Schoolboy Football: Let the 2016 gridiron campaign begin

  • TFHS 20 Quinn Doyle. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Smith Voc. Field. TurnersFalls No.81 Owen Ortiz, makes a reception and powers the ball up the field towards the end zone as Easthampton's No.1 Hunter Leveille attempts to run him down during the 2nd Qtr of play.photo by J. Anthony Roberts J. Anthony Roberts

  • Turners Falls 1,000-yard running back Quinn Doyle is back in the fold for the Indians, who host Lee from Berkshire County tonight at the Bourdeau Fields Complex in the lit-up Powertown. RECORDER FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 9/8/2016 10:50:08 PM

It’s time for those Friday night lights to be turned on.

The 2016 high school football season kicks off tonight around western Massachusetts and seven area teams open up this week in independent tilts.

All seven games will take place tonight at 7, including defending WMass Division IV champion Lee High School paying a visit to Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners Falls to take on Turners Falls High School.

Frontier Regional School is also playing at home in South Deerfield, where it takes on Drury High School, and Greenfield High School hosts McCann Technical High School. Mahar Regional School hosts Mt. Greylock Regional High School in the fourth and final game being played in the area.

The other three games feature a local squad on the road. Mohawk Trail Regional High School heads to Smith Vocational & Agricultural High School, Athol High School travels to Narragansett Regional High School, and Franklin County Technical School travels to Ashland High School.

The Indians come into tonight’s game facing an opponent they wish they had played 10 months ago when they were in the WMass Division IV tournament. The Indians were seeded second but suffered a 14-13 loss to McCann Technical High School in the semifinals. If the Indians had won, they would have faced off against Lee in the finals. Instead, Lee defeated McCann to win its first WMass title.

“You have to take it game by game, but any time you play a Berkshire team you have to play your best,” Turners Falls coach Chris Lapointe said. “It’s going to take our best effort. They have a great coach and great players. If you can get a win in Week 1, it can give you a big stepping stone to the rest of the season.”

Getting the opportunity to play the defending champs gives the Indians the opportunity to prove themselves in the season-opener, although Lee does look a bit different this season, having lost 16 seniors from last year’s team. Included in those losses is quarterback Cam Abderhalden, who led Keith Thompson’s squad to last year’s title. Lee, which went 6-5 overall last season, also lost many of the starters from its offensive and defensive lines. The Wildcats should still be tough, with a number of talented returnees, and are expected to compete for the Intercounty League West crown.

While Lee does know that Homer Winston will take over at quarterback, the Indians enter the season with questions at the position. Incumbent Tionne Brown was still battling Ricky Craver for the starting spot in the preseason but, according to Lapointe, Brown will get the start tonight.

“It was a good battle all through camp,” Lapointe said. “In the end, between Tionne’s leadership qualities and being the returning guy and us being able to utilize Ricky in multiple ways as an all-purpose guy, we went with Tionne.”

Turners Falls is all healthy heading into the game.

Here’s a look at the other games on the slate:

Drury at Frontier — Frontier, long known for playing tough season-openers, is 6-4 in its past 10, including last year’s 14-8 win over Ludlow. … Frontier has won three of its past four season-openers, all against Ludlow High School. … Drury was 2-8 last year but won its final two games of the year after losing the first eight. … Drury is now in the IL West. The Blue Devils have played two games against IL opponents in the past two years, both times Greenfield. The Green Wave topped Drury, 50-15, last year.

McCann Tech at Greenfield — McCann Tech finished last season 7-3 and qualified for the WMass Division IV title game. … Greenfield has lost its last two season openers, last winning the first game of the year in 2013 when it beat Drury. Greenfield is 3-3 in its last six season openers. … The last time these two teams met was in Week 3 of 2012 when the Zach Bartak-led Green Wave defeated the Hornets, 36-8. … McCann Tech makes the move into the IL West this season after formerly calling the Tri-County League home. In the past five years — spanning six games — the Hornets have gone 4-2 against IL opponents. … The Hornets have played one IL team each of the past three seasons and each time it was Turners Falls. All three games took place in the WMass Division IV postseason, and after Turners Falls beat the Hornets, 32-6, in 2013, 32-6, McCann Tech has won each of the past two meetings, first in the 2014 WMass Division IV title game, and then last season in the semifinals.

Mount Greylock at Mahar — Mt. Greylock is struggling to recapture its heyday of 2010 through 2012 when it went a combined 35-1 and won three consecutive WMass Division III championships. … Since then, the Mounties have won just 12 games in three years, and are coming off back-to-back losing campaigns, including last year’s 4-5 record. … Mahar and Mt. Greylock have met twice in recent years, both resulting in Mounties’ playoff victories. … Greylock beat Mahar 30-6 in 2011, and 24-15 in 2010. … Mahar won last year’s season opening 35-28 win over Amherst snapped a four-game losing streak in season openers.

Mohawk at Smith Voke — Smith Voke has won four games in their three years of existence, with a record of 4-25 overall. Mohawk, who Smith Voke beat 22-20 last season, is the only team still in existence, since Smith Voke’s other three wins came against Dean Technical School (twice) and St. Joseph’s Central High School, which no longer have football programs. … Smith Voke has a new coach this season in Tony Capua after spending the previous six seasons as an assistant at Western New England University. … Capua will run a spread formation, the first time the team has run the offense. Jake Erali returns to quarterback after throwing for just 44 yards last year, due to the team running almost exclusively all of last season. … Cam Van Buren is the top returning back.

Athol at Narragansett — Athol’s 25-20 win over Narragansett last season snapped a seven-game winning streak by the Warriors over the Red Raiders, a streak that dates back two decades. … Athol is looking for its first winning season since 2012 when it went 7-4. … Their roster, according to Maxpreps.com includes 41 players. … Athol is looking to replace 10 seniors from a year ago in Bill LaRose’s third year as coach. … Athol went 5-6 last season but won its final four games of the season.

FC Tech at Ashland — This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. … According to Maxpreps.com, the Clockers have 97 players on their roster. … Anndew MacKay is in his seventh year as the Ashland coach. MacKay took over a team that had won just once in the previous two years before his hiring. After going winless (0-12) in his first year, they have improved every year since, except once. The Clockers are coming off a Division V South sectional berth in which they lost to Cardinal Spellman High School in the semifinals. … The Clockers are a member of the Tri-Valley League.


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