Photo Gallery | Wahconah tops South Hadley in football
DALTON >> In a game featuring two high-powered offense, Wahconah had more than enough firepower to out-gun South Hadley, leading to a 57-25 win on Friday.
The Warriors (5-0, 2-0 Suburban North), No. 3 in the Western Mass. media poll, did a majority of their damage through the air, as quarterback Will Genaway threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Connor Washburn was his primary target, catching six passes for 159 yards and two scores.
"We just keep working on it in practice, because practice makes perfect," Genaway said of the team's passing attack. "We've got to keep going and doing our thing. I see him and I know he'll make the catches and the same with all my other receivers — they're great — and my backs and line gives us time. We're clicking."
No. 7 South Hadley has plenty of weapons on offense, but the Tigers played without running back Ryan Moody, which hampered the running game slightly. Quarterback Mike Pratt did a good job of managing the offense in Moody's absence, answering Wahconah's game-opening score with a 41-yard touchdown pass to bruising tight end Marcus Larrier with 4 minutes and 5 seconds left in the first quarter.
After consistently allowing positive yardage on the Tigers' 12-play scoring drive, Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. and the Warriors defense had a solution to their tricky offense. The visitors used fullback Teddy Doyle on dives up the middle, or gave to wingbacks Jason Fernandes and Sean O'Grady on sweeps to the outside. The Wahconah defensive line, led by Matt Cedar, pinched in to take away the dive, and Kyle Noyes and the linebackers ran sideline-to-sideline to take away the sweeps.
The adjustments kept the Tigers off the scoreboard and the Warriors built a 29-7 lead after two quarters.
Doyle used a big second half to finish with 123 yards rushing on 15 carries, but majority of those yards came with the game already decided.
"Doyle is a heck of a football player," Campbell said. "If you concentrate too much there, then all of a sudden [Fernandez] and [O'Grady] — who are quick — get around that end.
"Our d-ends had to make some adjustment and crunch down a little harder and we had to fill a lot better," added Noyes.
The Warriors had a balanced attack in the first half, scoring two rushing and two passing touchdowns.
The Tigers showed life in the second half, opening the third quarter with a 12-play scoring drive capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from Pratt to Stephen Stratton. Tanner Hastings fumbled on the ensuing drive, and Doyle took the fumble back 82 yards for the score, cutting Wahconah's lead to 29-19 with 6:06 left in the third.
The Warriors did not panic. Genaway marched the team down the field, starting the drive with a 17-yard completion to Sam Henderson. On third and 13, Genaway hit Washburn for 11 along the left sideline. And on fourth and two, Conner Noyes showed some shifty moves, reversing field from right to left to pick up a first down. Genaway hit Washburn for a 15-yard score on the next play, allowing the Warriors to exhale again.
South Hadley would score one more time, but again, Wahconah had a response, striking quickly with a 52-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Connor Matthews on the first play of the ensuing drive.
Hastings led Wahconah with 56 yards rushing and two scores.
For the Warriors, they'll enjoy a big win over a conference opponent for a day or two, before focusing on rival Taconic. The Warriors have yet to be challenged wire-to-wire, but they're all business with the Braves on the horizon.
"All our kids know each other so it's a Berkshire County war," Campbell said. "The kids will be jacked up both sides, there's no doubt about that. ... I know they're excited and I know our kids will be excited about it."
W — Conner Noyes 5 run (Patrick Butler kick), 11:04.
S — Marcus Larrier 42 pass from Mike Pratt (Emily Wojnowski kick), 4:05.
W — Tanner Hastings 1 run (Butler kick), 2:51
W — Connor Washburn 41 pass from Will Genaway (Tanner Campbell from Genaway), 9:19
W — Wyatt Schleicher 14 pass from Genaway (Butler kick).
S — Stephen Stratton 5 from Pratt (kick failed), 7:12.
S — Doyle 82 fumble return (run failed), 6:06.
W — Washburn 15 pass from Genaway (Butler kick), 2:35.
S — Jack Dawson 12 pass from Pratt (run failed), 11:51
W — Connor Matthews 52 pass from Genaway (Butler kick), 11:40
W — Hastings 25 run (Butler kick), 5:42.
W — Nate Zink 51 run (Butler kick), 2:10.
RUSHING — South Hadley: Teddy Doyle 15-123, Jason Fernandes 8-41, Sean O'Grady 6-61, Mike Pratt 3-(minus 7), Jack Dawson 1-0, Ben Watkins 1-0, Liam Dawson 1-(minus 3), Gino Viamari 1-(minus 1), n/a-(minus 1), n/a 1-2. Wahconah: Tanner Hastings 9-56, Connor Noyes 4-21, Connor Washburn 2-11, Will Genaway 3-47, Nate Zink 2-49.
PASSING — South Hadley: Pratt 11-24-0 121. Wahconah: Genaway 10-13-0 243.
RECEIVING — South Hadley: Marcus Larrier 2-43, Jaden Beauchamp 2-15, Jason Fernandes 3-11, Jack Dawson 2-60, Stephen Stratton 2-9. Wahconah: Washburn 6-159, Tanner Campbell 1-14, Sam Henderson 1-17, Noyes 1-3, Connor Matthews 1-52.