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- General Interest
By Mindy Crandall
– as told by lifetime coach and mentor, Larry Silvey
In 1976 Larry Silvey remained Head Coach and led the Ava Bears to a very impressive 8-2 record. This team was a very talented offensive team averaging 27.1 points a game. They rushed for 2,603 yards (8th in history) and passed for 874 yards. The Bears 271 points places them in the top three season’s point total of all schools in Southwest Missouri. West Plains defeated the Bears late in the season to win the SCA Championship.
The Bears had an explosive running game led by Rex Sawyer (141 carries – 905 yards), Keith Dougherty (128 carries – 864 yards), Kris Norman (58 carries – 355 yards) and Danny Gray who averaged 11.3 yards per carry on 29 rushes for 327 yards.
Three led the defensive unit – Linebacker, Dan Witt with 81 tackles, Defensive Lineman, Terry Goodman, 74 tackles and Free Safety, Danny Gray with 47 tackles.
Kevin Swofford was the leading receiver with 11 catches for 286 yards.
The Bears were state ranked in Class 3 during the season and finished the SCA tied for 2nd with a 6-2 record.
The Bears had twelve athletes selected to the All-Conference Team. The First Team All-SCA athletes were: Rex Sawyer, Runningback and Danny Gray, Defensive Back.
Head Coach, Larry Silvey returned in 1977 after a very successful 1976 season, and continued to instruct and watch as the 1977 Bears won the first SCA Football Championship for the school. They had a strong inside as well as outside running game and a dominant defensive unit. The Bears scored 237 points, averaging 26.3 points per game and allowed only 60 points the entire season which still stands as the fewest points allowed in the school’s football history.
Ava’s only loss was a 12-8 defeat by Salem, which was the last game of the season.
The Bears had a strong running attack led by the rushing of Keith Dougherty (161 carries and 981 yards) and Jimmy Frye (143 carries – 663 yards) behind the blocking of an excellent offensive line.
The Bears had one of the best defenses in the area. Senior Linebacker, Dan Witt, led the outstanding teams defense with 83 tackles, Lineman, Tim Sherrill, with 61 tackles and Terry Goodman with 57 tackles anchored a strong defensive line.
The Bears were state ranked throughout the season.
Runningback, Jimmy Frye, was selected as the most outstanding SCA Back and was also the first Ava football player to be selected to the First Team All-Ozark squad.
The Bears had 14 athletes selected to the All-Conference Teams.
First Team SCA Selection were: Jimmy Frye, Runningback; Keith Dougherty, Runningback; David Campbell, Defensive End; Roger Twitty, Tackle; Chip Sell, Defensive Back; Dan Witt, Linebacker; and Dwight Armour, Guard.
Larry Silvey held the title for SCA Coach of the Year.
With just as much potential as the two years prior, Head Coach, Larry Silvey had high expectations for the 1978 Ava Bear football team. Unfortunately, a series of injuries to their Runningback and Quarterback limited their success and left them with a 4-4-1 record for the year. The Bears scored 158 points and allowed 134 points. The Bears ended the season with a 3-4-1 in the SCA.
The Bears were led by the play of their outstanding offensive line. Runningback, Skip Sallee and Eddie Rollins each rushed for 373 yards. Rollins played in only three games due to an injury.
Rob Myers and Mark Evans led the defensive unit with 46 tackles each.
Joe Swofford tied Tom Halford’s extra point kicking record connecting on 6 of 6 attempts vs. Thayer.
Jeff Martin, Offensive Tackle, and Rob Myers, Linebacker, were First Team SCA Selections.
Again in 1979 Larry Silvey returned as Head Coach and continued to develop a well-balanced Ava Bear football program. The Bears ended the 1979 season with an even record of 5-5. The Bears five losses were to teams that had a combined record of 42 wins and 8 losses. The Bears started nine Juniors on offense as they developed valuable experience for the 1980 season. The Bears had good offensive balance rushing for 1,748 yards and passing for 831 yards. They finished with a 5-4 record in the SCA.
Junior, Rod Witt, was Ava’s leading rusher with 151 carries for 672 yards. Witt was also the statistical leader of the Bears defense with 72 tackles.
Jeff Ellison, End, was selected First Team SCA.
The Bears continued to have success in 1980 when once again they returned as SCA and District Champs under Silvey’s instruction. They ended the season with a 10-2 record. The Bears were state ranked throughout the season as they won 10 games and not only won Ava’s second SCA Championship, but also added the first District Championship for the school and advanced to the State Quarter Finals before being defeated by Camdenton.
The Bears were outstanding on both sides of the football. Offensively they rushed for 2,981 yards, which is fourth best in the school’s history, while scoring 305 points, also fourth best, and limiting their opponents to an average of 7.8 points per game.
The Bears were unbeaten in the regular season before losing the last game of the season to Thayer, 21-14. They had an SCA record of 8-1.
Their strong running game was led by Runningbacks, Rod Witt ( 225 carries – 1,234 yards) and Clay Witt (206 carries- 1,179 yards) working behind an outstanding line. Rod Witt was the leading scorer in Southwest Missouri with 150 points.
The Bears passing game was led by Senior Quarterback, Steve Silvey, who completed 68 passes in 112 attempts for 793 yards. Marvin Dixon was the Bears leading receiver catching 28 passes for 254 yards. Dixon also had the longest run from the line of scrimmage in Ava history, running 96 yards against Willow Springs.
The Bears had 16 athletes who made the All-SCA Football Team. First Team Selections were: Rod Witt, Runningback; Clay Witt, Linebacker; Rick Allen, Defensive Tackle; Steve Huskey, Tackle; Terry Miller, Guard; Marvin Dixon, Free Safety and Jeff Ellison, Defensive End.
Rod Witt was selected as the SCA’s Outstanding Back, First Team All-Ozark and First Team Class 3 All-State.
Steve Huskey was selected as the SCA’s Outstanding Lineman, First Team All-Ozark and Second Team Class 3 All-State.
Larry Silvey resigned after nine years as Ava’s Head Coach and continued to serve as Assistant High School Principal and Athletic Director.
In 1981 Roy Hoback joined the Ava Bear football program as Head Coach. The Bears struggled offensively and defensively that year, leaving the season with a 2-7 record. They only scored 74 points while giving up 261 points during the season.
Senior Center, Norman Domenico, was selected First Team SCA.
Ray Hoback returned as Head Coach in 1982. In Ray Hoback’s second year as Head Football Coach, the Bears improved their record to 4-6 and a 3-6 SCA record. The Bears showed significant improvement on offense, scoring a total of 126 points. However, the Bears struggled defensively allowing 212 points.
Randy Nash led the offensive running game by gaining 630 yards in 156 carries.
Greg Dunlap received 21 passes for 338 yards and Quarterback, Tim Ellison, passed for 609 yards completing 47 of 128 attempts.
Randy Johnson, Defensive Guard, was a leading performer on defense and was selected as First Team All-SCA.
The 1983 season wasn’t as promising under Ray Hoback’s instruction. The Bears experienced a disappointing 1983 season with a 1-9 record. They scored only 48 points while allowing 262 points by their opponents. The Bears win was over Gainesville. They were 1-8 in the SCA.
Jason Burkdoll was selected to the First Team SCA Defensive Line.
Ray Hoback returned as Head Coach for his fourth season in 1984. The Bears showed much improvement during the 1984 season as they finished the season with a 5-5 record. The Bears scored 147 points as a Sophomore Tailback led the Bears rushing attack.
Opponents scored 157 points against the Bears. Linebacker, Joe Spurlin, was a leader of the defensive unit and was selected First Team All-SCA.
Ray Hoback resigned after four years as Ava’s Head Coach. The Bears won 12 and lost 27 games during that time.
After an absence for four years, Larry Silvey returned as Head Football Coach. The Bears had a very successful season in 1985 winning the SCA Championship and then defeating arch rival, Mtn. Grove for the District Championship. The Bears then five days later defeated Mtn. Grove, 9-7 in the State Sectional game. However, the Bears were defeated by Republic, 12-8 in the State Quarter-Final game.
The 1985 team had one of the best running attacks in the school’s history. The Bears rushed for 3,013 yards while scoring 309 points. Ava had the winning combination of an outstanding line and an outstanding backfield. Junior, Scott Williams had 259 carries for 1,621 yards, Senior, Joe Spurlin had 127 carries for 686 yards and Senior Quarterback, Toby Sallee had 43 carries for 370 yards. They were the leading rushers. Williams’ 1,621 yards was a school record and he also set the single game rushing record of 255 yards vs. Willow Springs. He scored 168 points for the season.
The 1985 defense ranks with the top Ava defense in the program’s history. The Bears were very effective against both the run and the pass. They allowed only 6.4 points a game, the best defensive stats in the school’s history. The 6.4 points per game are ranked best in Missouri Class 3 football.
Defensive leader for the Bears were Joe Easton with 70 tackles, Joe Spurlin with 67 tackles, Kevin Glenn with 67 tackles and Sherwood Aid with 65 tackles.
Senior Linebacker, Joe Easton also had five pass interceptions.
The Bears were state ranked throughout the season.
Although winning the conference and having a dominant defensive team the Bears had only three First Team All-SCA athletes. They were: Scott Williams, Runningback Kevin Glenn, Tackle and Sherwood Aid, Defensive Guard.
Scott Williams was selected as the Outstanding SCA Back, First Team All-Ozark and First Team Class 3 All-State.
Larry Silvey again gained the title as SCA Coach of the Year.
Next week, will be a continuation – highlighting more of Ava’s football teams.