Wildcats run past Wave
GHS 44 Jourdan York-Welcome scores the games first TD
Connor Eckstrom evades a sacker
Mikal Dobbins advances a pass
Eckstrom to Dobbins
GHS 10 Connor Eckstrom
GREENFIELD — With a defense designed to take away the running game and an offense spreading the load on the ground, Lee High School took hold of Friday night’s game late in the first half and controlled the action to the end in a 26-12 independent football win over Greenfield High School at Veterans Memorial Field.
Deaglan Giarolo threw a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes to Paul Boutiette, the last coming just eight seconds before halftime, and the Wildcats (1-1) had four players with between seven and 10 carries each, led by Matt Kelley’s 70 yards and a score, en route to 179 rushing yards as a team.
“Greenfield’s big and strong, and we just figured we’d simplify the game plan and go back to what we like to do, running the football,” said Lee coach Keith Thomson. “Kids stepped up all over the place. We just kept hitting them, and that’s what we do. We’re physical, and if we’re not playing that style, we’re not ourselves.”
Greenfield (1-1), coming off a 36-6 thrashing of Drury High School in its season opener, got a good passing night from Connor Eckstrom (9-for-17, 140 yards, one TD, one interception), but couldn’t generate anything on the ground with only 10 rushing yards. Jourdan York-Welcome had 24 yards on the ground to lead the Green Wave.
“(Lee) flew around and played hard, and I can’t say enough about that team,” said Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski. “We got beat by a good football team, and we’re trying to preach to our kids to play that kind of game.”
The Green Wave began brightly enough by recovering the squibbed opening kickoff at the Lee 37 and appeared to have scored on the third play, when Eckstrom hit Parker Hickey for 29 yards, but the touchdown was wiped out by a block-below-the-waist call. Eckstrom bounced back with completions of 14 yards to York-Welcome and 20 yards to Mikal Dobbins, before York-Welcome took a delayed handoff up the middle for the final 15 yards with 5:54 left for a 6-0 Wave lead. Eckstrom’s pass to Garrett Hudson on the two-point try fell incomplete.
Lee answered with a 10-play, 56-yard drive keyed by a 14-yard pass from Giarolo to Heamon Williams and a 10-yard gain by Dan Griffin. On fourth-and-4 from the Greenfield 6, Giarolo hit Boutiette on a slant pattern for the score, and John Graziano tacked on the point after to make it 7-6 for the Wildcats with 1:15 to go in the first.
After a Greenfield punt, Lee advanced into Green Wave territory before a bad pitch by Giarolo was covered by York-Welcome at the Greenfield 43. The Wave struck immediately with Eckstrom hitting Lew Borden (three catches, 89 yards) for 57 yards on a fly pattern down the left sideline, putting the hosts up 12-7 with 6:43 left in the half.
On Lee’s next drive, Kelley snapped off gains of 14 and 31 yards and Giarolo threw a 13-yard completion to Williams. From the Greenfield 2, Kelley dove in over left guard to put the Wildcats back in front, and Graziano’s kick made it 14-12.
Lee got the ball back with 1:15 left in the half and had plenty of time to go 56 yards in six plays, helped by a 23-yard screen pass from Giarolo to Griffin that put the ball at the Greenfield 9. On first-and-goal, Giarolo hit a wide-open Boutiette in the left corner of the end zone with 8.1 seconds to go in the half. Although Greenfield blocked Graziano’s kick, the Wildcats had a 20-12 edge going to the locker room.
In the second half, Greenfield’s four possessions resulted in two punts, a loss on downs and an interception by Lee’s Jordan Williamson. That pickoff, followed by a 21-yard return to the Greenfield 15, set up the Wildcats for their last score, a 10-yard run by Griffin with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter.
The Green Wave managed only 16 yards of offense over the final two quarters.
“They played aggressive defense with eight men in the box,” said Kuchieski. “We tried to do some things passing the ball, some quick passes, that were successful, and some other things that didn’t go our way. They played the defense to stop our run game.”
Greenfield begins Intercounty League play at Belchertown High School on Sept. 21 at 1 p.m.