By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Friday afternoon was the season opening game for the West Springfield Terriers. They hosted the Spartans from East Longmeadow. The Spartans were coming in to the game on Friday after beating Amherst a week ago.
Friday afternoon was very windy. The goal-line markers and yard-line markers were blown away and pushed back to the track. Surprisingly though, the players threw and kicked the ball effectively without the wind being too much of an issue.
The game couldn’t have started better for East Longmeadow. On the opening kickoff, Spartans Senior Nico Mongeon ran for 98 yards and scored a touchdown😳.
(EL Senior Nico Mongeon)
EL HC Mike Morissino told me after the game , “That’s the ideal start to a football game...it’s a house call.”
The rest of the game didn’t go as well as the opening 10-15 seconds. EL couldn’t generate any of the offensive rhythm they had last week. The passing game wasn’t there and the running game for the Spartans is still developing. The West Side defense got good pressure on EL QBs Conner Robidoux and Shane Becker. The West Side defense also forced a couple of turnovers and took one to the 🏡.
(Conner Robidoux throws a pass)
(EL FB Isaiah King is tackled)
West Side scored 42 unanswered points after that opening kickoff return 😳. The Terriers were led on offense and defense by Senior Ryan Russell. He did everything on Friday night! He made some nice throws to WS WRs that led to some YAC. He was almost unstoppable on the zone-read when he kept the ball. He also caught an INT on defense.
(Ryan Russell drops back to pass)
Russell threw for 179 yards, with 1 passing TD and one INT. Russell dominated on the ground with 172 yards and 3 TDs. He scored a 2-pt conversion after a run TD by Dan Rivas also.
(Aidan Landers, Joseph Tangredi and Dan Rivas get lined up on offense for West Side)
The night got pretty rough for EL but there was another bright spot other than the opening TD: Johnny Ferrentino. He didn’t have has many offensive plays on Friday but he played a great defensive game for the Spartans. The West Side announcer called his name all game because Ferrentino is a good tackler and he is always around the football.
One of the issues EL had all night when they were on defense was setting the edge. West Side RBs and WRs continually got to the outside of EL. The runs by West Side RBs set up Russell to keep the ball on the zone-read. EL didn’t have an answer for the West Side offensive attack on Friday.
The Terriers won 42-14.
After the game I spoke to Russell and West Side HC Chad Labonte.
🔵WS QB Ryan Russell⚪️
(Ryan Russell adjusts Dan Rivas pads before snap)
How did you feel coming into the game?
“We were confident; we worked hard all week. We had the game plan set - we needed to get pressure up front and stay good in coverage and our offense will always come around, ya know. So we just focused on defense a lot”.
What are you looking for from the defense before the play starts?
“I’m reading the coverage, looking where the safeties are playing over to, where my pre-snap reads are”.
How did you feel out there running the ball? You made some great plays.
“That was fun. I’m kinda mad I came up short on that long run but I think my line did great today and they made it happen for me, my line”.
You caught an INT too. What did you see before you caught the ball?
“It’s was coming right at me; I woulda been mad if I dropped that ball...we just flew around and had fun all day”.
🔵West Side HC Chad Labonte⚪️
How long have you been the HC at West Side?
How did your team look in practice coming into this game?
“We had a lot things we had to work on, mentally from our scrimmage last week...I was confident but you never know when you play your first game”.
What has Aidan Landers given to your program?
(Aidan Landers lines up across from Preston Longo)
“Aidan has been great. He has really worked hard to get better. Last year, he improved so much from beginning to end. He doesn’t want to let the team down, that’s why he performs the way he does. He doesn’t get tired. He’s a great receiver. He’s a good outside LB that can rush or cover...he leads by example. He always has a smile on his face; he has turned into a great football player”.
EL is now 1-1. West Side is 1-0
East Longmeadow plays at Agawam on Friday.
West Side plays at Longmeadow on Friday.
(West Side's Mekhi Smith lines up at WR across from EL S Landon Robidoux)