Hoosac Valley opponent Millis returns to defend MIAA state title
"It's a great feeling either way," said senior captain Ryan Daniel. "It doesn't matter where we play."
Now, it's just Millis since the MIAA did away with the Hopedale co-op. The Mohawks are back in a state final, but instead of playing at Worcester State, they'll face Hoosac Valley on the turf at Gillette Stadium.
"It definitely wouldn't change the outcome because last year was an unbelievable feeling that none of us will forget," Daniel said. "The only difference about being here, is that we're playing on the same field as people who we look up to."
The Hurricanes and Mohawks are scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m., right in the middle of the six-game Saturday football spectacular at the home of the New England Patriots.
"It really doesn't feel that different, because our kids have been on this field for a preseason game this year, and got to walk the field," Millis coach Dana Olson said during a media availability Tuesday at Gillette. "We're only about 15-20 minutes down the road. It doesn't really feel that different for us. It's just another work week."
The coach says that, but the players say something a little different.
"It's going to be amazing. I can't wait to play here to play here," said Millis quarterback Bryce Latosek. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play where the NFL plays. It's going to be awesome."
The Mohawks are at Gillette after beating Cathedral High School of Boston 40-22. Latosek was 19-of-36 for 402 yards in that game, played at Brockton High School.
Last year, Millis was the No. 1 seed in the Division IV-A South field, beating seeds No. 8, 5 and 7 en route to the South title. Millis beat Boston Latin Academy 31-0 in the state semifinal and then went to Worcester to beat Maynard 30-18.
"It was still awesome," to win in Worcester, Latosek said. "I actually liked it how the fans were right behind us. The whole town of Millis was there. They were nice and loud."
They were also nice and loud on Thanksgiving, when Millis beat traditional rival Medway 17-0. Millis also won 27-13 in the regular season.
Last year, when Millis played Medway on Thanksgiving, the various reports of the game said that the Mohawks rested a bunch of their starters. Most of this year's team played before having dinner.
"Some of them we rested because we only have 28 kids," said Olson. "Anybody who was kind of dinged up, we held up. We'll be about 100 percent for Saturday."
The Millis and Hoosac players shared a table for breakfast and met each other on the Gillette turf.
"We're all sharing the same accomplishment and all have one goal," said Millis' Daniel. "Like Andre Tippett said inside, everybody got here winning. That's the only way you can get here. You don't get voted in.
"It's nice to be out here with my brothers, getting a chance to do something special."
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, and 413-496-6253.
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