DALTON, Mass. -- A big victory punctuated a memorable night at Wahconah High on Friday, as the hosts ran away with a 42-12 victory over the rival Pittsfield Generals on a night in which the inaugural Dalton CRA Hall of Fame inductees were honored in a halftime ceremony.
It has been more than 15 years since Wahconah last lost its home opener.
“Isn’t this a great high school environment?” head coach Gary Campbell asked. “I really love this place. I think what is happening here and how we’re doing things, how this whole area is improving and we’re getting a new school soon, things just seem like we have a really good vibe here in town. We’ve got the Hall of Fame going with the CRA, you’ve got people like Jeff Reardon, Dan Duquette and Turk Wendell, and all the other people coming through. What a beautiful day for our community. It’s just getting better and I’m really excited about it.”
Things got better as the game wore on for the home team, too. The hosts took control early with a big lead, and then answered the Generals’ first touchdown with a statement drive on its first possession of the second half. The Warriors answered back with two touchdowns after each of the Generals’ scores.
“This felt great,” Campbell said. “The first half we had glimpses of doing really well, but we missed some opportunities. I was really proud of our kids, because at half-time Pittsfield had a little momentum. They scored just before the half and they were getting the ball back when we came out from halftime. Our kids just really executed well in the second half and I was really happy with that.”
Wahconah opened with the ball and promptly marched 69 yards on 14 plays to take a lead it never surrendered. It used a nice mix of runs and passes and spread the ball around, as five different players helped move the ball down the field in large chunks. Shea Mcllquham capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
Quarterback Quinn Gallagher had a big night for Wahconah, and he got it going again with a quick scoring strike on his team’s second possession. Gallagher hit Dom Scalise for a 36-yard touchdown with 33.2 left in the opening quarter, and Zach Archambault’s two-point conversion made it a 14-0 advantage.
Gallagher was 11-of-13 passing for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He had one interception that came after pressure from Shawn O’Shea forced an under-thrown pass that was picked off by Louis Rhodes on Wahconah’s final possession of the first half.
The Generals made the most of the turnover, marching down the field for their first score. Emmanual Nda and Sincere Moorer split carries to chew up the field and open up the passing game, where quarterback Patrick Rindfuss was then able to connect with Nda for a 20-yard gain that set them up inside the goal line. Three plays later Rindfuss hit Moorer for a 5-yard TD that brought things within 14-6 going into halftime.
Wahconah rebounded with a strong start to the second half. It held PHS to a three-and-out and then needed just four plays to record the winning score. Archambault took it in from four yards out with 7:55 left in the third.
“From a mental state, that was unbelievable,” Campbell said. “They got momentum and we kicked them the ball, we stuffed them a little bit and then we took the ball right away and scored. It is unbelievable momentum and the kids do feed off of momentum. So it was huge.”
Tom O’Connor snuck past the defense to receive a perfect delivery from Gallagher for a 21-yard scoring play with 3:58 to go in the third.
Nda continued to give Pittsfield hope, as he broke for a 61-yard touchdown that made it 29-12 with 2:26 on the clock in the third. Nda gained 122 yards on 18 carries to lead all rushers.
Wahconah tacked on two more scores to pull away. Gallagher found Mcllquham streaking past the defender down the left sideline for a 40-yard TD pass near the end of the third, and Jonah Smith added a 2-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
Luke Hescock had a big day to lead all receivers, finishing with four receptions for 97 yards. Hescock had a 74-yard reception in the second quarter that went for the longest play of the game.