Postseason scenario is all but set in stone
Mohawk's Stephen VonHaugg rushes past Palmer's Leon Marsh.
NORTHFIELD (October 5, 2013) — Mohawk senior Bryce Macleod makes a run for it early in the second half during Saturday's Homecoming game against the Mohawk Warriors held at Pioneer in Northfield. Recorder/Trish Crapo
There is little left to determine for the four-team Western Massachusetts Division VI Football Tournament as we head into Week 9, the final weekend of the regular season.
With three teams on a bye this weekend, it makes for the quietest football week of the season locally, as Franklin County Technical School, Frontier Regional School and Pioneer Valley Regional School are all away from action. With all four teams set in the Division VI field, the only thing left to determine is who falls where.
Mohawk Trail Regional High School, currently No. 2 in the MIAA D-VI power rankings, still has a chance — albeit a slim one — to gain the top seed if it can beat Pathfinder Vocational High School tonight at St. Joseph’s Park in Thorndike, and Dean Technical High School can pull off an improbable upset of top-ranked McCann Technical School. If that unlikely scenario became a reality, the Warriors would garner the No. 1 spot and have home field advantage for both the sectional semifinal and championship rounds.
The Mohawk-Pathfinder tussle is one of three games on tap tonight at 7. Greenfield High School, which was eliminated from the postseason picture after losing to Easthampton High School last week, will look to rebound when it travels to Orange to take on Mahar Regional School, and Athol High School goes to Belchertown High School in another matchup of teams now preparing for Thanksgiving rather than the playoffs.
Turners Falls High School, currently sitting third in the rankings, could also move up or down depending on Friday’s results. The Indians journey to Central High School’s Fred Berte Field for a 1 p.m. contest against Cathedral High School.
Greenfield’s loss to Easthampton on Friday took virtually all of the suspense out of the final week of the regular season before the playoff seeds are determined. The Green Wave, which dropped from the fourth spot to No. 6 with the loss, cannot earn enough points, even with a win over Mahar, to qualify into the postseason. Lee High School, which currently sits fifth, is also on the outside looking in.
Franklin Tech turned out to be the big winner last weekend, ascending to the fourth spot vacated by the Green Wave. Because the Eagles have already completed their pre-playoff schedule, they are locked in at their current figure for the rankings and cannot drop, which eliminated Greenfield and Lee. Turners is also far enough ahead of both teams that a loss will not affect their spot in the playoffs.
The most likely scenario in all of this is that the top three teams all win and the seeds remain the same. If that is the case, Turners Falls will head to Mohawk on Nov. 8 for a 7 p.m. game, and Franklin County Technical School would make the jaunt to North Adams to take on McCann Tech on Nov. 9 at 1.
The Franklin Tech-McCann meeting would be a rematch of the Oct. 19 regular season game in Turners Falls, which saw the Eagles knock off the then-previously unbeaten Hornets, 14-12.
The winners would meet the following weekend at the site of the higher seed for the WMass Championship and a berth in the state tournament.
This is the first of a two-year trial run for the new statewide playoff system.
Much like the postseason formats in most team sports, the West champion would advance to play the Central champion, and the North and South sectional champions will meet in the state semifinals at neutral sites (West and South will host this year’s semifinals; Westfield State is the likely destination for the West-Central semifinal), and those two winners will travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Dec. 7 to play for the state championship.
Teams that did not qualify for the postseason will fill the following two weeks of their schedules with games against other non-qualifying teams, with an emphasis on competitive matchups and matching up teams that have not played each other.
The Western Mass. Football Committee seed meeting is scheduled for Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Northampton High School. The Week 10 schedule for non-qualifiers will be announced, followed by the playoff seeds. All of the matchups will be included in Monday’s edition of The Recorder.