AVON PARK - The important part of the high school football season - district play - begins tonight for Avon Park.
The Red Devils, who come into tonight's Class 4A-District 6 home game with Clewiston at 0-5, would love to knock off the Tigers for their first win of the season.
"These kids are hungry," said first-year Avon Park Coach Wade Jackson. "They want to win and we haven't gotten that done yet. We've had a tough schedule, but we make no excuses.
"We have flashes on offense and defense and if we can get it to click all together, we will be fine. We just have to get all eleven on offense and defense to do the right thing at the right time."
Avon Park is winless, but the Red Devils have played a brutal schedule against some high caliber teams similar to Clewiston who is 3-1 on the season.
Jackson noted the Red Devils need their offense to score more points and they haven't had very many big plays this year. In the past two weeks, and especially this one, players have been switched to different positions to help cultivate the offense and defense.
A major move last week, that will continue this week, is placing Alfred Brown as starting quarterback.
Brown was slated to start at quarterback a couple of weeks ago against Fort Meade, but circumstances prevented that development and his first start was last week against Lakeland Christian.
Despite the loss, Brown rushed for 166 yards on nine carries including a 95-yard touchdown jaunt in the closing moments of the game.
Brown showed rust in the passing game, going 0 for 8, with throws being off target or in the dirt, but Jackson noted that he adds a dynamic element to the offense.
"He is a great athlete," the Red Devil coach said. "We are looking for Alfred to make some big plays not only with his legs, but throwing the ball as well."
During last week's game, Brown's speed and athletic ability often had the defensive backs leaving coverage and leaving receivers open due to the threat of Brown running the ball.
"We have to get our offense to score and we haven't had many big plays," said Jackson. "But we have moved some people around and having Alfred here for another week, I think those big plays will come. We spent some time working on the passing game and hope it will pay off."
Placing Brown at quarterback and moving some players around are not the only changes. They also have gotten more physical in practice this week in preparation for Clewiston.
"We have done a little bit more hitting this week than we are accustomed to," Jackson indicated, "but we as coaches thought that might be needed because we have been backing away a little bit. So we decided to make some contact and what we saw was good."
Jackson quantified that his thoughts about this game are the same as every week. They work and prepare hard and the kids are maintaining a good attitude.
"That's all we can ask for," acknowledged Jackson, "yes we are 0-5, but our season starts tonight. We are looking for the positives and still holding people accountable with their assignments, that is what we are working on right now."
Kick off is set for 7 tonight at Joe Franza Stadium.
Clewiston at Avon Park
Where: Joe Franza Stadium
When: Tonight at 7