Week 1 has arrived: Football kicks into high gear for teams around Berkshire County
Class is back in session and we have finally reached football season. Friday nights have a different meaning in September and five teams begin their quests for a spot Western Massachusetts tournaments this weekend. In what could be called week zero, we have coaching changes at Monument Mountain and Hoosac Valley while teams like Taconic and Lee are looking for another shot in the postseason. Elsewhere, Drury and Mount Greylock are putting their heads together to try and make some noise throughout the section.
Keep in mind, teams had roughly a month before the season to figure out strengths and weaknesses, along with depth charts and position changes. Don't put too much stock into week one as everyone is still trying to discover an identity. However, a week-one win can help some of the younger teams in Berkshire County gain traction early. You never know what could happen and as the great Chris Berman says, "that's why you play the game."
Welcome to the 2019 Berkshire County football season.
Game of the Week
Drury at Monument Mountain, 7 p.m., Friday
The lone Berkshire County battle of the week pits two teams working to discover their starting quarterback. For the first-year Drury and Mount Greylock co-op, Keegan Vidal, Payton Barnes and Danny Cartmill have gotten an opportunity to earn the starting job. For the Spartans, sophomores Tyler Duquette and Hunter DeGrenier are working under center. There is a chance that these competitions are ongoing and every quarterback may see time in week one. Despite the unknown at quarterback, both of these teams can lean on their running backs to move the ball. Senior fullback Jack O'Brien can help the Spartans move the chains while two up-and-comers in Reece Mullen and Ashton Alosi will provide lightning to O'Brien's thunder. Senior Noah Taxter will also get some get some carries to round out Monument's stable of backs. The Blue Devils have a flashy back in senior Dante Woodson, who will provide some stability for a group that lacks experience on the varsity level. For a week one match-up, that looks to be ground-and-pound, whatever team can play the cleanest ball game could find themselves in the driver's seat. Can Monument's experienced offensive line slow down a talented defense led by Tim Brazeau, Alan Marceau and Woodson? Can the veteran linebacker group of O'Brien, Mullen and DeGrenier cause enough havoc to make the Drury offense uncomfortable? These look to be two evenly matched teams, especially early in the season. However, one big play, by either side, could turn the tides from a close battle into a blowout.
Taconic at Westfield, 7 p.m., Friday
Taconic has some unfinished business — and we're not talking homework. The 2018 season was centered around gelling as a team and the Braves displayed their potential with a 74-0 week-one victory last year. While that isn't reasonable for the Friday's game at Westfield, a team that finished the 2018 season with a record of 8-3, the Braves are determined to show they belong in the Western Mass. tournament. After falling in the D-VII semifinals last season, Taconic is aiming for the crown.
"The motto they wanted this year was unfinished business," seventh-year coach Jim Ziter said. "They don't want to just make the tournament this year. It is a great group of kids and they seem to be a cohesive group so far."
August saw senior Cole Lander and junior Ian Hadsell fighting for the quarterback position and it is likely that both of these guys will get snaps under center throughout the season. The Braves will make their money on the ground with a veteran backfield of Dylan Burke, Haywood Eurquhart, Nick Hall and Marquise Saunders. Keep in mind, these guys will run behind one of the biggest offensive lines Ziter has ever coached.
Taconic is headed into uncharted waters against a team Ziter has never coached against in his tenure with the Braves, but with a strong ground game, especially early, the game one jitters shouldn't be an issue. If they can jump on the bombers early, Burke, Eurquhart, Hall and Saunders can do some damage defensively as Taconic's core of linebackers.
Lee at Greenfield, 7 p.m., Friday
Losing a handful of studs, including your quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker may be concerning to some, but Lee coach Keith Thompson is happy with how the Wildcats are looking headed into week one at Greenfield. While it would've been nice to get things rolling with some home cooking, Lee is bringing back plenty of the swagger from last year's 8-2 squad. Nick Nicotra is a must-have for fantasy owners as Lee will line him up all over the field in an effort to get him the ball. His play making ability will help first-year quarterback Jimmy Purcell, who is joined in the backfield by his brother Jack, who is a senior.
The concern early in the season for the Wildcats is their defense. They have plenty of talent, but communication is key, especially when facing offenses that like to throw. With that in mind, Lee rosters an impressive secondary that includes senior Cole Redstone, Nicotra at free safety and Tag Roosa at strong safety. Lee has the talent, which leads us to the million dollar question. When will Lee be firing on all cylinders: After a few games or after just a few quarters?
Hoosac Valley at Pathfinder 12 p.m., Saturday
These are most certainly not your older brother's Hurricanes. Hoosac's 2018 graduating class left holes at quarterback, running back and in the trenches, but the Hurricanes have the right guy at the helm to keep the ball rolling. Longtime youth coach Mark Harrington, who has coached just about every one of Hoosac's 27 players, is traveling to Pathfinder on Saturday for his first game as the coach of the reigning Western Mass D-VIII champions.
The team is made up of primarily seniors and sophomores with guard and defensive tackle Nolan Roberts making himself known as one of the team's leaders. Sophomore Carson Meczywor is stepping in at quarterback and has plenty of talent surrounding him not only on the offensive line, but also at running back. Seniors Liam Feeley and Izaha Stubbs provide some explosiveness at running back. If the offense can smooth things out, a defense led by Joe Delmolino, Ken Chesbro and Cole Desroches can shut down opposing offenses.
Pathfinder should be a good first-test for the new-look Hurricanes. If they can limit the mental errors, Hoosac Valley has an opportunity to kick-start another successful season.
Off: Pittsfield, Wahconah, McCann Tech
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