For some Amherst Regional players, trip to Gillette started at Franklin Tech

  • Brett Holden, center, of Northampton, carries the ball before being tackled by Amherst Regional senior defenders Dan Block, left, and JJ Block, Nov. 1 at Amherst Regional. The Block twins attended Franklin Tech as freshman before transferring to Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Howard, center, of Amherst Regional, runs after recovering an onside kick against Northbridge during the Division 5 state semifinal, Nov. 23 at Westfield State. Tackling him is Jacob Stuczynski. Other Amherst Players are, from left, Brendon Stephen, Tony Govan Jr., and Pierre Tillus. Howard and Govan played at Franklin Tech in Turners Falls before transferring to Amherst. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tony Govan, Jr., of Amherst Regional, intercepts a Northbridge pass during the Division 5 state semifinal, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Howard, right, of Amherst Regional, catches in the end zone in front of Chris McMahon, of West Springfield, but didn't score due to a penalty during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 championship, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019 at Holyoke High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Howard, right, of Amherst Regional, recovers a Northbridge fumble that occurred during a kickoff during the Division 5 state semifinal, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Westfield State University. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 12/5/2019 9:32:40 PM

AMHERST — Dan Block frequented Amherst Regional’s summer lifting program before his freshman season. Hurricanes football coach Chris Ehorn Jr. was intrigued at the prospect of a young difference-maker. Then fall camp rolled around, and Block was nowhere to be seen.

He along with his twin brother JJ, Ethan Howard and Tony Govan Jr. attended Franklin Tech in Turners Falls. At the time, they wanted to learn a trade and pursue jobs after graduation.

“None of them wanted anything to do with the football program here,” Ehorn said.

Instead, Dan Block, Howard and Govan played for the Eagles and coach Joe Gamache on varsity their freshman year. JJ Block tore his ACL in the first scrimmage. Franklin Tech went 6-6 behind powerful running back Dylan Mailloux and a strong offensive line.

“My rapport with these guys was fantastic,” Gamache said. “They were impact players as freshmen.”

Mailloux and most of the line graduated, leaving the future of the team murky. The group also didn’t quite click academically or socially.

Dan Block suggested going to Amherst Regional.

The Block brothers and Howard grew up in Leverett, going to school and playing football in the district through middle school. The three transferred after their freshman year at Franklin Tech. Govan, who lives in Amherst, stayed through his sophomore season. When the Blocks and Howard arrived, Ehorn had laid the program’s foundation in his second year.

“All of us working together and watching him and seeing how he was going to build the program was amazing,” JJ Block said. “You would think he had been coaching for 40 years how he’s doing things, but he’s kind of new to coaching.”

Govan followed for his junior season.

“If I’m around people that work harder, I’m going to work harder, too,” he said.

Ehorn didn’t initially know what to make of the influx. JJ Block was still recovering from his ACL, while Howard and Dan Block had shown promise.

“You never know what you’re getting when guys transfer,” Ehorn said. “Now they’re key players where I don’t know what we’d do without them.”

In the three years since the players left Franklin Tech, Amherst has gone 24-7 and made the playoffs three times. The Hurricanes are 11-0 in 2019 and will face Swampscott (9-3) for the Division 5 Super Bowl at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

“When I came back here I wasn’t thinking we’re gonna play at Gillette, but I knew something good was going to happen,” Dan Block said.

Gamache followed the players’ progress from Turners Falls. He attended the Western Mass. championship game and congratulated them.

“It was all positive, it’s good to see those guys make an impact at Amherst. I would have loved if they were making impact for us, but that’s what it’s all about,” Gamache said. “I wish them luck and hopefully they can win a state championship.”

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