Saturday, December 2, 2017

Millis Dominates Hoosac Valley for D8 State Championship

By Ethan Winter (@Ewints)

FOXBOROUGH - After scoring 76 points against Nashoba Valley Tech in the Division 8 State semifinal, the Hoosac Valley Hurricanes vaunted offense was held scoreless by an impressive Millis Mohawks defense, as Millis was able to repeat as State Champions with a dominating 37-0 win.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Millis head coach, Dana Olson of winning back-to-back state championships. “We only dressed 28 guys and 17 of them were seniors, I knew we had an unbelievable preseason and unbelievable preparation for this game.”

After scoring 76 points against Nashoba Valley Tech in the state semifinal, it looked like Hoosac might be the best chance for a WMass team to capture a state title since the MIAA went to a state-wide tournament format in 2013.

However, that big number two weeks ago got the Millis defense excited to play a Hoosac offense that averaged over 47 points per game.

“We were a little bit fired up to play them today and play their offense," Olson said. "A shutout, the defense played lights out and has been that way all season long, it’s a testament to these kids, they buy into our program and for such a small school to win back to back, it’s just an unbelievable feeling."

The Mohawks set the tone early, driving down the field 65 yards on eight plays in three minutes and 37 seconds for a touchdown on their opening drive, as senior quarterback Bryce Latosek connected with Raymond Hilaire to give Millis a 7-0 lead.

“(Hilaire) comes out and sets the tone, just like last year against Maynard, with a big touchdown catch," Olson said. "I’m happy for him, I’m happy for the kids and I’m happy for the town."

Latosek ended up throwing for three touchdown passes and 164 yards, on 8-for-12 passing and running for a touchdown as well.

“His poise. You saw him last year and you see him this season… The kid has thrown 65 touchdowns in two years. He’s unbelievable, just unbelievable and we are going to miss him,” said Olson on his second-year starting quarterback.

His biggest play, and maybe the dagger, was a 50-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Brooks just before halftime that extended the Mohawks lead to 24-0 with 35 seconds left in the second quarter.

“Going into the second half and getting that touchdown right before halftime, that’s all that you could really ask for and I asked my coach if we were going to go for it and luckily he said that we were going for it,” said Latosek.

“It’s huge,” said Hopkins. “This team, they are front runners, they haven’t faced any adversity all year and we gave them some adversity to deal with and they couldn’t handle it.”

Millis was dominant in every facet of the game, winning in the trenches on both sides of the ball as they parted the Hoosac defensive line like they were parting the Red Sea creating huge holes for senior running back Kurt Hopkins who had missed two games earlier in the season due to a dislocated elbow.

“My offensive line has been incredible all year, so I didn’t really expect anything less than that, I’m not surprised,” said Hopkins on the play of his offensive line. “Honestly, my elbow has got nothing to do with it. I’m grateful for a fast recovery when it happened, only missing two games. I just come out here every week and try to play my best and rely on my teammates to do the same.”

Hopkins ended up rushing for 185 yards on 25 carries with a long run of 36 yards.

Meanwhile nothing went right for the Hurricanes, as they turned the ball over three times, leading to 13 Millis points, and could only gain 181 yards of total offense.

“Not even turnovers, we just wanted to play a physical brand of football, we watched film on them, everyone just sits back and let them dictate the game and we weren’t going to let them dictate tempo or physicality today. We wanted to get downhill and play physical and I think that’s what set the tone,” said Olson.

For Latosek, who has quarterbacked the Mohawks to two straight state titles, the best part is being able to win his second state Super Bowl on the same field that a quarterback who has won five NFL Super Bowls plays on at least eight times a year.

“It’s the fact that my favorite player in the world plays here and plays the same position. Tom Brady is the best ever and it’s amazing to be able to play on the same field as him,” Latosek concluded.

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