Koperniak Shines as Canes Finish 8-0
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Senior Javon Reynolds took the opening kickoff 85 yards for a Hurricane touchdown, and the Hoosac Valley football team cruised to a 52-18 victory over their rivals the visiting Drury Blue Devils.
With the win, the Hurricanes complete an undefeated regular season and will head into the first round of the D5 playoffs next weekend.
“It’s exactly what I wanted so far,” said senior captain Jameson Coughlin about beating rival Drury on Senior Day and the undefeated regular season. “But it’s just the beginning. It’s just one step. This is the real time now though, the time to shine.”
“We had a great season last year but we couldn’t finish,” added senior Avery Hall. “This year we come into the playoffs undefeated and it’s a great feeling.”
“Right now we know it’s what we do from here on out and that’s what we told the guys,” said Hurricane coach Dayne Poirot. “What they did the last eight weeks is helpful but it’s the playoffs now. That’s what really matters and that’s what they want to accomplish.”
After Reynolds took the opening kickoff back for a score, on Hoosac’s first defensive play Coughlin intercepted Drury’s pass attempt to set up his Canes on the Blue Devil 19-yard line. Three plays later Coughlin lined up in the backfield and took the carry for a one-yard touchdown. Hoosac converted the two point try and took a 16-0 lead just a minute and half into the game.
A Drury punt on their next possession set up Hoosac for their next possession on their own 36-yard line. This time they took to the air. Senior quarterback Matt Koperniak dropped back on their third play of the drive and found classmate Shiheem Gallaway for a 47-yard gain down to the Blue Devil six-yard line. Koperniak would finish it off with a one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown and with the extra point kick no good the Hurricanes pushed their lead to 22-0.
Drury answered though on its next drive as senior quarterback Kody Crosier connected with junior Hayden Bird on back to back passes. The first on a slant for a 13-yard gain and the second a deep bomb down the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown. Their two-point attempt failed to make the score 22-6.
The Hurricanes got back to work with six-play, 72-yard drive that again was led by Koperniak’s arm. The quarterback found Reynolds for a 39 yard gain before completing a seven yard touchdown pass to Gallaway. The two-point conversion was good extending the lead to 30-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Hurricanes added on three more touchdowns in the second quarter on one-yard run by junior Brendan Ellsworth, a 35-yard run by sophomore Matt Hall, and a 80 yard run by sophomore Donald Monsees.
Despite the loss, the Blue Devils showed a lot of heart and fought all the way to the end. Sophomore running back Jamal Beda had an awesome day for his Drury team and really gave the Blue Devils something to look for in the future. The shifty back finished the day with 144 rushing yards that included big gains of 41, 18, and 21 yards. Beda also showed well on the kick return team as he returned a kick in the second quarter 80 yards for a touchdown.
In the second half, Blue Devil quarterback Crosier got in on the scoring as well when he ran a quarterback sweep around the left end for a 16-yard touchdown. Hoosac Valley played it safe in the second half as they used their back ups and junior varsity players to avoid an injury and to get them some useful experience.
At the end of the game the annual Mike Rysz award was handed out to an outstanding senior on the Hoosac Valley football team. This year quarterback and captain Matt Koperniak was the winner of the award.
“It feels great,” said Koperniak about receiving the Rysz award. “It’s a great tradition. ... It’s the Hoosac Drury game and it means a lot my senior year. It was a great atmosphere today. I love my school and appreciate the award.”
Heading into the playoffs next weekend is very important for this Hurricane team especially after losing last year in the Western Mass Division 4 championship game at home to Pittsfield High.
“It was terrible losing here and us seniors can definitely feel that,” said Koperniak. “We know what it’s like and we have to just play as hard as we can. Staying focused. Giving 100 percent in practice.”
The older guys acting like they’ve been there is something senior captain Coughlin said will be key in the upcoming games. “We got to have a better week of practice this week,” he said. “It’s time for full throttle.”