Host Warriors get inspiration from vaunted Pain Train defense
If you listen closely, you might be able to hear a train roaring through Buckland this fall.
Do you hear it? It’s the Pain Train.
As Mohawk Trail Regional High School prepares to play in its first WMass championship game since 1980, the Warriors’ defensive unit continues to rally around a moniker it has been using since the beginning of the season. That defense will be leaned on tonight when the second-seeded Warriors entertain fourth-seeded Turners Falls High School in the WMass Division VI championship game at Pollard Field in Buckland at 7. The winner will advance to next Saturday’s Division VI State semifinal game at Westfield State University against the winner of the central Mass. championship between Littleton High School and Blackstone Valley Technical High School from Upton.
The team discussed how it earned the nickname “Pain Train” as the players gathered in the parking lot following practice on Thursday. The name was used roughly eight years ago when the Warriors had a team that was heavy on defense to make up for an offense that struggled to score points. This year, the team has been balanced on both sides of the ball, but it’s been the defense that has been making the biggest plays of late. Two weeks ago the defense scored the only two touchdowns of the game as the Warriors defeated Pathfinder Regional Vocational High School, 16-0. Then, in last week’s Division VI semifinals against Franklin County Technical School, the special teams’ defense forced a fumble that led to a touchdown in the first half. Later in the game, the defense stopped the Eagles in overtime to help Mohawk to a 20-14 victory that catapulted it to tonight’s game.
“We like to take the other team’s offense out of the game,” Mohawk junior lineman Jake Orzechowski said. “We want to make them play our game.”
Mohawk has allowed a total of 20 points in its past three games and has not allowed more than 20 points in a game this season. The Warriors will have a tall task in trying to stop the Turners Falls attack, and the team recognized that its opponent will not be a pushover.
“There’s a reason why both teams are playing in this game,” tight end Alex Dekoschak offered. The 6-foot-2, 170-pound receiver nicknamed “The Giraffe” due to his lanky frame, predicted that the defense which can impose its will and force the other to make the most adjustments will be in the driver’s seat.
“Both teams are very good,” he added. “Whatever team plays its game will win.”
While Turners Falls returns to the WMass championship game for the second straight year, the last time Mohawk played in a championship-caliber game was back in 1980 when it took on Hoosac Valley Regional High School in the Division II Super Bowl. The Warriors came up just short in that game, losing 7-6 after missing an extra point and then watching as Dave Wissman’s 52-yard field goal attempt fell short as time expired.
“It’s been great,” running back Stephen Reynolds said of the opportunity. “It’s hard to describe. We love that we have this opportunity. You don’t get too many chances to do this in your high school career. And it’s great that we are getting the community back into football.”
The Mohawk offense has a number of players who can hurt opposing defenses, beginning with Reynolds, who leads the team with 749 rushing yards. Quarterback Andrew Doty, who has thrown for 451 yards this season, is also a threat to break a big play with both is legs and his arm at any given moment. Junior center Dylan Williams said that the offensive line, widely responsible for much of the offense’s success, is a confident bunch.
“We just try to give our backs the room to do what they do best,” he offered.
It’s a game that could very well come down to turnovers. And that would be just fine with the Warriors, including senior lineman Tyler Osman who had a message for the Turners Falls offense, specifically Indian quarterback Malcolm Smith.
“Can you tell him that we’re coming for him?” Osman said as the interview ended, grin widening in jest.