League Champs: Frontier rolls over Raiders, 49-17

  • Above, Frontier’s Stephen Worthley became the second Red Hawk running back over 1,000 yards this season as he helped lead the Hawks to an IL North title with a 49-17 win over Athol Friday night in South Deerfield. Worthley finished with 177 yards on 18 carries and scored four times. Below, Athol quarterback Keegan Lutz tries to avoid the Frontier pass rush. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol quarterback Keegan Lutz tries to escape the Frontier pass rush on Friday night where the Red Raiders fell to the Red Hawks, 49-17, in IL North action in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Frontier quarterback Matt Hildreth avoids a tackle by Athol's Mason Barrieau Friday night and the Red Hawks clinched the IL North title outright with a 49-17 win in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol's Mason Barrieau tries to get around the end Friday night but the Frontier defense made sledding difficult as it held the Raiders’ offense in check during a 49-17 Hawks’ victory in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Frontier's Stephen Worthley scores the game’s first touchdown and the Red Hawks never looked back as they won the IL North title outright with a 49-17 win Friday night in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Frontier's Stephen Worthley tries to avoid Athol defender Dylan Castine during the Red Hawks’ 49-17 win Friday night in South Deerfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

For The Recorder
Friday, October 27, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Ever since their Super Bowl hopes crashed and burned on a frozen field in Berkshire County last November, the Frontier Regional School football team has been focused on getting back to the postseason.

That mission was accomplished Friday night in front of its home crowd, as the Red Hawks took advantage of four Athol High School turnovers on the way to a 49-17 victory over the Red Raiders in South Deerfield.

The win guaranteed Frontier at least a share of the Intercounty League North title, which became an outright crown when Turners Falls High School upset Easthampton High School, 27-14, in Easthampton.

“It feels great to get here again,” Frontier running back Steven Worthley said. “We've worked hard for it and we deserve it.”

It was a bit of a dual celebration for the Red Hawks, which sewed up the league title on the same night Worthley became the second Frontier back to gain 1,000 yards rushing for the season. The senior speedster came into the game needing 156 yards to reach 1,000. He wound up with 177 yards on 18 carries, and four touchdowns.

“It's just crazy, it doesn't feel like anything right now,” Worthley said of the milestone. “I'm just really happy to get it.”

Worthley also had a pretty solid game on defense, recovering three of Athol's four fumbles, all of which the Red Hawks managed to turn into points.

Frontier got on the board first, when Athol fumbled on their own 30, setting the stage for a six-play drive which ended with a Worthley 14-yard touchdown run. The point-after kick sailed wide left, keeping the score 6-0.

Athol fumbled again on the next series, giving Frontier the ball on the Red Raider 25. Three plays later, Frontier back Bryce Dobosz (7 carries, 42 yards) was in the end zone with a 7-yard touchdown run. The point-after kick wound up being a broken play, with Worthley managing to take the low snap and throwing a pass to an open Kiernan Freeman in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 14-0 lead.

Dobosz would find the end zone again on Frontier's next series. This time it was a 10-play, 63 yard drive which ended in an 8-yard touchdown run. Matt Hildreth’s kick made the score 21-0 at halftime.

The fumbles wound up being back breakers for the Red Raiders, who had some success moving the ball and seemed to defend the Frontier run game pretty well at times. Athol finished with 223 yards rushing as a team, but only generate seven first downs, in part because of the turnovers.

The Red Hawks extended the lead on the first series of the third quarter, when Worthley found the end zone from 11 yards out. The Hildreth kick made it 28-0.

Another Athol fumble gave Frontier the ball back at the Athol 49. Seven plays later, Worthley found the end zone again with a seven-yard run. Another Hildreth kick made it 35-0.

At this point, Worthley was creeping up on the 1,000-yard milestone, which he shattered on the next series with a 31-yard touchdown run set up by Athol's fourth fumble turnover. Hildreth’s kick made it an even 42-0, and that would be the last we would see of most of the Frontier starters for the rest of the night.

Athol broke the shutout in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Robbie Nelson (18 carries, 70 yards). Frontier did a relatively good job containing Nelson, who had a breakout, four touchdown performance against Greenfield High School the week before.

Frontier answered on the ensuing kickoff, when Dobosz picked up the Kyle Selanis boot and ran it back 85 yards for the touchdown. Another Hildreth kick made the score 49-6. 

Athol scored again on the next series when Mason Barrieau (7 carries, 42 yards) ran in an 11-yard touchdown, and hit Joey Lehtomaki with a two-point conversion pass to make the score 49-14.

The Red Raiders recovered the ensuing onside kick and managed to work the ball deep into Red Hawk territory. Athol called timeout with four seconds on the clock, giving it enough time to call on Selanis, arguably the most powerful kicker in the area. Selanis drilled a 42-yard field goal as time expired to create the 49-17 final.

The Red Hawks now await Sunday’s announcement about which team they will face in their Division VII semifinal playoff game. Frontier athletic director Marty Sanderson believes that contest will take place Friday night in South Deerfield.