jonah smith scores a touchdown

Wahconah's Jonah Smith enters the end zone earlier this season in Dalton, something Warriors fans have grown accustomed to seeing this fall with great regularity.

Week 1:

Wahconah 36, Pittsfield 26

“Amazing. Sloppy, no doubt, but, entertaining. But the kids didn’t flinch, and I told them I’m really happy about that. They punch, we counter-punch, punch, counter-punch. Different ways, did it through the air, our special teams were awesome. Our second half, we settled down a little bit. I was really proud of the boys from the second quarter on, really settling down.”

— Coach Gary Campbell

The season’s first 12 minutes featured 44 points as Wahconah and Pittsfield started the 2021 highlight reel with three 70-yard touchdowns in the quarter. The Generals took the lead three times, Wahconah’s Owen Salvatore and Brad Noyes returned kickoffs for touchdowns. Ryan Scott connected with Ben Noyes for a 20-yard touchdown and Jonah Smith scored his first of many rushing touchdowns to help the Warriors pull away on opening night. Wahconah’s first touchdown of the year was a 23-yard pass from Scott to Salvatore early in the first quarter.

Week 2:

Wahconah 34, Lee 0

“I haven’t. I don’t think so. I got 133, maybe, against Lee [in the Fall II season].”

— Running back Jonah Smith

Smith marched on to the field in Dalton on Sept. 17 with a career-high of 133 rushing yards and the Wildcats were focused on keeping Wahconah in a close battle for the second-straight week. The Warriors led 6-0 at halftime before a 70-yard touchdown run by Smith highlighted a 28-point second half for Wahconah. Week 2 was Smith’s breakout week, rushing for 263 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carriers. Smith would crack 200 rushing yards three more times throughout the year. Scott tossed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Luke DiCicco and Doug Collins ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Wahconah improved to 2-0 in Lee’s first trip to Dalton since 2013.

Week 3:

Wahconah 41, Taconic 14

“We started slow on offense in the first two games. We came out tonight and threw the first punch.”

— Quarterback Ryan Scott

The Warriors scored 20 points in the first quarter and followed it with another 21 points in the second as Wahconah closed Berkshire County action with a well-rounded performance against the Green and Gold. The first quarter was Smith’s time to shine with two touchdowns. Scott broke off an 18-yard run for six points and threw touchdown passes to Ben Noyes and Owen Alfonso. Wahconah’s offense was nearly impossible to stop and Week 3 started a run of four-straight games of at least 41 points for the Warriors.

Week 4:

Wahconah 44, East Longmeadow 28

“That’s a mentality that we’re trying to get here at East Longmeadow. That grind-it-out, push people around, fight as much as you can, fight for every inch and they have it… It was the difference of they’ve been there, done that.”

— East Longmeadow coach Mike Morrisino

Wahconah ended the first half of the regular season with a regular season-high 44 points at East Longmeadow. Smith pocketed his second game with more than 200 yards, closing with 245 yards and three touchdowns as the Warriors maintained a two-touchdown lead for most of the night. Scott diced up the secondary with his first three-score game of the year. Salvatore found the end zone twice on three receptions for 78 yards. Scott Duma scored on a 56-yard catch to give Wahconah a 30-7 lead in the third quarter. East Longmeadow scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and 28 points is the season-high against Wahconah’s defense.

Week 5:

Wahconah 43, Agawam 7

“After that first drive, I really felt like this was our game. Nobody can run on us. Our run defense is really up there. The D-Line and the outside backers did really well tonight, they earned a lot tonight taking on blocks. They were a huge part of the beast of the defense.”

— Linebacker Ben West

After conceding a season-high 28 points, the Warriors responded with just 15-points allowed over the next two weeks. Agawam entered action undefeated, but a 22-point second quarter kept the home crowd silent for most of the night. The Brownies had allowed an average of 6.75 points per game before Smith dismantled the defense with 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 18 carries. Scott tossed touchdown passes to Drew Wendling and Salvatore, who was in the middle of scoring four touchdowns over a three-game stretch. The defense held Agawam to just 4.8 yards per carry on 30 rushing attempts while improving to 5-0.

Week 6:

Wahconah 43, Amherst 8

”When [Amherst] stuffed the middle and did some things, I’m really happy that we have answers. Ryan Scott definitely had some answers.”

— Coach Gary Campbell

Week 6 was one of two games in which Smith rushed for less than 100 yards and Scott made sure that wasn’t the reason for the season’s first loss. Scott served as the team’s dealer at the blackjack table, tossing five touchdowns around the field and the Warriors scored 43 points for the second-straight game. Ben Noyes caught three touchdown passes, DiCicco scored on a 4-yard reception and Salvatore broke free on a 50-yard pitch-and-catch for six points. The Warriors scored on each of the team’s four possessions in the first half and Scott’s five-touchdown passes, along with 204 passing yards, were season-highs for the senior.

Week 7:

Wahconah 38, Northampton 16

”It’s just amazing. We wanted [the Route 9 Rumble trophy] back since our sophomore year. In our sophomore year, the quarterback [Ryan Scott] and I both played and I had a turnover in the end zone, and he had a turnover at the end of the game. We definitely wanted this back, and we’re glad we got it back.”

— Running back Jonah Smith

Wahconah returned home after four-straight road games and trampled Northampton in the Route 9 Rumble. Ben Noyes recovered a fumble and Owen Alfonso sacked quarterback Ben Sledzieski, forcing another fumble. Alfonso intercepted a screen pass on the following drive as Wahconah parlayed three Northampton turnovers into 16 points. The Warriors held Northampton to just 16 yards in the first half with the help of the turnovers. Smith, with 145 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, and Scott, 117 passing yards and three total touchdowns, redeemed 2019’s performance as Wahconah moved within one game of a perfect regular season.

Week 8:

Wahconah 22, West Springfield 20

“It means the world to us. We deserve it. Everyone. Thanks to the buffalo. Nothing happens without that offensive and defensive line. This is a statement win. I’m not positive, but I think these kids are Division [III]. We’re Division VII. I don’t care what people say about us. Here in Western Mass., we play real football.”

— Defensive back Scott Duma

The Warriors, in order to win an eighth-straight game, overcame a 20-point deficit in the first quarter and absorbed a late surge by the Terriers. West Springfield had 80 total yards in the first quarter before gaining 120 yards over the next three quarters combined. Scott scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half before Smith, who ran the ball a season-high 34 times, knotted the game from 35-yards out early in the third quarter. The Warriors rushed for 160 yards and held the Terriers to just 41 yards on 19 carries. West Springfield’s offense attempted 25 passes but only completed eight balls against an active Wahconah secondary.

Week 9, MIAA D-VII Round of 16:

Wahconah 38, Lunenburg 0

“We used film study and forced them to throw the ball. We studied to pick up their tendencies. It’s cold, and we got a good home-field advantage.”

— Coach Gary Campbell

The Warriors earned the top seed to begin the second season, also known as the MIAA state tournament, and left little doubt that they were deserving of the top spot. Wahconah earned its second shutout of the year with a strong performance against the Blue Knights in the first round of the D-VII tournament. Smith rushed for 127 yards on 14 attempts and receivers Ben Noyes and Drew Wendling each caught touchdown passes from Scott. The defense shined as West finished with a fumble recovery and 5 tackles and Salvatore intercepted a pass in the end zone late in the third quarter.

Week 10, Round of 8:

Wahconah 48, Clinton 14

“They were really blocking great. I didn’t have to do too much on some of those runs. The holes were there and [I ran through] them. It was amazing.”

— Running back Jonah Smith

The synergy between Wahconah’s offensive line and Smith in the backfield combined for great performances throughout the season — none of them compared to what they accomplished in the quarterfinals. Smith carried the ball 14 times for 289 yards and four touchdowns, both season-highs for the senior captain. Late-season challenges against Northampton and West Springfield served as Wahconah’s springboard into the playoffs, allowing a combined 21 points over three games. Wahconah’s 48 points marked a new season-high.

Week 11, Round of 4:

Wahconah 22, Northbridge 7

”It feels amazing. We’ve been working all year for this and it is coming true — we’re going to Gillette.”

— Quarterback Ryan Scott

The Warriors didn’t hit the ground running as they did in the first two playoff games, but the playmakers made plays and the Warriors earned a spot on the D-VII Super Bowl. Ben Noyes intercepted two passes and Brad Noyes intercepted another as Wahconah scored 22-unanswered points against No. 4 Northbridge. Scott scored on a 1-yard run and gave the Warriors the lead on a successful 2-point run. Scott tossed a 19-yard touchdown to Salvatore and Ben Noyes turned a 10-yard out-route into a 67-yard touchdown reception, rumbling through the defense and into the end zone. The Warriors, instead of relying on a few playmakers, work as one and that is why a blue wave will crash over Gillette Stadium on Wednesday. The undefeated Warriors play No. 6 Cohasset for a state title.

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com or 413-464-3655.

On Twitter: @JMendel94.

Sports Reporter

As a lifelong Pittsfield resident, Jake gravitates to the nearest field or park. He joined The Eagle as a paperboy in 2005 and worked his way up, becoming a full-time reporter in 2018. He's currently a sports reporter.