CHICOPEE -- With the Berkshire County schedule looming, Wahconah looks poised to dominate once again.
The Warriors finished the second of a pair of tune-ups against Pioneer Valley teams with a convincing 30-14 drubbing of Chicopee Comp on Friday night.
In their first two contests of the season, the Warriors allowed a combined three touchdowns, proving the defense is just as stout as the one that won the Western Mass. Division II Super Bowl last season.
"What a great experience the last two games have been for us, especially because we have seen two teams with very different styles," Wahconah coach Gary Campbell said. "Northampton plays a double wing, hammer kind of style we're used to seeing in the Berkshires. Chicopee Comp posed a different challenge with their spread offense with a quarterback that throws a good ball. I'm really proud with what we were able to do here."
Wahconah won the battle at the line of scrimmage, held the Colts running game to next to nothing and made a pair of timely first-half interceptions to swing the momentum in their favor early.
Offensively, the Warriors did just fine even without starting quarterback Ethan Wells, who left the game midway through the second quarter with an injury. Junior Nick Clayton filled in admirably, throwing three touchdown passes.
"It was fun being out there," Clayton said. "The offensive line gave me time to throw it and I was fortunate enough to have some receivers get open and catch the ball for me."
Campbell said Clayton's performance could provide a wake-up call to some of his other non-starters.
"What a great story this is for the rest of our twos," he said. "This shows them that they shouldn't hang their heads just because they're not a starter. This is a game where anything can happen and you could be called on to make the next big play."
Eli Pease ran hard and his offensive line battered and bruised the Colts defensive front, wearing them down in the second half as Pease rushed for 111 yards.
"I think we wore them down a bit and that's a credit to our conditioning," Campbell said. "We've got to run the ball well, especially in our league, because come November, the weather isn't conducive to throwing the ball around."
Darrow Brown drew first blood for the Warriors, capping off a 12-play, 52-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Wells on a fade route to the corner of the end zone. Matt Salvatore caught a pass for the two-point conversion, putting Wahconah up 8-0 with 2:02 remaining in the first quarter.
The Warriors twice halted Comp drives with interceptions in the first half. The first came early in the second quarter when Pease picked off a Michael Whitsett pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown, only to have the score negated by an illegal block.
Wahconah still turned the turnover into points, however. On the second play of the ensuing drive, Wells took a quarterback keeper 30 yards down to the Comp 22, then left the game on the next play after another keeper to the 18-yard line. That run set up another 18-yard touchdown on a fade route by Brown, this time from Clayton on his first play of the game.
Kyle Kirschner broke the game open at 22-0 for Wahconah at the 6:53 mark in the third quarter when he found himself wide open for a Clayton pass after the Colts bit hard on a play action fake on fourth-and-seven from the Comp 38-yard line.
Cole Morrison caught an insurance touchdown from 13 yards out on another play-action pass that fooled the defense and put Wahconah comfortably ahead 30-0 with 9:27 remaining in the contest.
As the Warriors began filtering their non-starters into the game, the Colts left their first stringers in and scored a pair of late touchdowns, both by Whitsett.