Hoosac Valley and Taconic to play for the D-V football title

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Film study for football teams is a great way to learn about your upcoming opponent and serves as a tool to correct mistakes made during previous games.

For Taconic, however, its 51-14 loss to Hoosac Valley in Week 7 may be a painful experience to re-live. Hoosac scored 44 points in the first half, including 24 points off three turnovers. The Hurricanes allowed just 213 total yards, including limiting Braves' running back Anthony Whiteley to 50 yards on 11 carries.

Taconic and Hoosac will meet again tonight in the Western Massachusetts Division V championship game at Northampton High School. Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot said his team spent the week approaching the game as if they did not force the early momentum-swinging turnovers.

"We reviewed the game and spent this week talking about the game. We said these are the mistakes [Taconic] made," he said. "We took a look at the whole picture, to see what the game would've be like otherwise,"

While it may seem worthwhile to bury the film of the previous meeting, Taconic coach Jim Ziter said re-watching the game is a great teaching opportunity.

"We have to correct the errors," Ziter said. "The mistakes, turnovers and penalties, we're trying to coach them up and move forward. ... You're not going to beat anybody with penalties and mistakes."

The Hurricanes may want to re-watch last year's Division V championship game against Pittsfield as well. Similar to this season, Hoosac was the top seed, facing off against an underdog team from Pittsfield. The 'Canes had a late lead, but Pittsfield quarterback Chad Shade led a 66-yard touchdown drive, scoring on third-and-1 with 14 seconds left in the game, clinching the win.

"We talked about how we need to finish," Poirot said, in reference to last year's loss. "Nothing is going to be handed to us. All that matters is what's going to happen [Friday] night."

Even with the lessons learned from last year's defeat, the Hurricanes have a reason to feel confident about their chances. In addition to a smothering defensive performance against the Braves, everything Hoosac called on offense seemed to work. They averaged 7.25 yards per carry and 16 yards per completion.

Again, Ziter said film study will be critical in shoring up the defense, as their aggressiveness actually worked against them.

"They countered us, so we have to make them aware of the counter [run]," he said. "Counters, sweeps, its about knowing your job and being disciplined. Be aggressive within your responsibility."

The status of Whiteley is uncertain after he suffered an injury last week against Pittsfield. Cedric Rose filled in for Whiteley, but he must improve his ball security. That should come from increased reps during practice.

Ziter added that its important to maintain drives on offense. Against the Generals, a 64-yard touchdown pass from Jake McNeice to Devon Walker proved to be the winning score. While Taconic certainly has big-play ability with Whiteley and Walker, Hoosac's defense led by Jameson Coughlan and Jake Swistak does not allow big plays. The Hurricanes have allowed an average of 13 points per game on the season.

Offensively for Hoosac, David Critelli, Avery Hall and Brenden Ellsworth do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. Look for the 'Canes to lean on the run and take advantage of their size up front.

The first quarter could be critical in deciding the outcome of the game. Taconic committed turnovers on its first two possessions of the game, leading to a quick 16-6 deficit. The slow starts by the Braves may be a function of nerves, even with the advantage in experience, Hoosac is taking nothing for granted.

"Experience is great, but each year is a new year," Poirot said. "We're going to treat every game as a new week. You need to earn everything you get and know somebody else is working just as hard as you."

Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252


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