Hoosac Brings Western Mass Title Back to Berkshire County
EASTHAMPTON, Mass — Berkshire County football is no joke.
The Hoosac Valley Hurricane football team made that statement loud and clear Friday night as they ran through, around, over and past the No. 1 seeded Easthampton Eagles to win the Division 5 Western Massachusetts title, 28-8 on Sawyer Field at Williston Northampton School.
"They were talking about playing smash-mouth football," said senior captain Ian "Rudy" Hill. "So we just thought that we needed to bring the real smash-mouth football right to them from Berkshire County."
The Hurricanes rammed the ball straight at the Eagles all night to the tune of 352 total rushing yards to Easthampton's 159. Eagle star running back Lou Burrell was practically unstoppable throughout the season but on this night, the Hoosac defense held him to just 89 yards. This was the first game of the season where Burrell did not eclipse 100 yards or score a touchdown.
Hoosac dominated in the first half as they jumped out to a 21-0 lead heading into the break. Senior captain Matt Braman had a lot to do with the Hurricanes early success. Braman got his team going right from their first offensive snap when he took the ball off the left side for a 10-yard gain. Two plays later he took a counter 39 yards to pay dirt, shrugging off multiple defenders before bursting away for the score. Hill's extra point was good and Hoosac lead 7-0.
Braman was a force to be reckoned with all night and the Eagles will not soon forget his name. The senior finished with 13 carries for 107 yards to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. His second pick iced the game for the Hurricanes when he made intercepted a deep Easthampton pass with 4 1/2 minutes remaining in the contest.
"I have no idea," Braman when asked what made him play like a man on a mission. "I'll take it every night from now on but really the line was amazing tonight. We had holes and gaps that were giant. It's not all me. Sure I did a little bit of running but those guys up front. I give all the credit to them. We had great blitz pick ups tonight. You know, we worked on them all week in practice. We knew what was coming and we were prepared. We came out and hit the holes hard. We got some big runs and hey we just won Western Mass."
Leading 14-0, the Eagles got some offense going as Burrell ripped off a 22-yard scamper but three plays later the Hurricane defense stuffed Easthampton on fourth down and four to take back over with four minutes to play in the half. Seventy-three yards later, Braman scooted in for his second score with 11 seconds left on the clock to give Hoosac the three touchdown lead at intermission.
But it wasn't all smooth sailing the second half. The Hurricanes hit a bump in the road and for a little while it looked like the turnover bug from last week had crawled back into their system. The second play of the third quarter resulted in an interception for touchdown by the Eagles and a successful two point conversion put the score at 21-8. Again on Hoosac's second play of the next possession a fumble gave the ball right back to Easthampton in Hurricane territory.
"I think as a team we started looking ahead a little bit. We just needed to regroup and calm down" said Hill about the Hurricane's shaky start to the second half. "I don't know. I don't know. We just came out of the half and we said these guys are a second half team," added Hoosac head coach Dayne Poirot. "Maybe we over thought it for a little bit and we just made a couple mistakes. But we told them it's a championship and you're going to have to face some adversity and respond."
Respond is exactly what they did. With Easthampton threatening on the Hoosac 18-yard line the defense stepped up again.
This time it was junior Austin Milesi who covered up a fumble after a bad pitch by the Eagles on a option run to the right side. Hoosac didn't play around this time and in just five plays they were in the endzone. Junior Ty Mach did most of the heavy lifting as he ripped off a 29-yard run on the Hurricanes first play of the drive and then finished it with a pretty 25-yard rush for touchdown to make it 28-8. Mach lead Hoosac with 158 rushing yards on 12 carries for an impressive 13.2 yards per carry average.
"We were making little mistakes and you got to keep your heads up. Someone has to step up and make plays to get our team back into it and I was just able to do that," said Mach about scoring the final Hurricane touchdown to seal the Western Mass crown. "Just the intensity and adrenaline you get inside of you. You don't want to stop and knowing the guys in front of you are working as hard as they can for you. You want to get as much as you can for them."
The Hurricanes take home the Division 5 Western Massachusetts championship trophy and now have the opportunity to keep playing when they take on the Central Massachusetts champion next week.
"This is awesome," said Braman. "After three years of losing in the semis ... coming here and really putting a dominate performance out there. It's so relieving and so satisfying. Ever since '09 when we saw that team win it. We wanted to do exactly what they did. It's our dream to live up to the '09 team so now we can hopefully take it a step further and possibly go to Gillette."
"I remember winning the youth league championship in '09 and just coming to these games and watching them play. I mean it feels great to be here in that situation right now," added Hill. "Just being here, holding up the trophy and bringing it back to Berkshire County."