AVA, Mo. — The Ava Bears love two things, physicality and running the football.

“Yeah, a lot more physical than the other opponent,” Ava lineman Kegan Evans said.

“I love the fact that I might not be the biggest guy on the field but I will run your butt as long as I can,” Ava running back Grady Goss said. “That goes for all of us on the team and on the field, doing everything.”

Heading into tonight’s game against Liberty, the Bears have scored 12 touchdowns on the season.

All 12 are on the ground.

“You’ve got so many guys able to do so many different things I don’t know how you really prepare for it,” Goss said.

To have a strong ground game, there is a need for a strong o-line.

“I love the guys in the trenches, both sides,” Ava head coach Casey Merrifield said. “We’ve got a great front seven defensively and offensively we feel like we can wear people out any Friday night.”

First-year head coach Casey Merrifield knows all about that.

He’s spent the past 4 years as the Bears offensive line coach.

“I’ve said this numerous times to a lot of different people that I have the greatest group of young men that I could ever ask for for a first year head coach,” Merrifield said. “They are very respectful kids and they work their tail off and make my job a lot easier.”

The Bears are coming off a state quarterfinalist run in 2021, following an undefeated season.

They are 2-1 in 2022, and now welcomes in a Mountain View-Liberty team that has averaged more than 54 points per game this season.

“We’ve got to be able to slow them down,” Merrifield said. “Sometimes the best defense is having the football, controlling the clock and putting long drives together to slow them down.”

Ava is looking to extend it’s regular season home win streak to 8 games. The last team to beat them, Mountain View-Liberty on September 18th 2020.

“We win them, we like to win them,” Evans said. “If we lose them, we learn from our mistakes and get better for the next week. Be prepared.”

“I just love to put on a show for the fans,” Goss said. “They do so much for us that we might as well return the favor and put on a show for them.”