2012 full of achievements for local athletes, teams

Jan. 2, 2013
The Longmeadow High School hockey team celebrates their championship

Reminder Publications file photo

By Chris Maza


In 2012, Reminder Publications embarked on a new project that would bring more sports coverage with original writing and a focus on local athletes.

Here are some of the highlights from the first full year of sports news coverage, in no particular order.

MIAA members approve statewide football playoff

GREATER SPRINGFIELD – Member schools of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) approved a proposal for a statewide playoff format by a tally of 161-131. Massachusetts will be broken into six divisions, each of which will have a state champion, eliminating the current sectional championship system. Under the old system, the MIAA hosted 19 "Super Bowls," which Alex Rotsko, the highly decorated former Longmeadow head coach, once called "glorified league title games," between the two teams that emerged from a four-team playoff.

Reaction from area coaches was generally positive, however, some, like Minnechaug Regional High School coach Steve Allosso had concerns with the way the divisions were broken up.

Kelleher brothers continue to pursue hockey dreams

LONGMEADOW – Brothers Tyler and Charlie Kelleher, both of who played their freshman seasons with Longmeadow High School with championship results, have since moved on to elite hockey programs.

Tyler is currently a member of the U.S. National Under-18 team in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Charlie is playing for the Boston Junior Bruins in the United States Elite Hockey League.

Both have committed to play Division 1 college hockey at the University of New Hampshire. Tyler, who would be in the midst of his senior year at Longmeadow High School, will join the Wildcats for the 2013-2014 season.

Jaylen Brantley leads WMA

WILBRAHAM – Springfield native Jaylen Brantley, the top college basketball recruit in Massachusetts and one of the top 100 players in the country's class of 2013, joined Wilbraham & Monson Academy, which has developed a powerful basketball program. Brantley and the Titans finished the regular season 22-8, earning them the fourth seed in the New England Prep School Athletic Conference AA playoffs.

Brantley has since moved on to Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, the same school at which former No. 2 overall NBA draft selection Michael Beasley played before playing at Kansas State University.

Rotsko leaves Longmeadow football

LONGMEADOW – After 19 years, head football coach and athletic director Alex Rotsko left behind his Lancers' black and white to don the purple and white of the Marshwood, Maine, Hawks. Rotsko led the Lancers to a 184-39 record and 15 straight Division I Super Bowl appearances, including 11 wins, in what was the most dominant streak in recent memory for Western Massachusetts football. His teams won 47 straight regular-season games from 2005 to 2008 and 17 of his 19 seasons were winning ones.

Rotsko went on to lead Marshwood, which went 2-6 the year before, to a Maine state championship in 2012. He admitted to Reminder Publications before he left Longmeadow that a chance to play for a Massachusetts state title may have changed his mind about leaving.

HCC women's soccer gains national notoriety

HOLYOKE – The Holyoke Community College (HCC) women's soccer team enjoyed an extremely successful season, spending the majority of it in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) weekly national poll. The Cougars went 18-2-1 and captured the NJCAA Division III District G championship, earning themselves a spot in the national championship tournament.

After losing to the eventual national champion, Mohawk Valley Community College, in the first round, HCC won two more games – over Broome Community College in penalty kicks and Harper College 2-1 – to finish the season fifth in the country.

Longmeadow hockey team wins Western Mass. title

LONGMEADOW – The Longmeadow High School hockey team fell behind 3-0 in the second period of the Division III Western Massachusetts championship game only to come roaring back with five unanswered goals to stun Westfield 5-3. Longmeadow senior captain Glenn LaFountain scored what proved to be the game-winner with less than six and a half minutes left in the game.

Longmeadow's season came to an end with a 3-1 loss to eventual state champion Hudson in the state semifinals.

Local takes his shot at professional soccer

WESTFIELD – In March, Western Massachusetts native Adam Perron spent several weeks in China and Hong Kong trying out for professional soccer teams and vying for an opportunity to grab one of four spots open to international players on a team in the Hong Kong First Division League.

Perron is now an assistant men's soccer coach at the University of Massachusetts Amherst after spending two years as the top assistant at Utica College as he continues to pursue professional soccer opportunities.

South Hadley hockey falls short in state final

SOUTH HADLEY – The South Hadley High School hockey team, playing in their fourth Division IIIA state championship game in as many years, battled hard but came up just short in their bid for a second-straight title, falling to Groton-Dunstable 4-3. The Tigers twice came back from one-goal deficits in the game, but couldn't do it a third time after giving up what was the game-winner in the third period.

It was a disappointing end to an otherwise stellar season in which the South Hadley went undefeated until the final game. In the Western Massachusetts tournament, the Tigers won each game by at least six goals.

Central tops Longmeadow in Division 1 Super Bowl

SPRINGFIELD – Quarterback Cody Williams left the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Super Bowl in the second quarter after sustaining a serious ankle injury, but made a strong and triumphant return in the second half of a 0-0 game as Central topped Longmeadow High School 27-0 at Westfield State University's Alumni Field.

Williams, who came back from the locker room at the break noticeably limping, completed five straight passes in the third quarter to get the ball moving for Central, threw a 48-yard pass down the left sideline to Brian Rivas for the game's first score.

The 2012 Golden Eagles were the first Central team to capture the Division 1 Super Bowl title since 2001.

Lance Hill breaks Minnechaug scoring record

WILBRAHAM – Minnechaug Regional High School basketball player Lance Hill scored 35 points in the Falcons' season-opening loss to Amherst on Dec. 10, eclipsing Dylan Fryar's 47-year-old school scoring record of 1,166 points.

Hill said that he hasn't given the record much thought and that his primary focus is on winning games, an attitude head coach Michael Orzech said is something he looks for in a leader. Orzech explained that while Hill has been the team's statistical leader in the past, he has had to take on a more visible leadership role.

Longmeadow girls tennis defends crown

LONGMEADOW – Despite losing in the first and second singles matches, Longmeadow captured a 3-2 victory over Amherst for the third time this season to remain perfect against teams in Western Massachusetts on the season. Longmeadow's only loss of the year came against Glastonbury, Conn.

Alexis Bowen won at third singles and the Lancers' first doubles team of Hannah McFarlin Epstein and Ashley Toebes won to tie the match at 2-2 before Melanie Feen and Anne Hayes captured second doubles 6-3, 6-2 to secure the victory.

Minnechaug's Normoyle named high school All-American

WILBRAHAM – Michael Normoyle was named an All-American in the 100-yard breaststroke for a second straight season after finishing in a virtual tie for first place in the event at the Division 1 state championship with a time of 57.36 seconds. That time was 0.17 seconds short of automatically qualifying, but made him eligible for consideration.

A member of Minnechaug Regional High School's recent graduating class of 2012, Normoyle left a legacy as a six-time Western Massachusetts sectional champion, two-time state champion, and a five-time Western Massachusetts and school record setter. He is currently a member of the Springfield College men's swimming and diving team, where he has garnered New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Swimmer of the Week honors.

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