SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- At some point, Westfield will find the right formula to take down Springfield Central. But until that time arrives, the Bombers will reside beneath the large shadow cast by the Golden Eagles.
On Friday night, Westfield had a chance to reverse its fortunes and wipe the slate clean of nearly a decade's worth of frustration. But the opportunity came and went quickly, as Central built a 20-point first quarter lead before rolling past the Bombers 39-6 at Fred Berte Field.
"Westfield is a good, quality team and a lot of those kids over there have been playing since their freshmen year," said Central head coach Valdamar Brower. "But our kids really rose to the challenge tonight."
The last time Westfield tasted success against the Golden Eagles was back in 2008. Upon judging this most-recent performance, it is hard to imagine Central losing its stranglehold over its rival anytime soon.
The Golden Eagles offense erupted early and often, racking up 486 yards in the contest. Central (2-1) scored on three of its first four possessions, leaving Westfield (2-1) in its wake.
Explosive running back De'Andre Goldson proved to be the biggest headache for the Bombers defense. The senior rushed for 153 yards and found the end zone four times. Goldson did the majority of his damage during the opening half, as he gained 148 yards before seeing limited usage in the final half.
"My offensive line set me up with some really good blocks tonight," Goldson said. "Once you get through that first line of defense you need to get that extra gear, which I was able to do and get into the end zone. It was important for us to take the fight out of (Westfield) early and then keep the foot on the pedal the rest of the way."
The Golden Eagles wasted no time setting the tempo in this one. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tank Walker threw a pass to Myles Bradley on an out pattern. The sophomore did the rest, darting past the Bombers defense for a 34-yard touchdown.
Following a Westfield punt, Central's quick-strike offense was at it again. This time with Goldson busting through the middle untouched for a 47-yard score to extend the lead to 13-0.
With under a minute remaining in the opening quarter, the Golden Eagles continued to flex their offensive muscle. Needing just three plays, Goldson took a hand off and proceeded to shred the Bombers defense for a 72-yard scoring jaunt.
With Westfield's offense, including its stellar signal-caller Austin St. Pierre, held in check, Central continued to shine. Jahvon Turner recovered a St. Pierre fumble, leading to another Goldson score, this time from 27 yards out, to make it 27-0 with 7:26 to go until halftime.
"This defense is excited about the challenge facing them and I think they have bought into it," said Brower. "Giving up 48 points the first week to La Salle Academy (R.I.) hit home. Not only with them, but all of our coaches. I knew I needed to do a better job in preparing our kids after that. We met as coaches after that game, made some adjustments and the kids have bought into it. It stunk in regards to what happened a couple of weeks ago, but that is how you learn and grow."
After picking up a solid victory over a very good Agawam team one week ago, the Bombers simply could not carry that momentum into this contest. Their prolific offense only mustered 189 yards against a vaunted and physical Golden Eagles defense.
"We were a little banged up coming in so we obviously couldn't use our players the way we wanted to," said third-year Bombers head coach Rob Parent. "But that is part of football in which the next guy has to come in and do his job. Central was just better than us tonight. We weren't ready for this game from a physical standpoint. We came out flat and they took advantage of that and that is what good teams do. They were like sharks smelling blood in the water. Central has been the premier football team out here for a while and there is no difference in that right now. But I do think we will see them again in a couple of months."
Just a few minutes into the closing half, Central upped its lead to 33-0 when Walker (6-of-10 for 118 yards) connected with receiver Tyvarius Daniels in stride for an 18 yard scoring reception. A few moments later, St. Pierre (92 yards passing on 11-of-22 attempts) was intercepted. That, in turn, would lead to a Goldson 5-yard carry across the goal line. To the Bombers credit, they continued to fight the good fight. Putting together their best drive of the evening, which covered 50 yards, St. Pierre capped it off with a 1-yard dive into the end zone early in the fourth quarter.