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Saturday, September 16
DALTON — With four minutes remaining in the first half of his team's home opener, first-year Wahconah Regional football coach Matt Morrison answered the one question that was on the mind of every football fan in the Central Berkshire Regional School district — would he fake a punt?

"That didn't surprise anyone," laughed Morrison.

Morrison could laugh because when the fake punt from the Wahconah 30 came up two yards short of a first down, the Warriors were leading 9-0, and then stopped Lee on three straight plays, and eventually pitched a 16-0 shutout before the usual standing-room crowd last night.

Fake punts became a tradition under former coach Gary Campbell Jr., and some were headscratchers.

"I had to do that one for Soup, and to show everybody here that some things don't change," added the smiling rookie head coach.

One other thing that didn't change in the switch from the Campbell to the Morrison administrations was a rock-ribbed Wahconah defense. While the Warriors didn't tackle as well as they'd have liked, Wahconah did hold the Lee offense without a point and to 102 total yards.

While Wahconah mustered only 168 yards of total offense, the Warriors put the game away with a 12-play, 74-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes off the clock. And the Warriors did it the old-fashioned way, by controlling the line of scrimmage.

"We pride ourselves on that," said Morrison.


"We worked a lot this week on line play because we struggled last week against Foxborough," said Wahconah quarterback John Rivers, whose nine-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Anastasio capped off that fourth quarter drive. "They improved a hundred times more than last week."

James Errichetto led the Warriors with 77 yards on 14 carries. Both Lee running backs, Chad Cummings and Eric Wamsley, ran for more than 100 yards last week. Last night, Wamsley had 52 yards on 12 carries and Cummings only 39 yards on eight carries.

The Warriors scored the first time they had the ball in the game. Wahconah's defense stuffed Lee on three downs and Wamsley's punt was blocked by Wahconah's James Henderson and recovered at the Lee 41-yard line.

Wahconah moved the ball inside the Wildcat red zone, but the drive stalled on the Lee five yard line. A penalty moved the ball to the 10, and Wahconah's Kelly Grogan split the uprights on a 27-yard field goal.

The Wildcats did nothing on their next series, and Wahconah again had a short field, taking over after a 29-yard punt on the Lee 42.

Eight plays later, Errichetto scored on a one-yard run. But the key play of the drive was a 23-yard completion from Rivers to Kyle Appleton. The throw wasn't particularly pretty, but Lee defensive back Pat Dougherty mistimed his leap and Appleton came down on the one. Grogan's point-after kick rattled off the left upright and it was 9-0.

"The first half, they did a few things defensively differently than what we had seen, and I think they got us off balance there a little bit," said Lee coach Keith Thomson. "We were able to regroup at halftime, and picked it up in the second half and had some opportunities."

No opportunity was bigger than a 12-play drive that ate 9 minutes and 45 seconds off the brand new scoreboard clock. The Wildcats came up empty when Wamsley was stopped on a fourth-down option play.

But the big play of that drive, and maybe the game, came on a play that didn't count. Lee had first-and-15 at the Wahconah 48, and Wamsley took the handoff from Ryan Eckert, cut back on a sweep, got through the Wahconah secondary and scored. A yellow flag near the line of scrimmage wiped that run off the board.

"That gave (the offense) a lot of confidence," said Rivers of holding Lee scoreless on the drive, "and got us ready to go out there and end the game."

Which the offense did with the touchdown.

And that gave Morrison his first win as a head coach.

"I'm happy these kids got a win," said Morrison, who was asked if he was relieved to be 1-1. "I probably the second happiest person. Trust me, my wife (Sue) is going to be the happiest."

Scoring summary:

First Quarter

W—Kelly Grogan 27 FG, 3:26.

Second Quarter

W—James Errichetto 1 run (Kick failed), 8:47.

Fourth Quarter

W—John Anastasio 9 pass from John Rivers (K. Grogan kick), 3:09