Given the opportunity that lies ahead for the Chicopee Comp football team, you might expect to see a tense atmosphere of nervous anticipation at the team's practice as Saturday draws closer. However, if you were on the field for Colts practice this week, you would have no idea.
It was a loose, but focused feeling at Chicopee Comp high school on Thursday, as first-year head coach Tony Couture prepared the Colts for their match-up with the Holliston Panthers in the D-IV State Championship at Gillette Stadium.
"I think the kids are antsy," Coach Couture said as his players worked through on-field drills. "They're kinda done with the practice, I think they're very well prepared."
They'll certainly have to be prepared to take on the Eastern Mass. champs whose only loss came on a meaningless Thanksgiving bout, during which most of their key starters rested. The Panthers pose a threat similar to that of the Colts offense, showing no hesitation to air it out.
"We pretty much realize we're playing ourselves," said senior captain wide receiver Cam Kagan. "We need to basically do what any other team would have to do to prepare for us."
Nonetheless, the Colts come into the state title game with the confidence afforded to them from a dramatic Western Mass Title game victory over then-undefeated Agawam, and a strong showing in a win over Grafton in the state semi-finals.
"I know that they're undefeated," quarterback Trevor Johnson told us, "but, Agawam was an undefeated team and we came out there and we proved that Chicopee Comp is capable of anything."
So far, that appears to be true. And that's certainly thanks, in part, to Johnson's incredible year. The junior led Western Mass. in passing yards, with more than 2,400, and touchdowns, with 32. Ten of those scores went to Kagan, who caught more passes than anyone in Western Mass. in 2015. Both have excelled in the fast-paced Colts offense that has kept defenses on their heels all year long.
"It's more of tiring them out," Kagan noted, "to the point where they can't even keep up with us, and they need subs every single play. We want them off the field and we take advantage of the spots that are getting subbed for."
As was proven in the sectional title game, when Dave Pedraza came up with the incredible game-winning catch.. on a pass from Kagan.
"Each and everyone of them know that they could be the one that makes a big play that wins us a football game," Coach Couture insisted.
They'll need every bit of that offense to get past Holliston. Kick-off is at 1:30 p.m.