Skippers Stymie Wahconah in Bid for Perfection
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Four tough quarters can obscure four glorious months.
But only in the short term.
The Wahconah football team Wednesday fell just short of perfection as Cohasset earned a 27-12 victory in the Division 7 State Championship game at Gillette Stadium.
Will Baker ran for 124 yards and a touchdown and threw for 82 yards and a touchdown for the Skippers, who gave Wahconah (11-1) its first and only loss of the season.
In the immediate aftermath, the heartbreak was etched on the faces of the Wahconah players. In the greater scheme of things, it is their achievements that will matter most.
“We’ve always started working together since we were in the youth league together,” senior captain Wyatt George said. “We’ve played every game together and always fought as a brotherhood together and never gave up on each other.”
It is that togetherness that stands out for Wahconah coach Gary Campbell about this team and its 16-member senior class.
“That comes from being together through adversity,” Campbell said. “It comes from being together and respecting each other, which they all do. It comes from offseason workouts. It comes from all those things that they buy into.
“Those are the intangibles that make up a team. Everybody has ‘a team.’ But some teams are more successful than others. Rarely is it X’s and O’s. Usually, it’s camaraderie, chemistry, respect and trust. And this group has it.”
Wahconah had to battle through adversity throughout Wednesday night’s final in the house that Brady built.
Cohasset scored the first points late in the first quarter when Baker scampered 30 yards on a quarterback draw. The kick gave the Skippers a 7-0 lead.
Wahconah immediately responded, going 64 yards for its first score, the final 40 on a perfectly place pass deep down the right side from Ryan Scott to Owen Salvatore. Wahconah’s 2-point try failed, and it was a 7-6 Cohasset lead after one quarter.
On Cohasset’s second drive of the second quarter, Liam Appleton scored from the 22 to put Cohasset up, 14-6.
Wahconah then fumbled the ball on its ensuing possession, but its defense stiffened up, stopping the Skippers on a fourth-and-5 attempt at the plus-38 with 1:12 left in the half.
Wahconah raced down the field in 50 seconds on five plays, a lightning drive that was capped with a 39-yard completion from Scott to Brad Noyes to make it a two-point game, 14-12, at half-time.
Campbell’s squad roared out of the locker room to start the second half, taking the kickoff at their own 44 and marching to the Cohasset 10.
But Jonah Smith ,who ran for 9 yards to get the ball to the 10, exited the game with 81 yards on the ground, not to return due to injury.
Three plays from the 10 yielded just 1 yard, and Wahconah’s 26-yard field goal try was no good, keeping Cohasset’s two-point lead in place.
Campbell said that Smith’s departure midway through the third quarter was a factor, but he thought Wahconah’s offense had more issues than that.
“No doubt, losing Jonah hurts a bit,” Campbell said. “Dougie Collins (20 yards on four carries) does a great job, and he runs hard.
“At the end of the day, we just didn’t stay balanced. We weren’t able to run and pass effectively. We were only able to do one thing. We start throwing the ball pretty good, but then, all of a sudden, they all drop, and now we can’t run the ball. That’s kind of tough.”
It also was tough to corral Baker, who threw a 13-yard TD pass to Appleton to start the fourth quarter and give the Skippers a two-score lead at 21-12.
“He’s tough,” Campbell said of Baker. “I think he is a good threat for them. He ran the ball hard. But we didn’t own the line of scrimmage -- defensive or offensive line of scrimmage. We didn’t own it. They did. And, because of that, that kid added a little more. He ran hard. Credit to them.”
Wahconah got the ball at its 29 after the kickoff and picked up three first downs to get all the way to the Cohasset 18. But a delay of game call, a 4-yard loss in the running game and three incomplete passes dashed Wahconah’s hopes for a comeback.
The Skippers added an insurance score late to finish the year 9-2 and hoist the D7 trophy.
It was the third time in three trips to Foxborough for a state title game that Wahconah has driven home without that trophy. But unlike the vast majority of high school football teams in the commonwealth, they had the experience of taking their shot on the state’s biggest stage.
“It was amazing,” George said. “It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’ll never forget.
“I hope one day we can all come together as this class and watch a new Wahconah team here, hopefully, win a state championship soon.”
Wednesday's D7 title game was preceded by an exciting tilt in Division 7, where Randolph edged Hull, 20-14, thanks to a punt return for a touchdown with less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Randolph was the team that knocked off Lee back on Nov. 5 in the first round of the state tournament. Hull reached Wednesday’s final with a 39-22 win over Hoosac Valley in the state semi-finals.
The 413 gets another shot at a state title Thursday night when Springfield Central takes on Central Catholic in the Division 1 final. That 5:30 game, like Wednesday's Wahconah game, will be available via streaming at cbsboston.com.