Taconic Ends Wahconah Football's County Winning Streak
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It was a rocking house at Wahconah Park on Friday night as the Taconic Braves made a statement by beating the visiting Wahconah Warriors for the first time since 2002.
This is the first time since coach Gary Campbell returned to Wahconah that his team has lost back-to-back games and its first loss to a Berkshire County team since 2012.
Taconic has gone through tough times over the past two seasons, but its hard work is paying off.
“We’ve been the door mat of Berkshire County since we were freshman,” said junior running back Anthony Whiteley. “We’ve been a rebuilding program and to come out here with all the fans and our school supporting us. We played with a lot of heart and it’s huge for us.”
Junior quarterback Jake McNeice added, “The past three years we’ve been getting killed and I really think the team’s coming together. There’s a whole different attitude. A bunch of different kids and we just got a good line this year and I think that’s the biggest difference.”
The line was strong for Taconic, and it showed as their running game was able to produce just shy of 400 total yards. McNeice finished with 105 and junior Jake Galliher added 82. Whiteley rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns on runs of 66 and 12 yards. He ripped of big chunks of yardage all game with nine runs over 10 yards and three of 21 yards or more.
“Everything goes to my line,” said Whiteley. “I think nothing happens without the line. I give all my respect and all my success to them. They’re a great line and they’ve been working hard in practice. It’s all because of them.”
Whiteley’s two scores came at a big moment in the game. Coming out of halftime, Taconic was ahead, 20-7, with a chance to extend its lead but they went three-and-out and were forced to punt. Wahconah had a good opportunity to cut into the deficit, but after an five-play march down to the plus-21, two sacks and a tackle for loss put the visitors in a long fourth and 23 situation. The try failed when an incomplete pass was almost picked off.
Taconic took over on its own 34-yard line, and Whiteley took the first handoff toward the left sideline then put his foot in the ground and exploded up field for 66 yards and his first score to give the Braves a 28-7 lead.
Wahconah wasted no time answering back though as it quickly completed an 11-yard pass from senior Will Getaway to classmate Tyler Cataldi and then found junior Connor Mathews for a 30-yard completion down both Taconic 17. Four plays later, Genaway scooted his way in from 1 yard out. The two-point conversion failed and the lead was down to 15 at 28-7.
On Taconic’s next possession it drove down to the Wahconah 34. Then Whiteley took over with three straight 10-plus yards runs, including the final 12-yard run up the middle where he followed his blockers nicely. The extra point try was good and Taconic pushed its lead up to 22 at 35-13
Wahconah again would not lie down and drove all the way to the Braves 1-yard line, where Genaway hooked up with senior tight end James Ross. The two-point conversion was good and Wahconah had the lead down to 14. But Taconic was able to run down enough time off the clock to cease any comeback hopes.
McNeice was a key player for Taconic all game. He made really nice quarterback scrambles in the fourth quarter when his team was looking to burn the rest of clock. The first was a 22-yard keeper around the right side of a line to keep the clock moving and the second was a 44-yard rush up the left sideline.
McNeice accounted for two touchdowns in the first half. His first was on a nice 15-yard QB draw up the middle and second a gorgeous pass to Zach Gage in the end zone where McNeice through the ball into an open window and Gage just had to run right under it.
Taconic coach Jim Ziter said the last two wins have been big for their program as the Braves beat Monument Mountain last weekend 48-0.
“It’s been a great year,” he said. "These kids have accomplished more in the last three weeks than we did in the last two years because they worked their butts off all summer. All summer and they believe. They finished and we preached all camp to finish and they’re finishing. They believed they’re relevant and now they are the talk of Western Mass.”
“It’s easy when you got talent that I got. It’s easy to coach when you got kids like we have. The numbers are up. The atmosphere. The whole school. The booster club. It’s awesome.”