By Chris Piscioneri
01:41AM / Saturday, October 26, 2013
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Friday night's matchup between the Mount Greylock Mounties and Wahconah Warriors was everything a heavyweight fight should be as both teams made serious blows to their opponent.
But in the end, Wahconah was able to make the final knockout punch to stay undefeated at 8-0 with a 20-14 victory at John T. Allen Field in Williamstown.
"With this win we get home field advantage for the Berkshire County Championship and Western Mass," said Wahconah head coach Gary Campbell. "And now with the new state playoff format, which is excellent, we get that Western Mass playoff game on our our soil. So that's a huge thing for our kids, our community, and everything that's going on. It's excellent. The kids fought hard."
The two top teams started the game similarly as neither was able to put any points on the board with their first two possessions. On the Warriors third possesion, they went to the air and found success as senior quarterback Ethan Wells hit wideout Ryan Washburn down the middle of the field for a 39-yard gain up to the Greylock 25-yard line. Two plays later Wells hooked up with fellow senior Darrow Brown for a 13-yard touchdown on a pretty flag route to the back left corner of the end zone to take the lead 6-0.
The Warrior defense forced a quick three and out and took back over two minutes later on their own 21. This time the Warriors hit the Mounties with a strong right hook as Wells took the ball off the right side for 73 yards and a play later smashed in for the touchdown from four yards out. Wahconah converted the extra points and pushed their lead up to 14-0 with just under four minutes to go before halftime.
With their backs against the ropes, Greylock answered with just 11 seconds to go before half. Sophomore quarterback Brodie Altiere dropped backed and heaved up a deep pass to wideout Mike McCormack who hauled it in on the four-yard line with just four seconds left. After a timeout, the Mounties dropped back for another pass play and with no time remaining on the clock Altiere scrambled to buy time and found senior tight end Robbie Buffis for the touchdown. The extra point was no good but Greylock cut the Warriors lead to 14-6 going into half.
I asked Wells what his team talked about in the locker room at halftime after giving up the late score and he told me, "We just said that we can't let the momentum swing to their side. We got to keep playing hard and come out with intensity in the second half."
The Warriors came out with intensity, driving into Mountie territory but Greylock held tough and forced a turnover on downs. Then it was senior Daivon Clement's turn to wreck some havoc for the Mounties. Clement ripped off runs of six and 18 yards before Altiere connected with McCormack for a beautiful 18-yard catch on the sideline to put Greylock into the redzone on Wahconah's 17. On the next play, Clement busted up the middle and in for the touchdown. The Mounties got the two-point conversion and the game was now tied 14-14 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
"In that eight-minute span. The last four minutes of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. You know, that was tough," coach Campbell said. "Credit to our kids to withstand that and keep fighting. And to make that nice long drive at the end. That was the killer. It was all about the offensive line. The offensive line won that. They got at it. It's as simple as Cro-Magnon football can be. That was hammertime football. There wasn't a single pass in it and we just went after it. It was a phenomenal thing for our kids."
After the Greylock touchdown that tied up the ball game, Wahconah went all business with a 16-play, 53-yard drive, culminated by a one-yard Eli Pease touchdown. The whole drive consisted of Ethan Wells and Eli Pease taking turns running straight at the Mounties.
"We wanted to bring it right to them," said Wells. "We figured our conditioning would pay off for us and it did. Our line got a heck of a push and we were just pounding the ball up the middle and getting successful yardage."
Greylock was hit hard by the Warriors drive but again they were not going to go easy. Clement made a nice return on the kick off to set the Mounties up at the 50-yard line and then followed it up with runs of six and four yards to give his team a first down and 10 from the Wahconah 40.
That's when the Warriors were able to make their final knock out punch. The long drive for a touchdown certainly had the Mounties swaying but on second and 11 Altiere dropped back looking for McCormack on a deep flag pattern and Wahconah's Darrow Brown read the pass perfectly as he dove in front of McCormack for the interception.
"All game coach put me on McCormack," Brown said about the play. "He made some great catches during the game but I just kept fighting. I saw that he kept going outside with the flag. Kept hitting the out route. Knew it was coming. Jumped it. Grabbed it and made the catch."
The Warriors took over with the ball and were able to churn off time before punting to Greylock. The Mounties were unsuccessful in attempting a two-minute drill to try and tie up or win the game and Wahconah was able to kneel for the victory.
"Feels great to get Berkshire County on the home field and Western Mass," Brown added. "We got to keep battling. Keep fighting. Great things are going to happen."