Warriors romp, 64-6
NORTHFIELD (October 5, 2013) — Mohawk senior Bryce Macleod makes a run for it while team-mate Andrew Doty brings down Pioneer Panthers junior Cole Tognarelli during Saturday's Homecoming game against the Mohawk Warriors held at Pioneer in Northfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo
NORTHFIELD (October 5, 2013) — Mohawk senior Bryce Macleod makes a run for it early in the second half during Saturday's Homecoming game against the Mohawk Warriors held at Pioneer in Northfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo
NORTHFIELD (October 5, 2013) — Pioneer Panthers' Wide Receiver, Junior Jake Hale, makes the catch while Mohawk Warriors' Andrew Doty stumbles backward during Saturday's Homecoming game against the Mohawk Warriors held at Pioneer in Northfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo
NORTHFIELD (October 5, 2013) — Pioneer Panthers quarterback, junior Cole Tognarelli, tries to make his way around Mohawk senior Bryce Macleod (on ground) during Saturday's Homecoming game against the Mohawk Warriors held at Pioneer in Northfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo
NORTHFIELD — Early in the fourth quarter of Mohawk Trail Regional High School’s 64-6 shellacking of Pioneer Valley Regional School Saturday, tailback Stephen Reynolds approached Mohawk coach Doug McCloud and groused about being benched.
The first-year head coach turned to his star tailback and said, “Look at the scoreboard.”
Reynolds actually took himself out of the game by wreaking gridiron havoc, scoring five touchdowns and accounting for 173 of Mohawk’s 390 yards of total offense.
By halftime the score was 40-6, and Homecoming felt like Easter with the hometown team laying an egg. “I was going to give you $20 for an early cab ride home,” beleaguered Pioneer coach Glen Wilson joked to a reporter after the final whistle. “I didn’t expect this, but things changed after the national anthem.”
Indeed nobody expected a rout. Both entered with 3-1 records against similar Tri-County League foes, but one would have to go deep into the record books to find a score this lopsided.
“I kept looking at the scoreboard thinking I’d wake up,” said McCloud. “I thought I was dreaming. Our kids played outstanding.”
The Warriors took what was given them, getting good field position by capitalizing on four interceptions, a muffed punt, wobbly snaps and a fourth-quarter safety by Noah Blakeslee who sacked Pioneer quarterback Cole Tognarelli in the end zone. It accounted for Mohawk’s last two points, the proverbial cherry on the cake.
“Really?” hollered Wilson after the sack. “At this point, really?”
Apparently he was yelling at his team, because nobody could accuse McCloud of running it up. As Bill Belichick once said, “It’s their job to stop us, not our job to not score.”
And score Mohawk did, with fullback Brian Sullivan, tailback Billy Gray, tight end Alex Dekoschak and wingback Keith Whitaker adding a touchdown apiece to Reynolds’ five-pack.
“That was cool,” said Mohawk quarterback Andrew Doty. “It was also cool because my girlfriend was here.”
Dekoschak walked past and leaned into the conversation. “It was the receivers with great hands,” referring to Doty’s six-of-nine performance for 153 yards, two touchdowns and an interception that was thrown on the game’s first play from scrimmage. “They weren’t pretty, but they got there,” he said.
What prevented Pioneer from getting skunked was a nine-yard pass from Tognarelli into the hands of leaping wideout Jake Hale on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter. Whatever momentum that score created was erased two plays from scrimmage later, when Reynolds scampered 45 yards around right end to make it 26-6.
Questionable coaching strategy further contributed to the lopsided margin. Down 34-6 with under a half-minute until halftime and the ball on their own 21-yard line, Wilson called a timeout. “We weren’t playing with a lot of heart and I wanted us to finish up hard,” he said.
Instead, Tognarelli’s pass was picked off by Mohawk defensive back Luke Looman and Reynolds scored on the first play from scrimmage, a 23-yard jaunt through the heart of Pioneer’s defensive front.
“I watched Ware pound them up the gut, so that’s where we went,” said McCloud, referring to the 401 yards that Ware High School gained against Pioneer two weeks ago.
Wilson owned up to the late play stoppage as being a “bad timeout,” but another that he called with two minutes left to play was simply unnecessary. “He must’ve designed a game winning play,” muttered a grumpy Pioneer fan.
Yet Wilson can’t be blamed for his players throwing in a clunker. “We got beat down,” said running back Lukas Rathbun, who carried seven times 20 yards. “We just gotta play tougher.”
Tognarelli completed 19 of 41 passes for 259 yards, giving him 1,023 for the season. Those numbers were blemished, however, by three interceptions and three sacks courtesy of Blakeslee and Javius Johnson. Hale also tossed an interception on a gimmick play, but on the receiving end caught eight passes for 107 yards. Freshman Alex Tyson had six grabs for 92 yards.
Wilson needs to motivate his players in time for their next game, which will be at undefeated Turners Falls High School. “We’re not a 64-6 team and we need to show that Friday night.”
Meanwhile, the raspy-voiced McCloud has barely been able to talk for two weeks, bothered perhaps by an overabundance of sideline exuberance. “It’s almost better without his voice,” cracked his son Taylor, a sideline statistician.
The game drew a crowd of about 600, many from the hilltowns.
“I love the support we get,” said McCloud. “We wanna get football back as the main event. I want people to think of us as the good guys.”
They weren’t good guys on Saturday, they were Warriors.