Western Mass. football: Hoosac, Greylock square off in rematch as Wahconah, Lee also learn opponents
Wahconah football coach Gary Campbell Jr. could have been speaking for all four Berkshire County teams that have qualified for the Western Massachusetts tournament.
"It's what we plan on doing every single year," he said, when reached by phone Sunday afternoon. "There's no doubt in the back of our minds. It's the pinnacle of our sport."
Wahconah, Hoosac Valley, Lee and Mount Greylock all earned bids into the tournament. The brackets were unveiled during a Sunday morning meeting of the MIAA Western Massachusetts football committee at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton.
Wahconah is the top seed in the Division VII field, while Hoosac is the top seed in Division VIII. Lee is the second seed in D-VIII and Greylock is seeded fourth.
All three games featuring Berkshire County teams will take place on Friday night at 7 p.m. Wahconah (7-1) will host fourth-seeded Palmer (6-2) in a rematch of last year's Division IV championship game, a 20-14 win for the Warriors.
In Division VIII, Lee (7-1) will host third-seeded Ware (8-0) at John J. Consolati Field in Lee.
The third game will have top-seeded Hoosac (8-0) hosting No. 4 Mount Greylock (6-2) at Renfrew Field in Adams.
Three of the teams had their tickets to the post-season punched before this past weekend. The team that was on pins and needles until Sunday morning was Mount Greylock.
That's because when Friday night became Saturday morning, the Mounties had fallen to fifth in the Division VIII rankings behind Greenfield. But when Franklin Tech beat Mahar on Saturday afternoon, Greenfield's strength of schedule took a hit because Tech is not in the tournament. The Green Wave fell, the Mounties rose, and they'll get the Hurricanes.
"It was definitely close," said Greylock coach Andrew Agostini. "We're jacked up. We're excited. This is what we wanted from the beginning of the season."
For the second time this year, the Mounties will square off against the Hurricanes. Hoosac and Ware are the only two undefeated teams in Western Massachusetts and two of six west of I-495. The Hurricanes won the Suburban North title, while the Mounties and Lee shared the Intercounty South crown.
Greylock and Hoosac met in the season opener, with the Hurricanes winning 36-22. It was Hoosac's first of eight wins and a league crown.
"That's what we were shooting for," Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot said. "Not necessarily to be undefeated to be the top seed in our division."
It's a group of familiar teams in Division VII. Last year, Wahconah was No. 1, followed by South Hadley, Palmer and Frontier. This year, the Warriors are again No. 1, but Frontier, South Hadley and Palmer round out the top four.
For the Warriors, it'll be a familiar foe. They played Palmer in last year's D-IV championship game, scoring a fourth-quarter touchdown to break a tie to beat the Panthers.
"It tells you they have good football programs," Campbell said of the D-VII quartet. "All four of our programs are proud of where we're at."
When Lee won the Division VI title in 2015, the Wildcats avoided Ware. Last year, Lee could not avoid them, as the Indians came up on the regular-season schedule and got out of town with a 34-12 win — outscoring Lee 20-0 in the second half.
"Our kids are confident. We're on a roll," Lee coach Keith Thomson said. "We're excited for the chance. We're very excited to be home."
Western Mass. championship games in the two divisions involving Berkshire teams will be next Friday. Division VII will be at Holyoke High School. If two Berkshire teams advance in Division VIII, that game will be on Farley-Lamb Field at Williams College. Otherwise, it will also be at Holyoke.
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.
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