FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the members of the Hoosac Valley football team look back on the 2017 season, they will remember the journey to Saturday’s Division 8 state championship game.
They will remember the feeling of walking onto the field at Gillette Stadium.
And they will remember the camaraderie of a team that went a perfect 8-0 in the regular season.
If they’re lucky, they won’t remember much of a 37-0 loss to back-to-back state champion Millis.
Kurt Hopkins ran for 185 yards, and Bryce Latosek threw for 164 yards and three touchdowns to lead the South Division champs to a dominating win, spoiling Hoosac Valley’s first trip to the New England Patriots’ home stadium.
But as disappointed as the ‘Canes may have been in the scoreboard, that feeling was tempered by the experience of a season that went as far as it could possibly go, taking the Hoosac and its fans from August to December and from the northern outpost of Swanton, Vt., to the home of the five-time Super Bowl Champs.
“A lot of these guys, we’ve been playing with since we were little on the pee-wees,” Hoosac captain Adam Bush said. “Being able to have this two-week extension onto our season and play side-by-side and have each others’ backs for two more week is just an unreal feeling.
“It’s absolutely unreal. You can’t describe it.”
Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot had a word to describe his feelings toward Bush and his classmate, who helped the Hurricanes go 34-9 with three Western Mass titles in four years.
“I’m just going to tell them I love them all and I thank them for all they’ve done and all the work they’ve done to get to this point,” Poirot said. “We appreciate it. We ask a lot of them, and a lot of times they give us a lot. They’ve paved the way for the kids after them.
“It’s not about any one person. It’s about how you set it up for the people who come later. That’s really what it is.”
Almost from the get-go, this was not the kind of game that Hoosac Valley fans are accustomed to seeing.
Millis (11-1) took the opening kickoff and went 65 yards in eight plays -- 29 on the ground from Hopkins and the last 38 on a Latosek throw deep to the left side for Raymond Hilaire.
Hoosac managed just one first down on its first possession, and after a punt, Millis went 62 yards, scoring on the second play of the second quarter with a 4-yard run by Dominic Zonfrelli.
Hoosac Valley answered with its best drive of the game, but it stalled on the Millis 37 with a pair of incomplete passes on third and fourth down with 5 minutes, 8 seconds left in the half. Millis went on to score twice before the break to go to the locker room with a 24-0 lead.
The Hurricanes, not used to being on the wrong side of lopsided scores, had to dig deep at half.
“It just came down to: We made it this far and we weren’t going to give up,” Bush said. “We made it this far in the season … we were going to play every play for the rest of the game. We were going to be by each others’ sides, and we were going to finish.
“You can’t get these minutes back. You can’t get those 20 minutes of the second half back, so we were just going to go out and take advantage of it.”
Millis converted both its possessions in the third quarter, wrapping a pair of touchdowns around a Hoosac Valley turnover.
Hoosac got 96 yards rushing and 60 yards through the air from Vance Eugene. Nick Waterman caught a pair of passes for 38 yards, and Matt Hall ran for 20 yards.
After Saturday’s D5 final, a 37-7 West Springfield loss to Dennis-Yarmouth, Western Massachusetts teams are 0-6 in the state finals in the five years of the current state tournament format; the combined margin in those games is 223-32.