Taking the reins: Vance Eugene enters season as starting quarterback for Hoosac Valley football

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CHESHIRE — Three games into the 2016 season, the Hoosac Valley football team had a 1-2 record, coming off a 35-0 road loss to South Hadley.

The once lethal offense led by a dominant rushing attack was clearly in need of a spark: Enter quarterback Vance Eugene.

The rising junior began the season as a situational quarterback, entering in relief of starter Nick Waterman in packages designed to use his athleticism to create big gains.

Eugene got his first start of the season the following week against Taconic. The Hurricanes lost the game 39-14, but Eugene showed the ability to create splash plays, connecting with Waterman for a 55-yard touchdown.

The 'Canes finished with a 4-3 record in his seven starts, increasing their offensive production from 20.8 points per game in their first five games, to 38.8 over their final five games.

With the multi-dimensional threat now entrenched atop the depth chart, Hoosac is looking to build off the strong finish to last season.

"He's been doing a great job with it," Hoosac Coach Dayne Poirot said of Eugene taking over as the full-time starter. "He's going to take control of it, embrace it and do a good job."

Making a change at quarterback mid-season could be a tricky situation for the coaching staff and players to manage. Both Eugene and Waterman handled the situation well, and the pair remain close friends off the field. The chemistry shows on the field as well, with Waterman developing into Eugene's go-to target. The QB-turned-wideout amassed over 200 yards receiving over the final seven games.

"[Eugene's] done a great job of taking it over and the relationship with Nick and with the other kids has helped him out a ton," Poirot said. "They've done a good job working with each other and they all want to get better. That's the biggest part. They're going to do what they've got to do together and they're all going to help each other out."

Eugene showed the ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. He finished the season with 511 yards and five touchdowns through the air, and 425 yards and seven scores on the ground. He rushed for over 100 yards twice and had multiple rushing scores in three games.

Hoosac's new signal caller said he's ready to fill the shoes of successful 'Canes quarterbacks before him.

"Its a big spot to fill," he said. "It's a lot of pressure, but I'm working hard to try and get it done."

Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.


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