The Western Mass Sectional Semi-Finals did not disappoint Friday night, headlined by some surprising upsets. 16 teams were fighting for a chance at a Sectional Title across the four Western Mass divisions.
In Division II, 3-seed Westfield met 2-seed Central for a rematch from Week 3, when the Bombers took their only loss of the season at the hands of the Golden Eagles in Springfield. Westfield returned to Berte Field hoping for some revenge. Central started well, but missed some key opportunities to pad their early lead. As it turns out, that would come back to bite them.
Running back Anthony Owens gave Central the early lead on a short touchdown run in the first quarter, but it came after a missed field goal and was followed by a missed extra point for the Golden Eagles. Their 6-0 lead lasted into halftime, but the Bombers came out with some fire in the second half. After Central extended their lead to 11 points, Winton Royal took a kickoff return back for a touchdown to narrow that lead. Quarterback Austin St. Pierre's fourth-down touchdown late in the game gave Westfield the lead, and the Bombers' defense made some impressive stands to secure a victory. (3) Westfield 26 - (2) Central 25.
Meanwhile, one-seed Chicopee Comp hosted the scrappy West Springfield Terriers, whose three-straight wins earned them the four seed. A 13-6 halftime lead disappeared thanks to Kyle Beane's second touchdown of the game. West Springfield extended its lead from there, before Colts quarterback Trevor Johnson hit Derek Girouard for a big score, letting Chicopee Comp take the lead back. The Colts lined up to kick the extra point, hoping to leave themselves with a two-point fourth quarter lead. The kick was blocked and a heads-up play from Kyle Beane turned the tide. He scooped up the loose ball after the block and took it the other way for a two-point conversion. Just like that, the Terriers stole the lead back, leading 20-19. Beane added another score before a late fumble by Johnson secured West Springfield's stunning upset. (4) West Springfield 26 - (1) Chicopee Comp 19.
In Division III, Northampton welcomed the Longmeadow Lancers, who stormed their way into the postseason. The running game has been key for both teams all season long, but the Lancers had the defensive strategy to make the difference on Friday. Nik Horowitz, Carlo Calabrese, and Isaiah Dubois ran for scores as their young stars led the way on offense. Northampton's Elijah Davis found the end zone for Northampton, but the Blue Devils could not keep pace. (3) Longmeadow 49 - (2) Northampton 16.
One-seed Taconic was nearly unstoppable all year long and that trend continued Friday against Easthampton. The Eagles showed incredible perseverance to get into the playoffs, after staring the season with four straight losses. But they met their match against the Braves, who advanced to face Longmeadow. (1) Taconic 58 - Easthampton 6.
In Division IV, an intriguing match-up was the focus of the night between South Hadley and Palmer. Ryan McCarthy and the Panthers suffered their first loss of the season in the final week of the regular season and had something to prove in the first round. Facing uncertainty from some that their strength of schedule was not strong enough to compete with South Hadley's offense, McCarthy led Palmer to an early lead. However, after going up 14-0, Palmer allowed scores from Ryan Mooney and Chance Almonte. That's when McCarthy returned a kick-off for 85 yards for a touchdown. A last-minute drive brought the Tigers close to the game-winning score, but a fourth-down throw went went wanting and Palmer secured the win. (3) Palmer 20 - (2) South Hadley 15.
The top-seeded Wahconah Warriors once again put their premiere passing offense on display behind quarterback Will Genaway. The Warriors kept the four-seed Frontier Red Hawks defense guessing all night long, helping them advance to face Palmer in the next round. (1) Wahconah 54 - (4) Frontier 8.
In Division IV-A, two teams were hoping to continue their undefeated seasons in the opening round. Turners Falls carried their perfect record into the first round as the one seed and their versatile offense was working well against four-seed Pioneer Valley. Jack Darling tallied an early score for the Indians on a pass from Tionne Brown, who also contributed on the defensive side. Brown picked off a pass in the first half and the Indians kept the Pioneer Valley offense in check. (1) Turners Falls 30 - (4) Pioneer Valley 7.
Mount Greylock's undefeated record was only good for a two seed, setting them up for a match-up against three-seed Ware, who took down Palmer in the final week of the regular season. It was a shoot-out in this semi-final round, but Mount Greylock's Michael Wellspeak led the way in a victory, setting up a showdown between two undefeated teams in the final. (2) Mount Greylock 38 - (3) Ware 29.
More highlights and scores can be found in the video above and be sure to tune in next week for the Western Mass Finals.