The Wahconah football team's offense ran through quarterback Lane Grogan all season. Warriors football coach Gary Campbell, Jr. designed it that way.
Grogan shared the load, though, with running back Ethan Wells in Saturday night's Western Mass. Division II Super Bowl win. Every offensive play for the Warriors in a 24-21 win over South Hadley at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough involved either Grogan or Wells.
Wells, a 5-foot-9 junior who was originally Eli Pease's backup at the position, took over as the No. 1 back after Pease suffered an undisclosed injury in October. He saved what may have been his best performance of the season for the biggest stage, rushing for 87 yards and a touchdown -- the winning touchdown, in fact.
Wells was in that position, Campbell said, because he was the "next guy up" to help the Warriors after Pease's injury. Though his coach said he wasn't at 100 percent, Pease played through his injury, returning kicks for the Warriors in the Super Bowl.
"Ethan gave us just a little bit more pop there, a little more burst, that Eli didn't have because of the injury," the coach said. "Ethan had great blocking up front and did a great job carrying the ball."
Those carries were most critical in a defensively-challenged first half Saturday, two quarters in which every drive by each team ended with a touchdown.
Wells carried the ball four times in Wahconah's first offensive drive of the game, and five times in the second drive. In the Warriors' final drive of the half, it was Wells who ended the seven-play, 57-yard march with a 1-yard plunge as time ran out to give Wahconah the lead for good. He added the 2-point conversion to end the half.
"We were getting yardage passing and running the ball," Wells said, "but we knew we had to keep them in check running the ball, and try to keep that potent offense off the field.
"Defensively, we had to shell up and fix things. Offensively, we kept pounding the hell out of the ball. We kept moving it. We were successful."
Wells' TD might not have happened, however, if not for Grogan's 41-yard strike down the middle of the field to senior tight end Jordan Fiske one play earlier.
With 9 seconds left in the half, Grogan went long and Fiske beat two Tiger defensive backs for the ball, falling a yard short of the end zone.
Campbell said Grogan's throw was set up by South Hadley's reaction to a five-receiver set the Warriors showed. The Tigers' safety focused on the three-wide side, and Fiske was on the other side.
"We saw that, possibly, Jordan could hit it down the middle of the field," Campbell said. "He ran a good route. Lane dropped it down the chimney, as we called it, and Jordan made a great catch."
Campbell also said Darrow Brown's 15-yard touchdown catch, with 4:45 left in the first half, was critical to the team's success.
Grogan was, as he'd been all season, a running and throwing threat for the Warriors. He completed seven passes for 150 yards and two scores, and ran for 77 yards and the Warriors' first touchdown.
"The game runs through Lane Grogan's hands," Campbell said. "It's part of our offense, and part of being a very good quarterback. It goes through Lane running the ball and throwing it."
While both offenses slowed considerably in the second half -- there was no scoring, after all -- Wahconah had done just enough in the game's first 20 minutes to leave Gillette with the biggest prize, and earn an impromptu victory parade that rolled through Cummington, Windsor and Dalton in the very early hours of Sunday morning.
"It motivated us on offense," Fiske said. "We wanted to go blow for blow. We knew if we let them score one more than us, if they stopped us once, that we were screwed."
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