Week 3 Football: Mahar prepares for tough test against Northampton

  • The Mahar football team huddles around coach Percy Eady during practice on Thursday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

  • The Mahar football team runs through plays at practice on Thursday in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer
Published: 9/21/2023 6:26:47 PM
Modified: 9/21/2023 6:26:07 PM

The Mahar football team knows it’ll be facing one of its toughest tests of the year on Friday night. 

The Senators and the rest of western Mass. will play the final independent games on their schedule before league play begins next week. Mahar opened its independent slate with a tough loss to Hoosac before responding with a 7-0 win against McCann next week. 

On tap for Friday at the Woodward Complex? A test against Northampton, a team that went 7-1 and reached the MIAA Division 4 state tournament last fall. The Senators, for perspective, are a Div. 8 school.

It hasn’t been the start to the season the Blue Devils would have hoped for. Northampton was originally scheduled to play Belchertown in its season opener, but that game was moved back a day due to lightning. The postponed game was then pushed back due to weather and the third time the Blue Devils and Orioles tried to play, the game was canceled due to more lightning, with no postponed game set.

That led Northampton to open its season against Westfield last Friday. The Bombers — which made it to the Div. 3 state tournament last year — took it to the Blue Devils, holding a 41-0 lead in the second quarter that led to running clock the rest of the way. Westfield went on to win the game, 62-8. 

No matter the struggles in the opener, Mahar first-year head coach Percy Eady said at practice on Thursday that he knows the problems the Blue Devils will present and that he has been telling his team not to focus on the past, but rather put their best foot forward when the game kicks off. 

“A lot of it has been keeping the kids’ heads in it,” Eady said. “With social media and everything, they know what division everyone is in and they saw Northampton got beat up pretty good last week. I told them they can’t put any stock into that. At the end of the day, it’s a Friday night. Every game is 0-0 and that’s what we teach the kids. We have to treat this team with respect and understand it’s going to be a tough matchup.”

The Senators defense has come out flying to open the year, though the offense has gotten out to a slow start after scoring seven points in each of their first two games. 

The defense gave them a chance last week by shutting out the Hornets, and Eady said he’ll take a win no matter how it comes. 

“What it tells us is that our defense is where it needs to be at this point in the season,” Eady said. “Offensively you want to put up more than seven points but McCann is a really well-coached team. You could see that on the film. We do want to put up more points but at the end of the day, the ‘W’ is the most important thing.” 

With that said, seven points typically isn’t enough to consistently win football games. Going into the game against the Blue Devils, Eady said he hopes to see his offense gain some consistency and not have the mistakes that have prevented points from going on the board. 

“I’d like to see our offense be able to stay on track,” Eady said. “We’ve had some real bright moments and strong drives. It’s self-inflicted wounds that are keeping us from finishing drives. We’ve been able to look at that stuff, do some self reflection and figure that out.”

An opening day loss to Hoosac, a 38-7 defeat, opened the Senators’ eyes to the work they would need to put in in order to have the season they hope to accomplish. 

Mahar responded with a big win last week, cleaning up some of the mistakes they made in Week 1. With another week under their belts, the Sens are hoping to continue to make strides forward. 

“Week 1 was a little bit of a shock to us,” Eady said. “We definitely wanted to have a better performance against Hoosac Valley. It was a good humbling point. I think we’re more prepared to face a team like Northampton than we would be at other points in the season.” 

With the new postseason system, playing teams in a higher division will help your ranking no matter the result. Getting a win over Northampton would likely give Mahar a high boost in the rankings and would offer quite a boost to the Senators’ postseason hopes. 

“You have to get in the dance,” Eady said. “A win against Northampton would definitely vault us up the tournament standings. That’s the most important thing at the end of the day.” 

Elsewhere, Greenfield and Frontier will renew their rivalry at 7 p.m. on Friday in South Deerfield as the two schools close out their independent slates against one another. The Green Wave have had the Redhawks’ number the last couple of seasons, winning 30-9 last fall and 26-6 in 2021. 

Greenfield enters Friday coming off a 36-0 loss to South Hadley while Frontier was able to score a last-minute touchdown to defeat Franklin Tech in Week 2. 

Speaking of Tech, the Eagles will host Pathfinder at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Pioneers are coming off a loss to Athol last week. As for the Bears, they’ll look to stay unbeaten when they travel to the Berkshires to face Lee on Friday at 7 p.m. The Tigers went 6-2 a season ago and opened their 2023 campaign with a 14-13 loss to Monument before beating Lowell Catholic, 20-15, last week. 


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