place in Ava’s record books.
Reggie Johnson was a sophomore in 1985, so he didn’t start, but played a lot of games.
“In one of the Mountain Grove games, Joe Spurlin lost a contact or something and they put me in,” Johnson recalled. “Boy, was I nervous.”
The Bears had three players make the SCA all-conference first team: Scott Williams, Kevin Glenn and Sherwood Aid.
Three players also made the second team: Joe Spurlin, Carl Jackson and Dan Rees.
There were seven honorable mentions from Ava that year.
Silvey said that the squad was extremely balanced in talent, and that’s why there weren’t as many all-conference picks as in other years.
“There were lots of good athletes, so they almost canceled each other out,” he said/
Silvey noted that the SCA was different back in those days.
“West Plains was in the conference then, and Gainesville was through 1985,” he said.
Williams also made the All-Ozark squad in both 1985 and 1986, along with making All-State in 1985.
“Like every good football team, it started up front,” Silvey said. “We had an extremely good offensive line.”
Johnson said the squad receives the Southwest Missouri Sportsmanship Award in 1985.
“I think it was voted on by the referees,” he said. “We got it by being good about not taunting the other team, helping them up after a play, things like that.
“Coach Silvey was really good about not putting up with bad sportsmanship.”
The 1986 Bears team was the first in Ava’s history to get undefeated in the conference, with an 8-0 conference record.
In 1986, the Bears had a record of 9-2, scoring 192 points and allowing their opponents 110 points.
The squad only lost in the regular season to Branson, who defeated them in Ava’s season opener by three points.
However, Ava defeated Ozark in the first round of the state playoffs, who was quite a football powerhouse.
Many players recalled the Ozark game, not just for their win, but for the weather.
“The temperature for the game was six degrees with a wind chill in the negative teens,” 1986 player Trampus Taylor said. “Wow, it was cold.”
“We had an outstanding nucleus of athletes who came back from the 1985 season,” Silvey said.
Many former players said that they learned a lot on the football field while playing for Ava High.
“As a high school football player I learned more about life, ethics, responsibility, work habits, and how others depend on you to complete a task, no matter what,” said Taylor. “Football taught me how to work as a team.”
Horn said he recalled a game against Salem, which was tied at the end of regulation at 0-0.
“It was a completely defensive battle,” he said.
The game went into three overtimes, and ended up with an Ava victory.
Ava had four all-conference first team selections in 1986: Dan Rees, Kevin Glenn, Scott Williams, Sherwood Aid and Jeff Alcorn.
Ava also had five players make the second team in the all-SCA selections: Reggie Johnson, Ken Beaty, Geof Sparnicht, Brian Akridge and Bill Goss.
There were four honorable mentions for Ava that year.
“This team was characterized by an extremely strong running game and defensive unit,” Silvey said.
Johnson said that 1986 was as good of a season as 1985 was.
“We were just as good that year (1986), even though we lost a lot of seniors,” he said.
Scott Williams and Kevin Glenn both made the All-Ozark team in 1986.
Glenn also made All-State.
Taylor said that he recalled the “soap scrimmage” that the team had that year.
“I had not played the year before so I was not familiar with the plays and Coach Silvey called Pro Right Fourty out and Down. I did not know what to do. I lined up on the left side of the formation as the outside receiver. Since I did not know what to do I just jogged down field,” he said. “Lo and behold I was the primary receiver. I can still hear Coach Silvey yell my name.
“Needless to say I did not catch the ball.”
Johnson said he recalled the twice a day practices leading up to the season.
“All those hard wind sprints,” he said with a smile. “Well, it made us a better football team.”
Reflections is a weekly column exploring the history of Douglas County. Current topics include local day trips, school history and Douglas County residents who have a special talent. If you have an idea for an article, please call 417-683-4181 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org