Wahconah football wins D-II Super Bowl championship
FOXBOROUGH -- For the first time since 2003, Wahconah's football team is a Super Bowl champion.
Ethan Wells ran for 87 yards and a touchdown, Lane Grogan ran for 77 more and a score while throwing for 150 yards and two more touchdowns, and the Warriors held off South Hadley 24-21 at Gillette Stadium for the Western Mass. Division II championship.
The Super Bowl win is Wahconah's first since beating Worcester Burncoat for the 2003 Western-Central Mass. D-II title -- in coach Gary Campbell Jr.'s first run as Warriors coach. Campbell came back to Wahconah this year after a six-year run as Berwick (Pa.) coach.
"It's an unbelievable experience," Campbell said. "To come back home and do this here is an unbelievable feeling. É This one year has been crazy."
After a very offensive first half, neither team scored a point in the third and fourth quarters. Still, South Hadley had the ball in Wahconah territory at the 44-yard line when, with 5:38 left, Tigers quarterback Sean Rondeau threw a screen pass right into the hands of Warrior linebacker Zach Rocca. South Hadley wouldn't get the ball back, as Wahconah got a key first-down pass from Grogan to Wells to the South Hadley 24 with less than 2 minutes left to effectively end the game.
"I knew I had to get the first down," Wells said. "The line did a hell of a job getting out there and [blocking], and I got out and ran as fast as I could to get to that marker."
The first half featured nothing but offense, as every drive resulted in a touchdown. Wahconah had the last one in the half's final seconds to take a halftime lead.
Facing a third-and-10 at the Tigers' 42, Grogan threw deep down the field to Jordan Fiske for a 41-yard gain to the goal line. Following a time out with 1 second left, Wells scored with no time on the clock. He then ran in the 2-point conversion for a 24-21 Warrior lead at the half.
South Hadley needed just three offensive plays to reach the end zone after a big return of the opening kickoff. Sophomore Riley Villeneuve ran it in from 30 yards out with 8:54 left in the first quarter to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
The Warriors answered in an eight-play, 70-yard drive. Grogan called his own number for both a 3-yard touchdown and the 2-point conversion to give Wahconah the lead.
The Tigers, though, would answer right away. In nine plays, South Hadley drove 52 yards, ending in a 3-yard run by Villeneuve with 1:06 left in the first quarter.
Wahconah, undeterred, drove 90 yards in 13 plays. Grogan ended the drive with a 16-yard TD pass to Darrow Brown, and then threw to Joe DiMassimo for the 2-point conversion as Wahconah retook the lead at 16-14.
South Hadley, of course, had a response. After a big kickoff return by Shippee, the Tigers marched down the field in seven plays. Shippee scored on a pitch to the right side from 6 yards out, and South Hadley had a 21-16 lead before Wahconah's final-minute drive.