Wolverines Winners Despite Thanksgiving Loss
Holliston runs past Westwood and into postseason with a 34-13 win.
Behind a swarm of Red at Westwood's Flahive Field, Tri-Valley League champion Holliston clinched a playoff berth by defeating the rival Wolverines 34-13 in their annual Thanksgiving day showdown.
The Panthers ran for four touchdowns, including one by Holliston's superlative starting quarterback Sean Mayo, while recording their 10th win of the season and second straight in Westwood this year.
"It's just a testament to the work ethic that our kids put forth in practice each and every day," said Holliston coach Todd Kiley.
Jake Frechette got the scoring started for Holliston with a 10-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game.
After consecutive defensive stands by each team, Westwood's Sean Amaru took a direct snap and bounced around the right corner for a nine-yard score as time expired in the first quarter. After being shutout by Holliston in the first round of the TVL playoffs two weeks ago, the Wolverines went to the "Wildcat" formation to try and get Amaru going.
"We wanted to mix things up this time and try the Wildcat, and it worked for the most part," Amaru said. "I've been a running back my whole life and it was exiting to be able to either run or throw the ball. It was a great experience."
Amaru and Dave DeCenzo shared the carries from the formation as Westwood tried to slow the game down and key Holliston's high-powered offense on the sidelines.
"They really have an efficient offense, and the longer we hold the ball, the more their offense is off the field," Hallion said.
Holliston opened up its lead in the second quarter with touchdown runs from Mayo and Kevin Curry and went into the intermission with a 20-6 edge.
Westwood controlled the tempo in the third quarter, taking seven minutes off the clock before Amaru punched in a four-yard touchdown to narrowing the gap to 20-13.
The Wolverines lockdown defense contained Mayo for the most part but could not keep hjm from converting consecutive third downs of over 20 yards, the later being a 23-yard touchdown strike to Brody Ciarcello.
Frechette's second touchdown run, coming from 15-yards out, added some fourth-quarter insurance for Holliston while the Panther defense stepped
up its game in the final quarter, forcing a fumble, and picking off a pass to keep the Wolverines off the scoreboard.
"We already faced these guys so it got a little bit monotonous, and we knew they were coming out with something a little different, which they did, but we made some adjustments and eventually shut them down," said Kiley.
Holliston learned they had already wrapped up the TVL title and postseason bid, but stayed hungry for victory and an outright league championship.
"We were playing this thing to win it and we wanted the title outright because that's what the kids deserve," said Kiley. "We went after it today like we said we would. We emptied the tank and now we have plenty of time to reload."
As anticipated, there was an emotional scene on the Westwood sideline following the game, and for some seniors, it was difficult to come to grips with the fact that this was their last high school football game.
"It kills," said Amaru after the game. "I don't think I'm ever going to put on a football helmet again, but I've got to move on I guess."
"I just hope you don't quit. There's more to life than football and you don't always have to win to be a winner," said Hallion. "A lot of seniors showed me they were winners today even though they lost their last game."