WAYLAND - In most cases, a 34-8 home victory would be the story for any team. For Wayland, the final score was more of an afterthought.
Because of a three-way tie atop the Dual County League standings, Wayland's playoff hopes hinged on the outcomes of Acton-Boxboro's game with Westford and Lincoln-Sudbury's game with Newton South. Since Wayland was playing a nonconference opponent, all the Warriors could do was wait.
But fate was on Wayland's side. Both A-B and L-S won, but Wayland won the first-half point-differential tiebreaker, ensuring its chance to defend its Division 1A Super Bowl title.
There was a moment of uncertainty when it looked as if Acton-Boxboro would advance as Lincoln-Sudbury trailed Newton South, 12-7. Had L-S lost, the tiebreaker would have been applied to Acton-Boxboro and Wayland - and A-B won that head-to-head matchup.
Wayland coach Scott Parseghian tried to maintain his focus on the game at hand, but it was difficult for him not to be concerned with games played outside his home turf.
"You try to block it all out, but that's what every team plays for - the playoffs," he said. "As much as the rivalry and the border war is right here, the playoffs are your goal since August."
That being said, Parseghian wanted to use the game as an opportunity for his seniors to shine and to enjoy themselves in what could have been their last game. With that in mind, he started senior Brett Mordas at quarterback in place of the usual starter, sophomore Jeff Brewington.
Wayland showed its prowess in the first quarter, scoring quickly. On Weston's first possession, quarterback Eddie Blum's pass was intercepted and returned 20 yards for a touchdown by Matthew Lombardo.
Another interception by Julian Ponsetto led to another Wayland touchdown. On fourth and 4, Mordas threw a 22-yard strike to Ponsetto, and Brian Harvey's kick gave Wayland a 14-0 lead.
The Wildcats scored their only points on the next drive, which was extended by Wayland penalties. On third and 10, Blum executed a play-action fake to Mikahail Cramer, who hauled in the 22-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion pass was successful, cutting the margin to 14-8.
But Wayland continued to make plays. The Warriors capped the first half with a 2-yard pass from Mordas to Tyler Fisher and a 1-yard rush by Brian Flynn, giving them a 28-8 lead.
Flynn played a crucial role in keeping the last drive alive with a 17-yard rush and a 4-yard reception.
While the score indicated a good half for Wayland, Flynn cited the Warriors' lack of discipline.
"Both teams were getting pretty chippy," Flynn said. "We're pretty proud people, so we wanted to give it right back to them. But then we cleaned it up and it was a pretty good football game."
However pleased they were with their performance, hearing that Newton South was on top at the half certainly was not encouraging.
"It didn't feel good,' said Parseghian. "I first heard the A-B score and that was great, but right after that I heard that NS was beating L-S, which was not so great. It just made us wait another 20 minutes, and we've waited this long, what's another half-hour or so going to do?"
The Warriors took it upon themselves to finish their game strong and injury-free, all the while hoping Lincoln-Sudbury would come back for a win.
Brewington came back in for Wayland in the third quarter and threw an 18-yard TD pass to Michael Mitchell, which brought the score to 34-8.
Wayland picked off two more passes in the second half. Fittingly, Tyler Morss's interception in the waning minutes came a bit after Lincoln-Sudbury's win was announced, which drew some of the largest cheers.
"We had a great concept this year - it's not about one superstar, it's about the team," said Parseghian. "Last year, we had the superstar players, but this year it's been a total team effort.
"It's great for the kids and great for the town."