Teams do not play against each other in the regular season. In fact, they haven’t met since 2007. In Berkshire County, when it comes to Northbridge High School, the idea turns to three Super Bowl games the Rams played against Berkshire football powerhouse Wahconah. .
Three times, the Wahconah coaches have faced Ken LaChapelle and three times the Warriors have failed. There’s no shame in that because LaChapelle coached his 500th career game when the Rams beat West Boylston on September 10. LaChapelle is the most successful coach in Massachusetts history and he became No. 1 in 2014. No one could catch up to him. , and the Rams have always been a hindrance for Berkshire sides looking to reach Gillette Stadium. Northbridge defeated Hoosac Valley in the state semifinals in 2013 and 2015, and knocked out West Massachusetts champion Pittsfield High in 2014.
Current Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. led the Warriors in 2001 and 2002. Matt Morrison, who is now back as Campbell’s assistant, was the head coach in 2007, following the departure of Campbell to take on the role of coach of former National Champion Berwick (Pa.) High School.
When Wahconah and Northbridge meet at Holyoke High School on Saturday, it will be the fourth time these teams have fought for football supremacy. The first three times, the award was a MIAA Western-Central Massachusetts Super Bowl Championship trophy. This year, however, the prize is a seat to the Division VII state championship game at Gillette Stadium in December.
Here is now a return on these three games.
December 1, 2001, Northbridge 35, Wahconah 17These teams met for the first time with Campbell being a youngster against veteran LaChapelle. The way teams played football, Wahconah was the oldest soul. The Campbell Warriors were on the ground all day, every day. In fact, running backs Eric Pratt and Sean Regan combined to run 154 yards on that cold December day at Springfield College.
It was the Rams, however, who were the peak offense.
âThey looked like the St. Louis Rams,â Wahconah quarterback Robbie Cimini said after the game. âI never thought I would see something like this in high school football. I’ve never seen him in college football.
The Rams of Northbridge had backhands, back passes and even a swing gate play. This helped Northbridge take a 14-0 lead after a quarter and what turned out to be an insurmountable 28-17 lead at halftime.
âThe idea was to divide the pitch, do a lot of different things and mix them up,â said the Northbridge coach. âIf they control the ball, they’re tough on teams.
A common thread in the first two games was Northbridge quarterback Danny Brown. Brown, a junior in that game, had started in the Northbridge offense since he was a freshman. He was 13 of 25 for 164 yards and two touchdowns, and also ran for 101 yards on 14 carries.
December 8, 2002, Northbridge 34, Wahconah 6Brown eventually went to Harvard to play football, but his career was cut short by injuries. This Saturday at Coughlan Stadium on the Worcester State campus, Brown was healthy and dominant.
He was 15 for 22 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Jon Zenpuis caught four passes for 111 yards. Wide receiver Adam Mummenthey, who stood out the year before, caught two touchdown passes. Tight end Matt Krevis, an all-day freak, played his college football at Brown.
âThis is the best team I have been associated with in 32 years at Northbridge,â said LaChapelle.
The Rams totaled 377 yards on offense and were just as strong on defense, keeping the Warriors at 141 yards. The best running back for Campbell’s team was Josean Sanchez, who ran 32 yards on six carries. Sanchez is currently a member of Campbell’s coaching staff.
Northbridge took a 21-0 lead before Sanchez caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Mackey to make it 21-6 in intermission. The Warriors have not scored anymore.
âIt’s a privilege to play against the best in the state,â Campbell said after the game. “I haven’t seen what’s in the east, but they’re the best on this side of [Interstate] 495. The children now know what the next level is.
Brown was 34-4 in four years at Northbridge, throwing for 1,500 yards and 28 touchdowns on the board. He was also 13th in his class and had offerings from Williams and Amherst, as well as Harvard and other Ivies. Had he gone to Williams, Dick Farley could have coached the Ephs for four consecutive seasons 8-0.
And one more thing about Brown. When Morrison coached the Warriors, the plan was to get brand new helmets for everyone from the youth leagues to the high school team. A deal with Xenith, a helmet maker, was made and Xenith’s rep was a guy named Danny Brown.
Morrison said he knew a Danny Brown from Northbridge, and the rep said he was that Danny Brown. Small world.
December 1, 2007, Northbridge 17, Wahconah 15The site was Westfield State. The winning team has remained the same. However, the game played out very differently from the first two meetings.
The Rams, who first played Wahconah without quarterback Danny Brown and his plethora of weapons, managed to take a 17-8 halftime lead. The first touchdown came after Wahconah was stopped on a fourth and 2 from his 43-yard line. The second touchdown came after a bad punt and Northbridge recovered on the Wahconah 14. A field goal in the dying seconds counted for Northbridge’s 17 points.
Northbridge quarterback Zach Zidelis had thrown for 2,000 yards this season, but was limited to 108 in the game. Wahconah quarterback Julian Schnopp threw for 104 yards.
Back then, and even more than a decade later, Coach Morrison assigned defensive coordinator Jim Galliher and assistant Chris O’Connor the defensive game plan.
“We made a game plan, we stuck to it and most of it worked,” Morrison said after the game.
But after narrowing the lead to 17-15, Northbridge put in a 15-game drive that took seven minutes. Eleven of those pieces were races.
“We’re just not used to this,” Zidelis said after the game. âWe’re used to spreading it and cheating stuff. It comes down to the fact that when you need to win, you do what you need to do. “
Trevor Marcotte ran 95 yards for the Warriors, who gave the Rams everything they could handle.
âPart of our heritage is to be the best we can be,â said Wahconah lineman Evan Persson. “We were the best we could be, but it wasn’t enough.”