By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
The Northampton Blue Devils hosted the Pathfinder Pioneers on Saturday afternoon, in South Hadley. Neither team had a home field advantage but Northampton had a good number of parents and fans show up to cheer on their football team.
When I arrived to the field, the first thing I noticed was the difference in rosters. Pathfinder only had 14 players dressed for the game. Northampton had around 35 players on their sideline.
(Pathfiner HC & Athletic Director Joe Baldyga talks with QB Jordan Talbot)
The 1st quarter was competitive. Neither team got off to a great start. That ended when Northampton scored their 1st rushing TD. They got another TD on defense off a fumble recovery. The Blue Devils led after the 1st qt. 14-0.
(Giovanni Pernicairo runs into Jordan Talbot)
Both teams deploy run-heavy offenses. Pathfinder played primarily out the wishbone. They mixed it up with some plays from the shotgun but most of their offense is out of the wishbone. Northampton runs an offense with their QB under center mostly, with 2, sometimes 3, RBs in the backfield.
(Pathfinder wishbone offense led by #17 Jordan Talbot)
The Northampton ground attack on Saturday was led by 3 RBs: Braeden Tudryn, Brett Holden and Dominic Badorini. They ran over the Pathfinder defense which had limited resources.
(Trevor Maslowski gets a carry for Northampton)
Northampton scored 3 more TDs in the 2nd quarter: 2 rushing TDs and 1 TD off an INT. The score was 35-0 after 2 quarters.
(Jonathan Marshall attempts EP; he was 5/5 on Saturday)
This is when things took a turn ↪️.
It was halftime. I was changing lenses on my camera. I saw the Pathfinder HC [and Athletic Director, which is important] Joe Baldyga say something to the referees. I heard the referee say, “Well, I’ll tell the AD”.
I didn’t watch what the referees did after that. A minute or so later, the head referee activated his hand-held whistle, waved his hands and said “That’s it”. He and the other officials started walking off the field. Both teams began to pack up their sidelines.
I had no clue what was happening. There was another reporter from another media outlet in Western Mass on the sideline. He asked the guys that were holding the down markers what happened and they said the game was over. At the time, I knew AD Lauren McFarland was in attendance for her team, Northampton. I didn’t know HC Baldyga was the AD for Pathfinder.
In the moment, it seemed like Pathfinder quit, from a non-competitive standpoint. Once I learned the HC was also the AD, the decision made sense. Also, it’s a decision I agree with. Once again, Pathfinder only had 14 players dressed. Some basketball teams I cover have more players. During the 1st half, one of the Pathfinder players got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Pathfinder was one more UC penalty away from not being able to compete at all. Thirdly, Baldyga took into account the health and well being of his players. There wasn’t a need to play the last 24 minutes of that game. Taking a pounding running the ball and defending the run for another 24 minutes would have been a harsh tasks for the Pioneers.
They lived to fight another Saturday.
In only 2 quarters, Northampton beat Pathfinder 35-0.
(Scoreboard 5 minutes into halftime; 3rd quarter was not played)
After the game I spoke with both HCs 👀.
⚪️Pathfinder HC Joe Baldyga🔵
Can you explain to me what’s goin on? I guess you forfeited the game.
“Yea. Hey, we’re extremely young with only 4 upperclassmen. And we just had to make a call right now to get out of here healthy and we are looking forward to Smith Voc. next week”.
You only have 14 players dressed today. Is there a reason or is this always an issue?
“We have a lot more players, we had a good Fall, we had more numbers but we had some players that failed off. There were a couple of guys who got jobs so right now we’re just working with 13 or 15 guys. They have been extremely committed and working hard. We’re coaching ‘em up everyday and its a good group. We’re just trying to improve and we wanted to get out of here healthy and play next week”.
What do you have to work on in practice to finish the whole game and potentially win the game [on Saturday]?
“We are just gonna keep trying to execute, not hurt ourselves and hopefully good things will happen”.
🔵NoHo HC Joe Kocot🟡
Pathfinder forfeited the game. How do you feel about that outcome for you and your team?
“Well, we won 35-0 - in a half. We cleaned up some stuff from last week. The coaches coached up the players well. They had some plays on film they did good but I’m not gonna comment on them cannin’ the second half”.
What are you expecting from your team in this short Fall 2 season?
“Well, we’re lifting, we’re practicing, we’re working out; kids are excited. My bottom-line is each and every kid have fun”.
How do you get your running game so strong?
“We work with the line, I personally work with the line. We got a lot of different block calls that we make. Once they hit, its a hard offense to stop because it looks very vanilla but its hard to stop, when you do it right”.
There was media coverage of your team’s protest to play this season. How did it feel not being able to play and then finally being able to play?
“Well it wasn’t really my fight ‘cause it was the Health Board and I’m not a health official so I try to in my lane. I think it was silly how it started for us not to be on the field because everyone else was playing. So what made us so different in Northampton? Our numbers weren’t higher. So if your ‘following the science’ as they tell you to do...so anyways that’s in the rearview mirror. The kids protested; that was all them. They came up with the idea; they made the signs. They had people [blowing their horns] when they were outside of Northampton City Hall. So, give them all the credit and I’m just glad we are out here, especially for the Seniors. They were gonna have two season taken away: 2020 and 2021. We had to shovel fields to practice and the kids didn’t complain once”.
Thank you for fighting for your season NoHo.
(NoHo leaving after win)
(NoHo after win)