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- General Interest
By Mindy Crandall
– as told by lifetime coach and mentor, Larry Silvey
The 1986 Ava Bears Varsity Football Team was under the instruction of Head Coach, Larry Silvey, who led them to a 9-2 record and a SCA and District Championship. They were the first Ava team to go unbeaten in the SCA finishing their conference play with 8 wins and no losses. The Bears also won the District and defeated Ozark 8-6 in the first round of the state play-off. The Ozark-Ava game was played in freezing weather and a strong north wind with a chill index of below -10 degree Fahrenheit. The Bears lost to Republic 13-6 in the State Quarterfinals. The 1986 season was filled with many exciting close games that were decided late in the game. Among those were: Ava 22 – Mtn. Grove 21; Ava 14- West Plains 13; Ava 8 – Salem 0 (overtime); Ava 6 – Liberty 0 and Ava 8-Ozark 6.
The Bears once again featured a strong running game rushing for 2,020 yards during the season. Senior Runningback, Scott Williams, rushed for 1,414 yards on 267 carries to lead the running attack as he became the career rushing leader gaining 4,136 yards during his football career.
The Bears again had a strong offensive and defensive line and a talented defensive secondary. All four defensive backs were selected to the All-Conference Team.
Defensively the Bears allowed 110 points for the season and were led by Linebacker, Bubba Black – 77 tackles; Defensive Guard, Sherwood Aid – 69 tackles; Defensive Back, Jeff Alcorn – 66 tackles and Defensive Tackle, Kevin Glenn – 42 tackles.
The Bears were well-represented on the All-SCA Team as 14 members were honored. Selected to the First Team were: Scott Williams, Runningback; Kevin Glenn, Offensive Tackle; Jeff Alcorn, Defensive Back; Don Rees, Offensive Back and Sherwood Aid, Defensive Guard.
Scott Williams was chosen as the Outstanding Back in the SCA, First Team All-Ozark and First Team Class 3 All-State.
Kevin Glenn was selected First Team All-Ozark and First Team Class 3 All-State.
The Bears team was further honored by being chosen to receive the Southwest Missouri Official Sportsmanship Award.
Larry Silvey and the 1987 Football Bears did not start the season out with much success losing their first four games of the season, however, they battled back and won five of the last six games to finish the season with a 5-5 record. Ava scored 131 points and allowed 136.
Fullback, Reggie Johnson led the Bears rushing attack gaining 936 yards on 178 carries. Junior Quarterback, Scott Silvey completed 75 of 146 pass attempts for 936 yards. Wheeler set the school record for most passing yards. Ron Wallace became Ava’s all time single season pass reception leader as he caught 48 passes for 638 yards while playing wide receiver. He was listed as one of the leading receivers in Southwest Missouri by the Springfield Newspaper. He also received 10 passes for 30 yards verses Mountain Grove.
Defensively the Bears were led by Junior Linebacker, Craig Ridenour – 97 tackles; Senior Tackle, Brian Ackridge – 77 tackles; Sophomore Defensive Tackle, Mike Freeman – 60 tackles and Defensive Back, John Beason – 56 tackles.
Ron Wallace was selected First Team All-SCA and was also named to the Second Team Class 3 All-State Teams as a wide receiver.
In 1988 Larry Silvey continued his reign as Head Coach and led the Ava Bears to a 5-4 season. The 1988 Bears scored 137 points and allowed 139 to their opponents. The Bears rushed for 1,509 yards and passed for 904 yards. Senior, Eric Sallee, was the leading rusher gaining 790 yards in 194 carries. Scott Silvey completed 66 of 134 passes for 893 yards. His career total of 1,957 yards broke Lonnie Reid’s record of 1,892 yards set in 1961-1963. John Akers was Ava’s leading receiver gaining 593 yards on 38 catches. Silvey and Akers combined for a 76 yards touchdown pass verses Mountain Grove. Defensively the Bears were led in tackles by Linebacker, Craig Ridenour – 82; Junior Defensive Tackle, Mike Freeman – 78 and Junior Defensive Guard, Gabe Gehrke with 65 tackles.
The Bears wins were highlighted by a 15-7 win over West Plains and a 13-6 win over a strong Cabool team as they finished 4-3 in the SCA.
Defensive Back, Eric Sallee, was named First Team All-Conference.
The following year the Ava Bear’s seemed to have improved their game under Larry Silvey’s guidance as they ended the season with a 7-2 win-loss record. The 1989 teams was one of the best Ava teams not to win a Conference or District title. Class 4 State power Salem edged the Bears 7-0 and Mtn. Grove defeated Ava 27-20 in 5 overtimes for the District Championship. The Ava-Mtn. Grove game was 0-0 after four quarters and all of the scoring occurred in overtime.
The Bears were strong on offense, but they were most respected for their defensive ability. The Bears allowed only 45 points in regulations for the season. Mtn. Grove added 27 points in overtime to reach 72 points for the season.
Defensively the Bears had a strong defensive line led by Mike Freeman with 95 tackles; Gabe Gehrke with 79 tackles and Mike Herrell with 76 tackles. They were backed up by Junior Linebacker, Brian Ross with 85 tackles and Senior Linebacker, Brian Vinson with 41 tackles and Dennis Whitted with 52 tackles, Senior Defensive Backs, Cody French with 71 tackles, Brian Barnes with 52 tackles and Kale Adams with 40 tackles.
Dustin Johnson (860 yards), Brian Barnes (650 yards) and Brian Vinson (407 yards) led the Bears rushing attack.
Fifteen Bears were All-Conference members. First Team All-SCA selections were:
Mike Freeman, Offensive Line; Gabe Gehrke, Defensive Line; Cody French, Defensive Back; Brian Barnes, Defensive Back; Brad Jumper, Field Goal Kicker and Dennis Whitted, Punter.
Mike Freeman was selected as the SCA Outstanding Lineman, First Team All-Ozark and First Team Offensive Line Class 3 All-State.
Gabe Gehrke was selected Second Team Defensive Line Class 3 All-State.
The Bears were state ranked throughout the season.
Larry Silvey returned for yet another season with the 1990 Ava Bears Football team. The Bears finished with a 4-3 record in the SCA, however, they lost all three non-conference games and finished the season with a 4-6 season.
The Bears rushed for an impressive 2,481 yards, but only passed for 196 yards.
Junior, Dustin Johnson had 159 carries and gained 1,548 yards, which is the record for second most rushing yards. Junior, Brian Ross added 693 yards on 133 carries.
Linebacker, Brian Ross; Defensive Lineman, Jim McCleary; Defensive Lineman, Joe Leonard and Defensive Back, Travis Graham led the Bears defensive performance.
Offensive Tackle, Tanner Pinckney was Ava’s First Team All-SCA member.
The 1991 Ava Bears Football squad came back in full force and with a strong winning record of 8-2. The Bears had an outstanding 1991 season. They had a 7-1 SCA record losing only to Salem and they lost the final game of the season to Nixa.
The Bears had an excellent running attack rushing for an impressive 2,817 yards as they scored 226 points for the season. The 281-yard average per game was the second best in school’s history.
The Bears had an outstanding offensive line and Runningbacks, Dustin Johnson and Brian Ross combined for 2,275 yards. Johnson rushed for a season high 1,582 yards in 244 carries and Ross gained 693 yards on 153 carries. Dustin Johnson finished his career with 4,013 yards on 650 carries.
The Bears were state ranked throughout the season.
Defensively, Ava allowed 105 points and were led in tackles by Senior Linebacker, Brian Ross with 81 tackles, Senior Linebacker, Travis Graham with 65 tackles, Senior Defensive End, Brian Adams with 65 tackles and Senior Defensice Lineman, Joe Leonard with 63 tackles.
Those chosen to First Team All-SCA were: Dustin Johnson, Runningback; Brian Ross, Linebacker; Nate Humbyrd, Offensive Guard and Travis Graham, Linebacker.
The 1992 Ava Bears had a season filled with many exciting games, but several disappointing results. Larry Silvey led the Ava Bears to a 4-1 in four quarter regulation games, but lost four games in overtime. Overtime losses were to West Plains 28-20; Mtn. Grove 17-15; Willow Springs 7-6 and Thayer 10-7/ The Bears were 3-4 in the SCA.
The Bears outscored their opponents 198 points to 132 points. The Bears rushing attack was led by the running of Senior, Dick Wisner (65-586); Junior, Tim Hall (119-573) and Sophomore, Casey Johnson (90-499).
Quarterback, Ryan Williams passed for 529 yards.
Defensively the Bears were led in tackling by Dan Caudill with 75 tackles, Matt Lane with 63 tackles, Faron Snow with 61 tackles and Tim Hall with 54 tackles.
The Bears didn’t have any First Team SCA players selected.
Larry Silvey and the 1993 Ava Bears had an amazing season with a winning record of 8-2 and landing a SCA and District Championship.
The Bears had spectacular offense stats rushing 2,669 yards and scoring 286 points, however, the strength of the Bears was their aggressive defensive plays.
The Bears were state ranked and were defeated by a highly ranked Bolivar team in the state sectional game.
Tim Hall had 139 carries for 740 yards and Casey Johnson had 102 carries for 522 yards. They were the leading rushers. Matt Collins averaged 13.3 yards a carry on 21 carries for 279 yards. Quarterback, Casey Owens passed for 317 yards (31-63) and rushed for 417 yards on 88 carries. The Bears had an impressive offensive line.
Defensively the Bears were very balanced and were led by Linebackers, Tim Hall with 66 tackles, Tim Meyers with 61 tackles; Defensive Linemen, Matt Lane with 57 tackles and Matt Turner with 41 tackles; outside Linebacks, Andy Fesler with 39 tackles and Cody Prock with 29 tackles; Defensive Ends, Reggie Stanifer with 45 tackles, Daniel Brown with 37 tackles and Jeremy Welch with 26 tackles. The Bears were well represented on the All-SCA Teams with 17 athletes. First Team selections were: Tim Hall, Linebacker; Matt Lane, Defensive Line; Matt Collins, Defensive Back and Brandon Ellison, Offensive Tackle. Tim Hall was selected to the Class 3 Second Team All-State as Linebacker and Larry Silvey earned the honors of Coach of the Year.
The Bears returned in full force the following year. Larry Silvey and the 1994 Ava Bear’s ended the season with a 8-4 record and held the title as SCA and District Champions. The 1994 Bears were a strong offensive and they rushed and passed for 3,634 total yards during the season. They rushed for 3,096 yards, which ranked second in the school’s football history. Ava was not as successful on the defensive side of the football and they allowed opponents to score 212 points.
The Bears backfield operated behind an experienced and capable offensive line. Leading the rushing attack were Runningbacks, Casey Johnson with 258 carries for 1,483 yards; Jason Burton with 136 carries for 507 yards and Quarterback, Casey Owens with 81 carries for 507 yards. Owens also completed 49 of 114 passes for 596 yards.
Michael Harvill was the leading pass receiver with 23 receptions for 334 yards.
In the 9th week of the season the Bears defeated Mtn. Grove 29-28 in overtime and in the final game of the season defeated the unbeaten and highly state ranked Salem Tigers 8-7 to win the SCA Conference and the District Championships. The Bears defeated Buffalo in the state sectional games and lost to Seneca in the quarterfinals.
Defensively the Bears were led in tackles by Tim Meyers with 139; Terry Roberts with 112; Brandon Ellison with 94; Jason Burton with 81; Daniel Brown with 68 and Michael Harvill with 64 tackles.
First Team All-SCA selecltions were: Casey Johnson, Runningback; Brandon Ellison, Offensive Tackle and Daniel Brown, Offensive Guard.
Larry Silvey was also selected SCA Coach of the Year.
In 1995 the Bears finished the season with a 6-4 record and a 4-3 record in the SCA. They were beaten by Salem the last game of the year for the District Championship. The Bears once again had a strong running attack rushing for 2,130 yards. Ava scored 152 points while holding their opponents to 132 points.
Senior, Jason Burton was Ava’s leading rusher gaining 1,049 yards in 222 carries. Junior, Sheldon Mackey added 604 yards on 82 carries.
Defensively the Bears were led by Toby Graham with 112 tackles followed by Sheldon Mackey with 71 tackles, Joe Dobbins with 65 tackles and Michael Harvill with 63 tackles.
The Bears upset state ranked Mtn. Grove 14-6.
Although having 11 players selected to the All-SCA teams, Ava didn’t have any First Team members chosen.
Next week, will be featuring past homecoming queens.