Wahconah, Greylock win Super Bowls on big stages
Jim Galliher has been on the field for a Western Mass. Super Bowl before. In that respect, Wahconah Regional High School's Division II Super Bowl was nothing new Saturday.
This time, though, the stage was a bit bigger. This time, he was standing on the sidelines at Gillette Stadium, the home of the New England Patriots.
"I think this is just an outstanding experience for the kids, getting to play on the big stage," Galliher, a Williams College assistant football coach, former WRHS assistant coach and 1999 WRHS graduate, said. "Being able to look up and see themselves on the big screen has got to be an awesome feeling."
Plenty of Warrior faithful made the cross-state trek from the Berkshires to Foxborough, watching their team defeat South Hadley, 24-21.
Wahconah was one of two Berkshire County schools that won a Western Mass. championship on Saturday. Earlier in the day, at Westfield State University, Mount Greylock won its third consecutive Division III Super Bowl, shutting out Belchertown 24-0.
The scene at Westfield was a little different for the Mounties, too. As the lower seed, Greylock wasn't in its customary home reds. Former quarterback Kent Hanson -- who won two Super Bowls before graduating last year -- also wasn't accustomed to being on the visiting side of the field in Westfield.
"It's just exciting to see them back out here," Hanson said. "It's definitely weird on this side, too. We've never played over here."
The change in scenery didn't make a difference, as Greylock won its third-straight title.
The Warriors' day started in style, as they were seen off by dozens of parents and supporters -- as well as an escort out of town from two Dalton police cruisers and three Dalton Fire Department trucks.
The team traveled in two charter buses, which were quickly secured by donations from supporters and the Central Berkshire Football Booster Club.
"We had from Tuesday night until this morning [to get them]," CBFBC President Louisa Fiske, mother of senior tight end Jordan Fiske, said. "By 6:30 [Friday] night at Mill Town [Tavern], we knew everything was in place. The school has been wonderful in getting everything pulled together."
The plan at night's end was for the buses carrying the players to be escorted back into town, with supporters meeting the team and following them home from the Charlton Plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
The turnout for both the sendoff and the Super Bowl was no surprise to CBFBC Vice President Leslie Wash burn. Her son, Ryan, is a sophomore wide receiver for the Warriors.
"Not at all," she said. "Not in Dalton. It's one program. Everybody goes through Dal ton football."