by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
10/15/22 * 2:25 PM
(EAST LONGMEADOW) - On Friday night, the Blue Devils from Northampton HS travelled south to Hampden County, to take on the undefeated Spartans from East Longmeadow HS. The Blue Devils hadn’t lost a game on the field; their sole “loss” comes from a forfeit earlier in the season. The contest between the two teams on Friday was the biggest game in the PVIAC Suburban South division this season.
Northampton Senior QB Ben Sledzieski began his great performance on the first drive. He made good passes, from multiple arm angles. He ran the ball well all night. He hit WR Wesley Parent for the first of their 3 TD connections on Friday. The extra-point attempt was no good. The Blue Devils had an early 6-0 lead.
(Sledzieski to Parent: Part 1)
There was a bad snap and/or fumble by the QB on the Spartans next drive. Northampton recovered the fumble. After the game, EL HC Mike Morrisino said, “We kinda got on our heels a little bit early. We didn’t start this game the way we wanted to start it”. The first quarter ended with Northampton ahead 6-0.
The Spartans got going in the 2nd quarter. QB Shane Becker threw a nice pass to Cole Johnson for a TD. The EP was good and the Spartans were on top 7-6.
(Shane Becker to Cole Johnson for pass TD)
Northampton responded with another Sledzieski pass TD. His second TD was thrown to Trey Rios. Northampton HC Joe Kocot told me that Rios has been “unbelievable” this season and that “it starts in the weight room…he was very good last year but he made a leap”. The point HC Kocot illustrated after the game was very apparent in the game. The first person couldn’t tackle Rios and his agility would get him past other defenders to the endzone. The Blue Devils went for two but the conversion was no good; Northampton was back in the lead 12-7.
Sledzieski added another TD before halftime. He got the snap and was under immediate pressure from EL DE Nick Ferguson [who is one of the best defensive lineman in Western Mass]. Sledzieski avoided Ferguson, maneuvered around one of his blockers, scrambled left and launched a pass to the endzone. The ball came down right into the hands of Chris Delano. Sledzieski third TD was an amazing play! The 2-point conversion was no good.
(Sledzieski avoids pressure, throws TD pass to Delano)
Northampton led at halftime 18-7.
The third quarter was packed with action. The Blue Devils received the opening kickoff. Rios caught the ball, weaved through a few defenders and broke a tackle. The punter for EL had an opportunity but Rios sprinted right past him all they way to the endzone for a kickoff return TD. The Blue Devils left another 2 points on the field with an unsuccessful conversion. They were up 24-7.
(Trey Rios returns kickoff for TD)
EL responded with a pass TD from Becker to WR Conner Robidoux. EL kicked a conventional EP and tightened the game 24-14.
Northampton turned the ball over on their next possession. Sledzieski threw a backwards pass that was incomplete but was still live since the pass was a backwards pass. Ferguson scooped the ball up for the Spartans and returned it for a TD. The Spartans were now down only by a FG, 24-21.
Northampton responded to East Longmeadow’s comeback with the “Sledzieski-Parent Connection” which was very effective Friday night. They also connected for the 2-point conversion. The Blue Devils now lead 32-21.
(Sledzieski to Parent: Part 2)
In the 4th quarter, Sledzieski threw another TD pass to Parent. The 2-point conversion was no good. Northampton led 38-21.
(Sledzieski to Parent: Part 3)
EL RB/KR Preston Longo returned the kickoff, after the 3rd Sledzieski/Parent TD, for a TD. The Spartans were still down 38-28 but they had some hope.
The Spartans stopped Northampton and got the ball back. However, the Spartans offense turned the ball over twice in the last half of the 4th quarter.
Sledzieski and the Blue Devils were too much for the Spartans. Northampton won an entertaining game 38-28.
(Teams shake hands after the game)
Next week, Northampton (5-1) has a home game against Wahconah; East Longmeadow (5-1) travels west to play @ Agawam.