NORTH ADAMS — It’s amazing what a little confidence can do for a football team. For seven weeks, McCann Tech has dealt with injuries, struggling play from inexperienced players and close losses, all of which drained the team’s morale. On Saturday against Pathfinder, months of frustration were released as the Hornets dominated their opponents in every facet of the game, earning their first win of the season with a 41-0 victory.
“That’s the key with these kids and their psyche, we start making positive plays — it just snowballs after that,” McCann coach Bob LeClair said. “We can do this. We’ve been working on this. It hasn’t worked before, today it’s working. It’s all about their confidence level.”
The injury-plagued Hornets had several key players return from injury against Pathfinder. Seniors Max Mitchell and Alex Kimok returned at running back after missing last game with injuries. Fellow senior Matt Delaghelfa also returned. Mitchell made his presence felt early, taking his first touch from scrimmage 26 yards to the end zone.
The Hornets’ defense helped McCann maintain great field position all game. They started their first three possessions on the Pathfinder 26, 21 and their own 49, respectively. All three possession ended in touchdowns. After Mitchell got the scoring started, Darius Tovani capped a two-play drive with an 11-yard rushing score.
On the next drive, Kimok scored his first touchdown of the year on a 10-yard rushing play, putting the hosts up 20-0 with 10:55 left in the first half.
McCann held Pathfinder to just 96 total yards. The Pioneers didn’t advance to ball into McCann territory until early in the second quarter after a McCann personal foul penalty.
“It just shows, having these guys back, how important it is for us,” LeClair said. “Having these guys back makes all the difference in the world. It really does.”
Tovani made an impact on defense, as well, consistently shooting through gaps from his linebacker position. He helped stall a 19-play drive that started on the Pioneers’ 30, but ended in a missed field goal attempt. One play later, Mitchell took a toss left and went 80 yards for the score.
“It feels great honestly,” Mitchell said on earning a win in his final regular season game. “Everyone was playing up to the coaches’ standards and we were just getting the job done. It felt great.”
The overall mood on the sideline was much different than in previous weeks. Players laughed and joked on the sideline and coaches did not need to raise their voice nearly as much. Mitchell said winning makes the game much more fun.
McCann’s domination continued in the second half. Mitchell added a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Tovani capped the scoring on the Hornets’ next drive, going untouched along the right sideline before finishing off the run with a nifty juke move for a 47-yard score. Mitchell led the offense with 186 yards rushing and three scores. Tovani added 77 yards and two scores.
LeClair said earning a win in the regular season gives the team something positive to build off heading into its consolation games.
“That’s very important, it really is,” LeClair said. “Now we’ve got momentum. Now we’re 1-0. … We’re building for things and the younger kids had to play because of injuries to so many other guys. Now we’re going one week at a time and building off of what we did today.”
Pathfinder 0 0 0 0 — 0
McCann 14 13 14 0 — 41
M — Max Mitchell 26 run (Cody Jordan kick), 8:35.
M — Darius Tovani 11 run (Jordan kick), 6:35
M — Alex Kimok 10 run (kick failed), 10:55.
M — Mitcherll 80 run (Jordan kick), :45.7
M — Mitchell 37 run (Jordan kick), 5:22.
M — Tovani 47 run (Jordan kick), 1:47.
First Downs 9 10
Rushes-yards 41-82 18-271
Passing yards 14 19
Comp-att-int 3-9-1 2-3-0
Penalties-yards 1-5 6-55
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
RUSHING — Pathfinder: #81 10-19, #27 3-1, #24 2-1. #48 2-3, #11 8-26, #44 1-0, #36 15-32. McCann: Max Mitchell 8-186, Darius Tovani 5-77, Alex Kimol 2-7, Tanner Davis 2-(minus 5), Matt Delaghelfa 1-8, Mike Williams 1-(minus 2).
PASSING — Pathfinder: #81 2-7-0 1, #11 1-1-0 13, #36 0-1-1 0. McCann: Travis Dozier 2-3-0 19.
RECEIVING — Pathfinder: #81 1-13, #89 1-(minus 1), #27 1-2. McCann: Davis 1-14, Mitchell 1-5.
Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.