HS Football Preview: Expect the unexpected

  • Mahar’s Jacob Tenney can reach the 1,000-yard mark for the season with 115 tonight against Mohawk Trail. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Mohawk quarterback Shawn Davenport breaks a tackle from Greefield’s Jake Perkins (30) for a gain the second quarter Thursday night at Pollard Field in Buckland. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier running back Ito McMillan runs for a first down under pressure from Chicopee’s Javari Dancy (12) in the first quarter Friday night at Szot Park in Chicopee. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Reports
Published: 11/14/2019 9:16:05 PM

We’re in that time of year where just about anything can happen on the high school football front.

With all our local teams eliminated from the postseason following semifinal exits from Frontier (Div. 7) and Mahar (Div. 8) last week, there is one final regular season matchup left before Thanksgiving Day games bring the fall to its conclusion later this month.

With postseason consideration no longer a factor, tonight’s games come down to pride. Teams are still playing to secure winning seasons, pursuing 1,000-yard rushing seasons, etc. Expect some trick plays, or teams feeling extra risky on fourth down. Expect the unexpected.

With no Thanksgiving game on the horizon this year following the suspension of the Turners Falls football program, Greenfield High School made the decision to end its season a week early. The Green Wave pulled themselves from non-playoff matchup consideration, and were not given an opponent for tonight’s set of games by the Western Mass. Football Committee. Greenfield will finish its 2019 campaign with a 4-5 overall record, good enough for fourth in the Intercounty League North at 3-3.

The other five local programs are all in action tonight, including a very interesting double-local matchup in Orange. All five teams playing tonight still have Thanksgiving games to look forward to, meaning they’ll hopefully use these games to create a bit of momentum leading into almost two weeks off between contests.

Here’s a closer look at the Recorder-area tilts tonight:

Mohawk Trail (5-3) at Mahar (6-3), 7

Though a consolation game, this matchup should be a good one.

The Senators are coming off a disappointing loss to Ware in the Div. 8 semifinals, but prior to that had been rolling through the competition. In the loss to the Indians, Mahar wasn’t able to establish the line of scrimmage, with quarterback Noaha Chabot consistently under pressure, leading to three interceptions. 

It’s been the Senator defense that had carried them to the tournament, not allowing more than 14 points in their last six games. 

Mahar running back Jacob Tenney needs 115 yards on the ground to be the area’s first 1,000-yard rusher on the season. 

The Warriors have won their last two games, including a blowout win over Greenfield in their first consolation game. 

The connection between quarterback Shawn Davenport and receiver Jaden Whiting has been building up all season, with Whiting catching nine passes in Mohawk Trail’s final regular season game against Drury. 

Playing in the pouring rain against the Wave, the Warrior defense stepped up to hold Greenfield to just 16 second-half yards. 

Expect a low-scoring, defensive affair on Friday in Orange. 

Athol (1-8) at Pathfinder (1-8), 7

After Friday’s victory over Smith Voke, the Red Raiders took the monkey off their back by capturing their first win of the season. 

It’s been a rough go for Athol all year long, with the team down to just 12 healthy bodies. Quarterback Caleb Cox willed the team to the win over the Vikings, rushing for three scores and throwing a pair of touchdowns. 

Running back Jacob Smith has carried the load for the Red Raiders late in the season, rushing for 82 yards last Friday. 

Taking on the Pioneers, Athol should have a good shot to earn its second win of the season. 

Pathfinder got blown out 42-0 on Friday against Franklin Tech, and have been victorious in just one contest this season. 

Ludlow (2-7) at Frontier (6-3), 7

This isn’t the game the Red Hawks wanted to be playing after falling to Chicopee in the Div. 7 semifinals. 

Ludlow’s record may not look good on paper, but don’t let it fool you, as the Lions played a tough Div. 5 schedule all season long. 

Frontier has a chance to prove it can hang with a higher-division team and should be evenly matched with Ludlow. The two teams both lost close games to Belchertown this season and suffered defeats to the Pacers. The Lions’ two wins came against Commerce and Putnam, two Div. 7 schools. 

Red Hawk running back Ito McMillan is currently second in the area in rushing yards with 809, with a big game setting him up to hit the 1,000-yard mark. 

Running back Jamonte Becket is a player to watch for Ludlow, as he is a large part of its offensive attack. 

The Lions defeated the Beavers last week to snap a seven-game losing skid. 

McCann Tech (5-3) at FC Tech (3-6), 7

The Eagles played one of their better games of the season last Friday, blowing out Pathfinder 42-0. 

Against a tougher McCann squad, Franklin Tech will need to bring a similar effort as last week to come out with a victory. 

The Hornets enter Friday riding high on a three-game win streak. 

Eagles running back Ian McClure powered home a trio of touchdowns in the win over the Pioneers last Friday. 

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