South Hadley to play Wahconah at Gillette in Division 2 Super Bowl
There’s a decent chance Eric Scammons will pack a tape measure for the long ride to Foxborough Saturday.
The South Hadley football coach knows his players are going to be in awe when they first get onto the field at Gillette Stadium — the home of the New England Patriots — for the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl. He just wants them to remember that the dimensions of the field don’t change despite the massive difference in surroundings.
“I’ve talked to both the Longmeadow staff and the Central staff from last year and both of them admitted that it was an amazing atmosphere and the whole experience,” Scammons said. “It’s not just the Super Bowl game, which itself is the biggest game, but you’re in Gillette Stadium and they’ve got you on the Jumbotron and on TV.
“It is going to be difficult in trying to focus the kids and say ‘Hey listen, you have a job to do, it’s a football game,’ and kind of pull the Hoosiers move, you know, the field is the same size even though it might look a little bit bigger on TV.”
The Tigers (9-2) will face Wahconah of Dalton (8-3) at 6 p.m. with the WMass title on the line.
“I know for certain Wahconah is going to be coming to win the game as well,” Scammons said. “I’m excited, I know it’s going to be a fun experience but it will be more fun if we can come away with a victory.”
The Warriors defeated Berkshire County rival Hoosac Valley 22-0 in Tuesday’s semifinals, while South Hadley knocked off Commerce 28-8.
“They’re a typical, tough, hard-nosed Berkshire County team,” Scammons said. “They have a great quarterback in Lane Grogan, who is a multi-threat not unlike our quarterback (Sean) Rondeau. He can hurt you with the pass and the run. And they have a very aggressive defense and they play fundamentally sound.”
Grogan ran for 100 yards and three touchdowns Tuesday, while Ethan Wells finished with 139 yards rushing on 22 carries.
Meanwhile, South Hadley, which spent all of the regular season dominating on the ground, showed off its air attack with three passing touchdowns in its contest to advance to play for the title.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said quarterback Sean Rondeau, who had two of those passing scores and ran for another. “We’ve been working toward this goal since the beginning of the summer. To finally reach it is great, but we still have to come out on top. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
The game is the lone WMass contest of the six games played at Foxborough Saturday. The region’s remaining four Super Bowls will be played at Westfield State. When the new state championship format begins in 2013, all six state title games will be played at Gillette.
“My heart really goes out to the seniors,” Scammons said. “They are a great group of guys. They are phenomenal leaders, all the way from the offseason up to tonight. They have worked so hard and battled through injuries. I wouldn’t have wanted their season to end (Tuesday). The fact that they can go to Gillette and be able to play on the largest stage, after the leadership they have shown, I’m really happy for them.”
One of them, Max Dowd, was certainly pleased to have the opportunity.
“It’s going to be an experience that I’ll never forget,” he said.
Jim Pignatiello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.