Running game powers Frontier Regional into football playoffs

  • Frontier running back extraordinaire Aaron Landry has been a man on a mission this season. GAZETTE photo/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Frontier running back Steve Worthley may be the Red Hawks’ No. 2 back, but he’d be No. 1 on most of the Red Hawks’ opponents. GAZETTE photo/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Wednesday, November 01, 2017

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Senior tailbacks Aaron Landry and Steve Worthley are looking for a crown jewel on what has been a great run of success for the Frontier Regional football team.

Landry and Worthley, both seniors, have fit perfectly in coach Don Gordon’s double-wing rushing attack. The two have combined for 2,107 yards and 31 touchdowns this season.

“After we hit the defense in the mouth a few times, they start to break down and can’t take getting hit by a big lineman and the backs coming through the holes fast,” Landry said of an offense that often has the two backs throwing blocks for one another, a style Gordon called “very unselfish.”

The Red Hawks enter the Western Massachusetts Division 7 Tournament at 6-1 and with larger goals in sight. Frontier hosts South Hadley (5-3), Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal round.

“We’re definitely excited for the playoffs,” said the 5-foot-6, 165-pound Worthley, who has rushed for 1,036 yards and 16 touchdowns. “We’ll definitely be ready to go.”

Landry, at 5-9 and 180 pounds, has stood out with 1,139 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“I mean it’s all because of the line,” Landry said about his second consecutive 1,000 yard rushing season. “They open up those big gaping holes for me and get me to where I need to be.”

The chemistry with the offensive line runs deep.

“This isn’t one of those teams where the offensive line doesn’t get talked about,” said lineman Matt Carlson, a 6-3, 223-pound senior. “The first thing Aaron did after he got his 1,000 yards was thank the offensive line. We just have a really good chemistry between all our players on the field.”

Carlson is joined on the line by 5-10 Nate Austin, 5-10 Brandon Trueswell, 6-foot Joe Hildreth and 6-4, 310-pound center Xavier Santiago.

Many of those players, including Landry, Worthley and quarterback Matt Hildreth play defense as well.

Worthley, who recorded two fumble recoveries last Friday against Athol, said the value in that is huge.

“Whenever one of us makes plays, we’re all hyped up for each other and it gets us excited for each other on offense, so if anything it helps us,” he said.

Gordon, a former Frontier wrestling coach and math teacher, said the system is all about putting players in a position to succeed at their assignment.

“Very rarely do I ask them to block somebody straight on,” Gordon said, adding that giving players a good angle or a double team makes blocks easier. “It’s arithmetic and physics.”