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Indians out to end losing streak

The last time Turners Falls High School defeated Frontier Regional School, it’s current head coach was lining up under center.

The Indians (3-2 overall, 1-2 IL) will look to put the lengthy losing streak to the Red Hawks (2-1, 1-1) behind them when the two teams meet Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. in South Deerfield, one of five local games on tap for this weekend.

Due to the ever-increasing number of changes caused by the EEE scare, only one game will be played Friday — Athol High School will host Springfield School of Science & Technology in an IL contest at 3:45 p.m. In the Saturday IL games, Greenfield High School heads to Buckland for a noon contest against Mohawk Trail Regional High School, while Mahar Regional School entertains Belchertown High School at the soon-to-be-named James S. Woodward Athletic Complex at 2 p.m.

In Tri-County League play, Franklin County Technical School will play host to Ware High School at 1. Pioneer gets the weekend off with a bye.

The Indians enter Saturday’s game on a 13-game losing streak to Frontier. During that time, the Red Hawks have outscored Turners Falls, 372-119. In fact, the Indians have not scored more than 20 points against the Red Hawks during the losing streak, and have been held below double digits all but five times. Another mini-streak built into the losses is that the Indians have not scored more than one touchdown in the past five meetings with the Red Hawks.

The last time Turners Falls defeated the Red Hawks was in 1998 when they were on their way to a Super Bowl appearance. That matchup was also scheduled to be played at Frontier but, due to renovations at the school, the two teams played at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Turners Falls managed to pick up a 39-27 victory in that game, on its way to a 9-1 regular season, the lone loss coming to Greenfield High School on Turkey Day. Starting at quarterback for the Indians was a senior by the name of Chris Lapointe.

Lapointe is now in his third season as Indians head coach and brings the squad into South Deerfield with arguably its best chance to win the game in years. While both teams come into the game a game over .500, Frontier has struggled on offense. Despite outgaining Mahar last weekend, the Red Hawks were defeated 26-12. It has been a trying season offensively thus far for Frontier, which got its first 100-yard rusher of the season last weekend when Justin Blake surpassed the mark. The Red Hawks have spread the ball around in the rushing game, using Blake, Chris Toomey and Matt Ackerman. But the team has scored just 40 points against competition with an aggregate 4-11 record. Frontier coach Scott Dredge said that with sophomore tailbacks Blake and Ackerman getting most of the carries, the offense is still in a growing phase as the two players get their feet wet at the varsity level.

“We just need more reps, more experience,” Dredge said. “We have two starting sophomores at running back and only one starting senior at receiver. They are playing like sophomores. I really do think as we move along, watch film and continue working in practice, they are going to clean up those mistakes and feel more comfortable.”

While the Frontier offense has struggled with its consistency, the defense has been typical of hard-nosed Dredge teams. After holding back-to-back opponents to 12 combined points, Frontier allowed 26 last time out. The difference, however, was that Mahar scored on three long passing plays when the young secondary was burnt on some faulty coverage.

“Pretty much everyone did their job all game except on those three plays,” Dredge said. “We’ve got some pretty dominant defensive lineman and I’ll continue to rely on them.”

Those linemen are going to have to fill in the holes that the Turners Falls offensive line will be looking to open up for the area’s leading rusher in Ryan Wilder. The Indian senior entered last week tied for the rushing lead with Green Wave quarterback Zach Bartak, but a 215-yard effort in the Indians’ 48-0 victory over Sci-Tech last weekend gave Wilder the outright lead. Turners Falls coach Chris Lapointe said it will be important to get the running game working in order to control the ball against Frontier.

“We need to move the ball, get 16 or 17 first downs,” the coach began. “And we need to run outside. If we get into a north-south game, I think it’s advantage them. If we can use our backs and use misdirection, I think we will be in good shape. But if we getting running north-south, I believe Frontier is just too good in their front seven or eight.”

The game is also heavy on postseason implications. The Indians enter the game ranked third in the MIAA Western Massachusetts Power Rankings in Division IV, while Frontier sits sixth in Division III.

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

Friday

Sci-Tech at Athol — The Red Raiders (4-1, 2-0 IL) likely won’t be throwing many passes today, simply because the CyberCats (0-5, 0-4) can’t stop anyone. They allowed Turners Falls to run for 315 yards last week, and Athol rushed for 249 yards in last week’s 26-8 win over Mohawk. ... The Red Raiders are still in a good spot to qualify for the D-III playoffs, even though on the wrong side of the bubble in fifth place (10.40). ... Athol won last year’s meeting, 33-28.

Saturday

Greenfield at Mohawk — This is a pivotal contest for both schools in their respective divisions. The Green Wave (5-0, 3-0) sits in third in the Division III ratings (12.40), while the Warriors (2-2, 1-2) are tied for fourth with Ware in the D-IV ratings (6.00). ... Mohawk, which usually thrives on a solid running attack, has failed to rush for 100 yards as a team in three straight games. ... Greenfield’s high-octane offense has scored 30 or more points in all five games this season, and most of it has come in gradual fashion. Greenfield has scored points in all but four of 20 quarters. ... Mohawk won last year’s meeting 46-6.

Belchertown at Mahar — The Senators (2-3, 1-1), ranked seventh in this week’s D-III ratings (5.60), could get a significant boost if they can knock off the Orioles (4-0, 3-0), the top-ranked team in D-III (15.00). ...Mahar QB Logan Barrett has completed only 24 passes thus far, but seven of them have gone for touchdowns. ... The Senators to break their trend of slow starts in order to have a chance against Belchertown. Mahar has been outscored 52-7 by opponents in the first quarter and 115-33 in the first half. ... The Orioles won last year’s meeting, 42-18.

Ware at FC Tech — Tech quarterback Justin Werner suffered a high ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to Pathfinder. “There’s no timetable (for his return) but it will likely be a significant amount of time,” said Eagles head coach Joe Gamache, who added he will go with 5-foot-9, 143-pound freshman C.J. Daignault behind center. ... This could very well be an elimination game in regard to the D-IV playoff picture. Ware (2-2, 2-2) is tied for fourth in the ratings at 6.00, while Franklin Tech (2-3, 1-1) is in sixth, just .80 behind. ... ... Ware won last year’s meeting, 47-0.

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