Game of the Week: Archrivals Hoosac & Drury Set Saturday GoalsNORTH ADAMS, Mass. — They stand on opposite sides of the deepest gulf in North County high school sports.
But there is far more that unites the Drury and Hoosac Valley football teams than divides them.
Each features a run-first, throw-seldom offense with multiple rushing threats.
Each has seen some volatility at the quarterback position and experienced its greatest success of the season with its current signalcaller at the helm.
Each struggled for wins in September but improved steadily in October.
And each can make its season on Saturday at Drury High School.
The 128th meeting of the century-old rivalry will be renewed at 2:30 p.m., and even though the teams have a combined record of 8-8 this season, there is much on the line.
For Hoosac (5-2 Berkshire County, 5-3 overall), a win will keep the Hurricanes on track for a berth in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 playoffs. For Drury (3-4, 3-5), a win is needed to keep the Blue Devils on track to satisfy their midseason goal of finishing .500 on the year.
But most of all, there are the bragging rights — the kind that last a lifetime.
"Like coach always says, there's one score you're going to remember," Drury senior quarterback Nolan Bird said. "That's the Drury-Hoosac score from your senior year. So basically you don't want to leave any regrets on the field. Give it your all and make sure it's a game to remember."
|Blue vs Red — not in the election but between archrivals Drury and Hoosac on Saturday. Both teams were training Tuesday for their 128th meetup.
"I hear about it all the time," Drury senior running back Jose Melendez said. "My friends, some graduates, everybody, says, 'You guys gotta win this game. You gotta win this game ... especially on your home field.'"
In the Hoosac camp, where ambitions extend beyond Saturday's regular season finale or next week's Berkshire County "plus one" game, players were understandably projecting a more businesslike approach to the rivalry game.
"I think we just want to come out and play a normal game," said Hoosac junior captain Matt Braman, who moved from QB to tailback this season and has run for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns. "It's one game at a time, really. We're not worried about Western Mass. We're worried about Drury.
"I think it's a good rivalry. ... It's just another high school football game."
That talk is music to the ears of Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot, who said he is not worried about his team hitting its emotional peak too early in the week.
"I guess normally I would, but this group seems pretty focused right now," he said on Tuesday. "They know that throughout the week they've got to be consistent.
"We've got to do basic things to beat them. They've got two backs who are running the ball well. We've got to tackle them. Offensively, we need to get to our blocks."
Hoosac has been doing a lot of things right the last four weeks. After starting the season 2-2, the 'Canes have been able to grab the No. 4 spot in the Western Mass power rankings with 9.7 points. Their nearest contenders, East Longmeadow (8.57) and Putnam (8.5) play Friday night against Minnechaug (6-2) and West Springfield (1-6), respectively. The top four teams advance beyond Week 10 for a shot at the Super Bowl.
Drury knows that those aspirations will have to wait for another year. Win or lose on Saturday, its season will end the weekend of Nov. 9-10, probably in a rematch against Pittsfield, which handed the Blue Devils a 28-14 loss back in Week 5.
Since that night at Wahconah Park, Drury has gone 2-1, including two straight wins at home by a combined score of 78-44.
"We always knew we had potential, and we killed ourselves week in and week out in the beginning of the year," Drury coach Bill Bryce said. "We made a lot of mistakes, turned the ball over and were not able to put the ball in the end zone.
"The last couple of weeks, we've had some success with that. We still had some penalties, but we're getting better week after week."
NOTES: Hoosac leads the series, which dates back to 1901, by a margin of 67-52-8. ... This year's senior class at Hoosac holds a 2-1 edge, with wins last year and in the Super Bowl championship season of 2009. Drury won the last meeting in North Adams, 16-6. ... with 970 yards rushing this season, Melendez could pass the 1,000-yard mark on Saturday afternoon. He also is fifth in the county in scoring with 52 points on eight touchdowns and two conversions. ... Hoosac has allowed just 22 points total in its last three league games (21-8 over Wahconah, 20-6 over Pittsfield and 33-8 over Taconic). ... After a season marred by injuries and illnesses, the Hurricanes are nearly 100 percent healthy going into Week 9. Poirot said the only player missing is senior lineman Zach O'Neill, who has a shoulder injury. ... The remnants of Hurricane Sandy closed both schools on Monday and Tuesday, but both football teams were able to practice Tuesday. Drury also did its regular film session on Monday at Bryce's house. The early forecast for Saturday includes partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid-40s.