St. Joe faces off against Taconic tonight at Wahconah Park. Wahconah also opens at home while Mount Greylock and Hoosac Valley are on the road.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Football is finally back!
College football opened up last weekend and the NFL kicked off Thursday night with an exciting game between the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and Peyton Manning's Denver Broncos. But perhaps the most exciting football that starts this weekend is our very own local Berkshire County high school league.
All 10 of Berkshire County's teams will hit the gridiron this weekend to play their first games of the season that includes four games Friday night and four games Saturday afternoon.
This year is an especially exciting year because Massachusetts has instituted an official state playoff system in which there will be six divisions with one state champion crowned out of each. Each team is placed in a specific division based off the previous success of the program and the size of the school.
Four teams from Western Mass will qualify in each division and will compete in a sectional tournament with the winning team's advancing to the state semifinal. Teams qualify for the sectional tournament with the use of a power-ranking system that accounts for strength of schedule and number of wins. A team's power-ranking position will determine which teams qualify and the seeding for each division; the higher seeds will play host for the playoff games instead of the previous neutral field format.
What is most exciting for the players is that the state final games will all be played at Gillette Stadium, so each team will have their sites set on making it down to Foxborough to fulfill the dream of playing on the field where Tom Brady slings the pigskin around on Sundays.
Berkshire County football officially began on Monday, Aug. 19, and after three weeks of practice, the players are eager to get into game action. On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the coaches held the second annual Berkshire County football media night at Pittsfield High School where each team's head coach and captains attended to talk about the upcoming season. Local media members, the local head officials, and the present team members were all treated to pizza and beverages before each head coach got up in front of the room to introduce his captains and to briefly discuss the upcoming season.
The head officials opened up the night with a talk stressing the importance of following rules that are specifically created and enforced to keep the players safe. The main discussion was about a term called "targeting," which is hitting another player near the head with an example being a helmet-to-helmet collision. This year if an official sees a player come in with the intent to hurt another player and strikes that player in the head or neck region the consequence will be an immediate ejection from the contest and a one game suspension enforced in the following game.
The officials stressed "see what you hit, hit what you see," pointing out that players need to keep their heads up and, in turn, there should be no accidental helmet-to-helmet collisions. The rest of the information relayed from the officials was based around the point that all emphasis is on the safety of players.
Following the discussion on rules and safety was a brief overview of each team's upcoming year from each head coach.
DRURY BLUE DEVILS 2012 Record (3-7)
Head Coach: Bill Bryce in fifth year
Captains: Jon Sprowson OL/DL and senor Kyle Clairmont OL/DE
"We are in the same boat as a lot of teams. We have in the low 30s. Not a lot of seniors on our team. We have seven but two of which, this is the first year they have ever played football. We are young. Last year we had five sophomores that had to start on both sides of the ball. So we are optimistic about which way we can go. We are trying to make sure we improve day in and day out. Hopefully at the end of the year we will have more wins than last year. We start off with Greenfield at home and then go to Taconic to start our Berkshire County schedule."
MCCANN TECH HORNETS 2012 Record (2-8)
Head Coach: Bill LeClair in ninth year
Captains: seniors Dylan Darling HB/SS and Bill Lincoln TE/DE
"We don't play any teams in Berkshire County any more after playing Mount Greylock as an independent for the past four years. Now with the new schedule we have we are locked into our own league, Division VII of the Tri-County League. So it doesn't look like we will be meeting up with any Berkshire County teams unless we meet up in the state playoffs. We have a good amount of kids this season, about 40 right now. Three seniors on the team, the other besides my two captains here is a first-year player. We are looking to get back into the playoffs again, we missed last year but two seasons before that we were in the Super Bowl. So our goal this year is to get back to that again. Things have been going pretty well so far for us. We had a great scrimmage with Pittsfield on Saturday and we go to Taconic this coming Saturday."
HOOSAC VALLEY HURRICANES 2012 Record (7-4)
Head Coach: Dayne Poirot in second year.
Captains: senior Ian Hill RB/LB, junior Tyler Mach RB/DB, senior Colby Gage LB, and Matt Braman QB/DB
"We have seven seniors this year. About 30 guys this year so we are down a little bit for numbers. But everyone of the kids I have on the team are great. They have been working hard and are a good group of kids. We open up at Athol and then play Mahar the second week and then we get right into the Berkshire County schedule."
MOUNT GREYLOCK MOUNTIES 2012 Record (11-1)
Head Coach: Shawn Flaherty in 11th year.
Captains: seniors Daivon Clement HB/LB, Nick DiSanti OL/DT, and Matt Malloy OL/DT.
"We start off with Commerce and then we get right into our Berkshire County battles, so to speak. The outlook is pretty good. I'm excited we still have a good nucleus from last year's squad coming back. I feel like the line is going to be our strength this year. Weakness will be depth. Our numbers are kind of low, we are always in the low 30s but, hopefully, if we stay healthy we should be competitive."
WAHCONAH WARRIORS 2012 Record (9-3)
Head Coach: Gary Campbell in second year.
Captains: seniors Eli Pease RB/SS, Ethan Wells QB/LB, Codi Arthur HB/FB/DE, and Darrow Brown WR/S.
"I'm excited to have these guys as my captains. We have five seniors, we're young. But we have good numbers, we're excited about where we're at and what we have. I echo the other coaches statements, I applaud all you guys for playing this game. This is a tough game. This is one of those things where moms now are saying don't do it. So for you guys to put that helmet on and still go out and have those collisions. We had the old school Oklahoma drill today and it was fun and getting after it. But plain and simple I applaud you guys for stepping in the arena. Sometimes it's not just whether you win or lose, it's getting in that arena and sticking your face into somebody. That's great stuff so good for all of you. As far as us, we are excited for our season. We open up with a rival, Northampton right away for the Route 9 Rumble so we are excited for that. Then we have Chicopee Comp and then into our Berkshire County schedule."
PITTSFIELD GENERALS 2012 Record (6-5)
Head Coach: Brian Jezewski in 6th year.
Captains: senior Alex Teichert RB/DB, junior Chad Shade QB/DB, and seniors Kyle Shade RB/DB and Dominic Traversa FB/LB.
"We have 16 seniors and about 14 juniors. Pretty high numbers as far as upperclassmen. We're real excited about the upcoming season. We had a tough scrimmage on Saturday and we are real excited to open up our season with Monument. After Monument we have Burke high school out of Boston and Chicopee Comp. Then we get into the Berkshire County gauntlet as we always call it."
TACONIC BRAVES 2012 Record (3-7)
Head Coach: Jim Ziter in 1st year.
Captains: seniors Drew Scace RB/SS and Nick Pomeroy RB/S, junior David Jones OG/DT, and senior Dylan Moody FB/LB.
"We start out with St. Joe. We actually don't have any games outside of Berkshire County so we play everybody. So we get into it right away this year. We're real excited, we have four seniors. A great group of kids. A lot of juniors and a ton of freshman. A great freshman class coming up. We're real excited, the young kids are learning and having fun. We are looking forward to the season."
ST. JOSEPH CRUSADERS 2012 Record (8-3)
Head Coach: Ben Kline
Captains: seniors Mike Goddeau OG/LB and Pat Latini C/MLB.
"I'm taking over for coach Bianchi. Going forward this year we have a lot of new kids. I've been coaching for five years with Coach Bianchi and this is the most in shape I've seen St. Joe. They have worked really hard and have a great attitude. So that bodes well for the upcoming season. We only play four of the county teams this year: Greylock, Monument, Drury and Taconic. Opening up with Taconic on Friday, Sept. 6, at Wahconah Park. We are also playing Cathedral, Easthampton and Seekonk for out of conference games. So overall I think our schedule sets up some good matchups for us. Teams that are comparable to us for the most part and with the group of guys we have, we are getting better everyday at practice. Hopefully, that continues throughout the year and we can have a good showing this year."
LEE WILDCATS 2012 Record (1-8)
Head Coach: Keith Thompson in 9th year.
Captains: seniors Matt Kelly RB/CB and Deaglan Giarolo QB/FS.
"We're really excited about this season. Some call Berkshire County a gauntlet but what we like to call it is a meat grinder. There's no easy wins in Berkshire County. It's physical physical football. We start our season this year out near Cape Cod against a team called Old Rochester Regional High School. They are a Division V program. I know their coach pretty well. Our AD didn't want to schedule that game because thought it might be too tough for us. We are a Division VI team this year and we want to play the best competition possible. We upped the anti so that if we are one of those four teams to make it to the Division VI playoffs we feel we will be very prepared to go in there and do some damage. Our numbers are a little bit low from where they have been as a lot of teams are facing that crunch. Football is kind of under the gun lately and a lot of kids aren't going out. We like what we have on the field. We just completed our second scrimmage today against Cathedral down at our place. But we are really really excited about what we have moving forward."
MONUMENT MT. SPARTANS 2012 Record (2-8)
Head Coach: Bill LaGrant in 1st year.
Captains: seniors Peter Oggiani RB/LB, Riley O'Brien QB/DB, Craig Cooley OL/DL, and Jerrad Mead OT/DT.
"We have seven seniors this year. So we are fairly young. Obviously on a rebuilding mission from the 2-7 season last year but the enthusiasm and attitude is good and we look forward to getting into it. We start with Pittsfield and Mount Greylock so we are really in the thick of things right off the bat."
Tonight's slate of games features just one clash between Berkshire County teams with St. Joseph facing Taconic at Wahconah Park. The Wahconah Warriors open up their season at home with the Route 9 Rumble against Northampton while Hoosac Valley travels to Athol and Mount Greylock heads to Commerce.
All games tonight are set to start at 7 p.m.
Then Saturday make sure to get over to McCann Tech as they celebrate the football team's 50th anniversary season
at 1 p.m. as they host Pathfinder. At 1:30 p.m. Drury opens up there season at home against Greenfield. And the final local game of opening weekend sees Monument Mountain host Pittsfield at 5:30 p.m. in Great Barrington. Lee is on the road at Old Rochester, game starts at 1 p.m.