Eleven-straight steps in the right direction has the Wahconah football team standing in the tunnel of Gillette Stadium.
The top-seeded Warriors closed the regular season with a perfect record and November featured three wins by a combined score of 108-21 in the MIAA Division VII state tournament.
Photos: Wahconah football's final practice before state championship game
The Wahconah High School football team practices in a snowy Dalton, on the eve of their state championship matchup against Cohasset at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Wednesday.
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Wahconah has played three previous games at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, going 1-2 in those games. Most recently, the Warriors fell to Mashpee in 2016 in a state final. Here's a look back at all three visits to Fort Foxboro.
Now, as December rolls in, No. 6 Cohasset is the only thing remaining in front of a state title trophy.
The Eagle dug threw 11 game stories from Wahconah football's 11-0 season thus far and picked out a series of quotes that illustrate this journey through an unbeaten year in the run up to Wednesday's state final.
The Skippers entered the postseason on a five-game winning streak after dropping the season’s first two games. Cohasset allowed more than 13 points just once during the run and allowed less than eight points per game over the regular season’s final three games.
When Wahconah takes the turf at Gillette Stadium, the team on the opposite sideline will be the Skippers of Cohasset.
A 26-13 win over No. 11 Nantucket was followed by a 21-7 upset of No. 3 Hamilton-Wenham for the Skippers, who topped No. 7 Mashpee 14-8 in the Final Four. Cohasset didn’t have starting quarterback Will Baker in the semifinals and featured sophomore Liam Appleton calling the shots on offense. Appleton scored touchdowns on the ground and through the air in the win.
Cohasset has held opponents under 10 points a game since the D-VII tournament began and the Warriors are allowing seven points per game — highlighted by a shutout of Lunenburg in the opening round.
The Warriors scored 48 points against No. 8 Clinton in the quarterfinals, the second-most points scored in the D-VII field behind No. 2 Amesbury’s 50 points against No. 15 East Boston.
Wahconah’s win against Clinton, the last time the Warriors played in Dalton, was a memorable performance for the offensive line and Jonah Smith. The senior back rushed for 289 yards and four touchdowns, which was accented by a stout defensive performance for the Warriors.
There are some pressing issues fans of Wahconah football should know before travelling to Gillette Stadium this week or tuning in to watch or listen to the state champions hip football game.
Wahconah earned a spot in the title match by forcing five turnovers in a 22-7 win over No. 4 Northbridge, and held opposing offenses to two-or-fewer touchdowns in each of the last seven weeks, which makes each turnover even more devastating. The Warriors have the linebackers and defensive backs to pluck passes in the air, but also the awareness to rip at the ball while tackling players to the ground.
The offense feeds off of turnovers, averaging over 30 points per game since the playoffs began. Opposing defenses can’t focus on stopping a hard-hitting rushing attack due to quarterback Ryan Scott’s ability to beat defenses over the top. Scott has six passing touchdowns in the playoffs with Ben Noyes, Owen Salvatore and Owen Alfonso all finding the end zone through the air. Noyes has receiving touchdowns in each game this postseason
Wahconah has scored 70 points over the last two weeks, compared to 35 for the Skippers, and defense played a larger role in the semifinals on both sides of the bracket.
The D-VII championship will begin at 5:30 p.m. under the lights at Gillette Stadium on the first day of championship week in Foxborough. The D-VII match will take place between the D-VIII and D-VI title games, which means Wahconah’s game may not start right on time. Tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for students and seniors, children ages 5-and-under are admitted for free. Parking at Gillette Stadium is free and tickets are available in advance through Ticketmaster.
More information can be found at www.gillettestadium.com/tickets/mobile/.