H.S. Football: Josiah Little topples 1,000-yard mark, Franklin Tech beats Smith Voc for 3rd win in a row on Thanksgiving (PHOTOS)

  • Franklin Tech sophomore tailback Josiah Little tries to elude the arms of a Smith Vocational tackler during the visiting Eagles’ 30-12 victory on Thursday morning in Northampton. Little totaled 206 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground, eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark for the second season in a row. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech’s Josiah Little, left, stiff-arms Smith Vocational’s Alex Martinez during a run in the Eagles’ 30-12 win on Thursday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech’s Maxon Brunette (15) pounces on the game’s opening kickoff to recover the ball for the Eagles during their 30-12 win over Smith Vocational on Thursday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech’s Dillon Gagnon (33) holds the trophy after the Eagles defeated Smith Vocational, 30-12, on Thursday morning in Northampton. At left is Charlie Boyden (60). STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech receiver William Ainsworth (9) is tackled by Smith Vocational’s Jared Baer (12) during the visiting Eagles’ 30-12 win on Thursday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Smith Vocational’s Aidan Peterson (25), left, rushes toward Franklin Tech quarterback Gabe Tomasi during the Eagles’ 30-12 win on Thursday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech’s Nathaniel Fuess (28), right, tries to take down Smith Vocational quarterback Alex Martinez during the visiting Eagles’ 30-12 victory on Thursday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Smith Vocational’s Jared Baer (12) runs the ball through the Franklin Tech secondary during the Vikings’ 30-12 loss on Thursday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

  • Franklin Tech quarterback Gabe Tomasi (4) winds up for a pass during the Eagles’ 30-12 win over Smith Vocational on Thursday morning in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/24/2022 2:33:29 PM
Modified: 11/24/2022 2:33:18 PM

NORTHAMPTON – It’s a budding rivalry, but the Franklin Tech football team put together an impressive performance on Thursday to notch the series’ first winning streak.

The visiting Eagles recovered an onside kick to open the game, and stormed out to an 18-0 lead early in the second quarter before ultimately holding off Smith Vocational, 30-12, in the fourth-ever meeting on Thanksgiving between the two schools.

It was the third win in a row for Franklin Tech (5-6), which now leads the series 3-1 after the Vikings captured the inaugural game in 2018.

“Rivalries, the good ones, are a series of runs,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “Right now we’ve won a couple in a row here but [Smith Vocational] can go on a run at any time. That’s what makes these games fun.”

Smith Vocational coach Alex Subocz said that while Thursday’s loss was disappointing, interest in one of Western Massachusetts’ newest Thanksgiving series is growing.

“I would say that the older kids, just their reactions after the game, I’d say there’s a legitimate rivalry here now,” Subocz offered. “We’ve just got to get the trophy back.”

Franklin Tech sophomore tailback Josiah Little went over the 1,000 yard mark for the second year in a row thanks to another impressive Thanksgiving ground feast. Little racked up 206 yards on 24 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, crossing the 1K threshold in the second quarter.

“He’s obviously had two really great seasons,” lauded Gamache of Little. “He’s not the kind of kid who is going to rest on his laurels. He’s definitely put a target on his back the next couple years because teams are going to have to game plan for him, but the good news is we’ve got a lot of talent around him.”

The Eagles set the tone from the game’s opening kickoff, as Maxon Brunette recovered an onside kick to set the visitors up in Smith Vocational territory. Ten plays later, Little bulled in for a 1-yard touchdown to make it 6-0 just 3 minutes, 3 seconds into the first quarter.

The lead doubled on the next Franklin Tech possession, when quarterback Gabe Tomasi hit Ethan Smarr for a 60-yard touchdown. The offense continued to roll on possession No. 3, when Little notched his second TD of the afternoon on a 5-yard score to stake the Eagles to an 18-0 lead with 7:17 to go in the second quarter.

“That was the first time since Week 1 against McCann where we got out to a really good start,” Gamache said. “It was nice to see. We’ve been preaching it for awhile now but the kids brought it today. They brought energy, brought life.”

Trailing by three scores, the Vikings (1-10) sprung to life on their ensuing possession. Quarterback Alex Martinez connected with Joseph Bonanno on the first play of the drive for a 52-yard touchdown up the sideline to get the hosts on the board and make it an 18-6 game.

“Our team has played hard all year. They’ve been an easy team to root for, a super fun group to coach,” Subocz said. “Even when they might not start great, or a bad thing happens, they stay together and they play hard. My favorite group so far that I’ve gotten to coach.”

Franklin Tech answered with a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter, when Jet Bastarache (4 carries, 50 yards) broke through a pack of would-be tacklers and turned on the after-burners for a 28-yard TD scamper to make it 24-6.

Smith Vocational put together its best drive of the day on the ensuing possession, as Martinez orchestrated a nine-play, 52-yard drive that chewed up nearly six minutes of clock and ended when the junior QB hit Jared Baer for a 4-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal to make it a 24-12 contest.

The Vikings had a chance to make it a one-score game in the fourth quarter, but the Eagles defense forced a turnover on downs near midfield, and Franklin Tech put the game out of reach on the ensuing drive when a steady diet of Little was capped with a 1-yard Bastarache TD on fourth down to make it 30-12 with 6:25 remaining.

Martinez finished 8-for-20 through the air for 122 yards and two TDs, and also ran for a team-high 59 yards on 12 carries. Smith Voc’s Adrian Loud racked up 44 yards receiving on four receptions.

Tomasi completed 9-of-24 passes for 159 yards and a score, and his nine completions were enough to claim the Franklin Tech single-season record in that department.

Smarr had three catches for 105 yards and a score for the Eagles, while Shaun Turner grabbed four receptions for 35 yards and William Ainsworth caught a pair of passes for 19 yards.

Martinez and Little were selected as the game’s Most Valuable Players for their respective teams.

“Looking at their numbers and knowing that they’re kind of young, they’ve got a lot of guys coming back next year, too. I think this tradition can continue, this rivalry can continue to grow,” Gamache said.

Subocz said the bar is only going up for the Vikings’ expectations next season.

“This year, some of our best players, this is year number two of them playing,” he said. “I’m hoping the offseason into next year, we hit the ground running to start the year ahead of where we’ve been.”


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