Hoosac Storms Past Lee

By Stephen DravisSpecial to iBerkshires
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The Hurricanes caught the Wildcats at half time and never looked back.

CHESHIRE, Mass. — When the rains subsided, the Hurricanes got going.

After slogging to a 7-0 half-time lead, the Hoosac Valley High School football team ran over Lee, 29-0, in Saturday's season opener.

Senior Blake Gaylord busted tackles and busted through the middle of the Wildcat defense for a 45-yard touchdown on the first possession of the second half, and Hoosac never looked back as first-year coach Dayne Poirot won his first game at the helm.

Things looked a whole lot closer 22 minutes into his coaching tenure.

Hoosac's first half was marked by missed opportunities on offense and uncharacteristic breakdowns on defense.

But the 'Canes righted their ship in the locker room.

"I think we just really came out and wanted to score more points," junior running back Ian Hill said. "We saw open gaps [in the first half], but we were just really flat. Personally, for me, I think I was more tired in the first half.

Above, Hurricanes senior Cory Gallup, No. 25, goes for a tackle; left, quarterback Matt Braman rolls out to throw; Tyler Mach, No. 21, fights for extra yards.
"And we came out after half-time and all came together. Everyone blocked to the whistle, the backs never stopped. We played like we'd been coached."

Poirot said he did not have to Knute Rockne on his team to get them fired up, but he did need to light a bit of a fire.

"I think at half-time, we just talked about sustaining our blocks a little longer, being excited to come out here and play football and just trying to get into the flow of the game," Poirot said. "We felt like if we executed, we had the better team, but we needed to come out and do our jobs."

Gaylord's TD run capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive that consumed the first 6 minutes, 18 seconds of the second half. Hill converted a third-and-1, and junior QB Matt Braman went over center Zach O'Neill for a 4-yard gain to convert a fourth-and-1 just before Gaylord's scamper for the game's second touchdown.

Lee coach Keith Thomson said the drive that ate up more than half the quarter changed the whole game.

"This is football, and people will tell you all the time the first drive of the second half is one of the most important drives of the game," Thomson said. "It deflated us.

"Even though we didn't finish that drive at the end of the first half, we felt pretty good about moving the football down the field. We had an opportunity to put some points on the board, but when they had that drive to open the second half, it was tough."

Hoosac added insult to injury by getting the ball back almost immediately just outside the "red zone," and the 'Canes had two sophomores to thank for it.

Tenth-grader Austin Milesi laid out running back Ryan Hurley for an 8-yard loss on Lee's first play of the second half. And on second-and-18, Milesi's classmate Tyler Mach dove to pick off a Deaglan Giarolo pass at the Lee 23.

"Austin Milesi and Tyler Mach both stepped up and made some big plays," said Poirot, who coached Hoosac's junior varsity last year. "And they're both kids who have been doing well all along and pushing themselves really hard.

"They've been practicing hard and trying to keep themselves going. But they stepped up and made plays as well, which is great. It's a bonus for us. We're filling in a lot of spots on 'O' and 'D,' a lot of starters. So it's good to get that."

Hill also ran for 47 yards as the Hurricanes spread the wealth on offense. Gaylord had a game-high 73 yards on just seven carries, and Hill had 45 yards on seven attempts. Braman only needed to throw the ball seven times, but he completed three, including a 30-yard TD to Trevor Alibozek that showed a lot of touch for the first-time starter under center.

In the first half, Braman nearly had a big completion on fourth-and-5 at the Lee 23, but a dropped pass gave the Wildcats some life.

Giarolo responded with an impressive 14-play drive that included completions of 14 and 17 yards to get all the way down to the Hoosac 18.

But Cory Gallup broke up a pass on first down, and Cody LaBrie had a tackle for a 3-yard loss to put Lee in third-and-long. An incompletion and a missed field goal ended Lee's biggest threat of the afternoon just before half.

Hoosac entertains St. Joe's on Saturday. Lee will look for its first win in a non-league game Friday against Mahar.

"I just reminded them, last year ... was pretty similar on opening day, and then we ended up on going on a pretty good run," Thomson said, alluding to the Wildcats' trip to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Super Bowl. "Now, that team had 18 seniors, so I can't promise them the same kind of run. But the goal here is to get better every week."
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