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School Football Previews: Powertown braces for soaring Red Hawks

  • Frontier defensive guru Scott Dredge encourages his Red Hawks with head coach Don Gordon standing in the background. Tonight, they’ll bring their team into the unfriendly confines of Turners Falls. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

  • Frontier running back Stephen Worthley is on his way to the endzone last week in South Deerfield. In the past three weeks, he’s rushed for 494 yards and seven touchdowns. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls quarterback Kyle Dodge hands off to running back John Driscoll this season. Both will be in action tonight when Frontier invades the Powertown. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz

  • TFHS 20 Marcus Sanders early yardage vs GHS. August 22, 2017. Recorder file photo/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Thursday, October 12, 2017

The area football community was a bit shocked when Frontier Regional School lost an overtime game to Greenfield High School on the second week of the season.

The Red Hawks have responded to that defeat by trouncing the three opponents they have played since, outscoring the trio 132-54, and are almost a lock to make the WMass Division VII playoff field with three weeks remaining.

Frontier will try to keep the momentum rolling tonight when it invades the Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners Falls to face Turners Falls High School at 7 p.m.

That is one of four games on the area schedule for Week 6 of the high school football season, including one of three area games tonight. Greenfield and Mahar Regional School are both on byes this week.

The other two games on tap for tonight are both Tri-County League affairs. Mohawk Trail Regional High School hosts McCann Technical High School at 7, and Pioneer Valley Regional School heads to St. Joseph’s Field in Thorndike to take on Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical School at 7.

The weekend wraps up Saturday in Turners Falls as Franklin County Technical School hosts Athol High School at 2 p.m. for an Intercounty League North tilt.

Frontier has quietly put together a strong start to the season. Its most notable result was its lone loss, that being by the difference of a two-point conversion in overtime, 22-20, to the Green Wave on Sept. 15. The Red Hawks have not let that loss define their season, though, and when the Western Massachusetts Football Committee released the first Walker rankings of the year on Monday, it was no surprise that Frontier was in second in Division VII. With many of the teams in that division behind the eight-ball, so to speak, the Red Hawks appear to be a good bet to make the postseason and quite possibly host a semifinal game.

The push for the playoffs continues tonight against a team that knows a thing or two about the postseason in Turners Falls. The Powertown finds itself in some unknown waters this season. For the first time since 2010, Turners Falls does not find itself firmly entrenched in the postseason hunt. That’s not to say Turners Falls could not make the playoffs, but the team would have to win out.

Winning out would mean slowing down a Frontier offense that has been running on all cylinders over the past three weeks. Aaron Landry is once again running like the 1,000-yard back he was a season ago. Landry and Steven Worthley have gotten the majority of the carries in a crowded backfield in recent weeks and they have made the most of it. In the past three games, Landry has rushed for 638 yards and a whopping 10 touchdowns, while Worthley has rushed for 494 yards and seven touchdowns. Fullback Bryce Dobosz, who has been battling injuries after rushing for 196 through the first two weeks of the season, has taken on a role as a blocking back and the offense has benefited.

“We run a couple of plays and we run them well,” Frontier coach Don Gordon said. “We get a little better every day.”

Quarterback Matt Hildreth has also been playing well, rushing for nearly 200 yards this season and also passing for nearly 300. Most importantly he has taken care of the ball when he has thrown it, tossing one touchdown and no interceptions on 38 attempts.

Frontier will be taking on a Turners Falls team that has alternated wins and losses every week this season. Turners Falls, which underwent a massive amount of turnover in its starting lineup from a season ago, has been competitive throughout the season, something that coach Chris Lapointe has been pleased with.

“They are learning the game and have improved,” Lapointe said. “We were competitive in the Greenfield game but we made some mistakes. And last week (against Mahar) we were competitive. We are just not good enough to overcome mistakes.”

The offense continues to grow for Turners, as first-year starting quarterback Kyle Dodge continues to play better. In last week’s 20-19 loss to Mahar, Dodge completed 6-of-17 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, his best game of the season. His favorite target continues to be Jaden Whiting, who has seven catches for 173 yards and three scores on the season. The running attack is also a work in progress, but when Marcus Sanders (54 carries, 418 yards) gets into open field, few defenders are going to catch him.

The Turners Falls defense has also played well since the first half of the first week when it was roughed up by Lee High School. Since then, Turners has not been an easy team to score against, allowing 20 points or less in each of the past four games.

Turners Falls has won four of the past five meetings between the teams with Frontier’s lone win coming in 2015.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Week 6 schedule:

McCann Tech at Mohawk

After a tough home loss to Athol a week ago, Mohawk (2-3, 2-1) returns to Tri-County League action tonight when winless McCann Technical School (0-4, 0-4) comes to Pollard Field in Buckland. … Mohawk won last year’s meeting against the Hornets, capturing a 38-21 win in North Adams. Tailback Jordan Grenier had 97 yards rushing in that victory. … McCann won the previous five meetings against Mohawk, rattling off wins in 2015, 2014, 2013 and 2013. … Grenier was held under the 100-yard mark for the first time all season in the loss to Athol. He carried the ball nine times for 41 yards, giving him 515 yards on the ground through five games. … McCann Tech has struggled through four games, as the Hornets have been shut out in back-to-back losses to Ware High School (47-0) and Turners Falls (28-0). McCann hasn’t scored a point since Sept. 23 when it lost a nail-biter to Pioneer, 15-14. … The squad has scored just three touchdowns this season. … Mohawk is tied for third place in the TCL standings, 1½ game behind first-place Ware (5-0, 4-0). … The Warriors have a tough road ahead, with games against Ware (Oct. 20) and Palmer High School (Oct. 27). … Mohawk is averaging 20.8 points per game on the season. … The quarterback situation continues to evolve for the Warriors. Through five weeks, four different players have attempted passes. In Week 5, it was Shawn Davenport, who completed two passes for nine yards.

Pioneer at Pathfinder

It’s an important game for Pioneer tonight in Thorndike, as the Panthers travel to play winless Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School (0-5, 0-4) at St. Joseph’s Park. … Pioneer (4-1, 3-1) is on the cusp of the playoff picture, sitting sixth in the latest Division VIII power rankings. The Panthers’ lone loss came to undefeated Ware, currently seeded third in D-VIII. … Pioneer must continue to win and get some help. The Panthers will need to start with a win tonight before a huge game next week against Palmer High School, currently seeded fourth in Division VII. … Pioneer’s newfound offensive success is largely thanks to the play of junior Wyatt Keith, who was moved into the starting tailback role three weeks ago. Since that time, Keith has rushed for eight touchdowns in three games, accumulating 346 yards. … With Keith balancing out the strong play of quarterback Scott Perlberg, who has a Recorder-area best 624 yards through the air, Pioneer could make the playoff picture very interesting over the next couple weeks. … Pioneer and Pathfinder have split the last 10 meetings, 5-5, with the Panthers winning last year’s game 36-0. … Pathfinder won the previous two meetings in 2014 and 2015. … It has been a tough season for the winless Pioneers, who have been shut out five times. They’ve managed just 20 points total through five games, 14 of those coming in a 34-14 loss to Mohawk. … Pioneer is 1-1 on the road this season, edging McCann Tech, 15-14, while losing at Ware.

Saturday

Athol at FC Tech

It could be a good one in the Powertown on Saturday, as Franklin Tech (2-3, 1-2) hosts Athol (1-4, 0-3) at 2 p.m. in a matchup of teams looking to get out of the IL North basement. … The visiting Red Raiders got into the win column for the first time last week thanks to a 33-6 victory over Mohawk, and they now enter a difficult portion of the schedule with games against Greenfield and Frontier looming after Saturday’s tilt. … FC Tech fell back to earth after its big win over Greenfield two weeks ago, dropping a 41-14 decision to Frontier in Week 5. … FC Tech and Athol have met just once in the past decade, with that game coming last season in Athol. The Raiders cruised to a 36-13 victory. … Athol’s Robbie Nelson became the first player on his team to topple the 100-yard mark last week, as he rushed for 119 yards on 21 carries. … Spencer Telega of FC Tech ran for his seventh touchdown of the season in last week’s loss to Frontier. Telega (449 yards) is fifth in the Recorder-area in rushing TDs. … The game will largely be decided on the ground, as the two teams have combined for just 24 completions on the season. … FC Tech head coach Joe Gamache is an Athol native and AHS graduate from the Class of 1995. … After opening with four of their first five games on the road, the Eagles begin a stretch of three straight at home. The team is 0-1 at home this year, falling to Lee High School nearly a full month ago on Sept. 16.