Week 2 Football: Kaden James’ last-minute TD lifts Frontier past Franklin Tech, 27-22

  • Frontier quarterback Aiden Dredge lets a pass fly against Franklin Tech in Turners Falls Friday night. The visiting Redhawks rallied late for a 27-22 victory. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL Franz

  • Franklin Tech’s William Ainsworth tries to haul in a pass against Frontier on Friday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin Tech’s Gabe Tomasi runs for yardage against Frontier in Turners Falls on Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin Tech’s Jet Bastarache tries to haul in this pass against Frontier in Turners Falls Friday Night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin Tech’s Josiah Little evades Frontier’s defense in Turners Falls Friday Night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Frontier’s Ian Burt ran this kickoff back for a TD vs Franklin Tech in Turners Falls Friday Night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Franklin Tech’s Josiah Little is dragged down by a Frontier defender during Intercounty League North action in Turners Falls Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL Franz

  • Franklin Tech’s Gabe Tomasi lets loose a pass against Frontier in Turners Falls Friday Night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

For the Recorder
Published: 9/15/2023 11:21:12 PM

TURNERS FALLS – Frontier football was at its best Friday night when the Redhawks hit on big plays, and none was bigger than the “Aiden and Kaden Show” inside the final minute.

Visiting Frontier held the lead from early in the second quarter until 2½ minutes remained, when Franklin Tech nosed in front, 22-21. The Redhawks started well at their own 46 following the kickoff and worked their way down to the Tech 30. On second-and-10, Aiden Dredge floated a pass against the left boundary where Kaden James made a head-high catch, plucking the ball away from an Eagles’ defender, and James turned up the sideline for the go-ahead score with 40.8 seconds to play.

Dredge was sacked on the two-point conversion try, leaving Frontier ahead by five, and the Redhawks stopped Tech on downs on the next possession to end the game with a 27-22 victory.

“That was huge. They called it and they wanted to do it,” said Frontier coach Scott Dredge. “Not many passes worked out in our favor tonight, but that one did, and that’s the one that counted.”

Both teams came away from Friday with 1-1 records. Franklin Tech relied heavily on the work of Josiah Little, who carried the ball 34 times for 206 yards with a touchdown. The Eagles trailed 14-8 at the half and 21-8 early in the third, before rallying back with a pair of touchdowns. Gabe Tomasi’s 1-yard TD plunge on a quarterback sneak with 2:31 to play gave the hosts the lead at 22-21.

“We fell victim to the big play tonight, but I’m super proud of the way our kids battled for the entire game,” said Eagles coach Joe Gamache. “[Frontier] made a little bit more of an athletic play (on the game-winner). We couldn’t have played it any better.”

Franklin Tech ran 67 offensive plays to Frontier’s 31 and held a 291-188 advantage in total offense. But Aiden Dredge got the visitors started with a 78-yard scoring scamper off a misdirection play, followed by Brady Poreda’s extra point, to give the Redhawks a 7-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first quarter.

The Eagles went long-field on their next trip, going 60 yards in 14 plays in just over seven minutes. On fourth-and-goal from the Frontier 4, Tomasi zipped a pass to Jet Bastarache on a square-out pattern just inside the right front pylon. Tomasi then found Tucker Hicks in the back of the end zone for the conversion that put Tech up, 8-7, with 10:02 to go in the half.

That narrow lead lasted all of 14 seconds, after Ian Burt ran the ensuing kickoff back 87 yards with barely a hand laid on him. Poreda’s kick made it a 14-8 lead that carried through all the way to the half.

Frontier managed its six-point lead despite only 5:21 of possession time through the first two quarters, compared to Franklin Tech’s 18:39.

“It would have been nice to come away with more than eight points after the first half,” said Gamache. “It gave us some momentum and the realization that we could move the football. We just had to get some stops defensively.”

The teams traded interceptions right at the top of the second half, first by Tech’s Tyler Yetter and then by Frontier’s James, who returned his pick 10 yards to the Eagles’ 20. On the next snap, Bray Arsenault took a pitch from Dredge and swept the left side for the score, boosting the Redhawks into a 21-8 lead.

Tech fought right back with another 60-yard march, keyed by Little’s 32-yard gain. Little finished it off himself with a 1-yard run, followed by Tomasi’s two-pointer, to pull the Eagles within 21-16 with 3:45 on the clock in the third quarter.

Later, Frontier failed on fourth-and-2 at its own 39 to give the Eagles the ball back with 5:33 left. Little carried on five of the next six plays to bring the ball to the Frontier 1, where Tomasi ran it in at the 2:31 mark for the short-lived 22-21 edge.

The Eagles also got 65 rushing yards from Tomasi, who completed 5-of-10 passes for 32 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

Aiden Dredge (2-for-7 passing, 34 yards, one TD, one interception) led Frontier with 87 rushing yards and Arsenault added all 41 of his yards on the ground in the second half. 

“It was a nice treat to travel only 15 minutes as opposed to an hour-and-a-half, two nights in a row, to Lunenburg,” said Scott Dredge, referring to last week’s season-opening and weather-delayed road loss. “I think our team learned to operate better with a sense of urgency. It wasn’t that we doubted ourselves. We had to make sure that we could execute down the field when it mattered.” 

Frontier hosts Greenfield in its 2023 home opener next Friday, while Franklin Tech is also at home to play Pathfinder.


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