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Ryan Russell and Aidan Landers Lead Terriers Past Lancers 30-7

By Kevin McCaskill Jr.

On Thursday night, I was in East Longmeadow to watch the Terriers from West Springfield HS (West Side) play a road game against the Lancers from Longmeadow HS. It was about 40 degrees at kickoff 🌡.

I got to the field a little late. A minute or so had gone by in the first quarter. By the time I had settled on a good spot, Ryan Russell had scored his first rushing TD of the game 💨. West Side went for 2 and converted. They led early 8-0.

Longmeadow had difficulty all night sustaining drives. Longmeadow’s running attack was effective, led by Senior QB Colin Hoffman and Junior RB Wyatt Tallaksen. They ran hard and gained yards throughout the game. Their passing game wasn’t as effective on Thursday. West Side got a lot pressure on Hoffman. West Side’s defensive line and pass rushing linebackers made the pocket uncomfortable. Hoffman had to scramble a lot and make some tough throws on the run.

Still in the first, on a Longmeadow punt attempt, West Side got pressure right up the middle and West Side Junior Jonathan Rosas blocked a punt 💪🏽. Joe Tangredi recovered the ball and scored. West Side didn’t convert the 2-pt attempt; they led 14-0.

Before the end of 1st quarter, Hoffman led the Lancers on their only TD drive of the game. They made enough plays consecutively to get down to the goal-line. Hoffman was under center, got the snap, faked the handoff to a RB and went right. He got to the outside and got a partial block from Sophomore Nick Carterud. Hoffman was able to fight off a tackle from West Side’s Mehki Smith and scored 💪🏽. The Lancers were only down 1 TD, 14-7.

The only score of the second was a Ryan Russell TD pass to Aidan Landers. That connection started early for the Terriers and lasted all game. Landers got open all night. On their first TD, Russell was in the shotgun with RB Josiah Griffin to his left. Russell got the snap, looked left and fired the ball to Landers. Landers was guarded by Longmeadow DB Sam Mard. Landers held on to the ball and West Side was up 20-7. They were up 22-7 after a Russell QB run on the 2-pt attempt.

The score at halftime was 22-7.

In the third quarter, West Side recovered a fumble on defense which set up their next TD drive. Russell ran on a QB draw for a good gain. Tangredi had a good gain on a play where he came across in motion and Russell flipped him the ball and Tangredi got to the outside.

The TD came on another pass from Russell to Landers. On this TD, Russell was in the shotgun. Griffin was on his right side this time. After the snap, Russell faked the handoff to Griffin, looked left and saw Landers behind the DBs. He threw a nice 🏈 to Landers for the TD. The 2-pt conversion was another pass from Russell to Landers. The Terriers were up 30-7.

As previously mentioned, Longmeadow had a tough time sustaining drives. Hoffman didn’t have a lot of time to set his feet in the pocket which led to some off-target throws. The running game worked but they didn’t get huge gains.

The Lancers lost to the Terriers 30-7.

After the game I spoke to West Side HC Chad Labonte and Longmeadow HC Tanner Williams.

🔵West Side HC Chad Labonte⚪️

How was your practice this week and how did you feel coming into this game?

“Practice was good. We were kinda up against it because of the short week. So we had to put 2 days of work in to one day on Monday. But the kids responded well. They watched more film on their own, not as much as we usually do together”.

You had a good connection tonight between Russell and Landers. What did you see in the Longmeadow defense that made them susceptible in the passing game?

“The way that they matched up and where we use Landers, we knew that those were gonna be good matchups for us. So we tried to look at matchups and they really didn’t adjust to Landers...Landers is one of those hybrid players so you can play him inside - he can block; he can go deep; he can do ball control - so he’s a tough matchup for anybody. When you try to cover him with a LB, its tough”.

It’s early but how will you prepare for Agawam?

“Well, you know, Agawam is our Thanksgiving rival, its our Senior Night, so they’ll be ready to go. They want to come in and beat us...They’re much improved this year; they’re playing with an edge”.

⚫️Longmeadow HC Tanner Williams⚪️

The game was moved up one day. How did you feel coming into the game tonight?

“We were as prepared as we were gonna be. Everyone had the same circumstances - we had a short week, they had a short week - but with the way things are in Fall 2, we just have to be ready at a moments switch opponents....More practice would have been nice but everybody is in the same boat”.

What happened on the punt block?

“It looked like they came through the middle...they came with pressure, we didn’t handle it well. I think the snap was good”.

What was the breakdown on defense that led to so many connections between Russell and Landers?

“They executed; they threw some really nice passes and ran good routes. But other times it’s a 6’2” WR against a 5’8” CB. It’s a little bit of everything. He’s a good receiver, he runs good routes...And Russell threw some real nice balls”.


Longmeadow plays Amherst next week; East Longmeadow plays Minnechaug.

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