High school football Week 4 preview: League play gets underway
After three weeks of independent football, league play is finally underway for most Berkshire County teams. This gives football fans a first look at the new alignments of the Berkshire County-PVIAC merger. For a quick refresher: Western Mass. football media poll No. 10 Hoosac Valley, No. 8 Pittsfield, No. 5 Taconic and No. 4 Wahconah are in the Suburban North. Lee, Drury, Mount Greylock and McCann Tech are in the Intercounty West. Monument Mountain is in the Intercounty South. While the traditional Berkshire County league is no longer (at least for now), there will still be county match-ups within the new divisions, and there's also a chance to develop new rivalries with PVIAC foes. Somes team only have a league title to play for, while other teams have sights set on a Western Massachusetts title. One game with significance in both the Division III and IV championship races is tonight as unbeaten Pittsfield welcomes another 3-0 team in Wahconah.
NO. 4 WAHCONAH AT NO. 8 PITTSFIELD, 7 P.M. FRIDAY
No. 4 Wahconah (3-0, 0-0) answered its biggest test to date with its 29-14 win over West Springfield last Friday. The Warriors showed they can make second-half adjustments, holding the Terriers scoreless in the second half. They allowed one long scoring run to Vaunell Hill, but Kyle Noyes, Matt Cedar and company forced the Terriers to really grind out yards for most of the game. Wahconah's allowing an average of 10 points per game, but No. 8 Pittsfield could have the most explosive offense they've seen. The Generals (3-0, 0-0) are averaging 41 points per game, as quarterback Tyrell Boire seems to be coming into his own. He went 8 of 9 passing for 159 yards and two scores in a 52-36 win over Woodstock (Conn.). He added two scores on the ground as well. Edwin Rodriguez continued his strong start to the season with 225 yards rushing and four total scores. He's had at least 100 yards rushing and two scores in every game. Wahconah's talent up front combined with its strength and speed was on full display last week. Can Pittsfield control the line of scrimmage and create room for its playmakers? Anything is possible in this intense rivalry game.
NO. 10 HOOSAC VALLEY AT NO. 9 SOUTH HADLEY, 7 P.M. FRIDAY
Coming off a bye week, No. 10 Hoosac Valley (1-1, 0-0) had an additional week to prepare for a tough South Hadley team.
The No. 9 Tigers (2-1, 0-0) lost to Northampton 12-7 on a fourth-quarter score last week. Before that defensive battle, the Tigers had scored 54 and 40 points respectively, so Northampton deserves credit for slowing them down. Hoosac struggled to stop the pass in its loss to Westfield Week 1, but South Hadley is a more ground-oriented team led by running back Jason Fernandes. Off the bye, Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot should have his player in position to make plays.
One wrinkle that is worth watching is how they use Vance Eugene. The versatile player can take snaps under center, giving the 'Canes more mobility at quarterback. Expect him to get the ball in multiple ways.
MCCANN TECH VS. MOUNT GREYLOCK, 7 P.M., FRIDAY AT BILL LASTON FIELD IN LANESBOROUGH
In a game that looked crucial to the outcome of the Intercounty West and Division IV-A at the start of the season, McCann Tech has struggled to duplicate last year's success ahead of this rivalry matchup. Greylock is off to a strong start after answering its toughest test to date with a 34-27 win over Ware last week. Conversely, McCann (1-2) lost 21-6 against Pioneer Valley and had its quarterback leave the game with an injury. The Hornets' secondary continued to struggle against the Panthers allowing over 100 yards through the air. If they cannot fix their problems on the back end, expect a big day from Greylock's receiving corps. Sean McCormack, Brandon Condon and Cal Filson are all dangerous receiving options. McCann's Andrew Koch filled in for the injured Mike Ferrara at quarterback, but asking the sophomore to step in and win a shootout could end poorly. Corbin Richardson and Dakota Bolte must improve on last week's 65 combined yards if the Hornets want to hand Greylock its first loss of the season.
MONUMENT MOUNTAIN AT AMHERST, 7 P.M. FRIDAY
Monument's offense continued to struggle in its 34-0 loss to Athol. The Spartans managed just 189 total yards, with 182 coming on the ground. Shamaal Schoonmaker led the way with 70 yards rushing. The offense has been losing steam, scoring 22 points in Week 1 and 13 in Week 2. In addition to a stagnant offense, poor execution put Monument in bad spots defensively with a blocked punt and an interception. They'll have a chance to right the ship against struggling Amherst (0-3, 0-0). The Hurricanes are winless, but they've been improving on offense each week, losing a close 30-24 game to Turners Falls last week.
LEE AT MOHAWK, 7 P.M. FRIDAY
Confidence is high for Lee after its 31-0 win over Pathfinder last week. Not only did the offense finally get going, but the defense dominated the entire game, not allowing a first down until the fourth quarter. As the season progresses, the Wildcats' young players Homer Winston and Ben Harding should continue to develop chemistry and confidence. Mohawk just squeaked out a 14-12 win over Pathfinder in Week 2, and lost 28-0 to Franklin Tech last week. A win against Mohawk sets up home games against Drury and Ware, followed by a road trip to Mount Greylock. If Lee continues to improve, the trip to Williamstown could decide the Intercounty West.
SMITH VOCATIONAL AT DRURY, 1 P.M., SATURDAY
In a non-league game, Smith Vocational and Drury face off in a battle between two struggling programs. The teams have combined for eight wins over the last two seasons, and the winner of Saturday's match will have its first victory of the season. Drury seems to be trending backward, after losing 42-6 to Palmer last week. The Blue Devils have managed only two touchdowns after Week 1's 18-point performance. Smith Voc had a bye last week, so the additional week of preparation could help the Vikings. Drury won its meeting with Smith Voc. last season, and it certainly has the playmakers to put up points against the Vikings. The Blue Devils most focus on the details if they want to have success.
CHICOPEE VS. NO. 5 TACONIC, 7 P.M., SATURDAY AT WAHCONAH PARK
Both programs entered last week riding high off two dominating performances. However, both teams tasted defeat for the first time last week and back-to-back losses could derail the season for squads with postseason aspirations. No. 5 Taconic lost to last year's Division V state semifinalist St. Mary's 40-12. The combination of quarterback Marcus Atkins and receiver Calvin Johnson was too much for the Braves. For the Colts, they lost 28-21 to rival Chicopee Comp. Running back Issaiah Jackson is Chicopee's main threat, so Tyrell Council, Brandon Peaslee and the rest of the Taconic front seven will need to be up to the task of stopping the explosive runner. For the Braves offense, running back Anthony Whiteley was slowed down for the first time all season against the Spartans. Whiteley should be ready to run, and his success — or lack of success — on the ground could be the deciding factor of the game.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252
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