Wahconah football team hosts Taconic in feature game for Week 2 of 2018 high school season
Week 1 of the Massachusetts high school football season saw Berkshire County football teams dominate their competition. County teams went 7-0 against non-county teams, outscoring opponents by a 260-69 margin.
It may be early, but considering the fact that five of nine county schools ended last season with losing records, a little bit of optimism to start the season is always a good thing — especially in a sport like football, where a string of losses can be draining physically and mentally. Several coaches I spoke to across the county were hoping that a Week 1 win could spur more students to come out and join the team. Everybody likes a winner, and with numbers at some county schools dwindling, no one would fault a student for jumping on the bandwagon now.
Hoosac Valley's 14-12 win over Mount Greylock had the closest margin of victory among all the county games, hopefully showing how competitive play within the county will be this season.
I think the trend of close county games will continue, leading me into the Game of the Week.
Game of the Week
Taconic at Wahconah, Friday, 7 p.m.
Wahconah looked every bit of the Western Massachusetts powerhouse it has the potential to be in its season-opening 46-20 win against Agawam. The Warriors produced 480 yards of total offense, led by Conner Noyes' 144 yards rushing and three scores, and quarterback Tim Clayton's 185 yards passing and two scores. The defense didn't allow a point in the first half, and with a 35-point lead midway through the third, the 20 points allowed can be taken with a grain of salt. Taconic had an equally dominant performance, racing through the new turf at Gene Dellea Field for a 74-0 win over Easthampton. Thirteen different rushers carried the ball against Easthampton. I'd expect that number to be cut in half this week, with the tough running of Nick Hall and Dylan Burke inside, and Marquis Sanders, Haywood Eurquahart, Jalen Hill and Jayden Cross on the outside. One player that didn't receive a touch against the Eagles was receiver/running back Tyrell Beverly. I don't think that will be the case against the Warriors, where long balls over the top have been one of the only ways to move the ball against Wahconah in recent years.
Junie Burgess had an efficient day at quarterback for Taconic. Coach Jim Ziter said the senior has a strong arm and likes to throw the deep ball. Against a strong Wahconah secondary led by Jake Gai, this will be a matchup to watch. Wahconah's balance makes it a difficult offense to game plan for. Taconic's defense will be tested. Burke and company must force turnovers and make the Warriors one-dimensional. A shootout-type of game should favor a veteran Wahconah offense.
Franklin Tech at Lee, Friday, 7 p.m.
Lee overcame a slow start to earn a 21-7 win over Turners Falls on Friday.
Starting slow isn't ideal, but the ability to regroup and pull out the win shows this group of Wildcats has fight. Nick Nicotra emerged as a big-play threat against the Indians. He rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, while adding two catches for 42 yards and a score through the air. A second receiving threat opposite Ben Harding is nice to have, but Lee will always lean on its rushing attack as the main source of offense. Franklin Tech played stout defense in a 44-6 win over Mohawk. Franklin Tech was heading for a shutout before allowing a long touchdown run on the last play of the game. Lee's primary objective should be stopping running back Bailey Young. Young rushed 200-plus yards and five scores against Mohawk. If Lee stops the run, forcing Franklin Tech to pass with quarterback Jared Bergmann favors Harding and the Lee secondary.
Ludlow at Monument Mountain, Friday, 7 p.m.
Monument Mountain showed fight under first-year coach Pete Wilson, using a second-half rally to earn a 39-26 win over Pathfinder in Week 1.
Jack O'Brien emerged as the Spartans' top rushing threat, highlighted by an impressive 55-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Quarterback Caleb Carlson showed his dual-threat ability, scoring on runs of 12 yards, three yards and 33 yards, respectively. The Spartans' multidimensional rushing attack will be tough for Ludlow to contain. The Lions dropped its home-opener to Westfield 39-0. The Bombers averaged 10 yards a carry and added 130 more yards through the air. I'd expect a heavy dose of O'Brien and Carlson on the ground, with passes to Dylan Tinker sprinkled in when necessary.
East Longmeadow at Pittsfield, Friday, 7 p.m.
Questions about who will take over as Pittsfield's primary back after the graduation of Edwin Rodriguez were answered in definitive fashion. Sophomore Emmanuel Nda showed off his top-flight speed, rushing for 262 rushing yards on 19 carries four touchdowns in the Generals' 30-8 win over Frontier. Nda's speed combined with a veteran offensive line could be a devastating combination for opponents. Pittsfield's offense will be tested by East Longmeadow. The Spartans earned a 23-0 win over South Hadley on Friday, holding the Tigers to just 118 yards of offense. East Longmeadow has several capable ball carriers, but Nda on the turf at Gene Dellea Field could produce another big game.
Mount Greylock at Drury, Saturday, 1 p.m.
A young Mount Greylock team showed plenty of heart before falling to Hoosac Valley 14-12. Drury started its season on high note, earning a 44-8 win over Smith Voc. Players like Jason Betti, Malcolm Waynick and Brennan McGowan flashed against the Hurricanes, giving Greylock playmakers on both sides of the ball. Finding consistency is the next step for the sophomore Waynick and first-year football player McGowan. Drury also had new players emerge, as Tim Koloc and Anthony Pettengill found the end zone against Smith. Both teams have veteran quarterbacks operating wide-open offenses. Greylock's defense is opportunistic and stingy. Drury will need to minimize its mistakes and give quarterback Obilio Rodriguez time to throw. Greylock will need to establish its run game. Quarterback Michael Wellspeak did a little bit of everything against the Hurricanes: returning punts and playing linebacker, in addition to taking every snap at QB. After being held to just 54 yards rushing, a big game from Taylor Cummings will help ease the load off Wellspeak's shoulders.
Palmer at McCann Tech, Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Tony Skiffington era at McCann Tech got off to a strong start, as the Hornets pulled out a 6-0 win over Mahar. Palmer enters Saturday's game coming off a 13-0 loss to Quaboag.
McCann Tech showed some growing pains early, but as the players become more comfortable in Skiffington's system, the offensive possibilities will expand. Darius Tovani and Connor Berard showed big-play ability against Mahar. Tovani broke off long runs on his first two carries. Berard has a 60-yard touchdown run negated by a penalty. If McCann continues to grow offensively, the Hornets could re-emerge as a contender in the Tri-County League.
Bye Week: Hoosac Valley.
Akeem Glaspie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @TheAkeemGlaspie on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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