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Belchertown looks to end season on high note with Thanksgiving win over Pathfinder



@kylegrbwsk
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

BELCHERTOWN — The zero in the win column of Pathfinder’s record imparts a level of confidence in the Belchertown football team.

“They are where they are,” Orioles coach Ed Wyzik said. “We’re a little better than they are, I feel.”

The Orioles (2-8) enter their annual Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Pioneers confident after beating Smith Vocational in their final non-playoff game. It’s a dash of momentum for a young Belchertown team that has lost a lot learning how to play together.

“We’ve been thinking that we’re just making progress the whole year,” Belchertown junior Brad Lovett said. “Even though we lose, we look at it like we’re learning.”

Given its own inexperience, Belchertown can’t afford to overlook Pathfinder (0-9) on Thursday at 10 a.m. in Palmer.

“We’re not afraid to take on teams that are better than us, they could be the same way,” Lovett said.

So Wyzik has kept his team focused on the gravity of the game. It’s a rivalry game, he’s reminded them, anything can happen.

“Keeping them focused is what it’s all about. You can’t be thinking it’s going to be a pushover game,” Wyzik said. “It’s one of those games where if you walk into it and you’re overconfident you end up getting your fanny beat and it doesn’t look so good.”

Belchertown has prepared for a balanced Pathfinder offense that leans on its running game. The Pioneers have scored 28 points in nine games and have been shut out six times.

“They only run probably two or three different formations,” Wyzik said. “They haven’t changed their gameplan.”

Belchertown’s game plan relies on a lot of Lovett. He returned from injury against Smith Voke after missing three weeks and totaled 137 yards and three touchdowns.

“I feel much better,” Lovett said.

He has 494 yards and six touchdowns this season.

A win would end the season on a win streak and a high note for Belchertown. The Orioles have few seniors on their roster and have played underclassmen in key roles this year.

“They’re jelling toward the end of the season. They basically had to learn a whole new offense, whole new defense this year. These guys never played with each other,” Wyzik said. “The future looks promising.”

It would also break an 8-8 tie in the all-time series. Belchertown won last season to tie Pioneers. The teams have been playing annually since 2001.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.