Amherst Regional seniors brought football program to new heights

  • Amherst Regional players J.B. Mills, from left, Cenai Collins and Pierre Tillus gather in the final minute of their team's loss to Swampscott in the state Division 5 Super Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Gillette Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional coach Chris Ehorn Jr. gathers with CJ Woodfine-Holmes, from left, Jack Nagy, Cenai Collins and J.B. Mills while accepting the runner-up trophy after their loss to Swampscott in the state Division 5 Super Bowl, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019 at Gillette Stadium. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/7/2019 10:19:17 PM

FOXBOROUGH — J.B. Mills hugged each of his teammates after the clock hit triple zeroes.

Amherst Regional had just lost the Division 5 Super Bowl 21-0 against Swampscott. He realized it was the last time they would take the field together. The senior quarterback told everyone he loved them.

“It was really emotional at the end of the game. It was really sad. It’s been a heck of a run,” Mills said. “You learn to love those guys like family. That’s what we are, a football family.”

Mills is one of 12 seniors that authored one of the most successful seasons in Amherst football history. The Hurricanes completed their first undefeated regular season in 60 years. They won a Western Massachusetts championship for the first time in 20 years and reached the state Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

“All these guys are great. They’re like brothers to me,” senior running back Josh Vecchio said. “It’s that chemistry that made our team great. I’ll never forget this team.”

It’s the first class of seniors to play all four years with Chris Ehorn Jr. There were only five of them when they started as freshmen. One moved out of town but four stayed at Amherst: Mills, Vecchio, Cenai Collins and Tom Dion. Amherst went 4-7 their freshman year then advanced to the postseason when they were sophomores and juniors. Everything came together their 11-1 senior year.

“This is a special group of guys,” senior lineman Jack Nagy said. “I think we will always be remembered in Amherst.”

The group means a lot to Ehorn. They bought in to his ideas and the way he wanted to run the program. Volunteering at the Amherst Survival Center became a regularity during the summer. The seniors organized 6 a.m. lifting sessions in a newly renovated weight room.

“Aside from their abilities and everything they were able to do on the field, the friendships that were built, the respect we have for each other, the love we have for each other – we’ll never lose contact,” Ehorn said. “We’re going to be in each other’s lives for the rest of our lives.”

After the game, he wasn’t ready to accept that they weren’t playing for him anymore.

“That’s tough,” Ehorn said. “It’s something I don’t want to think about yet.”

Even though the dozen players are leaving the program, the standard they set will remain.

“We should hold ourselves to the standard of ‘we want to be the best team in western Mass. in Division 5 for sure.’ We want to compete at the state level in Division 5 for years to go,” Mills said. “We’ve built the program up to this point and I think the guys that we have are going to be able to compete for a long time now.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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