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Ollari returns as Indians destroy CyberCats, 48-0

TURNERS FALLS — With the exception of a season-opening shutout of Palmer High School, this season has been an exercise in frustration for the Turners Falls High School football team. Well, Saturday afternoon, the Indians finally ran into a team on which they could take out those frustrations.

That foe was Springfield’s High School of Science and Technology, which the Indians dominated on both sides of the ball in a lopsided 48-0 Intercounty League demolition at the Edward J. Bourdeau Field Complex.

“We had a good week of practice and it was nice to see them come out and play the way they are capable of,” said Turners coach Chris Lapointe. “The kids wanted to come back and make a statement on their own field and they did it.”

The game featured the return of senior John Ollari, who has been sidelined since tearing labrum and biceps muscles in his right shoulder during an early-season loss to another Springfield school, the High School of Commerce. The injury could have potentially sidelined Ollari for the rest of the season had he opted to have surgery. But he trusted his healing powers and was medically cleared to play, a welcome relief to Lapointe, his troops and the Powertown faithful. But no one was happier than Ollari, who, in addition to hauling in a 33-yard touchdown pass, played defensive end and even punted once.

“I made the decision to come back for football because this is a football town and I couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore,” Ollari said. “It felt great to be back out there, and it was nice to be able to help put some points on the board.”

Lapointe concurred, gushing, “It’s great to have him back. He’s a leader and the kids follow him, but we wanted to limit what he did this week, just to be on the safe side.”

Ollari said the decision to come back early could limit his ability to pitch during baseball season, and he admitted not knowing how it will affect him on the basketball court, saying only, “We’ll see how it goes.”

Indeed.

The CyberCats came out looking like they meant business, putting together an impressive first drive on which they took the ball from their own 20 to the Turners 25 on just four plays. But that was before they committed their first of four damaging fumbles, to give the Indians possession on their own 17. Four plays later, Turners senior tailback Ryan Wilder took advantage of an opportune block by classmate Dominic Emery and ran 55 yards down the left sideline for his first of four rushing touchdowns. T.J. Meyer nailed the point-after boot and the Tribe led 7-0.

The Turners defense got in on the act during Sci-Tech’s next offensive series, when Indian linebacker Alex Osowski broke in untouched on CyberCat punter Gabriel Roman, blocking the kick and picking up the loose ball before scooting into the end zone for the score. Meyer’s kick went wide left, keeping the score 13-0.

The rattled CyberCats attempted to switch to a wildcat ground formation with little success against the inspired, swarming Indian defense. Sci-Tech sophomore QB Tyleek Edwards, subbing for injured starter Ernest Johnson, lofted a pass on third and 13 and Indian defensive back Emery picked it off at the Cybercat 46.

Turners went three and out but got the ball back on another Sci-Tech fumble one play later, setting the Indians up on the CyberCat 12. Wilder responded by running it straight up the middle for a touchdown, and Turners quarterback Malcolm Smith hit wideout Dan McCormack in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion that made it 21-0 and the rout was on.

The Indians found the end zone one more time before the end of the half, when Smith hit a wide-open Ollari in stride down the right sideline for a pretty 33-yard TD. Meyer booted the point-after and the Indians had their 28-0 halftime lead.

The second half got off to an ugly start when McCormack got drilled into the turf returning the opening kickoff, leading to an ugly brawl that ended up continuing 25 yards downfield, where the play was blown dead. In the middle of the fray were Ollari and a fired-up Wilder, both of whom had to be ordered off the field by the officials.

“I just saw three guys ganging up on Kramer (Patenaude) and I wasn’t going to let that happen, and neither was John,” Wilder said. “It was a mess, but we weren’t going to let one of our guys get manhandled like that.”

There were no ejections, just harmless offsetting penalties, as McCormack walked off the field under his own power with a twisted knee and did not return.

Wilder ran it in from 5 yards out 10 plays later, then left after the next Turners offensive series, which ended with his fourth score of the day, this one a 12-yard tote set up by a fumble jarred loose by a devastating Wilder hit on Sci-Tech’s top running back, freshman Movontae Heywood (17 carries, 111 yards), who was obliterated and shaken up on the play. Heywood eventually left the game and didn’t return until garbage time.

The Indians rounded out the scoring early in the fourth when Emery scooted around left end on fourth-and-nine into the end zone for a 20-yard TD ramble. Meyer nailed the point-after kick, creating the 48-0 final.

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