By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
11/22/21 * 3:35 PM
(HOLYOKE) - On Saturday, Holyoke HS hosted the MIAA Division 7 Semifinal game between Wahconah Regional High School and Northbridge High School. Wahconah Regional is in Dalton, MA (Berkshire County). Wahconah is the #1 seed in Division 7 and played a relative home game at Holyoke HS.
This game, like the two previous Playoff games I went to, got off to a slow start. Neither team could produce multiple first downs or break a big play.
Northbridge got their offense going first. They worked the 🏈 down the field and got to the red-zone. Northbridge QB Ryan Boyce got the snap and ran right on a QB Power play. He met two Wahconah defenders at the goal-line and powered through them to get over the line for a TD. Northbridge kicked the EP successfully. They led early 7-0.
As the game moved to the 2nd quarter, Wahconah’s offense was still struggling. They hadn’t scored yet and QB Ryan Scott threw an INT that was caught by Northbridge defender Zach Savage.
As indicated by the final score, after Northbridge’s initial TD, they didn’t produce much on offense. Boyce threw a lot of deep passes on Saturday but didn’t complete many. He has a good arm though 👍🏾.
Wahconah finally found their step on offense and worked the ball into the “goal to go” area of the red-zone. QB Ryan Scott took the snap and barreled his way across the goal-line on a QB Sneak. Wahconah went for two and converted. Despite Wahconah’s slow start, they led 8-7 going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Wahconah had some flashes in the passing game. Scott hit WR Owen Salvatore in the end-zone on a great play-call by the Wahconcah offensive staff. RB Jonah Smith was out at WR, closest to the sideline. Salvatore was the slot receiver. When Scott got the snap, he faked the WR Screen to Smith. Smith jumped in the air like he was catching the ball. Salvatore ran a fade route from the slot and got behind the Northbridge DBs. Scott hit Salvatore with a great pass, Salvatore secured the 🏈 and scored. Jonah Smith ran in the two-point conversion; Wahconah led 16-7.
The offensive struggles for Northbridge continued in the third. Boyce tried everything to keep his team in the game. He ran the ball a little more in the second half. On one of his rush attempts, he fumbled and Wahconah recovered.
The big pass play by Wahconah also came in the third. Scott threw a short pass to Ben Noyes. Noyes looked like he was going to be tackled for a moderate gain. Noyes fought off that defender and broke tackles by 2 other Northbridge defenders 😳. After his display of strength, he had to turn on the speed to get to the end-zone. He ran across the goal-line and laid down. He was exhausted. He had to come out of the game to catch his breath. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful. Wahconah was up 22-7.
Northbridge was down 15 points going in to the fourth quarter. They had to throw the ball. Boyce connected on a few passes to his WRs but nothing that set up them with a chance to score. Wahconah’s pass rush also influenced Northbridge’s unsuccessful passing game on Saturday. Wahconah’s DEs got around the edge quickly and made Boyce rush many of his throws. Boyce threw 2 INTs in the fourth quarter.
The game started slow for Wahconah but they turned it up in the second half to beat Northbridge 22-7.
Wahconah will play Cohasset at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on December 1st @ 5:30 PM.
Ryan Scott - 2 pass TDs; 1 run TD
Owen Salvatore - 1 rec TD
Ben Noyes - 1 rec TD
Ryan Boyce - 1 run TD
After the game, I spoke with Wahconah HC Gary Campbell.
You are going to the D7 State Championship, how are you feeling?
“Awesome. It’s certainly the culmination of a lot of hard work. Really proud of these kids and it’s very satisfying.”
Can you describe what you saw on Scott’s 1st TD pass?
“That’s a design. The DBs were up and we felt that we could get one over the top on them.”
How did your defense play?
“The defense was unbelievable. Coach Galliher, our defensive coordinator, does a great job. We were able to keep [Boyce] moving in the pocket. When he put it up, we got two Noyes Boys - the two ‘Raptors’ I call ‘em - Ben & Brad, they picked him off and did a great job; huge plays in our game.”
On to Foxborough 🛣