Boston High School: DaQuon Clemons

Recap: No. 3 Central 52, No. 13 Westfield 14

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
1:57
AM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- For what was at stake, Springfield Central's 52-14 dissection of Westfield, Friday at Fred Berte Field, was taken in stride. The post-game celebration that was expected, consisted of just a few hugs and high-fives.

For the Golden Eagles, it was business as usual.

Central's triumph did accomplished two goals. The No. 3 Golden Eagles (7-1, 7-0) claimed their third consecutive AA Conference crown as well as catapulting them to the top seed in next weekend's Division 2 Western Mass. Tournament.

But this team has loftier goals in mind — that being a state championship.

Since losing its season-opener to Everett, Central has now run off seven straight victories. Judging by the way they handled the No. 13 Bombers, the Golden Eagles seemed primed to contend for a state title.

"You have to give a shout out to our scout team and coaching staff for this win tonight," Central head coach Valdamar Brower said. "We played very-disciplined. We were able to execute and our kids were very determined tonight."

Central took control of this one early, jumping out to a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter on a pair of touchdown runs (5 and 1 yard, respectively) from all-everything quarterback Cody Williams and a Ju'an Williams 13-yard reception.

Cody Williams, a Monmouth University commit, finished another brilliant evening by completing 9-of-12 passes for 133 yards. The senior also rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries.

Westfield (7-1, 6-1) was presumed to be Central's toughest opponent outside of Everett. For a brief period, the Bombers lived up to that billing after quarterback Jake Toomey (4-of-13, 20 yards, 37 rushing yards) scored on an 8-yard run to cut the deficit to 20-7.

Moments later, Westfield was driving again. The Bombers marched 64 yards before facing a fourth-and-goal at the Golden Eagles' 1-yard line. It was a no-brainer that Westfield would give the ball to bulldozing fullback Ben Geschwind.

As planned, it did, but Central's defensive front stopped the senior short of the goal line thus turning the ball over to the Golden Eagles. Geschwind, the Bombers' season-leading ground-gainer, carried the ball 21 times for 111 yards.

Teammate Cody Neidig, a junior, contributed 103 yards on 11 carries.

"Obviously we are disappointed with the way things went tonight," said Westfield coach Bill Moore, who will retire once the postseason is over with. "There were a couple of occasions where we made it a game. We got stuffed on that goal line play which really hurt us. We were about an inch away from making it a 20-14 game. But Central is a very good team. They have great players and a great staff who all work very hard. Tonight wasn't our night but we have a good group of kids that will keep fighting."

The Golden Eagles out-gained Westfield 511 yards to 350.

After stopping Geschwind, Central, with its quick-strike, no-huddle offense, wasted little time escaping the shadow of its own goal post. A 25-yard carry from versatile running back Troy Morrow set the stage for his own 74-yard jaunt down the right sideline to make the score 27-7 with just 1:39 showing before halftime. Morrow, who was virtually unstoppable on this night, gained 209 yards on 18 attempts.

"Their linebackers shift around a lot but when they shifted the wrong way that opened up holes for us," said Morrow, a senior. "It worked out perfectly tonight. For us, this is just the start of a journey. We just have to keep focused. Overall, this team has depth which is a good thing to have at this time of the year. We just need to stay hungry and humble."

Added Brower, "Troy has been giving maximum effort since the start of the season," he said. "I was excited to see him making big plays in a big game like this. But he's been doing it all year for us."

A quick four-and-out by Westfield, on its ensuing possession, was all the Golden Eagles would need to increase their total. Getting the ball on the Bombers' 45, Cody Williams found Malik Johnson for a 13-yard reception. That was followed by a pair of Cody Williams' runs netting 16 yards. With just 12 seconds to go before the break, The signal-caller, who had ample time given to him thanks to his solid front line, connected with Traveis Dykes for a 17-yard touchdown sending the Golden Eagles into the half well in-control, leading 33-7.

Getting the ball back to begin the second half, Central marched 71 yards before DaQuon Clemons darted into the end zone from 13 yards out to push the advantage to 39-7. A Toomey to Garrett Fitzgerald 19-yard scoring pass on Westfield's next possession did little to rattle the Golden Eagles.

During the final 3:47, Central scored twice more leaving no doubt who the favorite is to come out of Western Mass. At 3:47, Williams danced around several would-be tacklers for a 42-yard score. A short time later, sophomore cornerback Tyreque Estrada-Crapps stepped in front of a Toomey pass, returning it 53 yards into the end zone to close this contest out.

Recap: No. 6 Central 49, E. Longmeadow 0

September, 20, 2013
9/20/13
11:33
PM ET
EAST LONGMEADOW, Mass. -- With all due respect to South Hadley and Amherst, they are not Springfield Central. East Longmeadow learn that lesson rather harshly as the Golden Eagles stormed over and through the Spartans for a 49-0 victory Friday night in a AA Divisional tilt at Spartan Field.

Coming off a bye week, Central (1-1) bounced back nicely from its season-opening loss to Everett two weeks ago. The Golden Eagles amazingly scored 21 points in the first minute of this one and never looked back.

Quarterback Cody Williams (7 of 8, 149 yards, 3 TDs), on his first touch from scrimmage, hit Ju’an Williams for a 26 yard scoring pass in the right corner of the end zone. The score was set up by the first of three turnovers committed by East Longmeadow (2-1) in the opening minute.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Spartans lost the ball putting the Golden Eagles on the 14. Cody Williams connected with Ju’an Williams again, this time on an out pattern, and the senior sprinted past the defense into the end zone to make it 14-0.

It was déjà vu all over again on the proceeding kickoff after the Spartans lost control of it and giving Central the ball on the 2. Needing just one play, running back Marcal Davis’ dive over the goal line extended the cushion to 21 points before many fans had even reached their seats.

“We know special teams is a big part of the game,” said Ju’an Williams. “We work on it all the time during practice because we want everything to be nice and crisp.”

What was expected to be a close game after East Longmeadow came into this tilt following back-to-back victories over South Hadley and Amherst, was anything but.

“We had the bye week so the kids were really excited to play tonight,” said Central coach Valdamar Brower. “This game comes after a loss so there was a lot of aggression building up. We have a lot of competitive teams in our conference it just so happens we had the bye week and we were able to get the best of East Longmeadow tonight.”

To the Spartans’ credit, they did manage to hold on to the ball on their next possession and drove to the Central nine before turning it over on downs. With 6:45 left before the half, the Spartans again entered the red zone but Devon Kennedy’s pass was picked off by Ju’an Williams and returned 98 yards for the score. Kennedy completed 10 of 22 passes for 64 yards.

Central added to the Spartans’ misery in the waning minutes of the half. Behind running back Da'Quan Clemons (5 carries, 38 yards) and a couple drive-sustaining catches by Troy Morrow, Cody Williams finished it off with a nimble 15-yard jaunt sending the Golden Eagles into the break well-in command, 35-0.

Central continued its onslaught in the third. A six-yard scoring run by Davis finished off a 50-yard, six-play drive to push the lead to 42-0. On their next possession, Cody Williams hooked up with Morrow on a 71-yard screen pass, pushing the advantage to 49 points.

“One of the things we work on is to not let up and keep going,” Ju’an Williams said. “We get tackled we just get up and get back on the ball. We try to get the defense off-balanced.”

The Golden Eagles finished with 358 yards while East Longmeadow finished with 221. Sophomore running back Mike Maggipinto led the Spartans with 71 yards on 10 attempts.

Williams entering folklore territory at No. 6 Central

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
2:10
PM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- It would be so easy for Cody Williams to delve deep into the abyss of hype that encompasses him.

Nobody could blame him if he did.

Williams is regarded a hero of sorts around these parts. He is quarterback of the defending Division 1 Western Mass. Super Bowl champion Springfield Central High School, leading the Golden Eagles to their first postseason title in 11 years and, in the process, helped pull Central out from under the long shadow cast down by their well-established gridiron neighbors to the south -- stalwart Longmeadow High.

The countless number of congratulatory handshakes and hearty pats on the back Williams has received since Central's 27-0 defeat down of Longmeadow last December is enough to inflate anyone's ego. But not Williams. The senior has managed to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, shrugging off the new-found attention that has received. For Williams, everything starts and finishes with team.

“I’m not into individual awards or personal accolades or things of that nature,” said Williams, who stands 6-3, 180 pounds and has a rifle for a right arm. “I only have one goal in mind and that is for our team to win a state championship. Nothing more than that.”

But deep down you know Williams is proud of his team's Super Bowl triumph over the Lancers -- a program that has barreled its way to the forefront of the Western Mass. football landscape, and has rightfully earned its place among state's very best over the past three decades with a record 13 Super Bowls to its credit, is certainly a major achievement. Factor in that Central lost to Longmeadow in the 2010 and 2011 Super Bowls, makes last year's feat all the more rewarding.

"We knew going into that game they had beaten us the previous two Super Bowls," Williams said. "We went out there and were determined not to let it happen again. It came down to who wanted it more. We just went out and executed and we prevailed."

By his own admission, Williams adheres to the ‘that was then, this is now’ theory. What took place nine months ago is in the past. The immediate focus now sits squarely on the present and future, with the realization that more work needs to be done.

Williams says his concentration centers on the larger picture in terms of maintaining Central's resurgence and its continuing efforts to transform itself into a top tier program. Winning a state championship would obviously do wonders to fortify that objective.

With last year’s MIAA ruling to do away with sectional Super Bowls by integrating a statewide six-division playoff system, the stakes have become a lot higher.

Central, a Division 2 entree, is considered one of the early favorites to compete for a state crown next winter, and it has the quarterback in place to do so. But the journey won't be easy.

“We know everyone is going to give us their best shot, especially after winning a Super Bowl” said Williams. “We just need to go out and play every game like it's a Super Bowl. We need to play all out at 100 percent full speed, rep to rep with no regrets. Just like we did last year.”

The Golden Eagles open their season on September 6th at Everett, the only team to defeat the Golden Eagles last season. They also face several formidable adversaries within the restructured AA Conference including Longmeadow, East Longmeadow, Westfield and cross-city rival Putnam.

Having played sparingly as a freshman at the varsity level, Williams took full control of the quarterbacking reins at the start of his sophomore season and hasn't let go since. He is 20-3 as a starter, completing 197 of 325 passes for 3,076 yards, 35 TDs and only 12 picks.

When the circumstances call for it, Williams will run with the football too. He has gained 223 yards on 88 attempts, reaching the end zone 7 times.

Williams' skill set and ascending attributes has earned him a spot among the top-rated quarterbacks in the state. Enough so that he has already accepted a scholarship offer to attend Monmouth University in West Long Branch, NJ next fall. Monmouth, a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, will be part of the Big South Conference upon Williams’ arrival in 2014.

Williams had received interest from several Division 1 schools but was often told he was their second or third choice at quarterback. Therefore, after receiving solid overtures from the University at Albany and Monmouth, Williams says his decision in selecting Monmouth consequently came down to them having the two programs of study he was interested in -- sports management and physical education.

Sixth-year Central head coach Valdamar Brower, who has had an up-close and personal account of Williams' progressions over the past three years, always believed his star signal-caller could play at a high-level collegiately. A stellar player in his own right at nearby Northampton High School and later a two time Division 1-AA All American defensive end at UMass, Brower offers no hesitation in his praise for Williams and his unlimited potential.

“He has grown physically, he has grown mentally and he has matured,” said Brower. “I’ve seen all three phases and I’m very excited about his development. He has great upside and that's not going to stop because Cody has a great passion for the game and is always looking to get better and he will get better.”

Williams' maturation process will be the one intangible most-closely examined this season. During a game against Chicopee High School last year, a skirmish broke out in which Williams was ejected for allegedly throwing a punch at a Chicopee player. What followed was an automatic two-game suspension as prescribed by MIAA rules which states any player ejected for punching another player must sit out the next two games. Although the decision was publicly scrutinized by Central coaches and players alike, Williams accepted his punishment and stood along the sidelines during those two games supporting to his teammates.

“To be honest I was and still am ashamed of myself for that,” said Williams, a team captain. “I realize I have to watch what I do and set the right example for other kids. My passion for this game is insane but I also know I need to control what I say and do.”

In spite of Williams’ absence, Central won its next two games with Williams’ cousin Ju’an Williams filling in as signal-caller and helping lead the Golden Eagles. When Cody Williams returned, the wins continued, culminating in their Super Bowl victory to cap off a remarkable 12-1 season.

“Nobody on this team ever likes to lose,” stated Williams. “Our goal is to be at the top and stay there. It’s always been that way no matter who is out on the field.”

Williams considers himself a football purist. He takes his craft quite seriously and spends most of his free time breaking down game film in an effort to dissect weaknesses and tendencies within an opposing team’s defensive scheme.

That inclination began early in his high school career and continues today. As a freshman, Williams got an early baptism to the various nuances and up-tempo speed of the varsity game first hand after filling in for then starter Tyler Dowd, who was sidelined with an injury. By his sophomore season, having absorbed valuable on-the-field experience as a freshman, Williams' progressions were now ahead of schedule. A strong, accurate throwing arm, his ability to read defenses and make adjustments on the fly and a perpetual work-ethic convinced his coaches he be moved to the top of the depth chart.

“He’s relentless in trying to get better, trying to learn and trying to make his teammates better,” Brower said. “He has a very high football I.Q. and continues to progress because he never stops in trying to become a better football player. As a team we have a lot of expectations this year.

"In regards to Cory, he had a big leadership role last year as a junior so we are looking for that to continue again this year. He is a lot more mature than I was at his age. Cody just needs to remain humble, be ready to fight and not lose who he is. A lot of people will pat you on the head but you still need to keep it going. You can never be content in this game. You constantly need to keep improving.”

Williams' father, Rich, serves as an assistant on the Central coaching staff. Despite having his father on the field with him, Williams says there has never been any preferential treatment given nor is any expected.

“He’s told me how it is ever since I was little,” said Williams of his father. “There is no parental favoritism here at all. He’s supportive of me but he tells you like it is. To be honest, if it were the other way around, it would have gotten me no where.”

Williams’ other primary support system comes from his mother Sarah, brother Luis Ortiz, brother Richard and sister Corina. All of whom, according to Williams, have played a major role in his maturity and strong upbringing.

SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL AT A GLANCE
Coach: Valdamar Brower (6th year, 40-20 overall)
Last Season: 12-1, Won Division 1 West Super Bowl
Returning Starters: 14 (seven offense, seven defense)
Key Returnees: Sr. QB Cody Williams, Sr. ATH Ju'uan Williams, Sr. LB Kenneth Marshall, Sr. OL/DL Sean Lee, Sr. RB/DB Da'Quon Clemons, Sr. OL/DL Khalil Walker, Sr. TE/LB Luis Ortiz, Sr. ATH Malik Johnson, Sr. RB/DB Troy Morrow, Sr. LB Jon Morales, Sr. RB/LB Marcal Davis
Outlook: Brower's building job at Central has been slow and steady, but after last year's Super Bowl-winning success the Eagles have evolved into a thoroughbred, with respect across the state. In the newly-aligned Division 2 West, the Eagles figure to be a heavy favorite, though some familiar foes (Putnam, Longmeadow, Minnechaug, Holyoke) figure to make life difficult along the way. In Williams the Eagles have one of the state's slickest passers, but also a winner (20-3 as a starter) with a certain urban bullheadedness not often seen in Bay State quarterback prospects. He'll have plenty of athletes to throw to on the perimeter, the most prolific his cousin Ju'uan, who will be used in a garden variety of roles on both sides of the ball. Clemons figures to be the incumbent at tailback, with his home-run capability and terrific upper body strength, but look for Morrow and Davis to be significant factors in the running game as well. Down in the trenches, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Lee is one of the state's more unheralded offensive line prospects, while the burly Walker will be the war daddy in the middle of the defensive line, plugging the inside gaps. Overall, this could be the best team yet of the Brower era at Central, and there have been some good ones. The Eagles' Sept. 6 season-opener at Everett will be appointment viewing.

Summer Snapshot: Springfield Central Golden Eagles

August, 15, 2013
8/15/13
1:05
AM ET
This is the fifth installment in our "Summer Snapshot" series, checking in with some of Massachusetts' top teams leading into the MIAA football season. To see all of our Summer Snapshots, CLICK HERE.

Previously this offseason, we've mused that the Springfield area talent pool is on the up and up, with players such as Amherst junior wideout Taj-Amir Torres getting a handful of offers last month. But no team in the 413 area code this year has stocked as much talent as Springfield Central, coming off a Super Bowl-winning season with many of its integral pieces intact, and speed and athleticism seemingly everywhere.

When we last left the Golden Eagles, quarterback Cody Williams was grinding through a bad ankle injury to lift his troops to a 27-0 shutout of Longmeadow, sparking head coach Valdamar Brower to remark he has "the heart of a lion and he loves the game. Nobody was going to keep him off the field. That dude's a solider." Williams, who holds offers from several local Division 1 FCS programs, will have many familiar targets back as he tries to replicate last season's success.

In the newly-aligned MIAA Division 2, the Eagles will be a heavy favorite out of the West. Can they run the gauntlet and bring home hardware again? We checked in with Central this afternoon in a photo shoot at Berte Field.

SPRINGFIELD CENTRAL AT A GLANCE
Coach: Valdamar Brower (6th year, 40-20 overall)
Last Season: 12-1, Won Division 1 West Super Bowl
Final ESPN Boston Rank: 7
Returning Starters: 14 (seven offense, seven defense)
Key Losses: WR/DB Tejano Smith, OL/DL Shawn Lockett, RB/LB Aaron Owens, OL/DL Ishmael Figueroa, WR/DB Travis Cusson, ATH Stephon Jenkins, OL/DL Adrian Filson, OL/DL Stefan Maldonato, WR/DB Bryan Rivas
Key Returnees: Sr. QB Cody Williams, Sr. ATH Ju'uan Williams, Sr. LB Kenneth Marshall, Sr. OL/DL Sean Lee, Sr. RB/DB Da'Quon Clemons, Sr. OL/DL Khalil Walker, Sr. TE/LB Luis Ortiz, Sr. ATH Malik Johnson, Sr. RB/DB Troy Morrow, Sr. LB Jon Morales, Sr. RB/LB Marcal Davis
Overview: Brower's building job at Central has been slow and steady, but after last year's Super Bowl-winning success the Eagles have evolved into a thoroughbred, with respect across the state. In the newly-aligned Division 2 West, the Eagles figure to be a heavy favorite, though some familiar foes (Putnam, Longmeadow, Minnechaug, Holyoke) figure to make life difficult along the way. In Williams the Eagles have one of the state's slickest passers, but also a winner (20-3 as a starter) with a certain urban bullheadedness not often seen in Bay State quarterback prospects. He'll have plenty of athletes to throw to on the perimeter, the most prolific his cousin Ju'uan, who will be used in a garden variety of roles on both sides of the ball. Clemons figures to be the incumbent at tailback, with his home-run capability and terrific upper body strength, but look for Morrow and Davis to be significant factors in the running game as well. Down in the trenches, the 6-foot-4, 260-pound Lee is one of the state's more unheralded offensive line prospects, while the burly Walker will be the war daddy in the middle of the defensive line, plugging the inside gaps. Overall, this could be the best team yet of the Brower era at Central, and there have been some good ones. The Eagles' Sept. 13 season-opener at Everett will be appointment viewing.

Recap: Springfield Central 27, Longmeadow 0

December, 1, 2012
12/01/12
9:43
PM ET
WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Brian Rivas broke a tackle and sprinted down the right sideline to break the deadlock between Longmeadow and Central just three minutes into the second half. Cody Williams clapped his hands together and limped towards the sideline, having delivered the strike to Rivas to put his team up early in the 3rd quarter. He winced in pain as he shambled off the field on his broken ankle.

After throwing an interception on Central’s opening drive and being forced into a three and out on the following one, Williams found himself at the bottom of the pile early in the 2nd quarter. Something snapped, and though Williams attempted to return that drive, he was ushered back to the sideline shortly thereafter. He remained there during Central’s next possession, up until the half.

“It hurt really bad,” Williams said about his ankle. “Something went the wrong way, but I knew I had to get back out here and help my team win.”

With 4:36 remaining in the 3rd quarter Ju’an Williams returned a Longmeadow punt 68 yards for Central's second score of the game to put his team up 15-0. The writing was on the wall for the Lancers. DeQuon Clemons scored from 32 yards out with 5:33 left in the 4th, and after a series of comical holding penalties and an Aaron Owens touchdown in the final minutes, the Central Eagles emerged victorious, 27-0.

A perfect game, coming against a team that had beaten Central two years in a row in the Western Mass Division I Super Bowl.

Cody Williams Inspires: When Williams limped off the field in the first half, his teammates were justifiably crushed, but his astonishing return lifted their spirits. Immobilized by his injured ankle, he trusted his offensive line to protect him as he searched for an opening in the stifling Longmeadow defense. They protected him, and he repaid them in turn only a few plays later with that touchdown. Though he wouldn’t complete a pass after that drive and finished with just 98 yards passing, his presence was enough to spark his teammates.

“When he went down some of the kids were very emotional,” said Central Coach Valdamar Brower. “When he was able to come play it was kind of unexpected, so I think that just fired the kids up even more.”

Brower added, “Cody Williams has the heart of a lion and he loves the game. Nobody was going to keep him off the field. That dude's a solider.”

Defense Carries the Day: With Cody Williams in and out during the first two quarters and Longmeadow’s offense grinding down the field, it was up to the Central defense to keep their team in the game. Despite turning the ball over three times in the first half, Central held their opponent scoreless until the break. Their line was dominant, keying on Longmeadow running back Austin Sierra and holding him to just 37 yards on 16 touches.

Time and again they got critical stops, forcing the Lancers to turn it over on downs three times. Longmeadow finished with 208 yards offensively, and the Eagles bent but didn’t break.

When Longmeadow was forced out of their comfort zone and into the air, the Eagles took advantage. If DeQuan Clemons' 32 yard touchdown run was the final nail in the coffin for the Lancers, then Tejano Smith’s second interception late in the fourth simply buried them.

“No regrets,” said Central’s Ju’an Williams. “Leave it all out on the field, we got nothing left after today. 365 days we had to wait to get back here and we made the best of it.”

Winning as a Team: Before the game Central declined to have the names of any individual players announced, fitting for a win that was all about the team. The Central scores came from four different players on both offense and special teams, and their defense was flawless in the shutout. No individual player had more than 100 yards for the Central Eagles. The post-game message from coach Brower was clear: this was a team victory.

“This is a great accomplishment,” Brower told his team after the game. “It’s all about the team and Central family. Everyone contributed to this. It’s a true team championship.”

“We talked at halftime about the team. No matter what happens everybody’s got to step up, it’s got to be a team win,” Brower said. “It’s just about the team.”

“We connect on everything,” Cody Williams said. “Through the line, through the air, running the ball; everything was put in place today. Obviously the defense did a great job too, and now we are champions.”

CENTRAL 27 LONGMEADOW 0

CNT (12-1) 0 0 15 12 --- 27
LM (10-3) 0 0 0 0 --- 0


Third Quarter
Brian Rivas 48 pass from Cody Williams (Ju'an Williams kick) 7:14
Ju'an Williams 68 punt return (Marcal Davis run) 4:36

Fourth Quarter
Da'Quon Clemons 32 run (kick failed) 5:33
Aaron Owens 48 run (rush failed) 0:48

Recap: No. 8 Springfield Central 31, Minnechaug 8

November, 22, 2012
11/22/12
2:22
PM ET
WILBRAHAM, Mass. -– In a matchup that could be seen in next week’s playoffs, Springfield Central scored 31 unanswered points to take down Minnechaug, 31-8 in the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Falcon Field in Wilbraham.

Central (10-1) was trailing 8-0 early in the second quarter. But a six-minute, 66-yard drive, along with a key defensive stand, helped the Golden Eagles take the lead in a span of 26 seconds.

Junior quarterback Cody Williams and senior running back Aaron Owens took control on the ground, setting up Central inside the 10-yard line of the Falcons (7-4). Even when a pair of consecutive penalties (holding and delay of game) pushed the Eagles to a long 2nd-and-goal, Williams was able to find Travis Cusson in the end zone to get on the board. Central converted the two-point conversion to tie the score.

On the first play of Minnechaug’s ensuing drive, quarterback Kevin White over threw a pair of receivers and Tejano Smith came away with the pick. The senior defensive back brought it back to the 31-yard line before it was brought back due to penalty.

“The ball was in the air and my coach [defensive backs coach Julius Walker] yelled, ‘Get it’,” said Smith. “When the ball is in the air, I turn into a receiver.”

Smith would stay on the field on offensive and catch a 48-yard strike from Williams on first down, giving Central a 16-8 lead.

“He [Smith] is a great athlete,” said Central head coach Valadamar Brower. “He’s becoming a special football player. He has some great instincts.”

“I think he [Smith] is most underrated player in Western Mass.,” added Williams. “He deserves a lot more credit for what he does. He brings stuff to the table every time.”

Central started with the ball in the second half and scored on the third play of the half with Williams hitting senior Bryan Rivas with a screen pass for 56-yard touchdown. Rivas streaking down the sideline, hesitated and waited for his blockers, before cutting back into the end zone opening the lead, 23-8.

The Golden Eagles added a score in the fourth quarter to seal the game with a 10-yard touchdown run by junior Troy Morrow.

Williams ended the game eight-for-10 with 152 passing yard and three touchdown passes. Owens had 67 of Central’s 177 rushing yards.
Sheehan had game-high 78 rushing yards off 17 carries.

Not all about offense for Central: Thursday morning was a good example of Central’s toughness of defensive. Following the Smith’s touchdown reception, Minnechaug responded with a 76-yard kickoff return by Sheehan that gave the Falcons a 1st-and-goal from the Golden Eagle’s nine-yard line with 1:27 in the first half.

The Golden Eagles were helped out with a false start and an offensive pass interference that pushed the Falcons back. Central was able to knock down one of White’s passes in the end zone, before DaQuon Clemons picked off White’s next pass on the one-yard line, as Central took a lead into the locker room.

“Our defense is very tight,” said Smith. “Our red zone, we practice that all the time. Our safeties stepped up today.”

Twice in the second half, with Minnechaug on Central’s side of the field, the Golden Eagles were able to force fumbles and end solid drives by the Falcons.

The offense was led by Williams’ three touchdown passes, but the most important part of the Golden Eagles offense was the offensive line or the “hogs as they are referred to. Williams was sacked during the game, although whistled for several holding penalties, the o-line gave the mobile Williams enough time to roll out and make plays with either his feet or his arm.

“Those guys are phenomenal,” said Williams. “They’re my favorite guys on the team. I probably shouldn’t say that, but if you feed them, they protect you and good things happen.”

Prelude to the playoffs: This Thanksgiving Day game could be a preview of a matchup in the playoffs. Central and Minnechaug will both be there, just a matter of how the playoff picture will unfold.

In 2011, these two teams had to play in both Thanksgiving and the following Tuesday for the playoffs.

“Last season we had the opportunity of playing Minnechaug on Thanksgiving and then on Tuesday, so we’re in a little bit of familiar territory,” said the fifth-year Central coach. “With the experience of doing that last year, I guess we’ll try to build off that.”

However, this could be a better Minnechaug team Central could see in the playoffs. The Falcons have already had quarterbacks Alan McDonald (shoulder) and Anthony Roughgarden (shoulder) unable to take snaps under center. That has forced White to step into that role.

White has been the signal caller since Roughgarden went down in a loss to Central on Nov. 19. In that game White was 2-for-4 with 18 yards, his first snaps since a month earlier against Westfield.

“He didn’t have any practice,” said Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso. “That was poor coaching on my part. Today he had a week and a half to practice and it showed.”

Allosso said that Roughgarden has a 50 percent chance to take snaps again for Minnechaug, while McDonald has been playing slot receiver, while battling the shoulder injury.

Recap: No. 14 Central 21, No. 23 Putnam 8

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
12:33
AM ET
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -– They call him ‘Honey Badger’ because of his knack to make big plays when it matters the most. And on Friday night, that’s exactly what he did.

Unlike LSU’s version, Springfield Central’s DaQuon Clemons isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The junior running back and defensive back made a number of big plays to propel his team to a huge season-opening victory over intra-city rival Springfield Putnam at Burte Field, but none bigger than the one he made in the fourth quarter.

With the Golden Eagles trailing 8-6 early in the fourth quarter, the Beavers faced 3rd and 7 on their own 42 yard line. Putnam quarterback Kayjuan Bynum then dropped back in the pocket and fired a pass well short of his intended receiver. That’s when Clemons made the play of the night.

The pass found Clemons for the easy interception, but the defensive back wasn’t finished. He looked up and saw plenty of open field. With blockers helping him along the way, Clemons raced downfield, trucked a Putnam player to the ground and jogged in to paydirt to give his team a lead they would never relinquish. Central went on to prevail, 21-8.

“DaQuon Clemons is a playmaker,” Central head coach Valdamar Brower said. “This was his first game that he actually started, so hopefully he can keep it going. Hopefully he makes that contagious and just likes to make plays. That would be great for us.

“He’s the good ‘Honey Badger.’”

Dynamic backfield emerges: It’s not easy replacing a 2,000-yard rusher in any backfield. Just ask Central, which was forced to move on from the Sacoy Malone era on Friday night.

Central, however, was well-prepared, and tried its best to replicate his outstanding production from a year ago. Both Clemons and senior Aaron Owens carried the load against Putnam and were very effective.

Clemons opened up the scoring in the first quarter with an impressive run. The junior found a seam on the left side, broke a couple of tackles and dove at the pylon, getting just enough of the ball over the goal line to give Central a 6-0 lead.

But while the play was big and certainly gave the Golden Eagles a boost, it was really the only rush in the first half that netted a lot of yardage as the Beavers snuffed out a number of runs in the Central backfield. Brower acknowledged it took some fine-tuning at halftime in order to put together a big second half, and specifically, fourth quarter.

“I have to thank Coach Williams and the hogs,” Brower said. “Coach Williams, the offensive line coach, the hogs are the offensive linemen. Some things didn’t happen right in the first half. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, but they stuck with it and kept grinding.”

They especially stuck with it late in the fourth quarter. On the next play after the interception returned for the touchdown, Central forced a fumble and recovered to give itself the ball back at around midfield.

That’s when Owens went to work. Junior quarterback Cody Williams continued to feed the rock to his 5-foot-9, 195-pound back, who made the most of his opportunities, netting positive yardage and bowling over Putnam defenders play after play. His 13-yard touchdown with just minutes remaining officially sealed the deal on an impressive victory.

Penalties, mistakes haunt Putnam: As could be expected in an opening game, both teams played extremely sloppy football, and both teams made plenty of mistakes that they wouldn’t normally make near the end of the season.

But unfortunately for the Beavers, who were unable to take advantage from their dominance in time possession, their mistakes were ultimately the costing factor in a forgettable opening night loss.

Putnam was whistled for nine penalties, including five false starts on Friday night. One of those false starts was called in spite of Bynum’s touchdown pass to Tavis Frazer that gave the Beavers the lead going into halftime, but it wasn’t enough.

A messy game, which included a play in which Bynum tossed it back to junior Wayne Lowery, who then made an ill-advised throw that resulted in a 54-yard interception return for Central, gave the Golden Eagles a short field time and time again. And Central did a good job in not wasting those opportunities.

“We just kept executing, kept fighting,” Brower said. “The kids had the fire in their eyes the whole game.”

Central moves on to Everett: Last year in the season-opener, Central fell short to its intra-city rivals, which set up a meeting with top-ranked Everett, which also resulted in a loss.

While the Golden Eagles did end up finding a way to reach the Division 1 West Super Bowl despite starting 0-2, they’ll be happy to have a win under their belt going into their rematch with No. 1 Everett next week.

Williams knows his team needs to play better if they’re going to knock off the top-ranked team in the state next week.

“We’re definitely not at our best,” he said. “We obviously need to get better on defense. Our defense was on the field way too long. But we’re going to take care of it in practice and we’re going to be ready for Everett come Friday.

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