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By Whitney Keith
The 1993 and 1994 squads had very similar records, but the make-up of players was different, as many starters for the 1993 team graduated that year.
The 1993 season ended with a record of 8-2, with the Bears scoring 286 points and their opponents scoring 117 points.
“This team was characterized by a hard-nosed, aggressive defensive team,” Coach Larry Silvey said.
The Bears tied for the SCA championship in a three-way tie with West Plains and Salem.
The Bears had a conference record of 6-1.
“The only loss in the regular season was in four overtimes to West Plains,” Silvey said. “We only lost by one point.”
They also won the district championship.
Silvey noted that although the team was noted for their defense, they also had the fifth-highest scoring offensive team in Ava’s history.
In 1993, Ava’s Matt Collins had the best average yards per carry in Ava’s record books with an average of 13.2 yards per carry.
Collins had 21 carries that season for a total of 279 yards.
The 1993 Bears also had the fourth-longest pass play in Ava’s records with a 82-yard pass from Casey Owens to Andy Fesler against Liberty.
In 1993 the Bears had four players make the first All-SCA team. Seven players made the second team, and there were six honorable mentions.
“That speaks extremely well for the balance on the team,” Silvey said. “When you have that many athletes, you’ll win a lot of football games.”
Tim Hall, Matt Lane and Brandon Ellison all made the all-district squad.
Hall was also an all-state selection.
Hall said that his biggest memory of the 1993 season was a game against Salem.
“We beat them in double overtime,” he said. “I think that was the first time they had been beat in eight years in the conference.”
Hall played as a fullback and a linebacker for the squad.
The 1994 season ended with a record of 8-4 for the Bears, with Ava scoring 278 points and their opponents scoring 212 points.
“We had a lot of rebuilding to do this year,” Silvey said. “We probably exceeded most people’s expectations with our ending record.”
The Bears won the SCA championship, with a conference record of 6-1. They also won the district title in 1994.
The 1994 season had Ava with the second-highest number of rushing yards in a season with 3,029 yards ran.
Casey Johnson scored 144 points in the 1994 season, good for third place in Ava’s record books.
Silvey and player Tim Meyer both said that a game against Salem stood out in their minds from the 1994 season.
“Salem was 9-0 and second-ranked in the state,” Silvey said. “We defeated them 8-7.
“That was one of the most memorable wins of my entire career,” he said. “The boys rose to the challenge and defeated a team that was more athletically skilled.”
Meyer said the game, which went into four overtimes, showed the team’s spirit and camaraderie.
“It got down to the very end and Cody Prock had broken his ankle,” Meyer said. “We went in and pushed and made the final touchdown for us.”
Meyer played as a middle linebacker for the squad, along with Tim Hall and Prock.
“We called that game the Mud Bowl,” Silvey recalled. “And that was to our advantage.”
The Bears had three players (Casey Johnson, Daniel Brown and Brandon Ellison) make the first All-SCA team in 1994.
The squad also had five players make the second team, along with four honorable mentions.
“This was a group who were highly motivated to work hard and perform well,” Silvey said. “They did a good job of reaching their potential.”
Silvey noted that the 1994 team was better noted for their offensive squad than their defensive squad, something that was unusual for a team that he coached.
“The quarterback, Casey Owens, did an outstanding job leading the team,” he said.
Owens and Meyer were captains of the squad that year.
“This was kind of a Cinderella team,” Silvey said. “I don’t think anyone gave us a chance at defeating Salem.”
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