Saturday, November 10, 2018

Central Beats Westfield, Elements to Win Second Straight Div. 3 West Crown

By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)

HOLYOKE - About the only thing capable of slowing down Springfield Central seems to be the elements. And even that is debatable. 

Despite playing in a driving rain storm, the Golden Eagles still had the wherewithal to perform at a high level. For the second time this season, Central bullied past Westfield to claim the Division 3 Western Mass. Title, coming away with a 22-0 triumph at Holyoke High School. 

Back on October 12th, the Golden Eagles rolled past the Bombers 41-0 in a AA Divisional match-up. 

With the victory, Central returns to the state semifinal where it will play either Shrewsbury or St. John's. 

A year ago, the Golden Eagles fell to St. John's (S) in the state semis. They were also upended in the Division 2 2015 state semifinal by Nashoba Regional. Both St. John's (S) and Nashoba went on to claim state titles. Now, with a chance to redeem itself, Central (9-1) certainly has the weaponry to move itself one step closer of achieving a state championship at Gillette Stadium. 

The last time the Golden Eagles won a football crown was in 2012.

"It has been raining the whole fall so we were ready for it tonight," said 10th year Central coach Valdamar Brower, in regards to the conditions. "The kids showed they were ready to go. To be honest, we felt this was going to be a battle throughout. Westfield is a team that is always ready to battle. No matter what the score says they're are going to give it everything they got and they did just that."

Facing the Bombers, it took a bit of time before the Golden Eagles were to finally able to adjust their offense and get it in sync. 

Racking up 315 yards, Central was spearheaded by the elusiveness of running back Kwame Kyles. The sensational junior danced around and over the Bombers defense for 186 yards on 28 carries, including a pair of touchdowns. He now has 909 yards on the season.

"I was able to read my keys and stay focused tonight," Kyles said. "We were a little rusty at first but then we started to pick it up. In these types of weather conditions you need to play together as a team and execute. We believe we can get to the state championship but we just need to keep on working and now focus our attention on either St. John's or Shrewsbury." 

Following a scoreless opening quarter in which Central saw a well-managed 68 yard drive end with a Baley Collier interception of a Isaac Boston pass in the end zone, things changed dramatically for the Golden Eagles. 

After a Westfield punt, Central set up shop on its own 48 midway into the second quarter. Needing just two plays to convert, Kyles bolted around left end and rumbled 45 yards into the end zone to give the Golden Eagles a 6-0 lead. 

The windswept rain, as well as the Golden Eagles defense, continued to make life miserable for the Bombers, which finished with 57 yards of offense. Another quick four-and-out by Westfield had Central on the move once again. Driving 55 yards behind Kyles, and a couple of key completions by Boston, the Golden Eagles increased their lead to 13 points after a 1 yard dive across the goal line by Kyles with just 20 seconds to go before halftime.

The Bombers had possession to begin the second half before things continued to go south. Facing a 4th-and-11 on its own 11, Westfield was again forced to punt. However, punter Dakotah Moynihan dropped to a knee in the end zone upon receiving a low the snap resulting in a safety and thus adding increasing Central's to 15-0.

Getting the ball back following the miscue, the Golden Eagles marched down field again. A Kyles 36 yard scamper was followed by a Mahari Miller 15 yard completion to running back Cqari Bacote in the back of the end zone to put Central ahead by 22 points. 

"Kwame has a certain kind of energy that I just love," said Brower. "He's a little bit different than me but I respect it and I love his energy."

For the remainder of this tilt, the Golden Eagles defense, which came in by allowing a miniscule eight points-per-game average, kept the Bombers at bay.

Moynihan, who is also Westfield's featured running back having rushed for over 1,200 yards coming in, was held to 25 yards on eight attempts.

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