Week 2 H.S. Football Preview: Mohawk Trail co-op makes debut against FC Tech

  • The new-look Mohawk Trail football team practices on Tuesday afternoon in Buckland in preparation of tonight’s season-opener against Franklin Tech. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield quarterback Jake Sak throws downfield for a first down against Lee in action last week. Sak and the Green Wave seek their first win tonight at Smith Voke. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writers
Published: 9/12/2019 8:47:36 PM

The high school football season swings into full gear today, as all six Recorder area teams are in action.

Our Game of the Week takes place this afternoon in Buckland. Fans will get their first glimpse of the brand new Mohawk Trail cooperative program with Turners Falls, as the Warriors welcome Franklin County Technical School to Pollard Field for a 4 p.m. kickoff due to the threat of EEE in the area.

Last year, the teams met in Week 1 in what was Franklin Tech’s first-ever home night game. It was a night to remember for the Eagles, as they rolled to a 44-6 victory over the Warriors.

“Joe (Gamache) always runs a tough bunch of kids over there,” Mohawk coach Doug McCloud said. “They will be a handful. He will have them well prepared.”

This time around, both teams enter the 2019 campaign with a plethora of unanswered questions on the field.

Let’s start with Mohawk Trail, which is certainly a program surrounded by intrigue. With the additions of several new faces from Turners Falls, the team hopes it can make some noise in what will be a wide-open Tri-County League this fall.

Quarterback Shawn Davenport had a good sophomore season as the team’s starter. The junior has good size and a big arm, and he’s got some weapons at his disposal this fall. If everything aligns, Davenport should be one of the best signal callers in Franklin County this fall.

“We are going to run our stuff,” McCloud said. “If we can run our stuff like we are supposed to, we will be fine. If we can’t, it will be a long day.”

Speaking of those weapons, keep your eyes on how quickly Davenport and senior wide receiver Jaden Whiting gel. Whiting comes over from Turners Falls after a solid 2018 season where he caught 24 passes for 341 yards and four touchdowns.

Mohawk also adds the services of Ryan Duclos, who brings toughness to the offensive line and the defense.

“They are good athletes,” McCloud said. “They are all going to be involved. They are all enthusiastic and are all great kids. Coach Lapointe did a great job with those kids.”

Davenport has familiar targets back in juniors Cam Lococo and Matthew Pollen. Lococo caught four touchdowns a year ago, and Pollen provides some muscle over the middle. Add in the reliable Evan Shippee, who caught 12 passes out of the backfield last year to go with nearly 500 rushing yards, and there is the potential for an impressive offense.

“They have the potential to be one of the stronger teams in the Tri-County League so it’s a real big test for us right out of the gates,” Franklin Tech head coach Joe Gamache said.

How quickly with the rest of the Turners Falls players make their mark? We should find out today against a Franklin Tech team that will provide a challenge before the Warriors enter the Tri-County League slate next week against Smith Voke.

“We’re not really looking forward to being the Guinea pig in this process,” Gamache said with a laugh. “I think Mohawk has a decent crop of kids that played really tough last year as a smaller group. So they have some talented athletes returning already, and you add to the mix some athletes from Turners that have experienced success and high-caliber football ... they’re going to be a pretty formidable opponent no matter who they play.”

Meanwhile, the Eagles have good numbers in their program but must find the right combination of players in order to be successful in today’s opener. Gamache is excited about the return of senior tight end Colby Mailloux, who tore his ACL in the opener against Mohawk Trail last season and missed the rest of the year. As a sophomore in 2017, Mailloux caught three touchdowns. Owen Bashaw will take the snaps under center for Tech. The junior quarterback made eight starts in 2018, throwing for 258 yards and four touchdowns against six interceptions. He threw a pair of TDs in the Thanksgiving Eve loss to Smith Voke. Junior Ryan Bergmann is someone to watch in the backfield as a new starter at tailback.

The Eagles finished 3-8 overall a year ago, and Gamache said he’s hoping a fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.

“We’re trying to regain our footing,” the coach said. “Last year was a down year for us. We’re excited about what we have coming back. Defensively, we have a lot of kids back who gained some experience last year, and I think we have a few more playmakers on offense than we have in the past. We’ll see.”

Here’s a closer look at the rest of tonight’s games:

Greenfield at Smith Voke, 6

One week after failing to score a point against a tough Lee High School squad, the Green Wave are seeking a better result tonight when they travel for an independent game against Smith Voke at 6 p.m.

While Greenfield’s offense was held off the board in a 16-0 loss to Lee at Vets Field last week, the Wave did look solid on the other side of the ball. Head coach Mike Kuchieski was not displeased with what he saw from his team, and has every confidence in the world that Greenfield will improve throughout the fall.

“We’ll get better every week,” Kuchieski said after the loss to Lee. “That’s what our focus is going forward.”

As for the host Vikings, Keith Lebeau becomes the sixth head coach in just seven years as a program, but the team is certainly on improved footing than previous years after enjoying its most success in program history last fall. Smith Voke went 5-5 in 2018, capping off the campaign with a win over Franklin Tech on Thanksgiving Eve.

On the field, sophomore Caden Guimond gets the start at quarterback, with junior Eric Leet returning in the backfield. The offensive line lost three starters to graduation, and the trenches are where Greenfield should have a sizable advantage.

 Athol at Quabbin, 7 

The Red Raiders face a daunting independent road trip tonight at Alumni Field in Barre.

Athol faced a rash of injuries heading into the season opener. Most notably Keegan Lutz, who is the starting running back and safety.  Christian Casillas is also out for the Red Raiders. Casillas’ absence leaves a hole at linebacker and at guard.

Athol’s starters against the talented Panthers could include several players without varsity experience.  

“We are undermanned right now,” Athol coach Bill LaRose said.

Quabbin can vary its offensive attack with running formations and the spread. 

Quabbin has several running backs including Noah Herzig, Hector Johnson and Ben Weah.

Herzig gained 428 yards and scored four touchdowns on 79 carries last year. 

McCann at Mahar, 7

If last year’s meeting was any indication, points may be at a premium in Orange tonight.

McCann Tech comes to the Woodward Complex for a 7 p.m. contest against host Mahar, as both teams open 2019 with what looks like a competitive game.

A year ago, Mahar outgained the Hornets on the road in North Adams, but couldn’t break through on the scoreboard. Host McCann threw a 27-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to account for the game’s only points in a 6-0 victory.

Second-year head coach Tony Skiffington has a veteran offensive line at his disposal, and McCann’s Darian Tovani takes over as the starting quarterback. Darius Tovani and Josh Brazeau should see the bulk of the Hornets’ carries.

Mahar returns starting QB Noaha Chabot, though there won’t be many familiar faces around him. The Senators graduated their top three rushers from a year ago, meaning Jake Tenney and Austin Matthews are the favorites to pick up that load. Expect senior receiver Charlie Barnes to make his presence felt at some point.

Frontier at Monument Mt., 7

Can the Red Hawks shake off a disappointing opener?

Frontier kicks off its Intercounty League North schedule with a road trip to Great Barrington tonight to play Monument Mountain (1-0). Considered by many to be the favorites in the IL North this fall, the Hawks dropped an 8-7 decision to Belchertown in an independent contest last week and now turn their attention to righting the ship.

Frontier was without the services of senior quarterback Garrett DeForest for most of the Belchertown loss, as he exited with a shoulder injury late in the first quarter and did not return. Backup quarterback Sam Schreiber came on, but the Hawks were unable to score any points the rest of the way. Their lone touchdown came in the opening stanza when DeForest ran a punt back 44 yards for a score.

Will a week of preparation do the trick for the Frontier offense?

Monument is a newcomer to the IL North, giving the league a Berkshire County flavor this season. In their opener last week, the Spartans edged Drury, 14-6, at home. Jack O’Brien ran for a game-high 104 yards, Ashton Aloisi finished with 54, and each scored a touchdown in the victory.

Monument went just 2-8 last year, the lone wins coming against Pathfinder and Drury. The Spartans offense struggled mightily in 2018, getting shut out five times and losing five games by 30 or more points.


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