The Berkshire County football season officially returns today with seven of the county’s eight teams taking the Friday night spotlight.
Six of the eight teams will remain in the Berkshires this weekend with Drury headed to Athol and Taconic making a trip to East Longmeadow. McCann Tech is home on Saturday.
Additionally, Pittsfield Community Television created “Berkshire County High School Football Game of the Week” for the upcoming season. PCTV sports will choose a different game to broadcast live each week on Pittsfield ETV Channel 1302 in Pittsfield, the PCTV Select App on Roku and AppleTV, and PCTV’s Facebook page.
“We had great success and tremendous feedback from the viewing public during last year’s productions held at Berkshire Community College,” Bob Heck, Coordinator of Advancement and Community Production at PCTV, as well as the station’s lead play-by-play announcer, said in a recent release. “We decided to create the High School Game of the Week broadcast to build on those efforts. We hope that the expanded coverage for teams throughout the county has a great impact for the players, their schools and families, and the entire region.”
PCTV’s first game features the Wahconah Warriors and Pittsfield Generals. Additional “Games of the Week” are yet to be announced and PCTV may adjust the schedule based on matchups and playoff implications.
There isn’t much information to share prior to Week 1 and we’ve provided the background of each team in individual stories that can be found throughout this post. For full game stories from the weekend delivered right to your inbox, subscribe to The Huddle newsletter at BerkshireEagle.com/newsletter. With that in mind, let’s cut to the chase and talk matchups.
Game of the Week: Pittsfield at Wahconah, 7 p.m., Friday
It didn’t take too long to decide where most of Berkshire County’s attention will likely be on Friday.
A 35-yard scamper by Emmanuel Nda and a six-yard run by quarterback Patrick Rindfuss headlined Pittsfield’s 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to defeat Wahconah back on April 23.
That 34-28 win by Pittsfield was a high point for a team that finished the Fall II season with a perfect 4-0 record. This time around, Friday’s matchup between the Warriors and Generals can set the tone for the season’s next seven games.
Pittsfield’s offense starts with Rindfuss, especially since Nda, who had 112 rushing yards against Wahconah in the spring, graduated. The team also saw playmakers Sincere Moorer and Anthony Johnson graduate.
With that in mind, Rindfuss and Pittsfield’s powerful O-line is the heart of the offense and it’ll be up to Wahconah’s front-seven to not be washed out and maintain lane assignments. No stat (outside of the score, of course) can tell the story of a game, but Pittsfield’s yards-per-attempt on the ground will come close.
Much like Rindfuss, Wahconah’s starting quarterback was also under center as a sophomore. Ryan Scott tossed three touchdown passes in 2019 while filling in for the injured Quinn Gallagher. However, Gallagher was a senior in the spring and Scott missed most of the Fall II season with an injury.
The Warriors also have to replace the volume of receiver Jon Render and running back Zach Archambault. Jonah Smith is the only returner to score against Pittsfield in the spring and his big-time playmaking ability will come in handy (133 yards and three touchdowns against Lee) early as the Warriors get comfortable on that side of the ball.
Additionally, with Scott’s track record as a successful passer, senior 6-foot-3 receiver Luke Dicicco sticks out as a potential difference-maker.
Dalton will host arguably the best Berkshire County showdown of the year on Friday, it’s just a shame it is early in the season and not when leaves are falling in late October. That though, is just an outsider’s perspective because both of these coaches, and both of these teams, couldn’t care less when or where this game would be played — they’ll enter the white lines prepared for one of the biggest tests of the year.
Lee at Monument Mountain, 7 p.m., Friday
The Wildcats gave their seniors a strong sendoff this spring with a handful of big performances throughout the Fall II season. Wildcat coach Keith Thomson will be the first to say that there are a lot of new names on Lee’s starting depth chart.
Lee could do a bit of everything with quarterback Jimmy Purcell, running back Gabe Kelley and pass-catchers Luke Patella and Averin Paradise. While most of the big names from Lee’s Western Mass. title in 2019 have graduated, there are now plenty of touches available for the next wave of ‘Cats.
Communication is the biggest variable in implementing so many new players and Thomson will likely look at the trenches with Eliot Winston and pound the ball with Cam Tyer and Cam Freeman.
Lee will get the first look at Monument Mountain, a potential wildcard in the Intercountry North. The Spartans played in a couple games in Fall II, but I don’t think those teams provide the proper context to what the team will look like this season.
The spring featured rock fights for Monument and this bunch is looking to put up points in coach Daren Carlson’s second season. Look for the Spartans to spread things out and let senior quarterback Hunter DeGrenier make plays.
It is no secret that Lee likes to keep quarterbacks on their heels and it’ll be up to DeGrenier to take advantage of that aggressiveness. This one may ultimately come down to if Monument’s offense can catch fire — or if Lee can stomp out the Spartan sparks.
Northampton at Hoosac Valley, 7 p.m., Friday
It just seems like chilly Berkshire County games were meant to be played at Renfrew Park in Adams. The Hurricanes don’t necessarily have an identity crisis this fall as a senior-heavy team.
Quarterback Carson Meczywor and running back Aaron Bush is a great place to start when looking at Hoosac Valley and if Fall II taught us anything, the Hurricanes can put up numbers. The spring featured two 40-point games for Hoosac.
Speaking of big-time games, Northampton put up 69 points on senior night against Putnam last season. Senior Trevor Maslowski will play defensive back and receiver for the Blue Devils and Ben Sledzieski will be under center for his junior season.
The team also has a pair of senior fullbacks in Dominic Badorini and Zev Hiranandani.
For the Hurricanes, it is all about keeping the train on the tracks. They have the talent, now its time to showcase the communication and execution as an experienced bunch.
Taconic at East Longmeadow, 7 p.m., Friday
The Fall II season was a feeling-out period for Taconic and now it is time to start marching forward.
The Green and Gold showed the willingness to take to the air in the spring and first-year starter Matt McIntosh will have his fair share of weapons out wide.
Sean Harrigan is arguably the county’s best playmaker entering the season with his ability to track the ball, secure it and then make others miss after the catch. Harrigan, along with fellow receiver Dezequiel Merced, are the team’s two seniors, but tight end Damon Foster is another weapon for McIntosh to connect with.
Taconic, being a young team, is still in the process of establishing its identity, but a quick path to passing go and collecting $200 is through the air. Taconic’s strength is the passing attack and if McIntosh can create chemistry with his receivers, a path to the postseason becomes much clearer. Defensively, Merced and Harrigan are in the secondary. If Taconic can develop a lead, suddenly opponents will be forced to throw the ball. One miscue in the direction of Merced and Harrigan is all it takes to throw a game plan right out the window.
Drury at Athol, 7 p.m., Friday
The Drury Blue Devils are back to being the Drury Red and Blue Devils this fall. Mount Greylock and Drury are reunited as a co-op and to say it raises the ceiling of this team is an understatement.
Both Drury and Mount Greylock lacked depth in the Fall II season, suddenly there is depth, talent and playmakers everywhere you turn. Drury senior Anthony Pettengill is competing with Greylock’s Ben McDonough for the quarterbacking gig.
If McDonough is named the starter, Pettengill will likely still remain on the field as he can line up in the slot or in the backfield. Additionally, junior Louis Guillotte is poised for a breakout season and every time he needs a rest, sophomore JayShawn Moore made the most of a hefty workload this spring. With Pettengill at quarterback, expect Drury’s ground game to attack opposing defenses with plenty of unique looks.
The conversation about Drury’s offense has to include the tight end duo of Tim Brazeau and Dom Carnevale if McDonough starts. Carnevale showcased chemistry with McDonough throughout the spring.
Suddenly, Drury has depth and a few different ways to approach the season on the offensive side of the football.
Athol enters the fall with just 22 players. If Drury can mesh and hit the ground running, the Tri-County could have its hands full dealing with the athletes from Northern Berkshire County.
Franklin Tech at McCann Tech, 1 p.m., Saturday
The Hornets did not partake in the Fall II season and will have to wait one day longer to finally play in a game.
Fourth-year coach Tony Skiffington is learning the names of 22 players who have never taken a snap at the varsity level. With just 10 returners, McCann is leaning on senior captains Jason Knapp, Austin Richardson and Seneca Bolte — especially early in the year.
As a team that prides itself on defense, the key for McCann Tech is limiting mistakes. One 15-yard penalty hurts much more when it is a battle for field position. Franklin Tech finished 0-4 in the Fall II season but is returning senior Chad Adams and junior Ryan Demers at running back. Gabe Tomasi, a sophomore who played a bit in the Fall II season, will quarterback the Eagles.
The Hornets will be working with its fair share of athletes taking their first snaps at the varsity level. However, a little confidence can go a long way in high school. If McCann can play clean and sustain drives, they’ll be in position to make some noise.