Senators, Eagles look to shake 'non-playoff' disappointment
ORANGE — A week ago, both Mahar and Easthampton had legitimate gripes as both were on the verge of being left out of the WMass Division V playoffs. Instead of making their case on the field, both teams suffered losses ending their campaigns. The schools meet tonight in Orange looking to prove themselves once again.
“The kids are excited to play a team like this and if we beat this club we might get a chance to face one of the playoff losers and prove that we belonged,” said head coach Greg Scotland. “We’re trying to stay excited about football. We have a playoff caliber team and there aren’t a lot of people right now showing a lot of respect for us. If you look at the Greenfield Recorder or Masslive, they don’t have much respect for us. We will have to prove it on the field.”
Ludlow was supposed to be easy fodder for the Senators last week, but the Lions had other ideas in a 20-19 victory. Mahar squandered three different leads and were ultimately undone by a failed two-point conversion in the third quarter. The Senators hope to shake the loss tonight and a return to the friendly confines of the James S. Woodward Athletic Complex should be exactly what the doctor prescribed.
“It doesn’t seem like we travel very well,” said Scotland.
Aided by a 90-yard touchdown run, Mahar running back Clay Richardson continued his pursuit of the school’s rushing record. Richardson carried 10 times for 131 yards, bringing his season total to 1,161 yards. Brian Beauchemin holds the mark with 1,768 yards in 2009.
Malik Adams (802 yards) is likely to join Richardson in the 1,000-yard club before the season is over while Riley Gervais ran for a 56-yard touchdown last week.
The trio has been aided by a cohesive offensive line, but the unit was less effective without Kevin Kowalczyk a week ago. Kowlaczyk is back this week, joining Ryan Arsenault, Ben Gilmore, Branden Burke and Gabe Marcoux. Gabe O’Lari is the blocking tight end.
“We were hurting without Kevin,” said Scotland. “Our offensive line wasn’t a very cohesive unit so we weren’t real solid with our blocking.”
Austin Leary will continue under center. Leary has completed 21-of-62 passes for 350 yards this fall. He’s thrown three touchdowns and six interceptions. His primary receivers remain Adams and Richardson out of the backfield while Hunter Richardson also factors in.
Defensively, the Senators will mix and match their fronts against the Eagles. Easthampton uses a run-heavy approach led by Hunter Leveille. Kevin Lincoln and Nicholas Tausenfreund also mix into the rushing attack.
Chris Pace and Burke are the primary interior lineman while Ben Gilmore has also been used to create havoc up front. Matt Maillet and Marcoux have been superb on the ends for much of the season.
Kowalczyk’s return should solidify the heart of the defense as he pairs with Arsenault at the inside linebacker spots. Richardson and Gervais add to the group.
Jake Lacasse, Ryan Donaldson, Adams and Hunter Richardson all figure into the secondary, but the group will most likely be used close to the line of scrimmage tonight.
Both teams are in the Intercounty League where the Eagles are tied atop the standings with Frontier. Despite that, this game will not count towards the ICL standings thus eliminating Mahar’s hopes of sharing an ICL crown.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.