Senators seek 6th straight victory with trip to Ludlow
LUDLOW — The Mahar football team continues to pay a steep price for an early season loss to Turners Falls.
Tonight’s contest at Ludlow High School is the final one for the Senators before the WMass playoff selections are announced. While nothing is official, it appears Mahar will be left out of the Division V tournament in favor of Frontier and Easthampton. The Senators, of course, defeated Frontier earlier this season and all the teams currently have 6-1 records.
“It doesn’t look good,” said Mahar head coach Greg Scotland. “When you’re 7-1 and don’t have a chance at the playoffs because it’s weighted in favor of somebody else, it’s disappointing. All we can do is win, finish the season at 7-1, and see what happens.”
In all likelihood, Mahar would need both Frontier and Easthampton to lose this week. The Red Hawks visit Belchertown (1-6) while the Eagles visit Taconic (5-2). The Braves are ranked immediately behind Mahar and could conceivably leapfrog the Senators with a win.
If Mahar wants to have a leg to stand on in its argument that they belong in the postseason rather than Frontier, they must take care of business against the Lions tonight. Ludlow enters with a 3-4 record, but quarterback Dan Rodrigues is one of the most dangerous gunslingers in the Intercounty League.
“We’ve been throwing the ball all over the place this week in practice in an effort to duplicate what he does,” said Scotland. “He’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen in awhile.”
Mahar will bank on Hunter Richardson, Ryan Donaldson and Jake Lacasse in the secondary in an effort to limit Rodrigues. While the defensive backs will play a critical role, the onus will be on defensive ends Gabe Marcoux and Matt Maillet and their abilities to put pressure on the quarterback. Branden Burke and Chris Pace will pressure from the interior.
“We have to get to the quarterback,” said Scotland.
The Senators defense has been stout of late, but will be without leading tackler Kevin Kowlaczyk. Kowalczyk will serve a mandatory one-game suspension after being ejected for his role in last week’s melee. Clay Richardson will slide inside with Ryan Arsenault. Riley Gervais and Malik Adams will flank Richardson and Arsenault.
Offensively, Mahar continued to punish opposing teams with running backs Clay Richardson and Adams. Richardson surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in last week’s victory while Adams (721 yards) remains on pace to give the Senators a pair of 1,000-yard backs. Gervais is also likely to get a couple of carries tonight.
Handing off will be senior Austin Leary. Leary suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win and saw sophomore Sam Paul take some of his snaps. Leary posted his best numbers of the season a week ago, completing 5-of-7 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown.
Leary’s top receivers remain Richardson and Adams out of the backfield while Jed Richardson and Hunter Richardson also figure into the aerial attack. Gabe O’Lari is the blocking tight end.
Paving the way for Mahar has been an impressive offensive line. After struggling against Turners in Week 2, the unit has controlled the trenches the last five weeks. Arsenault, Burke and Marcoux will make it eight straight starts up front. Ben Gilmore is in the lineup for a third consecutive week. Pace replaces Kowalczyk this week.
Tonight’s kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Ludlow High School is located at 500 Chapin St., in Ludlow.