High school football: Previewing Week 3 of the regular season
Last week the Berkshire Eagle unveiled its weekly Western Massachusetts football poll. The poll ranked the top 10 teams in Western Mass. based on votes by members of The Berkshire Eagle, Greenfield Recorder, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Berkshire Courier and iBerkshires. The initial poll had two Berkshire County teams ranked, with Taconic coming in a tie for No. 2, and Wahconah seeded at No. 7.
This week two more Berkshire County teams entered the poll with Hoosac Valley premiering at No. 9 and Pittsfield at No. 10. Taconic received one first-place vote, but dropped to No. 4. Wahconah held steady at No. 7. Both the Braves and Warriors have dominated their competition, but the upcoming weeks should better determine where these teams stand. Wahconah's outscored its competition by a 91-16 margin, but that margin should shrink due to a tough schedule ahead. All four of the Warriors next opponents are currently ranked in our poll. That murders' row starts out with a road trip to No. 6 West Springfield, followed by a road game against No. 10 Pittsfield, a home game against No. 8 South Hadley, and a game certain to have postseason implications — a home game against No. 4 Taconic. .
WAHCONAH AT WEST SPRINGFIELD, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
The Warriors (2-0) cannot get caught looking ahead, however, because the Terriers (2-0) will present them with an interesting challenge. The Terriers like to pass the ball, averaging 24.5 attempts over two games. Quarterback Tylor Rochefort is a capable passer and receiver Kyle Beane appears to be his favorite target. Wahconah's yet to be tested up front, on either side of the ball, so establishing running back Vaunell Hill early could pay big dividends for West Side — or at least open up play-action situations later in the game. After two big wins, the Warriors expect to play a four-quarter battle tonight. After their 56-10 win over Holyoke, coach Gary Campbell did not seem worried that his starters haven't played into the second half of either game. He said West Side coach Chad Labonte runs a great program, and his players know they have to come ready to play. This will be the Wahconah defense's first true test, but if it turns into a shoot-out, quarterback Will Genaway and receiver Connor Washburn have the ability to produce yardage in a hurry. Connor Noyes and Tanner Hastings are developing into a strong speed/power combination at running back, as well.
MOUNT GREYLOCK AT WARE, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
After Ware's 32-0 win over last year's Western Mass. Division IV runner-up McCann Tech, this match-up against Mount Greylock (2-0) could help determine the hierarchy in Division IV-A. Ware's spread offense presented a tough match-up for the Hornets, but that playing style is exactly what Mount Greylock is used to. Indians' quarterback Ryan Johnson ran for three scores and passed for another against McCann. Greylock quarterback Michael Wellspeak also had a big day last week, throwing three first-half touchdowns in a 48-7 win over Smith Voc. The Mounties passing attack has not missed a beat, as first-year starter Wellspeak is developing a strong connection with receiver Sean McCormack. Reilly Parker and the Mounties defense will be busy with Johnson, but their offense has more than enough playmakers to match any number Ware can put on the scoreboard.
WOODSTOCK (CONN.) AT PITTSFIELD, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
Pittsfield continues to dominate its opponents on both sides of the ball, improving to 2-0 with a 42-8 win over Ludlow last week. Edwin Rodriguez and Tyrell Boire had two touchdowns each, and that success on the ground should continue against Woodstock Academy of Connecticut. The Centaurs allowed 405 yards rushing to Turners Falls in a 44-40 loss. They scored 32 second-half points, showing the ability to produce offense quickly, but the inability to stop the run could be costly. Woodstock quarterback Jared Bouten can hurt teams with his arm and legs, and Kameron Janice is the side's lead running back.
DRURY AT PALMER, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
Drury (0-2) has a tough test ahead as the Blue Devils travel to face Palmer (2-0). Palmer earned a 35-20 win over Lee last week. Panthers quarterback Ryan McCarthy brought his team back from a 14-7 deficit, ending the game with four rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, they struggled against a dual-threat quarterback last week, losing 28-6 to Pioneer Valley. Pioneer quarterback Alex Tyson moved from receiver to under center and scored two touchdowns. Drury must play with more with more discipline this week, as penalties derailed several drives. On defense, the defensive backs have to do a better job of tracking the ball in the air and knocking away 50/50 balls. Running back Jamal Beda was one bright spot, going over 100 yards rushing and scoring once against Pioneer.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN AT ATHOL, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
One team will earn its first win in a showdown between two winless squads. Monument's run defense struggled in its 32-13 loss to Chicopee last week. Pacers running back Issaiah Jackson rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns. As a team, the Pacers rushed for 337 yards. Offensively, Monument running back Shamall Schoonmaker has established himself as the team's lead back. He rushed for 118 yard last week, giving him over 100 yards on the ground in two straight weeks. Athol lost to Gardner, 35-6, last week. If Monument wants to come out on top, its defensive front seven must control the line of scrimmage.
LEE AT PATHFINDER, 7 P.M., TONIGHT
Lee is still searching for its first win after a tough 35-20 defeat against Palmer. The Wildcats could not contain quarterback Ryan McCarthy, but the offense showed improvement after being shut out in Week 1. Running back Ryan Ruef threw a touchdown pass on a trick play, and quarterback Homer Winston threw his first touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. That progress is a positive sign for the 'Cats. Pathfinder (0-1) could not complete its comeback against Mohawk, losing 14-12. Keanan Decker is the team's main threat at running back, showing off his wheels with a 63-yard score. In a game that could be a defensive battle, Pathfinder quarterback/kicker Andrew Roman has good distance, making a 43-yard kick against the Mohawk.
MCCANN TECH AT PIONEER VALLEY, 1 P.M., SATURDAY
McCann Tech struggled to handle Ware's spread offense in its 32-0 loss last week. Ryan Johnson ran for three scores and threw for another and, depending on who's under center for Pioneer Valley, the Hornets could struggle again. Pioneer's Alex Tyson moved from receiver to quarterback for the injured Scott Perlberg in a 28-6 win over Drury. Tyson ran the offense well, executing fake hand-offs, bootlegs and play-action passes. He had three interceptions as a defensive back, as well. The Panthers dressed only 19 players last week, so McCann could wear down the undermanned Panthers. Look for Corbin Richardson and Dakota Bolte to get a lot of work, in efforts to take pressure of quarterback Mike Ferrara.
TACONIC AT ST. MARY'S (LYNN), 6 P.M., SATURDAY
Taconic (2-0) is playing some of the best football in Western Mass., as the Braves have come out of the gate firing on all cylinders. Taconic dominated Belchertown en route to a 72-6 win last week, and the Braves have outscored their opponents by a 114-19 margin. St. Mary's of Lynn is also 2-0, and the reigning Northern Mass. Division-V champion earned a 38-12 win over Lynn English last week. The new divisional alignments moved St. Mary's to Division III-A and Taconic to Division III so these teams will not be eligible meet in the postseason, but a strong performance against the Spartans could mark Taconic as the leader in the division. In order for the Braves to come out on top, they must stop dynamic quarterback Marcus Atkins and his favorite target Calvin Johnson. Taconic's secondary led by Jake McNeice and Zach Gage has been a strength the last few seasons, so the match-up will be fun to watch.
BYE WEEKS: HOOSAC VALLEY
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.