By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
Friday night, in Hampden County, the game of the week was Agawam @ West Side. The West Side Terriers were celebrating Senior Night for the Seniors on the football team and the Seniors on the cheerleading squad.
Agawam came into the game with high confidence. They beat a young but talented East Longmeadow team on Good Friday. Everything for the Agawam offense worked that day. Torres and the offensive line dominated the running game. Levesque chipped in on the running game and was on target in the passing game.
(Ryan Russell, Aiden Levesque and officials)
West Side entered the game coming off a convincing win over Longmeadow, in East Longmeadow.
Friday’s matchup was a rivalry game that’s usually played in November, a few weeks away from winter starting. In 2021, the game was played in April, a few weeks after winter ended.
(Agawam waits for kickoff)
This week it was about 70 degrees at kickoff 🌡.
The scoring was opened up by none other than West Side Senior QB Ryan Russell. He scored on a QB sneak at the goal-line. He also scored the 2-point conversion on a nifty scramble, where he eluded 4 Agawam defenders and skipped into the end-zone.
(Ryan Russell TD)
Russell scored another TD on a QB Draw. The 2-point attempt was no good. The Terriers were up 14-0 going in to the second quarter.
Agawam finally put a drive together and got down to the goal-line. They couldn’t get the ball in the end-zone. They decided to “take the points” instead of a 4th down play. Agawam Junior Josiah Bass Collins kicked the field goal and made it. The Terriers were up 14-3.
On West Side’s next possession, Russell threw an uncharacteristic INT that was grabbed by Aiden Levesque. Agawam couldn’t capitalize on the turnover and West Side got the ball back.
Russell bounced back from his mistake and threw a 🎯 to fellow Senior Aidan Landers for a TD ✌🏽. The Terriers didn’t get the 2-point attempt. They led at halftime 20-3.
Agawam couldn’t generate consistent offense. Torres was getting some chunk yards but it wasn’t enough. Agawam passed the ball fewer times against West Side than East Longmeadow.
Also, Agawam couldn’t stop Ryan Russell. He is almost impossible to game-plan for. He is fast. He usually makes the right read on the “zone-read”. He is tough. He will run QB draws between the tackles. He doesn’t run out of bounds often; he looks to finish runs and get more yards. If you underestimate his arm, he will throw a 🎯 over your head for a big gain. Is every throw a tight, perfect spiral? No. Every pass I have seen him throw this season has gotten there, unlike a QB who played in Foxborough, MA last year.
In the third quarter, West Side scored again. This time the connection was between Russell and fellow Senior Antonio “Tony” Rivas. West Side was ahead 26-3.
Elijah Torres scored a rushing TD for Agawam. He got to the outside on the right side of the field and took it to the 🏡. JBC kicked the EP and Agawam narrowed the lead 26-10.
West Side engineered another long drive which was capped off with a run TD by Joe Tangredi on a jet sweep to the left side of the field. West Side decided to go for 1 and kick the EP. The EP was kicked by Freshman Musa Tamaradze. The crowd roared as the ball went through the uprights.
There wasn’t going to be a Thanksgiving miracle in April. Agawam went down, again in West Side, 33-10.
West Side scoring:
Ryan Russell: 4 TDs - 2 pass; 2 rush
Aidan Landers - 1 rec TD
Tony Rivas - 1 rec TD
Joe Tangredi - 1 run TD
Elijah Torres - 1 run TD
Josiah Bass Collins - 1 FG
After the game, there was a celebration of the Senior players and cheerleaders. They received a bouquet of flowers 💐 and got a picture taken with their family 🥰.
I spoke with Agawam HC John Benjamin and West Side HC Chad Labonte before the ceremony.
🟤Agawam HC John Benjamin🟠
The game was competitive early but got away from you in the second half. What happened in the second half?
“In the second half...we started playing better in the second half. We started scrapping it together. We were only two scores down at the start of the 4th quarter. Our offense couldn’t sustain a drive and we couldn’t get off the field. There a good football team”.
You had a lot of success in the running game last week. What happened this week?
“They have a very good defense. They were blitzing a lil’ more. I didn’t do a good enough job preparing them for that. We have to get better from here on out”.
Can you talk about what Jovaun Smith has given you at the WR position this season?
“Jovaun is a really good athlete. He’s got great feet, great hands. He actually called that play [play from Levesque to Smith for 30+ yard completion]”.
🔵West Side HC Chad Labonte⚪️
It’s the Fall 2 🏈 season. Thanksgiving rivalry in April. How did you feel coming into the game today?
“I felt good. I think they are much improved team this year; a lot tougher up front. Good running game...they are a good team, they always are but they are much improved this year. I thought our kids answered the call this week. Its important to those kids to beat Agawam”.
What have your Seniors meant this year and their time in the program?
“It’s always hard when you watch your Seniors leave. This is a special group. I think they have elevated our program. And they work hard...their attention to detail is awesome. Ryan deserves the credit he gets but its all of them; it’s the linemen, its the receivers, its the running backs, the way they block for him. Their ability to prepare and take it serious but still have a good time”.