ADAMS, Mass. -- The Hoosac Valley Hurricanes are headed to the D5 Western Mass SuperBowl as they rolled past visiting Frontier 35-0 at Renfrew Field on Friday night.
The Red Hawks boasted one of the area's toughest lines coming into the Western Mass semi-final contest but Hoosac proved that theirs might very well be the best around.
"We knew they were going to have a good line and we prepared all week for it," said senior captain Zach Wright. "Today I feel like our hard work all week and our hard work in the offseason really paid off."
The Hoosac defensive line was stifling all night long and they set the tone on the first play of the night when Frontier's quarterback mishandled the shotgun snap, giving senior defensive end Coby Tarjick the opportunity to get his team the ball early and he took full advantage by recovering it on the Red Hawk 25-yard line.
Then sophomore Brenden Ellsworth churned out runs of 7, 8, and 9 yards to set up teammate Ty Mach for a 1-yard touchdown plunge to give the Hurricanes an early 7-0 lead.
"It's always a big thing for us when we get turnovers, especially right at the beginning of the game. We get the ball, we get to score right away and that's huge for us," Wright said.
Things stalled out for both teams after the score as they traded punts before Hoosac uncharacteristically fumbled a snap on its third offensive drive of the game and Frontier recovered on the Hurricane 28. The defense stood tall though and the Red Hawks turned the ball over on downs after gaining just 15 yards.
This time the Hurricanes got things going though as they picked up two first downs before Ellsworth took a hand-off from his own 44-yard line and dashed 55 yards to pay dirt. The extra point was good and Hoosac led 14-0.
Frontier went three and out on its ensuing possession and with four minutes to play before half the Hurricanes put together a pretty 10-play, 57-yard drive that was kept alive on fourth down and 6 when quarterback Matt Koperniak executed a flawless play action pass to Avery Hall for 9 yards. On the next play, Mach took a sweep off the left side for a 14-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 21-0.
In the second half the Hurricane line continued to dominate as they stuffed Frontier on fourth down and a foot to give them the ball on the Red Hawk 32 yard line. Three plays later though Hoosac found themselves on the Frontier 10-yard line but the offense stalled. A false start backed them up five yards, followed by back to back sacks that put the Hurricanes on the 22-yard line facing fourth and 13.
Koperniak dropped back and threw a beautiful touch pass down the left sideline that found the hands of wideout Xavier Alvarez who met the ball at its highest point and hauled it in for six. The kick was good again and the score was 28-0.
The Hurricanes tacked on one more score with just over eight minutes to play in the game, this time it was Ellsworth with his second score of the day, a 3-yard plunge to make it 35-0.
Ellsworth finished the game with two touchdowns and 170 yards rushing on 19 carries, good for an average of 8.9 yards per carry. Mach finished with two touchdowns of his own and 73 yards rushing.
"Our line played excellent. Can't move the ball without them," said Ellsworth about his team's performance. "We were hungry. We were ready."
"You know they're all great players," said Wright about his team's running backs. "They're fast, they know what they are doing, they know how we block and they're just used to us. They really know how to get it done when we are opening up things for them."
Hoosac will now take on a familiar team in the D5 final when they go head to head with fellow Berkshire County team, the Pittsfield Generals. The two teams met just three weeks ago at Wahconah Park in what turned out to be a high scoring thriller with the Hurricanes coming out on top 33-27 in overtime.
"We just got to work hard," said Wright about the focus of practice this week heading into the final. "Work harder all week and be prepared to beat them because of it."