AVA, Mo–Hello everyone and welcome to week seven of the high school football season and 1st and 10.

In Ava, there’s a resurgence going on.

The Bears are unbeaten and state ranked.

KOLR 10’s Chris Pinson joins us live from Ava with more, Chris.

Hey Dan, October’s ushered in much cooler weather.

And a showdown between two teams playing their best ball.

Which was not the case a year ago after a change of leadership for Ava.

Casey Merrifield/Ava Coach:”The community I grew up in, it means a ton to me. People love their football around here, so it’s a great place to be.”

A good first impression builds bonds and forms relationships.

But, sometimes, a second chance provides the missing spark.

After 11 seasons as an assistant coach for Ava, Bears alumnus Casey Merrifield took over the program.

In his first season at the helm, the Bears went a disappointing 6-4.

Falling well short of the 11 wins the team totaled the previous year.

“We played as hard as we could. If you go back and watch film, lack of effort was nothing that we had. We were just without a lot of our upperclassmen and it’s tough to win in the SCA when you’re playing a bunch of freshmen and sophomores,” said Merrifield.

Hunter Adams/Ava Linebacker:”A lot guys were unhappy with how the season went…myself included because last year we had a few injuries and some bonds that were broken on the team.”

Eradicating the dissension and uniting as one became a primary focus in the off-season.

“I think this year we came back with a lot of confidence, and…we just believe that if we put in the work the outcome will come,” said Adams.

Those efforts paid off handsomely this fall. Ava’s 6-0.

Averaging 49 points a game offensively, while the defense limits opponents to 12 points per game.

“I think we were rewarded for that this year. We got guys that were two-way starters this year, that are sub players on both sides of the ball right now. So we benefitted from the extra experience and we got some of those older guys healthy, so we’re excited to continue rolling,” said Merrifield.

Friday night, Ava takes the field against Thayer, who’s 4-2, riding a 3-game winning streak.

And the Bears are eager to find out which team’s winning streak will fall.

“We know Thayer’s coming to town and they’re gonna show up ready to play and it’s an opportunity for us to get better, work on things we feel like we need to improve and just get better across the board,” said Merrifield.