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Indians silence Frontier

TURNERS FALLS — If you find a way to contain Trent Bourbeau, you are going to have to deal with Jalen Sanders.

That was the message the Turners High School football team sent to rival Frontier Regional School and the rest of the Intercounty League, with a 31-8 thumping of the Red Hawks Friday night at Bourdeau Fields.

On paper, this one looked like a mismatch from the start, with a young, inexperienced Frontier team with no seniors and starting five freshmen on defense going up against one of the strongest offenses in Western Mass.

The first Turners series did little to change that perception, as Bourbeau, Sanders and quarterback Malcolm Smith took the ball 85 yards on five plays for the team’s first touchdown — which came courtesy of a 69-yard bomb down the right sideline to Sanders. Melvin Moreno split the uprights for the extra point to make it 7-0 just 2:41 into the game.

It was the opening act on what would be a coming-out party of sorts for Sanders. The sophomore sensation scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving), and wound up catching a total of four balls for 126 yards and rushing for 71 yards on six carries.

The early Turners lead evaporated 13 seconds later, when Frontier deep man Justin Blake found a seam and took the ensuing kickoff back 86 yards for the touchdown. A Jack Hebert two-point conversion run made it 8-7, leaving the packed stands full of Indian fans somewhat stunned.

That shock blossomed into full-blown concern for much of the rest of the first half, which saw Frontier’s defense hold Turners pretty much in check while generating a solid ground game anchored mostly by Hebert and Blake. The Red Hawks appeared to extend the lead in the second quarter when Hebert took it in from 4 yards out, but the run was called back on a holding penalty. Frontier turned the ball back over to Turners two plays later.

The Indians took the lead back for good on the very last play of the first half, when they took the ball 79 yards on eight plays in less than minute before Smith hit Moreno in the right corner of the end zone from 9 yards out as time expired. Sanders played a key role in that drive as well, running once for 26 yards and catching a 25-yard pass, as well as scoring on the two-point conversion run to make the score 15-8 at halftime.

Turners coach Chris Lapointe appeared to catch the Red Hawks off guard with an onside kick to start the second half, but the referee ruled that the Indians touched the ball before it went the full 10 yards, giving it back to Frontier on the Turners 49. The bad break didn’t hurt the Indians, who made a defensive adjustment at halftime which would up putting an end to the previously formidable Frontier ground attack. Turners extended its lead to 23-8 when Smith hit Brody Markol with an 18-yard touchdown pass, and Tim Carlisle for the two-point conversion hookup.

The Indians closed out the scoring on Sanders’ 6-yard run and two-point conversion reception from Smith.

“I felt good out there,” Sanders said. “The line did a great job opening up holes, and they deserve a lot of credit.”

“He’s a real good athlete,” Lapointe said of Sanders. “He comes to play, and works very hard and he can do a lot of different things for us.”

Smith finished 8-for-14 for 194 yards with the three TD passes and his first interception of the year. He also picked off as pair of passes on defense.

Frontier did it best defensive work on Bourbeau, who finished with 16 carries for 79 yards, still a good night by any standards, but a far cry from the numbers he has been putting up recently.

The Indians continue their IL schedule Friday with a trip to Athol High School.

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