Designated Hitter: Even in loss, Hoosac Valley still has much to celebrate
FOXBOROUGH — Just getting here is never enough. Sometimes, however, that's all a team gets, and you have to make the best of it.
Saturday afternoon at the home of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, the Hoosac Valley football team got to play on the biggest stage in Massachusetts. The result just wasn't what the Hurricanes and their fans had hoped for.
Hoosac Valley's 37-0 loss to Millis in the MIAA Division VIII Super Bowl was the Hurricanes' first loss of the year, was the most points they had given up in a game, and was the first time in recent memory that they had not put any points on the scoreboard.
Those are all facts. There are no do-overs. The score is the score and the result is the result.
One can only imagine what it must be like to play on the same field where Rob Gronkowski catches touchdown passes in the end zones with New England's Flying Elvis logo painted on the turf. You and I will never know. Hoosac's Adam Bush will.
"It was like nothing I've ever done before," the senior lineman said. "It was really amazing. Even though we came out with the loss today, just having that experience, knowing I had that experience with my team and with my family, it just means so much."
It was a rough Saturday if you are a football fan who lives west of I-495. Both Western Mass. teams, Hoosac and West Springfield, lost in one-sided games. In fact, the only non-Eastern Mass. team that won a state title through 6 p.m. Saturday was St. John's of Shrewsbury, a winner on Friday night. This is all worth discussing, but it is a discussion for another time and place.
As the sun set in Southeastern Massachusetts, the Hoosac coaches, players and fans could take no solace in the game's outcome. But the fact that this Hoosac team has done what no other Hoosac team has accomplished was not lost on players or on coaches.
"Coming from Adams and Cheshire, hearing about all of the great teams in the past. Now knowing that we can be seen as one of those teams that's made it here," Bush said, "it's so rewarding. It's just an awesome feeling for everyone."
Since Hoosac Valley opened in 1970, there have been only five football coaches at the school. Joe Doyle and Joe Alcaro set the bar pretty darn high with their successes over the years. John Duval rebuilt the foundation that Poirot has continued to strengthen.
"All those guys have played a major part in shaping what our program is right now," Poirot said to me on Tuesday after the MIAA champions breakfast in Gillette's Optimum Lounge. "They still all have their little pieces in what's going on with our program. It's an honor to just be with those guys, and where our football team is right now."
Poirot won his 50th game in his sixth season as head coach. What made this performance even more impressive is the fact that a year ago, the Hurricanes were 5-5 and did not get to play in the postseason.
"We wanted to come here and give Millis a game," Poirot said. "I think our kids did a great job. I'm proud of what they've done representing the school.
"We just have to have kids be accountable all of the time, and that's kind of what narrows the gap a little bit."
A lot of the starting 22 of this Hoosac Valley team will go off to college or the working world come June. Others, like junior tight end/linebacker Sam Larabee, will be one of the senior leaders in 2018.
"We just keep our heads high," said Larabee, when asked what he took out of Saturday's game, "and just work harder. Get stronger, get faster and hopefully get this taste out of our mouth."
Does the bad taste lessen?
"I think being [at Gillette] makes up for it a little bit," Larabee said, "but being shut out in a state [title] game is no good. That's no fun."
It may not have been any fun being on the short end of a 37-0 score. Ultimately, though, the Hoosac players will long remember this whole experience fondly.
It started with the win over Nashoba Tech, moved to a meet-and-greet in the high school Wednesday night to the Saturday morning sendoff from the high school.
"Hoosac has a community with tight-knit people that look out for each other. Everybody knows everybody," Bush said. "Now the fact that we can say, we can always for the rest of our lives, say we were this team. It brings the entire community together.
"Even though we lost, bringing the community together and being here with our team and with our family, is just fantastic."
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter and at 413-496-6253.
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