Prove it: Mahar gridders host Pittsfield tonight
ORANGE — Another week, another chance for the Mahar football team to prove itself.
After knocking off Easthampton last Friday, the Senators (7-2) take aim at Pittsfield High School. The Generals (6-3) were the No. 2 seed in the WMass Division V playoffs before being eliminated by Taconic last week.
“This is exactly what we wanted,” said Mahar head coach Greg Scotland who has noted his disgust for the WMass playoff rankings that would have left his team out with a 7-1 record. “This can make people open their eyes and realize what they have done isn’t quite right for everybody.”
Mahar has already beaten two teams that were ranked ahead of them and Pittsfield would give them a third conquest.
“It would be a big feather in our cap,” said Scotland. “We’re geared up for it.”
The Senators have been getting it done with an overwhelming running game and a suffocating defense. The defense bottled up Easthampton’s powerful running game a week ago, forcing the Eagles to attempt 22 passes. Defensive tackles Chris Pace and Branden Burke have spearheaded the defense, but it’s been an overall team effort.
“There is no one person,” said Scotland. “We’re just playing solid football all around. It’s been a great team effort.”
The key for the Mahar defense will be Pittsfield fullback Sam Sala this week. Sala leads the team in rushing and the work of quarterback Kolbe Muzzy stems off Sala’s success.
“They vary formations, but they are centered around their fullback and quarterback running the ball,” said Scotland. “We’ve been working all week to stop that dive, load and option. If we can do that, we can put them into uncomfortable situations.
Offensively, the Senators will continue to rely on the 1-2 punch of running backs Clay Richardson and Malik Adams. Richardson has racked up 1,312 yards rushing this season and has an outside shot at Brian Beauchemin’s single season rushing record of 1,766 yards. Adams needs 62 yards to give Mahar a pair of 1,000-yard backs.
“We’re committed to our running game,” said Scotland. “People are loading the box and we’re still finding ways to run the ball.”
The offensive line will be challenged by a stout Pittsfield front, but it’s the absence of Kevin Kowalczyk (injury) that could create problems for Mahar. The unit’s continuity slipped two weeks ago with Kowalczyk out. David Dexter will take his spot this week, joining Ben Gilmore, Gabe Marcoux, Burke and Ryan Arsenault. Gabe O’Lari is the blocking tight end.
Sophomore Sam Paul will start at quarterback with Riley Gervais and Hunter Richardson running routes.