WMass Div. 8 Football: Mahar back in playoffs after 8-year absence

  • Mahar’s Luke Melanson catches a pass against Easthampton earlier this season. The Senators travel to play in Ware tonight at 7 p.m. Staff FILE Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Mahar’s Jacob Murphy (42) fights through Franklin Tech defenders Austin Demers (33), Dylan Demers (30) and Dominic Bowden-Smith (40) earlier this season. Murphy and the third-seeded Senators meet No. 2 Ware tonight in the WMass Div. 8 semifinals. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 11/7/2019 10:05:37 PM
Modified: 11/7/2019 10:05:26 PM

For the first time since 2011, the Mahar Regional School football team will play a postseason game tonight.

After finishing the regular season with a 6-2 mark and taking runner-up honors in the Intercounty League North, the Senators earned the No. 3 seed in the WMass Division 8 tournament, and will travel to play at No. 2 Ware (7-1) in the semifinal round tonight at 7 p.m.

It’s the first postseason appearance in eight years for the program. In 2011, the Senators won eight games and hosted Mount Greylock in the tournament, ultimately falling by a 30-6 margin.

A win tonight would send Mahar through to the WMass title game, set for next weekend against the winner of No. 1 Hoosac Valley (8-0) and No. 4 Lee (5-3).

While the WMass tournament has been unfamiliar territory for the Senators in recent years, the same can’t be said for Ware. The Indians are making their fourth consecutive postseason appearance, though they’re just 1-3 in four games during that span.

How they got here

Mahar has kicked it into another gear down the stretch. The team has won four straight games entering tonight’s semifinal, including a statement 33-14 win over Easthampton in the regular-season finale last week in Orange. That win enabled the Senators to catapult over Lee and capture the No. 3 seed in the Division 8 field.

Defense has been the catalyst over the past month. In wins over Monument Mountain, Greenfield, Franklin Tech and Easthampton, the Senators allowed an average of 8.8 points defensively.

Ware went 7-1 during the regular season, the lone loss coming to top-seeded Hoosac Valley, 38-27, on Oct. 4. The Indians have also closed with four straight wins, running the table in the Tri-County League to capture the title by two games over runners-up Drury and McCann Tech. Ware also beat Easthampton, 26-6, in Week 1.

Players to watch

The Senators have the Recorder area’s leading rusher in Jake Tenney. The powerful tailback has amassed 797 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground this fall, posting an average of 5.86 yards per carry in the process. Tenney has four games of 100 yards or more, and is in striking range of the 1,000-yard mark with at least three games remaining in the schedule.

Other ball carriers to watch tonight for Mahar include Aydan Sevigny (251 yards, TD) and Jacob Murphy (172 yards, 2 TDs), while quarterback Noaha Chabot has amassed 214 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns as well.

Through the air, Chabot has come on strong in recent weeks. For the season, the QB has thrown for 624 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions, and he’s thrown touchdown passes in three of the past four games. Charlie Barnes is the team’s No. 1 target, and he’s continued to be a presence on the outside this season to the tune of 18 receptions for 345 yards and four TDs. Luke Melanson has two touchdown catches this season, and is second on the roster with six receptions. Sevigny and Tenney have also caught touchdowns from Chabot this year.

Ware tailback Rockeem Handfield is a handful, and he tore up the Mohawk Trail defense to the tune of 235 yards on 27 carries when the Indians won their meeting earlier this season in Buckland. Quarterback Dillon Slattery is a dual-threat option, someone who the Senators are going to devote a lot of attention at all times.

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