ADAMS, Mass. -- Hoosac Valley head football coach Mark Harrington did something that he had never done before when he rewarded a game ball to every member of the Hurricanes’ offensive line following Friday night’s close victory.
Thanks to that heralded offensive line, Hoosac rushed for nearly 400 yards as it held off a feisty Chicopee Pacers team for a 35-28 victory at Renfrew Park. The Hurricanes improved to 7-0 and survived a nice test from a very tough opponent.
“I gave each lineman a game ball. I have never done that and I have never heard of anyone doing that,” Harrington said. “But I have been coaching these kids for six yeards and seeing this tonight just made me happy. I coach just because I like the kids, and I have seen them go from young boys to young men. They are doing really well.”
From the opening drive to the final possession, Hoosac ran the ball with authority. A trio of backs alternated carries behind a line that kept opening holes and creating running lanes all night long.
“It boiled down to our offensive line and our running backs,” Harrington said. “We have two sophomores who are really doing a good job in Aaron Bush and Shaun Kastner, with Liam Feeley being our senior leader back there. But our offensive line really won that game for us. We made some mistakes, dropped some interceptions and had some penalties, but it was just fun to watch those kids run the ball.”
Shaun Kastner led the way for the three-headed dragon that was the Hoosac ground game. The sophomore churned out 216 yards on 14 carries and scored four touchdowns.
“My line blocked amazingly for me all night. All I had to do was get the ball, run up to the hole and make a cut,” Kastner said. “We were all going crazy in the huddle. We were all cheering and yelling and ready for the next play.”
After both sides went scoreless on their opening possessions, Hoosac needed just two plays to go 91 yards and break out with an early lead in the first quarter. Bush burst for 32 yards and then Kastner followed that by streaking across the field for a 59-yard touchdown run.
The lead quickly grew from there. Early in the second the Hurricanes came up with their second turnover of the contest when Logan Leja recovered a fumble, and Kastner then took it straight up the middle from 29 yards out for his second score of the night.
The Canes tacked on another touchdown with 6:48 left in the first half. This time it was Liam Feeley bursting through the defense for a 13-yard TD that made it 21-0, after Joe Delmolino added on his third PAT kick. Feeley gained 85 yards on 13 attempts.
The Pacers (4-3) refused to go quietly into the locker room at the half, as they answered back with two late scores to pull within 21-16 at the break. Steven Matta tossed a 13-yard TD pass and then Chicopee successfully recovered an onside kick, which set up John Vega for a 5-yard scoring rush with 1:14 remaining in the half.
Chicopee got the ball to start the second, and the Pacers mounted their best drive of the game to take their only lead. After getting the ball at midfield when the kickoff went out of bounds, Chicopee took 16 plays to chew up the field and finish up with a 3-yard scoring run from Matta. The Pacers went for the two-point conversion but the pass was unsuccessful, making it a slim, 22-21 advantage.
The Hurricanes needed just three plays to answer back and retake the lead for good. Bush gained two of his 83 rushing yards on the first play, Feeley followed with a 25-yard scamper and Kastner finished it off by finding the end zone from 23 yards away.
“It felt amazing,” Kastner said. “Again, I just have to thank my line for that. They blocked for me and made it possible for me to do that. It feels great to know that my line is blocking me so well that I can get that far without even getting touched, and the only thing that I have to do is make a cut and find a hole.”
Hoosac’s defense delivered some crucial plays down the stretch to close things out. Chicopee marched down the field looking to retake the lead, but Feeley picked off Matta with a leaping grab at the goal line for Hoosac’s fourth turnover. Feeley also had three tackles on the night.
Joe Delmolino and Carson Meczywor both led the Canes with five tackles each. Nolan Roberts and Jake Mucci both had three tackles, while Travis Dozer had three tackles and a pass deflection. Kobie Valois had three tackles and a key sack late in the action.
The Canes turned around off Feeley’s interception and marched 96 yards on 11 plays, and Kastner added his fourth touchdown from nine yards out with 6:55 remaining.
Chicopee continued to ride the workhorse Vega, who led all rushers with 234 yards on 34 carries. The Pacers went 52 yards on 14 plays and capped it off with a 2-yard TD run from Matta with 12.5 seconds left to play.
But Logan Leja recovered the onside kick attempt for Hoosac to secure the win that keeps the Hurricanes undefeated with one game left in the regular season.
“They are on a run,” Harrington said. “It is a good mix too. We have some really good senior leadership and yet we’ve still got some great young talent, some great sophomores. Most of that running that you saw tonight was done by sophomores.”
Hoosac hosts Ludlow next Friday at Renfrow Park to close out the regular season. Hoosac last went undefeated in the regular season in 2017, when it went 11-1 with a loss in the state title game.