McCann Tech Making Most of Extended Football Season
Blue Hills' loss is McCann Tech's gain.
The Hornets football team thought its season was over. The goodbyes were delivered, the equipment was returned, the basketball season was in sight and, like most Berkshire County student-athletes, Thanksgiving was for turkey and watching the game on TV.
Little did they know that on the other side of the commonwealth, events were conspiring to give McCann's 2015 season a new lease on life and a berth in Thusday's State Vocational Small School Championship Game.
"Blue Hills lost when they fumbled the ball with four minutes to go, ahead, and the other team scored on the last play of the game," McCann Tech coach Bob LeClair related on Monday afternoon. "If they win, they're going and we're not."
Instead, Blue Hills lost some precious power ranking points and McCann, which had not played since the Western Mass finals back on Nov. 14, suddenly had another game to play.
"I literally did not know about this until about quarter to seven [Sunday] night," LeClair said.
"This was unexpected. A week ago [Monday], I got the email saying we were in third place, so you're basically saying, 'We don't have an opportunity.' "
Just two teams in each size class, large and small, advance to State Voc play in football, unlike other sports, where the Massachusetts Vocatioanal Athletic Directors Association runs a four-team tournament.
Last year, a 10-1 McCann team knew it had a pretty good shot of going to the consolation game after it lost in the Division 6 state semi-finals. And it did, losing to Essex Tech, 42-22, to finish the season 10-2.
This year, the opponent again is Essex Tech, but the Hornets (7-3) have to play the Hawks (7-4) in Hathorne on their home field instead of on a neutral site.
Essex won the Division 6 North sectional but fell out of the MIAA tournament with a 52-26 state semi-final loss to Mashpee, which on Saturday at Gillette Stadium will play St. Bernard's, the team that eliminated Western Mass champion Lee in the semis.
Essex bounced back last week to win its Thanksgiving rivalry game over Northeast, 30-6.
LeClair and the Hornets know what they're up against on Thursday evening, even if the Hawks' offense looks a little different than it did in 2014.
"They went to that same tight double wing offense that Mohawk runs," LeClair said. "We've seen that, so we know how to defend that pretty well. Last year, they ran mostly I formation and some other things.
"I think if they play the double wing, we'll be OK with that. But if they play anything else, we've seen just about everything before. We'll adjust to it on the fly."
Win or lose, there is much to be gained just from having a chance to play, LeClair said.
"It's good for the program," he said. "It's good for the school.
"Going a little bit longer, it's almost like spring ball for us. We're practicing a little longer than everyone else, which is good."