By Chandler Paletsky
Bellingham’s Blackhawks shuffle out of their buses and make their way onto Kamitian field to meet the Panthers. Players on both sides begin their pre-game warm ups, separated by the highlighted fifty yard line. Each team looks fresh as challenging glances are exchanged in between drills. Coach Kiley shouts commands to his players as the Panthers begin to go over the plays that they would use on their first drive.
After a short trip to the locker room, the pre-game preparations are complete and both teams’ captains walk out to the coin toss followed by their teams. The coin toss is won by Bellingham and they choose to receive the ball at the start of the game. Players, coaches, and fans alike remove their helmets and hats as the national anthem is about to begin. Holliston is in its “73 7” formation to honor and remember the family and friends that were lost over the years. After the anthem, Coach Perry sends out his kickoff team with an inspiring speech.
Both teams fail to get anything started on their first drives and that leaves the ball on Bellingham’s 25 yard line. The Blackhawks start the drive strong with a play-action pass that sets them up at their own 44 yard line. However, they once again fail to get anything going and are forced to punt.
Holliston starts the drive at their own 22 yard line with a hand off to number 11, Max Athy, who takes the ball to the Bellingham 39 yard line after stumbling through defenders. The Panthers manage a 12 yard pass play from number 1, Matt Jeye, to number 8, Matt Jarvis, which places them on the edge of the red zone. A flag is produced on the subsequent play as Holliston is caught holding. Now first down and 20 to go, Matt Jeye looks to the air and connects with number 3, Zach Elkinson, for the first score of the game.
Nevertheless, Bellingham answers with a touchdown on the very next play. Number 3, Wesley Kudirka, pulls off an astonishing 85 yard kick return for a touchdown. The score is 7 to 6 after a failed extra point.
Holliston attempts to respond to the Blackhawks score on the next drive, but they fail and the ball is turned over to Bellingham on their own 34 yard line. Alex Mitchell, number 26, manages his first sack of the game on second down and the Blackhawks punt the ball after another unsuccessful drive.
Holliston starts the drive in I-Formation with 10:07 left in the half. The first play of the drive yields a flag as Bellingham’s number 54, Ryan Wilson, is charged with a facemask on number 56, Thomas Chipman, who is forced to run off the field to fix his helmet.
While Chipman is on the sideline, a botched snap results in a fumble that is recovered by Bellingham. They will start the drive on their own 42 yard line. Bellingham manages to gain some momentum as they drive all the way within the Panthers’ 10 yard line with the help of a defensive pass interference penalty and a few completions to Kudirka.
A run up the middle by Adam Braza falls short of the goal line. After a fumble that is recovered by Bellingham and an overthrown pass intended for number 10, Austin Nunn, the Blackhawks are left in a fourth down situation. On their last scoring opportunity, Bellingham decides to go with a quarterback keeper aimed at the right pylon. The quarterback is pushed out of bounds at the 1 yard line and is injured on the play.
Joe Bellomo, number 30, kicks off the drive for Holliston with an impressive 20 plus yard run that brings the Panthers across the 25 yard line. With the hurry up offence maintaining its grueling pace they waste no time in handing the ball off to Joe “The Hammer” Bellomo once more for a 12 yard gain.
The line of scrimmage has moved to the 44 yard line after the carry by Bellomo. Number 54 of the Blackhawks, Ryan Wilson, achieves his second personal foul with yet another facemask. The penalty advances Holliston’s position on the field and the ball is now on the Blackhawks 37 yard line.
On first down Jeye hands the ball off to Jarvis who runs it down to the Bellingham 21 yard line for Holliston’s third 10+ yard run of the drive. A pitch to number 25, Grant Slattery, and a few run plays by Athy leaves Holliston just shy of the goal line. However, the Panthers manage to get into the endzone and the extra point is completed to make the score 14 to 6 with Holliston leading.
Bellingham receives the ball at their own 35 yard line, but is unable to put a drive together and the Panthers take over at their own 30 yard line. Matt Jeye starts off the drive with a quarterback keeper and he runs the ball out across the 50 yard line. Holliston is stopped at the line of scrimmage on first down, but Athy takes the ball out of bounds on a run to the outside that ends just shy of the 40 yard line. A pass is completed to Matt Jarvis on third down and he dives out of bounds after getting a first down. The next play is a deep pass to Elkinson who burns the defensive back and runs it into the endzone for the Panthers’ third score of the night. The extra point is good making the score 21 to 6, Holliston and the first half is brought to a close with Holliston leading by 15.
At the start of the second half, the Panthers go to the air right off the bat and Nick Athy successfully delivers a 62 yard pass to Zach Elkinson who runs the ball into the endzone, adding another touchdown to the score. The extra point is no good making the score 27 to 6.
Bellingham produces a fairly successful drive with a long pass play to number 34, Codi Boucher, that brings them to the Panther 25 yard line. The offence obtains a first down after a run by Boucher to the 11 yard line.
The defence manages to stop the next two plays as well and after a denied holding penalty, the offence faces a fourth down situation. The ball is fumbled on the snap, but the quarterback, Nunn, manages to pick it up and put it in the hands of a receiver with a pass that is just short of the first down.
Holliston will take over on their own 2 yard line with 5:00 left in the third quarter. A few plays into the drive, Joe Bellomo runs the ball out to the panther 18 yard line. On third down, Nick Athy looks to throw the ball and connects with number 5, Tyler Perry, which advances the offence to their own 38 yard line.
Bellomo takes the ball two plays later and with the help of his line he is able to weave his way through defenders all the way to the Bellingham 20 yard line. After a few short gains, the Panthers once again hand the ball to Bellomo who takes it to the right pylon for another touchdown. The extra point goes through the uprights and makes the score 34 to 6.
Holliston kicks the ball off and for the second time that night number 3, Wesley Kudirka, receives the ball and manages another outstanding 70+ yards touchdown for Bellingham’s second score of the night.
Bellingham’s special teams had a strong performance scoring all of the Blackhawks’ points. The score is now 34 to 13.
Captains Chris Miller and Chipman are on the front line of Holliston’s kickoff return team and they prepare for Bellingham’s charge. A mad scramble for the ball ensues as Holliston’s second line receives the squib kick, but shortly after lose control of the unruly ball and throw it towards the charging kickoff team.
Holliston recovers and the drive begins on their own 44 yard line. The Panthers give the ball to Athy who is able to gain enough yards to advance the ball all the way to the Blackhawks’ 5 yard line after only four carries. Despite Max’s efforts, it is his younger brother, Nick Athy, who pushes the ball into the endzone for the last score of the night, making the score; Holliston-41 Bellingham-13.