By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
10/2/21 * 5:33 AM
(LONGMEADOW) - Yesterday (10/1/21), I was in Longmeadow for the Lancers home game against the Eagles from Central HS. Central has one of the best football programs in Massachusetts. They played some tough teams to start the season. Before this game, they were 1-2. Longmeadow came in to the game 0-2.
Central’s star QB Will Watson did not play yesterday. According to Masslive/Advance Local, he was in a car accident on Friday. He had to be taken to the hospital. I hope he recovers fully.
Longmeadow played tough on Friday night. They are classically a running team but they got some good plays in the passing game from Junior QB Bryant Lopes. Lopes made some good throws rolling out of the pocket. He hit Mason Merchant for a TD in the 3rd quarter.
Antonio Richardson started at QB for the Eagles on Friday. He looked good even though Friday was his first start. He is a Sophomore. He is a left-handed QB.
The Eagles leaned in on their running game. Richardson made some good throws but the majority of the the work was done on the ground.
Sophomore Tariq Thomas got a lot of carries for the Eagles. He can run through contact. He is fast enough to outrun DBs when he gets to the secondary. He is definitely a promising RB prospect out of Central. He scored three TDs on the Lancers defense.
(Tariq Thomas runs for a TD)
(Tariq Thomas runs for another TD)
Central WR Joe Griffen also had a good game. He caught a short pass from Richardson and sprinted past the Lancers for a TD. He also ran for a TD. He has already gotten a lot of hype, which he deserves. He is a great athlete. I imagine not having Watson changed the Eagles game plan but Griffen still showed his skills. Both of his TDs were impressive.
(Joe Griffen takes screen pass to the end-zone)
(Joe Griffen runs for a TD)
Longmeadow punted on a majority of their possessions on Friday. They got good gains sporadically. RB Sam Mard found a crease and scored Longmeadow’s 2nd TD of the game.
The Lancers fought valiantly but the Eagles 🦅 soared past them 54-14.
Central is now 2-2; Longmeadow is 0-3.
Tariq Thomas - 3 run TDs
Antonio Richardson - 2 pass TDs
Joe Griffen - 1 run TD, 1 rec TD
Brendan Guy - 1 rec TD
ShaunDez Buckhannon - 1 run TD
Team - six 2-point conversions
Bryant Lopes - 1 pass TD
Mason Merchant - 1 rec TD
Sam Mard - 1 run TD
Team - one 2-point conversion
After the game, I spoke with Longmeadow HC Tanner Williams.
We were talking before I cut this thing on, you aren’t taking this as a “tough loss”.
“No. We played our butt off and those guys are really good football players. We came to play. We are a Division 4 team and we were excited to come out and play and we wanna play a tough schedule. We wanna play these guys every year ‘cause good teams make you better. We played hard and tough. We had our troubles catching those guys. I’m happy for how hard we played. Our execution in the second half was a lot better”.
What have you seen from Bryant Lopes so far this season?
“He’s done real well. He’s been adjusting taking the step-up from JV to Varsity. He is seeing things better. Every week, he has gotten a little bit better. This week he took a giant step in the right direction. He played against a very, very good team and he found some spots…He threw the ball pretty well. I’m very happy with how he has continued to progress”.
What does Sam Mard give the team as a football player and a young man?
“He is all heart. He wants to carry the ball on every play. He got much improved as a blocker; he catches the ball better than he ever has. He ran as hard as he could. He made a couple of plays at the end. He made a couple of guys miss and took it to the house. He made his plays tonight. He is a good football player”.
You play Chicopee Comp next week. They are also winless so far this year. How do you get your first victory next week?
(Picture from 9/30/21 Chicopee Comp @ Minnechaug)
“If we play like this. If we played like this, I think we win our first two games. We came inspired…[Central is] by far the best team in Western Mass…They came to play. Maybe we didn’t have the horses to match them tit-for-tat but we came out and gave it everything we had and played as hard as we could. I couldn’t be prouder”.
At halftime, I walked over to the press box to get the rosters for both teams. A young man asked me to take his picture. Here is Chris.