Game of the Week: Drury, Hoosac Meet for 130th Time
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. -- It’s rivalry week for high school football in Berkshire County, as the Drury Blue Devils and Hoosac Valley Hurricanes prepare for the 130th edition of the rivalry this Saturday at 2:30 on the Devils home field.
The record book shows a tough season for Drury, winning its first game against Greenfield and taking five losses from there. Some of those losses that could have been converted into wins, had they executed a few more plays.
“It’s been a tough season,” Drury coach Bill Bryce said. “We’ve had some opportunities to win some games, but we’ve given up an awful lot of big plays this year, which is deflating and frustrating for the team as well as the coaches.”
Although the Devils have suffered a losing record season; Bryce emphasized that each week his team comes back ready to work and take on their next battle.
“It’s a very resilient group,” Bryce said. “Every Monday they come back in and they’re ready to work, there’s not a lot a finger pointing and that kind of stuff, they’re back in the locker room ready to go.”
Hoosac Valley (6-1) figures to be a tall order. The Hurricanes come in as the top-ranked team in Western Massachusetts Division 5 football and have a big-play offense keyed on senior running back Tyler Mach, one of the region's fastest sprinters in the spring who has a penchant for finding space on the gridiron in the fall.
Last year the Devils fell to Hoosac, 42-0. They closed off the running game, forcing Hoosac to use some pass plays, but eventually Hoosac found its way into the end zone and went into half-time up 14-0.
Although last year’s loss is one that’s not forgotten, the Devils are focusing on the game ahead and putting the past behind them like Bryce said. Every week is a new week for them and they come back ready to work.
“They come back and we focus on who we have next,” Bryce said. “But this is the Drury-Hoosac game. You don’t really need to motivate them, in this situation it’s a rivalry game and most of these guys have been involved in this and the St.Joe guys have jumped right in.”
Seniors Kirby Bryce and Nate Vansteemburg emphasized the importance of keeping their team focused this week, but also how important this game is considering the rivalry.
“We try to just treat it like every other week,” Kirby Bryce said. “We hype it up for the underclassman as much as we can because it’s obviously big, but we don’t want hype it up too much because we want everyone to stay focused.
“During practice we try and just treat it like any other game. But when it comes time for the actual game
that’s when you have to say, alright this is it, this is the big time.”
Vansteemburg went on to discuss how they’ve been preparing for Saturday’s game.
“It’s the biggest game of the season,” he said. “We’ve been working really hard this week and hitting a lot to get ready for a real physical game.
“We really just want to get in there and get a win. We’ve been telling the underclassman that this rivalry has been going on for over a hundred years, it’s huge and it means everything to us.”
Coach Bryce and the rest of his squad hope to get out there Saturday and walk away with a “W”, they know it’s not going to be easy, but it’s something they’ve been preparing for all week.
“We know that we have to be on top of our game,” Bryce said. “I’ve told them, we’ve had little spurts of really good things and we need to put a string of them together and have a real solid game and not make mistakes that cost us points."
Hoosac-Drury is just one rivalry on the county slate this weekend.
Week 8 gets started when Taconic faces Pittsfield at 8 p.m. at Wahconah Park. With St. Joe no longer playing football - for now - this one is for all the marbles in the city championship. For the Generals (4-2), there is a little something extra at stake. Pittsfield is ranked second in Division 5, just a little more than a tenth of a point behind Hoosac and a scant two points (13.16-11.0) ahead of Easthampton.
Keep winning, and Pittsfield figures to finish no worse than second in the division with a home game in the first round of the four-team playoffs. With some help, the Generals could even finish in the top spot.
Occupying the top spot in Division 4 in Western Mass is Wahconah (7-0), which rolls into its Friday night rivalry game against Mount Greylock (2-5) not having lost to a Western Mass team in nearly two calendar years. The last team from this end of the state to beat Wahconah? Mount Greylock, in the 2012 Berkshire County Championship Game.
That was the last county championship decided in a winner-take-all, playoff, incidentally. With a 7-0 record and one league weekend remaining, Wahconah can finish no worse than tied for first in the county this year, and it already beat the only team that can catch it, Hoosac Valley.
A playoff spot could be on the line on Saturday when Lee (4-3) visits Monument Mountain (4-3), but the winner of that game will still need help elsewhere to get into the Division 6 field. Lee enters Week 8 ranked sixth in the division with 9.57 power ranking points. Franklin Tech (10.5) and Ware (10.17) stand in the way of the Wildcats or the eighth-ranked Spartans (8.67) giving Berkshire County a second entrant in the D6 playoffs.
The county certainly will have one team there. McCann (6-0) is tied for first in D6 with 16.0 points, sharing the top spot with Turners Falls. The Hornets travel to face Pioneer Valley (2-5) on Saturday before coming home to face Dean Tech in next week’s regular season finale.