Schoolboy Football: High-flying Red Hawks at Athol tonight

  • Frontier running back Aaron Landry, shown running for a touchdown last week at home vs. Greenfield, has been a tough man to stop thus far, as Greenfield’s Nate Haselton (38) discovered Saturday during Frontier’s 40-12 Booster Day win. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Greenfield High School's Nate Haselton chases Frontier Regional School's Joe Morwaski as he runs the ball in for a touchdown during their game Saturday, October 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Frontier Regional School's Alperen Yildiz tackles Greenfield High School Collin Kosuda during their game Saturday, October 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Frontier Regional School's Myles Freeman attempts to maneuver around Greenfield High School's Nate Haselton before being tackled during their game Saturday, October 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Greenfield High School's RJ Byrd, is tackled by Frontier Regional School's Myles Freeman during their game Saturday, October 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Greenfield High School's RJ Byrd runs the ball down the field for a touchdown Saturday, October 8. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Athol 12 Trevor Mousseau Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol football coach Bill LaRose Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol 12 Trever Mousseau Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/13/2016 11:11:03 PM

It’s time for some separation atop the Intercounty League North standings.

Athol High School plays host to Frontier Regional School tonight at 7 at O’Brien Field in Athol, which pits two of the three teams tied at the top of the IL North along with Turners Falls High School. The winner will be one step closer to the postseason, while the loser will have some ground to make up.

That is one of five games on tap this weekend featuring local high school football teams. The other big-name game of the night will be at the Bourdeau Fields Complex in Turners Falls at 7 where the mythical “Battle for the Mayor’s Cup” will take place between Turners Falls and Franklin County Technical School.

In other action this evening, Mohawk Trail Regional High School will look to score an upset as it hosts IL West-leading and unbeaten Mount Greylock Regional High School at 7, and Mahar Regional School plays host to Amherst Regional High School in a midseason independent tilt.

The weekend concludes on Saturday afternoon in Northfield, where Pioneer Valley Regional School celebrates Booster Day by hosting Pathfinder Regional Technical High School at 1.

Tonight’s matchup in Athol has plenty of intrigue when it comes to the postseason, as Frontier and Athol are both currently battling for the final spot in the WMass Division 4 field, according to the Boston Herald’s Jim Clark, who compiles all the rankings across the state. Wahconah Regional High School and Palmer High School are both 5-0 and atop the standings, while South Hadley is third at 3-2, helped out by its strength of schedule. Frontier (4-0) and Athol (3-2) are fourth and fifth in the rankings.

Frontier’s number suffers a bit because three of its first four games came against Division 4A opponents, which makes the game against Athol all the more important for the Red Hawks moving forward. But in reality this game is more important to the Red Raiders, as a loss would really make things difficult for Athol to get into the postseason.

Frontier is playing as good as anyone in the county, and the offense has rolled along, scoring 184 points in four games, an average of 46 per game. The success has come on the shoulders of its three-headed backfield monster in Aaron Landry, Seth Gewanter and Steve Worthley. Landry leads the backs with an eye-popping 671 yards on just 41 carries this season, an average of over 16 yards per haul. He has also scored 11 touchdowns, an average of one every four carries.

Gewanter has 40 carries for 311 yards, and Worthley has 332 on 36 hauls, as the workload has been spread around almost evenly. And when Frontier does ask quarterback Myles Freeman to put the ball in the air, he has been accurate, going 7-for-11 for 258 yards. His 62-yard touchdown pass to Cole Price last week was the second passing touchdown of the season for Freeman, and he has yet to throw an interception.

Defensively, Frontier has put in a solid effort, although the numbers are a bit skewed due to the blowouts. After giving up 40 points in a 42-40 win over Easthampton High School three weeks ago, the Red Hawks have been a bit stingier in their last two games. Frontier allowed just 14 points in the first half in a 66-28 win over Franklin Tech two weeks ago, the Hawks shut out Greenfield in the first half last week.

Athol has also played well after dropping its first two independent games of the season. The Red Raiders have quietly been one of the stingiest defenses in the IL North in the past three weeks. Athol posted back-to-back shutout wins before allowing 13 points to the Tech school last week. Athol will have to be at its best to shut down the Hawks’ offense.

Like Frontier, Athol also spreads the wealth around in the backfield. Tyler Lutz is the lead back with 37 carries for 410 yards, while Robbie Nelson has carried the ball more frequently as the team’s fullback, rushing 52 times for 323 yards. Nick Casella has 32 carries for 161 yards, and Mason Barrieau has 20 hauls for 112 yards.

This is the first of three straight weeks of games featuring the top three in the IL North. Athol will host Turners Falls next week, and in the final week of the regular season Frontier plays host to Turners Falls. By the end of it all, things should take shape as to who is the IL North’s best team.

Tonight

FC Tech at Turners Falls — The Indians are the top ranked team in the unofficial Division IV-A playoff rankings, well ahead of second-placed Lee (3-2) and third-place Ware (3-1). ... The Eagles broke a seven-game losing streak against Turners in 2010. Last season Turners earned a 20-12 win, the first time the teams have met since 2010. .. Turners running back Quinn Doyle is just 140 yards away from 1,000 for the season. … The Eagles were dealt a pair of blows in their backfield during last week’s loss to Athol. Dylan Mailloux, who is second in the area in rushing yards with 677 on the season, suffered an injury and is out against Turners Falls. Tyler Sakowicz, who was serving as the backup last week, also went down with an injury and is out this week. The Eagles do get backup Spencer Telega back this week after he missed last week with an injury, and he will play behind Bailey Young, who gets the start after rushing just three times for 3 yards last week.

Mount Greylock at Mohawk — This could very well serve as an elimination game for the Division IVA playoffs — the Mounties (5-0) are currently fourth in the playoffs, while the Warriors (3-2) are fifth. Greylock is in a much better position for now, but this is a must-win game for Mohawk. ... The Mounties are 5-1 against area teams since 2009, only losing to Frontier in 2014. … Mt. Greylock returned to the Intercounty League this season for the first time in over three decades. The teams have not met since they both resided in the old IL.

Amherst at Mahar — The Senators (1-4) play their third independent game tonight, having split the previous two contests — losing to Gerylock, 35-8, and beating Ludlow, 20-7. ... Mahar won last year’s meeting, 35-28, the first time the teams have met in the regular season since Amherst moved out of the IL over three decades ago. … Mahar has not rushed for 100 yards as a team in either of the previous two weeks. The Senators rushed for just 88 yards on 36 carries two weeks ago against Athol, then netted just 40 yards on 35 hauls last week against Turners Falls. Much of last week’s lost yardage came as the offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Sam Paul, who was sacked seven times. … Despite the pressure, Paul had his best week of the season throwing the ball against the Indians, completing 5-of-9 passes for 141 yards and two scores, all of which came in the first half. … The Mahar defense has allowed 20 or more points in all but one game this season.

Saturday

Pathfinder at Pioneer — The Panthers (2-2, 0-2) have the area’s best defense to date, allowing just 10.0 points per contest. There may not be much of a change because the Pioneers (0-4, 0-2) have managed just 25 points in their first four games (6.3 ppg). ... Pioneer is currently sixth in the unofficial Division IV-A rankings and must win in order to move up or keep pace with the top five. … Bryce Dobosz joined two other area rushers in going over 200 yards in a single game last week when he rushed for 213 yards on 36 carries in a 14-7 loss to Palmer. Dobosz, who now has 484 yards in three games this season, joined Turners Falls’ Doyle and Franklin Tech’s Mailloux in going over 200 yards in a game. … Pioneer also started last season 2-2 overall, but lost it’s fifth game of the season. The last time Pioneer was over the .500 mark after five games (something it would be with a win on Saturday) was in 2013, when it opened the season 3-1. … Pioneer is also looking for its first Tri-County League win of the season after starting league play 0-2. Oddly enough, the Panthers went 2-0 against two IL West opponents to start the season, a division generally considered to be tougher than the TCL.




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