H.S. Football: Dominant performance powers Northampton past Hoosac Valley, 49-8

  • Mike

For the Gazette
Published: 9/9/2022 11:06:16 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Senior Ben Sledzieski knew what the first play of the season was going to be on the first day of practice this week.

When the time came for that play, he didn’t miss classmate Trey Rios.

The 60-yard connection over the middle put Northampton in position for its first touchdown. Plenty of fireworks followed as the Blue Devils opened the season with a 49-8 thumping of Hoosac Valley on Friday night.

“I had butterflies in my stomach, but I saw how the defender was playing me,” Rios said. “I attacked his inside, went outside and Ben threw a good ball.”

The Blue Devils had eight plays of 20 yards or more. Four resulted in touchdowns.

“For a home opener, first game, I think it’s a great way to start the season,” Sledzieski said. “Have some fun tonight then focus on Westfield next week.”

Sledzieski was the spark for the fireworks. He completed his first seven passes and finished 9 of 10 for 241 yards and three passing touchdowns. All his work came in the first half as backups played in the second half. Sledzieski hit five different receivers.

“They worked their a**** off in the summer and you can really see the hard work pay off,” Sledzieski said. “I’m very proud of my linemen as well for stepping up.”

Rios was his main target. He finished with four catches for 134 yards and a touchdown. That TD came when Sledzieski hit Rios across the middle and the receiver blew past the secondary for 38 yards with 47 seconds left in the first half. The extra point made it 42-8.

“We’ve been working all this summer and it paid off,” Rios said. “We’re really happy about it.”

Rios wasn’t the only one making plays. Sledzieski hit Wesley Parent with a jump pass and the senior scampered away for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 on Hamp’s second possession.

Mykal Norris scored his only touchdown on a 14-yard dart through the defense to make it 21-0 on Hamp’s third possession.

Sledzieski capped the fourth possession with a 1-yard touchdown run for a 28-0 lead. That score followed a highlight-reel run by Norris, who took a swing pass from Sledzieski up the left side, only to cut across the field and up the right sideline before stopping short of the end zone.

Sledzieski’s ended Northampton’s fifth possession with his second rushing touchdown, this time from 20 yards. Sledzieski found Rios for 22 yards on second down to start the drive. Parent rushed for 11 yards on the next play, then Marty Maslowski followed with a 16-yard run to set up his QB.

Griffin Mucci (15 carries, 113 yards) was a workhorse for Hoosac. His 65-yard touchdown run came on the first play following Sledzieski’s second TD and ended the shutout.

It was the lone blemish by the Northampton defense, which allowed only four plays of more than 6 yards. Hoosac ran four plays inside the 50-yard line.

Senior Colin Evans was a roadblock up front for Hamp. He faced consistent double teams but led the defensive line as it shut down Hoosac’s rushing attack.

“It’s all about getting to the ball and having great timing,” Evans said. “Power on our legs and going after the ball. We try our hardest.”

Maslowski (five carries, 103 yards) capped Hamp’s effort with a 50-yard touchdown run on its first play of the third quarter. Maslowski was also 5 of 6 on extra points. Norris ran for one conversion.

Northampton faces a stiffer test next week when it plays at Westfield.

“These older guys have worked really hard in the offseason. I mean hard, and it’s transformed on to the practice field,” Northampton coach Joe Kocot said. “It’s transformed into the two scrimmages we’ve had. Both scrimmages looked just like that. We have some talent but we’re thin. It gets for real next week.”

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