Drury secures home field edge

Sunday, November 12
NORTH ADAMS — The bleachers at John J. DelNegro Field had a certain colorful symmetry yesterday afternoon. There was a clear division down the middle as fans of the Drury football team were decked out in blue attire on the left side, while the Hoosac Valley faithful sported their red outfits on the right.

While the supporters in the stands were fairly evenly numbered, the matchup on the field was notably one-sided. The Blue Devils quickly scored a touchdown on their opening drive and never let up the rest of the game, pulling away for a 22-0 victory. Drury gained 164 more yards of total offense than Hoosac and held a decisive 16-6 edge in first downs.

"We dominated in all aspects of the game," Blue Devils linebacker Sean Trottier said. "We had the momentum right away after that first drive. It was the same as last week (against Wahconah) when we took the opening kickoff and drove it all the way down the field to put it in. That set the tone of the game right there and we didn't let up once."

This time, the Blue Devil's offense drove 70 yards on 14 plays, ending the drive when senior running back Johno Hinkell walked around the right side of the line from two yards out. Head coach Fran Millard called running plays on every play except for one, an easy decision given how much room to run the offensive line was giving Hinkell and fellow tailback Charles Toomajian.

"The line is maturing and it shows out there," Millard said. "They're starting to play really well."

Hinkell rushed for a game-high 121 yards on 23 carries, while Toomajian added 83 yards on 15 attempts. Of their 38 carries, 18 went for at least five yards or more

"We play smash-mouth football," Hinkell said. "It's a statement we make whether we're on our offense or defense first. If we're on defense first, we're going to get a stop. On offense, It's demoralizing when you see a team just drive the ball downfield."

With a postseason berth already locked up, the win for Drury (6-3) means it will host the rematch against Wahconah (6-4) in the first round of the Berkshire County playoffs next Saturday.

The rivalry comes first

While the playoffs is a nice bonus to look forward to, the Blue Devils, especially the senior class, were more focused on celebrating their third win in a row over Hoosac. Starting in 1989, the Hurricanes (4-6) had won 15 straight games over Drury before Hinkell, Trottier and company broke through as sophomores with a 13-0 victory in 2004.

As with any cross-town rivalry, some unfortunate highjinks occurred at Drury High School prior to Saturday's game. Seeing their field and school spray painted with the word "Hoosac" gave the Blue Devils all the motivation they would need.

"I really can't explain how I feel right now," Hinkell said. "We knew after beating them the first two years, we wanted three. We wanted our own streak. And after what they did to our field, we really felt that they were disrespecting us."

"It feels great to beat them three years in a row," Toomajian added. "This year, they came up and vandalized our school and then we beat them. We showed them that we play hard and they vandalize hard, I guess."

The Hoosac offense had a chance to break Drury's streak, but its first two drives were hurt by a pair of 15-yard personal foul penalties. The second call forced a punt from the Hurricanes' 18-yard line on their first drive of the second quarter. A Drury offsides call gave Hoosac five more yards of cushion, but the snap on the rekick sailed, and the Blue Devils recovered in the end zone for a safety.

Ravaged by injuries all season, Hoosac saw another one of its key players leave the game. Junior tailback Casey Koperniak injured his shoulder early in the second quarter, leaving head coach Tom Bell without one of his biggest offensive weapons. Ryan Joppich stepped in and rushed for 48 yards on nine carries, followed by Scott Wojciechowski with nine rushes for 26 more.

"They played better today than we did," Bell said. "We made a few costly errors and we had a few costly injuries again. We lost some momentum when we lost Casey, but our kids never quit and they played hard. I'm proud of my kids, I'm proud of everything they've done."

Without Koperniak, Hoosac went three-and-out on its next possession. Drury drove 52 yards on its next series. Sophomore quarterback Jake Cantoni hooked up with Hinkell for 13 yards and a first down, and Toomajian hauled in a pass in the left flat and ran 10 yards for the score six plays later.

That gave the Blue Devils a 16-0 lead at halftime, and Cantoni (6-10, 58 yards) closed out the scoring by connecting with Trottier on a two-yard strike with 23 seconds left in the game.


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