AVON, Ind. -- The Pike High School football team unloaded three years of postseason frustration in a 55-24 thrashing of host Avon in Friday's sectional championship game.
Pike (9-3) will play at top-ranked Lawrence Central in next week's regional. The Bears won a Week 4 matchup between the two teams 34-23, but if the Red Devils are as supremely motivated as they were Friday against Avon, Lawrence Central could be in trouble.
Avon (7-5) had ended Pike's season each of the past three years in the sectional, each time by three points and twice on the game's final play. The Red Devils put the proverbial pedal down early Friday with their up-tempo offense, taking a 14-0 first quarter lead, and didn't let up in pushing it to 34-7 before halftime.
"I think in the past, one reason we lost those three-point games was because we allowed them to stick around," said Pike coach Derek Moyers. "(Friday,) we weren't going to let that happen. We wanted to get on them, stay on them and continue to press the issue."
Pike didn't just score often, it did it via the big play. The Red Devils' five first-half touchdowns came on plays of 12, 15, 25, 32 and 46 yards. They had eight plays cover at least 10 years in the first half alone. Avon had just three.
"It was crucial," Avon coach Mark Bless said of Pike's early lead. "It gave them all kinds of momentum. Their momentum definitely flattened ours and made it difficult to execute."
So, too, did the Pike defense. The Red Devils secondary blanketed the Avon receivers early and applied consistent pressure on quarterback Cole Johnson, who was sacked five times, all in the first half.
"We feel like if we can get ahead on people, we can make them one-dimensional and they have to throw it," Moyers said. "That kind of plays into the strength of our defense with our defensive backs and defensive line."
Pike quarterback Brent Lyles lit up the Orioles defense, completing a modest 11-of-19 throws for 171 yards, but with five touchdowns and no interceptions. He spread the ball around, throwing a pair of touchdowns to Tyrez Boyd and Dominique Booth, and one to Nick Hernandez. Running back Taylor Sanders piled up 165 yards with a touchdown on 19 carries.
The sectional title is only the second for Pike.
"We were so prepared and mentally focused and the scoreboard showed it," Lyles said. "We couldn't wait to come out here and play them. They gave us a fight, but we were the better team."