DALTON — In a battle of two undefeated teams, Wahconah Regional High School topped East Longmeadow 44-28 on Friday night in East Longmeadow.
Jonah Smith rushed for 245 yards to go along with three touchdowns, carrying the load for the Warriors (4-0) offense.
Wahconah kept control for the entirety of the game, not allowing the Spartans (3-1) to come within two scores until there was less than two minutes on the clock. The Warriors quickly erased any progress East Longmeadow had made when quarterback Ryan Scott threw a 49-yard strike to Owen Salvatore, sealing the game with under a minute to play.
Smith also added an interception on defense, as the Spartans were driving down the field in the second quarter, adding to the top of his 115 first-half yards and a touchdown.
“He’s got a nice blend of speed and power,” Wahconah head coach Gary Campbell Jr. said of his star running back. “… and at the end of the day he takes care of the ball, which I’m excited about.”
The first touchdown for East Longmeadow came on a double pass, leading to a wide-open Johnny Ferrentino just before the end of the first half. The Warriors gave the ball back to the Spartans around midfield after a failed fourth-down conversion.
“That’s completely on me,” Campbell said of the late-half touchdown. “Gave them a short field and credit to them, they made something out of it. But credit to us coming out of the second half and setting the tone right away.”
Smith was able to find the end zone for the second time of the game on the first possession of the third quarter. Then, after a defensive stop from the Wahconah defense, Scott found Scott Duma deep down the field for a 56-yard score to make it a 30-7 game. The following kickoff was returned to the house by the Spartans to bring the game back to within two possessions.
Scott finished the game with over 150 yards passing and three touchdowns, to go along with 23 yards rushing.
“I think the next step is more running,” Campbell said when talking about his senior quarterback’s development. “… he’s an underrated runner. If he can continue to run the ball well and continue to give us balance, I think that’s a really good thing.”
Salvatore was Scott’s primary target on Friday night, catching two of his three touchdowns and totaling 78 yards receiving. East Longmeadow had success of its own in the passing game. Quarterback Shane Becker finished with 170 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.
“He wasn’t perfect tonight,” Spartans’ head coach Mike Morrisino said. “He did some good things and he did some bad things. We’re ready to keep moving forward with him and see how much he grows. He has that potential, and you see it for plays and plays and now we just need to find that consistency with him. The sky’s the limit.”
The sophomore quarterback’s potential was on display in the fourth quarter when East Longmeadow was down two touchdowns. Hurry-up offense was initiated to save time, as Becker found receiver Christian Harding on back-to-back deep-ball throws for a total of 50 yards.
An 11-yard scramble followed the big plays, which led to two more completions for a total of 22 yards, the second resulting in a touchdown. A perfect 4-of-4 for 72 yards and a touchdown, along with 11 yards on the ground in the span of only a couple minutes against a solid defense proves that the sophomore is oozing with potential.
Ferrentino was Becker’s go-to guy on Friday, as he hauled in seven catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught the 2-point conversion that brought the Spartans within eight points late in the fourth.
Similar records does not indicate adjacent team paths. The Warriors look to improve on the little things. Coming into to 2021 as a polished team that has had players starting since their sophomore year, they are closer to the end product.
East Longmeadow is made up of primarily juniors and sophomores. Only nine seniors are on the roster, eight of which see playing time. Morrisino has tried to change the culture of the Spartans since he arrived a year ago.
“That’s a mentality that we’re trying to get here at East Longmeadow,” Morrisino said of Wahconah. “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.”
The Warriors will travel to Agawam next Friday, while the Spartans will look to right the ship as they host West Springfield.
Wahconah 6 8 16 14 — 44
E. Longmeadow 0 7 7 14 — 28
RUSHING — W: Jonah Smith 25-245, Owen Salvatore 1-17, Doug Collins 2-13, Zander Walton 1-13, Ryan Scott 4-23; EL: Preston Longo 12-81, Shane Becker 5-25
PASSING — W: Ryan Scott 6-17-3 154; EL: Shane Becker 15-27-3 170
RECEIVING — W: Owen Salvatore 3-78, Scott Duma 2-65, Owen Alfonso 1-11; EL: Johnny Ferrentino 7-49, Christian Harding 2-50, Conner Robidoux 4-47, Isaiah King 2-16