Wahconah Falls in State Title Game
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It still would have been an uphill fight, but with three minutes left in the second quarter, the Wahconah High School football team had a chance.
Holliston had a 22-0 lead but faced a third-and-9 on its own 6. Quarterback Nicholas Athy dropped back toward his goal line, and for one tantalizing moment, it looked like Wahconah would wrap him up in the end zone for its first points of the game.
But Athy fought through a defender and threw the ball up for grabs. Nicholas Inman leapt up in traffic, picked the ball out of the air and scampered 45 yards.
And Wahconah never did get those points in a 43-0 loss in the Division 4 State Championship game at Gillette Stadium.
“It was a phenomenal catch, and it was really an unbelievable play by the quarterback,” Wahconah coach Gary Campbell said. “We had an arm on him. He winged it up there, and the kid went up and got it.
“Instead of that, maybe we get a punt block on there. Maybe we get a break to go our way. Instead it didn’t, and unfortunately it turned ugly from there.”
Holliston put the game away in the first minute of the second half.
Wahconah came out of the locker room attempting an onsides kick, which the Panthers recovered at the 50. On the first play from scrimmage, Zachary Elkinson went 50 yards for the fourth of his five touchdowns to make it 30-0.
After a strong kickoff pinned Wahconah on its 11, a first-down fumble gave Holliston the ball at the 1, and the Panthers punched it in to take a 36-0 lead.
“They kicked our butt, physically,” Campbell said. “It was just one of those things. It wasn’t a package thing. We saw it last week with Shepherd Hill. I think they ran it better than Shepherd Hill.
“I don’t think 3 [Elkinson] was touched through the line. And then his speed brought it all the way to the house, obviously. That’s on us as coaches. They did a better job coaching today, and they kicked our butt. They were the better team.”
Elkinson scored on runs of 49, 61, 21, 50 and 30 yards and rushed for 212 on nine carries as Holliston outgained Wahconah 327-141 on the ground.
A lot of those Wahconah yards came in the fourth quarter as junior Tyler Cataldi and sophomore quarterback William Genaway took over against Holliston’s second unit.
Genaway ended up as Wahconah’s leading rusher with 36 yards on three carries. Cataldi run for 22 -- 21 in the second half. Ryan Washburn ran for 32 yards. Nick Clayton completed just five of 15 passes for 50 yards and an interception.
Athy completed just three of 10 against Wahconah’s defense, but one of those three was the 45-yarder that, as much as any other single play, epitomized Wahconah’s frustration.
“It’s a big momentum swing,” Wahconah senior Marco Anastasio said. “I mean, they had the momentum, but we were trying to get it back. But when a play like that happens, it’s hard to reverse it. They come back and score.
“You try to keep the guys up, but sometimes its hard, especially when things aren’t going your way.”
For Wahconah (11-1), it was a bitter end to a season where a lot went their way.
“I think this was the best and most together [team I’ve played on],” Anastasio said. “We’re a pretty close-knit group. We’re going to go out there and fight for each other. But we’ve got talent to back it up. That’s a big part of it.”
NOTES: At half-time of the Wahconah game, the Mount Greylock football team received the MIAA’s sportsmanship award. The Mounties were one of three football teams commonwealth-wide so honored this fall, along with Woburn and Framingham. … Wahconah’s loss left Western Mass 0-for-2 and without a state champion for the second year since the MIAA instituted the statewide tournament format. Longmeadow represented the section in Division 2 and lost, 45-6 against Marshfield. … The other games Saturday of interest to the Berkshire involved Littleton in Division 6 and Northbrdge in D5. Littleton, which beat McCann Tech in the state semi-finals, lost to Cohasset, 35-22, in the title game. Northbridge was scheduled to take on Abington at 8 p.m. in D5.