Taconic Wins Over St. Joe 18-6
|The Braves took the victory 18-6 against St. Joe in the first game of 2013 for Pittsfield football.|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Friday night's game between city rivals Taconic and St. Joseph at Wahconah Park was a lot different than in years past.
Not only because the game would not count toward crowning a city champion — the change in the teams' schedules this year means not all three Pittsfield schools will playing one another — but because both teams are lead by first-year coaches.
Jim Ziter takes over for the Taconic Braves after serving as an assistant coach at both St. Joseph and Pittsfield high schools. For the Crusaders, 2007 graduate Ben Kline takes over for longtime coach Gary Bianchi.
Their first matchup ended with Taconic taking the victory 18-6 over St. Joe.
Watching each team's first series on offense made it clear that there were brand-new coaches and a lot of young inexperienced players getting there first taste of game action. Both teams committed multiple penalties and ultimately were forced to punt.
Then like in all sports the most fatal of mistakes was made by St. Joseph and Taconic had no problem taking advantage. After a chop-blocking penalty pushed the Crusaders back 15 yards to their own 11 yard line, a fumbled snap was recovered by Taconic. The Braves wasted no time and on their first play, senior running back Dylan Moody rumbled in for the Braves first touchdown of the year to give them a 6-0 lead.
With the ball back, St. Joseph's was ready to make up for their mistake. On third and six, quarterback Nate Stump connected on a wobbly pass to junior David Lewis for a big first down. But his second pass attempt did not go as well when he and his receiver were not on the same page. The disconnect resulted in another turnover as Taconic freshman Jake McNeice came away with an interception.
"I told the team we can't make those sort of mistakes," said coach Kline. "Can't have a turnover, false starts, bad snaps, all things we had tonight that kill drives. Especially being a team that is as inexperienced as we are."
Now with momentum on their side, Taconic could smell blood as they took over in enemy territory again, this time with the ball on St. Joe's 34-yard line. That's when Moody went to work, rushing six straight times to bring the ball down to the seven-yard line before plunging in from six yards out on the eighth play of the drive. The Braves lead 12-0 heading into halftime.
Coming out of intermission, the Braves were feeling good and that's exactly when the momemtum looks to swing the other way. Their youth and inexperience showed through as they racked up 25 yards of penalties in their first two series of the half and fumbled two times, recovering both. But the third time, they were not so lucky as junior and first-year football player Brendan Faas jarred the ball loose and took it 50 yards to pay dirt. Putting the Crusaders right back in the game, down by just one score 12-6.
"Brendan Faas made a terrific play on our touchdown," said Kline. "To strip the ball, recover the fumble, and then score on his own. That was a sportscenter top ten type play right there."
Up by only six points, Taconic needed to answer to stop any chance of St. Joe's having a coming back to tie or take the lead. A big task for a young team, but with the right leaders it was able to answer the call. The Braves went on a 14-play, 70-yard drive, that ate up seven and half minutes of the fourth quarter. Senior captain Moody capped off the drive with his third touchdown of the night, on third and ten from 11 yards out.
|St. Joe and Taconic start the year with new coaches and young teams. Senior running back Dylan Moody, No. 41, gave the Braves their first touchdown of the season.|
"It's real exciting because the freshman got their first taste of varsity. They could see what a game is like and we came out at half and emphasized that you can't stop playing because a game can change at the snap of a finger," said Moody about getting the win after the Crusaders cut their lead in half heading into the fourth quarter. "When they put six points on the board, it gave the freshman a reality check. They were able to say okay this is a game. We turned it around and got our momentum back and brought it to them again."
Coach Ziter added, "What we worried about when they recovered the fumble and scored on us was that could have been a momentum change in their favor. Our kids as young as they are, they overcame the adversity and did a great job. The upperclassmen, and we don't have many of them, they brought the kids and got them involved all three weeks of pratice before the season and tonight it showed."
Despite coming up on the losing end, Kline of the Crusaders said the biggest thing he took away was his team's effort saying, "No one quit. They left it all out on the field. We lost one of our coaches earlier in the week. Jay Horth passed away. This was going to be his 19th season. All the coaches played for him.
"This was the sort of game that he would have been proud of. Even though we didn't come out with the result we wanted, we tried hard and left everything out on the field. It was football game right down to the end and even when they took a knee there was no cheap shots. I'm really proud of the way our guys played."
The win for Taconic was a big result of how well running back Moody played as he finished the night with a game-high 107 yards on 24 carries to go along with three touchdowns. He attributed his success to his offensive line.
"We made some adjustments for blocking their linebackers and they got the job done and it opened up big holes for me," said Moody.
Ziter agreed, saying, "The line. They're young but they play their hearts out. They were the reason why Dylan [Moody] had the yards he had tonight."
The line for the Braves includes junior center Josh Brosky, freshman guard Nick Mancivalano, junior guard David Jones, sophomore tackle Jack Milne, and freshman Tyrell Council.
Beware Berkshire County, the Taconic football team is on the rise. Ziter and Moody both spoke highly about the team and how hard they have been working.
"Our first three weeks of practice," said Ziter. "We were really trying to change the culture. We haven't had an identity yet but we found the identity tonight. And that is that we are going to practice hard, we are going to play hard everytime we're on the football field. We're never going to give up."
"Taconic's due for some wins. No doubt," Moody said. "The atmosphere is changing. We've really just been emphasizing you know playing some hard football. Going out and showing guys what we got. Because we got talent at Taconic. People don't think that because of past years. But we aren't looking to the past, we're looking forward."