Reflecting on the Magical Season from SH Football

Evan Levrault, Sports Analyst

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All of the hate started after last years playoff loss to Palmer:
“They’re too small”
 “They’re not athletic enough”
“There’s no chance they make playoffs”
All of this hate simply fueled the fire for one hell of a story.
The beginning of the season, in the Tiger’s defense, was a difficult pair of games. East Longmeadow and Mashpee were simply the better team in both cases, but these losses just gave the Tigers more reason to grind and fight for a playoff spot.
A few nail-biter wins, including a triple overtime game against Pittsfield, and a couple blowouts landed the Tigers a playoff spot and a 5-3 regular season record (4-1 in league play). This regular season success silenced the haters and gave us hope, hope of a Western mass final appearance. All the boys had to do was get past Frontier.
It was a windy, brisk fall night on November 3, 2017. I packed my car with the boys and made the haul up to Frontier Regional High School to, hopefully, watch my friends, classmates, and peers, punch their ticket to the ‘chip.

 

I paid my admission and posted up on the fence on the South Hadley sideline.
We won the toss and chose to defer to the 2nd half, a very Bill Belichick like move from Coach Taylor.
Frontier ball.
Three plays into the game and my heart sank as the Frontier back broke out of the pile and out sprinted all of the South Hadley defenders to the end zone.
South Hadley’s first drive was a thing of perfection, almost. Run after run, first down after first down. They ate almost all of the first quarter and were knocking on the door of the end zone when, for the 2nd time of the night, my heart sank. A 2nd and 10 from the 14 yard line, in the blink of an eye, turned into a 2nd and 20. Then a 3rd and 17. Two incomplete passes gave Frontier the ball back. But the very next play was one of the most gritty t

hings I had ever seen.
After a near tackle in the backfield for Max Garvin, the Frontier back was able to break the tackle, but not without falling right into the hands of Ryan Levrault, who muscled the rock loose, and watched as Marcus Larrier scooped it up and took it to the house.
Tie game.
Then, the wheels started to fall off for the Tigers.
You could blame many factors; the wet grass, cold and windy conditions, the pressure that this game brought for both sides, but unforced errors for the Tigers was the story of the 2nd quarter. Frontier scored 14 unanswered points off of two fumbled snaps by the Tigers.
The 2nd half started poorly for them as well, as Frontier put up another touchdown. 28-7.
One thing that this years team is very proud of is the fact that they never give up. They’re one of the grittiest in Western Mass. This was shown in both of their nailbiter, two point, wins earlier in the season.
Nobody on their sideline thought, for one second, that they couldn’t come back and win that game.
The crowd erupted as Liam Dawson broke out along the right side for a 74 yard touchdown. The comeback had begun.
The next series started on a punt that Carey returned to the Tigers 30 yard line. A few big pass plays to Hunter Borowski, Ben Watkins, and Hunter Carey left the Tigers in a great position to score.
Larrier was out wide left, and ran a fade to the back corner of the end zone. Pratt got the snap and immediately found Marcus. A perfect throw that only he could get to made it a one score game.
A big defensive stand lead to a Frontier punt and set up shop for the Tigers on their own 14. Pratt lobbed a pass over the middle for Marcus Larrier who came down with the rock and trucked ahead for a few extra yards. A spike stopped the clock and the Tigers were left with a 2nd and 10.
Incomplete pass. 3rd and 10. Pratt was in the shotgun, he scanned right and took aim for Hunter Carey running down the right sideline. The throw was just barely wide right. 4th and 10. Their season came down to this play. Carey was wide left with Watkins, Borowski, and Dawson in the backfield. Pratt send Dawson in motion left and called for the snap. He faked the pitch and dropped back. He scanned the field. Two Frontier defenders were closing in. He took one more step backwards and heaved the pigskin downfield in the direction of Hunter Carey, who was double covered. The ball bounced off his fingertips as it was swatted by both defenders, and the entire South Hadley side of the field was crushed.
These men have nothing to be ashamed about after the season that they just had. They had faced adversity from day 1, and instead of succumbing to it, they used it to fuel their fire. They practiced harder, watched more film, studied playbooks for hours, and it all paid off.
For a team that was thought of as a failure before the season started, they had a fantastic year, and what we all witnessed this fall was truly magical.
THE BATTLE OF THE BRIDGE against Holyoke will also be played at home on Thanksgiving at 10am. ROLL TIGERS
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