WELLS — Yes, the Mountain Valley football team has more ailing body parts than a New York City emergency room on a full-moon Halloween night.
The way Wells played defense Saturday, it might not have mattered if the Falcons played the Western Class B championship game after a soothing, six-month vacation in Tahiti.
Joey Spinelli’s field goal and Drew Shelley’s touchdown held up for a 10-0 Wells victory at Warrior Memorial Field.
Wells (11-0) backed up a two-touchdown triumph over Mountain Valley (9-2) on the same field five weeks ago. The Warriors avenged an 18-0 loss in last year’s final, won the Western B title for the first time since 1997 and denied the Falcons their school’s sixth crown in eight years.
“We knew what it felt like last year. This time we wanted to come away with it,“ Spinelli said. “We knew we had a better chance. We put the work in, did what we had to do, and we did it.”
Unbeaten teams will collide when Wells meets Leavitt next Saturday in the Class B final at Fitzpatrick Stadium in Portland. Game time will be announced Monday.
Spinelli intercepted two passes and fellow junior Gavin Snapp picked off another for Wells, which held Mountain Valley quarterbacks Zak Radcliffe and Izaak Mills to a combined 5-for-22 through the air.
Mountain Valley never drove past the Wells 33-yard line and was contained to 106 yards, suffering only the second shutout in its 23-year history.
“We tried the middle. We tried outside. We tried passing. Nothing seemed to be working for us,” Mountain Valley halfback Kyle Duguay said. “They controlled the whole game. They’re a great team. They’re really, really tough. Our injuries I think finally caught up to us.”
Radcliffe (shoulder), Duguay (neck), fullback Matt Hosie (ankle), guard Ryan Glover (shoulder) and tackle Ryan Stickney (ankle) entered the game with well-documented aches. Mills battled fatigue and lightheadedness Saturday.
And Wells wore down a courageous but beleaguered defense with two epic scoring drives.
The Warriors ate up more than 7½ minutes after the opening kickoff before Spinelli kicked his 24-yard field goal.
Six minutes elapsed during the march that led to Shelley’s 29-yard scoring scamper.
“That’s how we’ve been all year,” Wells senior tight end Josh Ingalls said. “The long drives, the rushing yards, it just runs the clock down.”
Ingalls was the perpetrator of multiple Mountain Valley three-and-outs, batting down three passes at the line and affecting the arc of countless others.
Running also was a fruitless exercise. Wells linebackers Louis DiTomasso, Zack Deshaies and Doug McLean clogged the middle all day.
Mountain Valley’s longest designed carry by a running back went for seven yards. The Falcons averaged just over two yards per carry.
“Our defense was stellar. They’re banged up. So are we,” Wells coach Tim Roche said. “We have the utmost respect in the world for a team like that. It’s more of a honor for us to beat them than anybody else in our league. It’s Mountain Valley. They’ve had a great run.”
Wells won the first game by converting third downs against an equally hard-nosed, hard-hitting Falcons defense.
Saturday was more of the same. Paul McDonough nearly scrambled to the marker on third-and-17 to resuscitate Wells’ opening drive. DiTomasso needed one yard and gained eight on fourth down from the Mountain Valley 40.
“We heard all week how we’ve gotten lucky getting these first downs on third-and-12,” Roche said. “Then when we did it again I thought, maybe we’re not lucky. Maybe some of these kids are pretty good and make plays.”
Mountain Valley buckled down, with Isaac Roberts throwing McLean for an one-yard loss on third-and-goal at the 2.
Spinelli split the uprights with the 13th play of the drive.
“It was about extra-point range. I was confident in my line. My line’s been good all year,” Spinelli said. “We knew we wanted to kick the field goal. We didn’t want to come up with nothing, because we knew it was going to be a defensive game.”
The 3-0 score held up until Wells’ opening possession of the third quarter, a 93-yard parade that took down the clock to 2:10.
Two third-down conversions and a 24-yard scoot by Deshaies on a counter crisscross whisked the Warriors past midfield. Mountain Valley was flagged for a facemask immediately preceding Shelley’s surge off left tackle.
“I had great blocking for that,” Shelley said. “I had Andrew Staples in front of me. He had the guy, so I just shot through him and there it was.”
Spinelli stopped the Falcons’ next drive with an interception.
Mountain Valley tried a fake punt early in the fourth quarter, but the officials ruled no catch on Colin Merrill’s diving bid.
Wells had another interception nullified by a penalty, providing Mountain Valley with its best field position of the day. An errant pitch, two false start penalties an three incomplete passes quickly muzzled that momentum.
“We didn’t catch a break all day. It’s just the way it goes,” Mountain Valley coach Jim Aylward said.
Glover made 17 tackles, including one of Mountain Valley’s two sacks of McDonough, in his final high school game.
Rugged in its own right, the Falcons defense held Wells to 221 total yards, nearly halving the Warriors’ mileage in the previous 28-12 win.
“Compared to last game I think we improved tremendously,” Duguay said. “It’s just little things today that shot us in the foot. They played hard and we played hard. The better team came out on top.”
Duguay led the Falcons with 14 carries for 44 yards.
Mountain Valley has failed to appear in the regional final only six times since 1989. The Falcons have captured the ultimate prize four times since 2004.
“We’ve won state championships. I’m no less proud today than when we won those games,” Aylward said.
To see more from the Sun Journal, visit sunjournal.com.