Lee High Pounds Turners Falls
LEE, Mass. -- It took the Turners Falls football team three quarters to get its first touchdown on Friday night.
It took four quarters for the visitors to get into the end zone.
The Lee High defense was giving no quarter.
Lukas Loehr rushed for 94 yards and three touchdowns and had an interception to lead the Wildcats to a 35-8 win over the defending Western Massachusetts champions.
“We’re known for big defense, big hits, physicality, and we’ve shown that,” Loehr said. “We’ve got a lot of good young kids, a lot of younger kids who are stepping up, as well as some seniors and veterans who are really leading the team.”
This season, they’re leading a Lee defense with a slightly new look, coach Keith Thomson explained.
“We’ve been really trying to shuffle the deck on defense,” he said. “We got a lot of big, strong kids, and we’ve got some depth on the defensive line, so we played more of a 50 front tonight. We’re a little bit thin at the linebacker position. Normally, we’re a 4-3 team.
“We shuffled that deck earlier this week, and seems to have worked pretty well. I thought we stayed fresh. They owned the line of scrimmage all night long, and it was hard for them to do anything.”
Special teams and defense provided big sparks early for Lee.
After the Wildcats forced a three-and-out on Turners Falls’ opening possession, Jake Corcoran returned the game’s first punt 57 yards for six points. Nico Chacon kicked the point after, and Lee had a 7-0 lead with just 1 minute, 37 seconds off the clock.
Turners’ second possession ended with a third-down pickoff by Loehr. The ‘Cats needed just four plays to put the ball in the end zone on a 15-yard Loehr run.
Lee scored twice more in the second half -- on an Andrew Reuf 1-yard plunge and a 22-yard scamper by J.J. Jiminez, to lead, 28-0, at half-time.
“The first half, we tried to utilize all the pieces that we have,” Thomson said. “We feel like we have a lot of team speed. We’ve got a lot of guys all over the place who can make plays for us. Jake Corcoran had a terrific night. J.J. Jiminez comes in and plays a little bit of quarterback in our ‘wildcat’ package; he did a nice job. Lukas Loehr has been a workhorse for us throughout. Ben Harding is 6-5 out on the edge.
“I think we’ve got a lot of weapons to work with. I think Homer [Winston] did a nice commanding the huddle tonight and and getting us into plays and getting everybody up to the line. For the first game, I was pretty pleased with where we’re at.”
Lee nearly matched the shutout that Turners put up when the teams played in last year’s season opener in Montague. After
After Loehr started the second half with an 18-yard touchdown, TFHS finally got on the scoreboard on its last possession of the game, when Marcus Sanders went 30 yards for a score.
“We came in here knowing that last year we were up there and we were pumped up -- defending Western Mass champs -- and they kicked our butts,” Loehr said. “We had to come back with that same energy and show them that we’re here. It’s our turn now.”
Of course, this is a different Turners Falls team from the one that edged Mount Greylock in last year’s Western Mass final. On Friday, coach Chris Lapointe’s squad dressed just 15 players; a 16th was on the sideline with his arm in a sling.
“I feel for Chris over there,” Thomson said. “That’s a quality program. We have a lot of respect for that program. We’ve had some good battles with them the last couple of years. They’re a perennial playoff contender. Right now, you look over there, and they have four guys standing on the sideline. That’s tough.
“We wish them the best going forward. We hope they can keep it rolling and come out of this thing alright.”
Lee goes to Franklin Tech next Saturday.