Week 8 High School Football Previews
East Longmeadow at Northampton
Records: Spartans (3-3, 2-1 AA Conference); Blue Devils (5-2, 2-2)
Last week: East Longmeadow beat Holyoke 37-30; Northampton lost to Central 35-0
Spartans Blue Devils
Offense 28.8 Offense 22.7
Defense 27.2 Defense 18.6
Comments: The Blue Devils are looking to bounce back from the first game in which they haven’t been competitive. Hamp is in the No. 4 spot in the Division 1 power rankings. The Spartans have won two in a row after a 1-3 start as their offense has put up 86 points the past two weeks. But their defense is vulnerable, having given up 30 or more points four times. Playing in the AA as a Division 2 team will give No. 6 East Longmeadow chances to move up the rankings.
Frontier Regional at Belchertown
Records: Red Hawks (2-3, 1-3 Intercounty); Orioles (6-0, 5-0)
Last week: Frontier lost to Commerce 22-0; Belchertown beat Sci-Tech 29-0
Red Hawks Orioles
Offense 8.0 Offense 23.7
Defense 18.8 Defense 5.8
Comments: The unbeaten Orioles are holding onto the top spot in the Division 3 power rankings. Wins over Frontier and at Athol next week would likely assure them of a third consecutive postseason appearance. The O’s defense is one of the stingiest in the area with a pair of shutouts on the season. A victory for the Red Hawks would give a huge boost to their fading playoff hopes. There’s a sizable gap between No. 5 Athol (10.29) and No. 6 Frontier (4.40). The Red Hawks must get their offense on track, having been blanked the past two games.
Putnam at Amherst Regional
Records: Beavers (5-2, 2-1 Suburban); Hurricanes (2-3, 1-2)
Last week: Putnam lost to Chicopee 41-16; Amherst lost to South Hadley 49-7
Offense 32.9 Offense 25.6
Defense 19.0 Defense 21.2
Comments: The local team most desperate for a victory this week is Amherst, which has dropped two league games in a row and sits under .500. With only four games remaining, the Hurricanes will likely need to run the table to have a chance to make the Division 2 field. It starts with their offense, which has struggled lately for consistency. The start of a playoff run won’t be easy against a Putnam squad smarting from that 25-point loss to Chicopee last week.
Easthampton at Pioneer
Records: Eagles (5-2, 5-0 Tri-County); Panthers (2-4, 2-2)
Last week: Easthampton beat Franklin Tech 16-15; Pioneer lost to Pathfinder 14-6
Offense 24.7 Offense 16.3
Defense 19.1 Defense 16.7
Comments: The Eagles seek to remain perfect in league play and to help secure their playoff positioning in the Division 4 power rankings. Coach Joe Kocot’s team has won four straight, all over Tri-County foes. Pioneer is the defending Division 4 Super Bowl champ, but is still trying to find its way this season. A win over the No. 2-ranked Eagles will help them get back into postseason consideration.
South Hadley at Cathedral
Saturday, 7, at Central
Records: Tigers (6-1, 3-0 Suburban); Panthers (1-6, 0-4)
Last week: South Hadley beat Amherst 49-7; Cathedral lost to West Springfield 41-0
Offense 35.1 Offense 12.6
Defense 12.1 Defense 38.6
Comments: A strong case can be made that the Tigers are the third best team in any division, behind only Central and Longmeadow. They’ve won by an average of nearly 30 points, helping them take over the top spot in the Division 2 rankings. South Hadley has big-play capability on both offense and defense. The Panthers have dropped six in a row after beating Ludlow in Week 1. They’ve been shut out two of the last three weeks.