Hoosac Valley football team runs through Nashoba Tech to book ticket to Division VIII state championship game
WESTFIELD — The Hoosac Valley football team needed all of two plays to realize its linemen had a distinct advantage at the line of scrimmage during Saturday's MIAA Division VIII state semifinal against Nashoba Tech.
Watching the surge created by Hoosac's front five was like ripping a page out of the run-blocking textbook. Every play, the Hurricane linemen blew their opposition off the line, creating gaping holes for the ballcarries to rush through. The Hurricanes didn't need to punt once during the game, amassing 623 total yards — including 593 on the ground — en route to a 76-34 win. Hoosac advances to its first ever state championship game since the MIAA created the all-state tournament format. The 'Canes will face Millis in the state championship, which is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 2 at Gillette Stadium. The time is to be determined.
"I would say it's up there with one of the strongest," senior lineman Adam Bush said of the team's performance against Nashoba. "Its just a different mindset now. Let's win the tournament. We know we're playing some pretty legit teams. Every play we know we need to come out smashing.
"I don't know if we were stronger, I don't know if we were faster, I don't know if we were more skilled — all I know is we came out hitting, and that's what it came down to."
The Hurricanes completely imposed their will on the Vikings. They racked up 22 first downs while averaging 11.54 yards per play. The Hurricanes only faced five third downs and one fourth down all game. On each crucial down, the team answered with a touchdown or a first down. Every play the Hoosac coaching staff called was executed with optimum effectiveness.
"I felt like we just had to keep going and keep pushing with what we were doing," Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot said. "I felt like we had the chance to control the game offensively, at least control what we're doing up front."
Nearly every play was blocked perfectly and the Hoosac backs made the Vikings pay when given room to run. Senior Matt Hall set the tone, earning gains of 26 and 41, respectively, on the first two plays from scrimmage. The latter went for a touchdown and it put the Hurricanes in the driver's seat early.
Nashoba's ensuing drive was much more methodical, but the Vikings capped it off with a 42-yard touchdown pass from Vinney Eramo to Jose Soba. Eramo did a good job escaping the pocket and buying time. The rollout caused Hoosac's defensive backs to freeze and the senior QB unleashed a pass while sliding out of bounds, connecting with his target.
After an eight-play scoring drive by Hoosac was capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Donald Monsees, Eramo returned the ensuing kickoff for an 80-yard touchdown. The failed two-point conversion pass left the score at 14-12, with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the first quarter. Hoosac controlled play from then on out.
"We just get all our energy up and focus on the next play," Hall said. "Everything is next play and we just run. We come out attacking and attacking."
Hall rushed for 226 yards and four scores on 19 carries. Senior David Critelli rushed for 218 yards and one score on 10 carries. Senior quarterback Vance Eugene added 113 yards and two scores on five carries. He had a 36-yard touchdown pass to Izaha Stubbs, as well.
Each back gained yardage in different ways. Hall did a great job turning the corner on runs to the outside. Crtielli was effective with quick-hitting runs up the middle and Eugene did a little of both, breaking runs up the middle and using his speed to get the edge.
Hoosac's offense dominated thanks in part to its defense, with Nolan Roberts and Joe Degere consistently generating pressure on the Nashoba quarterback. With 2:17 left in the first half, Eugene went up high and intercepted an Eramo pass. Three plays later, Critelli rumbled into the end zone from 39 yards out. On Nashoba's next drive, Stubbs had a well-timed deflection on a deep third-down pass. Eramo's fourth down pass was dropped, causing a turnover on downs. With less than 20 seconds remaining in the half, a sack set up a rare third-and-long for Hoosac. Instead of playing it safe, Eugene faked the handoff right, turned up field and picked up nice blocks from his receivers. He juked a defender near the goal line and walked into the end zone for a 45-yard score. The Hurricanes led 52-18 at halftime.
Before Hoosac did its customary postgame chant, shouts of 'I wanna meet Bob Kraft,' and 'we're going to Gillette,' rang out as the players celebrated their commanding win. The Hurricanes have run roughshod over Division VIII in their first year in the smallest classification in the state, but it's clear the opportunity to play for a state championship is not something they're taking lightly.
"I'm just excited," head coach Dayne Poirot said. "It's good for these kids to go down there and get an opportunity to play."
Nashoba 12 6 16 0 — 34
Hoosac 22 30 8 16 — 76
H — Matt Hall 41 run (run failed), 10:33
N — Jose Soba 42 pass from Vinney Eramo (kick missed), 6:19.
H — Donald Monsees 14 run (Liam Feeley run), 2:48.
N — Eramo 80 run (pass failed), 2:34.
H — Hall 19 run (Vance Eugene run), 2:09.
H — Eugene 43 run (Hall run), 9:20.
N — Adam Blouin 11 run (pass failed), 6:12.
H — Eugene 21 run (run failed), 3:58.
H — David Critelli 39 run (Hall run), 1:46.
H — Eugene 45 run (Nick Waterman pass from Eugene), 0:00.
N — Blouin 3 run (Brian Robinson pass from Eramo), 8:02.
H — Hall 48 run (Critelli run), 4:33.
N — Blouin 4 run (Eramo run), 2:56.
H — Izaha Stubbs 36 pass from Eugene (Hall run), 10:07.
H — Hall 47 run (Hall run), 6:58.
First Downs 19 22
Rushes-yards 43-157 50-593
Passing yards 169 30
Comp-att-int 11-17-1 2-4-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 7-58
RUSHING — Nashoba: Adam Blouin 22-69, Vinney Eramo 12-37, Eli Norton 8-51, Mark Santoro 1-0. Hoosac: Matt Hall 19-226, Liam Feeley 5-22, David Critelli 10-218, Donal Monsees 1-14, Vance Eugene 5-113.
PASSING — Nashoba: Eramo 11-17-1 169. Hoosac: Eugene 2-3-0 30. Hall 0-1.
RECEIVING — Nashoba: Jose Soba 7-103, Norton 2-55, Brian Robinson 2-11. Hoosac: Critelli 1-(minus 6), Izaha Stubbs 1-36.
Akeem Glaspie can be reached at email@example.com, at @TheAkeemGlaspie on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.