Avery Gach started at right tackle on the Groves offensive line for much of the season this fall.
Avery Gach has played football for only two seasons.
But the still-growing 6-foot-5, 235-pound Birmingham Groves High School freshman has already made his presence felt.
Gach started at right tackle on the Groves offensive line for much of the season this fall.
What he did hadn’t been done at Groves in at least two-plus decades.
Only three freshmen have started for Brendan Flaherty is his 21 years as the Groves football coach. The others were a fullback and a defensive end.
“It’s tough for a freshman to play on the offensive line on a high school varsity team because of the physicality involved, but Avery is tough and strong,” Flaherty said. “And he’s fearless. He isn’t intimidated.”
Gach’s first experience with football was in the Birmingham Patriots club program when he was a seventh-grader.
He didn’t play football when he was in eighth grade — either for Berkshire Middle School or in the Southfield Falcons club program — because the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the season.
With only the one season of football experience under his belt, Gach played for the Groves freshman football team in the first week of the season this fall.
That arrangement didn’t last long. Flaherty said he brought up Gach to the varsity after the first week initially to see how he would do at practice.
“You could see very quickly that he belonged on the varsity team,” Flaherty said.
After getting occasional playing time in the next three Groves varsity games, Gach was promoted to the starting lineup Sept. 24 in an overtime victory over Oak Park.
He started the Falcons’ final five games.
Flaherty said Gach improved incrementally during the season as he got more reps and played more games and learned from older players and the team’s two offensive line coaches.
“Avery really clicked in our last game of the season, against Sterling Heights Stevenson,” Flaherty said. “He was pancaking guys with his blocks.”
Gach said his biggest issue when he first joined the varsity team was “over-thinking” what he was doing because of the amount of plays he had to learn.
“So Coach Flaherty told me if I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do on a play, just go hit someone,” Gach said. “I always tried to be the most aggressive player on the field. Keep the motor going.”
Eventually, what Gach was supposed to do came to him naturally.
“I agree with Coach Flaherty. I played well against Sterling Heights Stevenson. But I feel I actually started playing well in our second-to-last game against Clarkston,” he said.
Gach didn’t play defense for the Groves varsity team this season. But look for him to rack up many minutes on that side of the ball in the future, probably at defensive end.
“Avery is a future two-way starter, no doubt about it,” Flaherty said. “When is up to him.”
Gach feels he’s ready now.
“I want to be a two-way starter the next three years,” he said.
It was a tough season for the Groves varsity team. The Falcons finished 2-7 against a murderous schedule that included several state-ranked teams.
While the losses piled up, Gach said he piled up valuable experience against talented and college-bound defensive linemen.
Gach, 15, also is an outstanding baseball player who has played travel ball since he was 10, currently with the North Farmington/West Bloomfield Cobras. He’s a first baseman, catcher and pitcher.
He plans to try out for the Groves baseball team in the spring.
But first, he may try out this month for the Groves boys basketball team.
David and Amy Gach are Avery’s parents. The family lives in Bloomfield Hills.
David Gach played football, basketball and baseball at Berkley High School and he also was on the Berkley wrestling team before he graduated in 1996.
He had several offers to play college football at Division II and Division III schools, but he decided to attend Michigan State University to study business. He didn’t play sports there.
Avery’s brother Eli, 12, is a seventh-grader at Berkshire. Avery said Eli has a passion for acting.
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