That question was effectively answered as the Blue Devils walked into Dalton and walked out with a 14-0 victory, clinching the third and final spot in the Berkshire County playoffs.
The new question leaving Friday's game is whether or not Wahconah can regroup before the teams meet again in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks. Home-field advantage for that contest will be decided next week. Because Drury (5-3, 5-2) now holds the tiebreaker, it can clinch the home field with a win over Hoosac Valley. Wahconah (5-4, 5-2) needs to beat Taconic and have the Blue Devils lose in order for the game to be played in Dalton.
These scenarios were made possible by a dominant performance by Drury's line on Friday. Devils head coach Fran Millard said the game would be determined by who could control the line scrimmage, and thanks to performances by Dave Button, Jay Menard, David Carrigan, Steve Senecal and Jonathan Thomas, his team did. Drury outrushed the hosts 188-68 and picked up seven more first downs (13-6) in the game. The Devils' defense was especially stout in the second half, holding Wahconah to only 14 yards of total offense.
"On our side, we were just blowing people away," Button, a sophomore
Warriors head coach Matt Morrison agreed with Button's assessment.
"If our line doesn't block and if our line doesn't get off the ball on defense, we don't win," he said. "You can't give anything away. Drury's line beat our line period on offense and on defense. You do that, you win the football game."
The Blue Devils' line wasted no time making its presence known. Millard's squad took the opening drive 76 yards on 16 plays, knocking almost 10 minutes off the clock. After quarterback Jake Cantoni converted a third-and-nine, Drury was called for an illegal crackback block, moving the ball back to its own 18-yard line. Tailback Charles Toomajian picked up 14 yards on the next play, however, and the Blue Devils ran the ball on the next 12 plays, eventually scoring on a two-yard plunge by Toomajian with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
"We were here to play tonight," Blue Devils linebacker Sean Trottier said. "Coming into this game after those last two wins against PHS and St. Joe's, we were more fired up than anything. We came out and played with a lot of heart. We got knocked back 15 yards early, but we drove right down the field. That set the tone of the game right there."
"Drury kicked our butts," Morrison added. "I can't remember the last time some team came up here and marched the ball, without throwing it, all the way down the field and scored on us. They did that tonight and that upsets me."
Wahconah responded by moving the ball to the Drury 38, but running back Tyler Morey fumbled after a hard hit by Trottier and fellow linebacker Johno Hinkell. After the Blue Devils went three-and-out on their next drive, the Warriors once again moved the ball into Drury territory, this time advancing all the way to the 10-yard line. That drive ended unceremoniously, however, when Trottier intercepted quarterback John Rivers near the goal line.
With Hinkell, a senior captain, looking fully recovered from a preseason knee injury, the Drury defense seems to be improving every week. His play provided a significant shot in the arm on Friday, allowing Trottier more opportunities to make plays.
"Having Johno in the game is liking having the No. 1 man on the field," Button said. "Johno Hinkell is the team. It's just another player to step up and make plays (on defense.)"
Not only was Hinkell a major contributor on offense, but he also led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 15 times for 72 yards. Toomajian chipped in with 59 yards on 13 carries, while Cantoni picked up 53 more yards on 12 attempts.
The Blue Devils put the game away with a 10-play, 52-yard drive in the fourth quarter. After a key 16-yard completion from Cantoni to Trottier on a third-and-10, Toomajian ripped off a 17-yard gain to get the ball down to Wahconah's 3-yard line. Two plays later, Hinkell took the ball in from one yard out.
Even though they have already clinched a spot in the postseason, the Devils don't have to look very far for motivation. If a rivalry game between Hoosac next week doesn't inspire them, the dozen or so players from undefeated Mount Greylock that watched last night's game certainly should.