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QB injury clouds Indians’ season

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Greenfield junior Brayten Stack returns to the Green Wave backfield this season and will be the primary running back this fall after splitting time last season.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Greenfield junior Brayten Stack returns to the Green Wave backfield this season and will be the primary running back this fall after splitting time last season. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Fro 9 Oliver Fox

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Fro 9 Oliver Fox Purchase photo reprints »

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Greenfield junior Brayten Stack returns to the Green Wave backfield this season and will be the primary running back this fall after splitting time last season.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Fro 9 Oliver Fox

The days are shortening and football is finally here.

Tonight kicks off the 2014 high school football season, and there are five game featuring area teams on tap this weekend. Four of them take place tonight at 7. Greenfield High School is the only area team playing at home, hosting Drury High School. Mohawk Trail Regional High School kicks off its season on the road at Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School tonight in Northampton, while Pioneer Valley Regional School heads to Legion Field in Palmer to take on Palmer High School. The fourth and final opening-night game occurs in Fitchburg, where Franklin County Technical School travels to play Montachusett Regional Technical High School.

The weekend concludes Saturday in Cheshire at 1, when Athol High School travels to play defending WMass Division V champion Hoosac Valley Regional High School.

The biggest news of the week surrounds a team that does not play until next week. Turners Falls High School lost starting quarterback Ricky Craver last week when the sophomore broke his leg in two places. Craver is gone for the season, an injury that further clouds an already precarious situation in the Powertown.

Turners Falls was already looking to replace starting quarterback Malcolm Smith after he graduated in the spring and was among the best players in the Intercounty League last season. Smith helped lead the Indians to the WMass Division VI championship and a berth in the state tournament. The battle to replace him came down to three players — Craver, Trevor Mankowsky and Nick Croteau — and Indian coach Chris Lapointe even had lineman Tyler Charboneau taking snaps, though he preferred not to take Charboneau off the line.

The job was thought to have been Craver’s over the summer, but Lapointe admitted that the competition was open coming into camp. The addition of Charboneau seemed to bring out the best in Craver.

“It was a good thing having Charboneau step up,” Lapointe said. “Ricky played tremendously in practice right before he got hurt. He grew leaps and bounds.”

That left Croteau and Mankowsky to battle it out for the position and Lapointe said both players handled themselves very well when Craver had been named the original starter. That even seemed to push Mankowsky, and Lapointe said it would be the junior that will lead the Indians on the field when they open against Belchertown on Sept. 12 at 7 at the Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners Falls.

“Everyone has been a team player through all of this,” Lapointe said. “Trevor has really honed in on the fundamentals and has looked great this week.”

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