Ben Noyes tackles Will Baker

Wahconah's Ben Noyes wraps up Cohasset quarterback Will Baker.

FOXBOROUGH — After three months of perfection, December had different plans for the Wahconah football team.

The top-seeded Warriors won 11-straight games to earn a spot in the MIAA Division VII state title game. The state trophy, however, is headed to Norfolk County. 

No. 6 Cohasset scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to capture the D-VII crown with a 27-12 win over the Warriors at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday night. 

"I wish we could've come out as a team and punched them in the mouth first, that would've been the key for a victory tonight," senior captain Wyatt George said. 

Instead, the Skippers threw the first punch on the opening drive with a 53-yard flea-flicker from quarterback Will Baker to Josh Burke for 53 yards. Wahconah deflected the blow as Ben Noyes got Baker on a 1-yard loss and Doug Collins lived in the backfield. Two tackles funneled to George forced a turnover on downs at the Wahconah 8. 

Wahconah punted out of its own end and Cohasset's following drive was just three plays, as Baker carried the ball in for a 30-yard touchdown run. Baker closed with a game-high 124 yards on 23 carries. He completed 4 of 9 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. 

"I think [Baker] is a good threat for them," Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. "We didn't own the line of scrimmage, they did." 

The Warriors, after Jonah Smith carried the ball three times for 5 yards on the opening drive, went right back to the senior on the following possession. The tailback was given five-straight carries and turned them into 22 yards. 

Wahconah was committed to the run, but also lulling the Skippers to sleep with rushes up the gut. Smith's eight-straight carries set the scene for quarterback Ryan Scott unloading a 40-yard pass over the defense and into the arms of Owen Salvatore for a touchdown. 

"That was awesome," Scott said of throwing a touchdown at Gillette. "I've seen Tom Brady do it 1,000 times, it is pretty cool to do it, too." 

But the 2-point try was no good, and Wahconah still trailed 7-6.

Salvatore had another game-breaker in his back pocket as the following Cohasset drive closed with an interception by the junior. The scoreboard remained stuck until Josh Burke ran in a 22-yard touchdown for the Skippers with 4 minutes 35 seconds left in the half. 

Scott and the Wahconah offense needed a solution and Brad Noyes had the answer. The senior caught a pass in the flat before ducking his head and tight-roping down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown catch-and-run with just 22 seconds on the clock.

Scott finished with 12 completions for 159 yards and two touchdowns. The senior signal caller was 6 of 8 in the first half, but just connected on just 6 of 16 after the break. Brad Noyes had a team-high 54 receiving yards, Ben Noyes caught two balls for 29 yards and Salvatore snatched two passes for 44 yards. 

Smith carried the ball 12 times for 44 yards in the first half and ran the ball just six times in the second half before leaving with an injury. The senior finished with 81 yards on 18 carries. 

"Losing Jonah hurt a bit but [Doug Collins] did a great job coming in and he runs hard," Campbell said. "At the end of the day, we didn't stay balanced. We weren't able to run and pass the ball." 

Collins carried four times for 20 yards, all in the second half.

The Skippers clenched a 14-12 lead for the entire third quarter. Burke ran in his second score and Baker found Liam Appleton for a 14-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Appleton had 100 total yards on 14 touches, and Burke closed with 46 yards on four carries. 

While the game unraveled late, it didn't change the run that brought the Warriors to Gillette Stadium. 

"Not every team does [make it to a state championship]," Campbell said. "It hurts now, but they'll look back and say they played at Gillette." 

"This is an awesome season," Scott added. "We fought hard and I love everyone in that locker room." 

Wahconah's run came to an end after the Blue Wave crashed through the D-VII bracket, outscoring opponents 108-21 in the tournament's first three games. 

"That comes from being together through adversity and respecting each other," Campbell said. "Everybody has a team, but some teams are more successful than others and rarely it's X's and O's. 

"It's usually chemistry, respect and trust — that is what this team has."

The journey, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges involved with raising a new school, featured challenges that expanded past the white lines.

"Everything this school year brought," Campbell said, "We lived in these [duffle] bags all year — they had to overcome a lot of things and I'm really proud of them." 

That adversity in Dalton, however, is attacked head-on.

"This town really cares for you," Scott said, "this was an amazing experience."

"I hope one day this class can come back together and watch another Wahconah team come here," George said, "and win that championship."

———
Wahconah 6 6 0 0 — 12
Cohasset 7 7 0 13 — 27
First Quarter
C — Baker 30 run (Hansen kick), 3:25.
W — Salvatore 30 pass from Scott (run failed), 0:23. 
Second Quarter
C — Burke 22 run (Hansen kick), 4:35. 
W — Brad Noyes 39 pass from Scott (run failed), 0:22. 
Fourth Quarter
C — Appleton 14 pass from Baker (Hansen kick), 8:01. 
C — Burke 2 run (kick failed), 1:21. 
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS 
RUSHING — C: Appleton 13-86, Baker 23-124, Burke 4-46, Donahue 2-4; W: Smith 18-81, Scott 6-3, Poirer 1-1, Collins 4-20. 
PASSING — C: Baker 4-9-1 82 yards, Appleton 0-1-0 0 yards; W: Scott 12-24-2 159 yards. 
RECEIVING — C: Burke 2-60, Hansen 1-8, Appleton 1-14; W: Salvatore 2-44, Duma 4-22, Smith 1-6, Wendling 1-4, Brad Noyes 2-54, Ben Noyes 2-29. 

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.