It's playoff football time once again in Mass., and old man winter has provided a nice light snow for the players to compete in tonight.
The Nashoba Valley has just one team competing for a trip to the Super Bowl this year. The Groton-Dunstable Crusaders face off with Tantasqua out of the Southern Worcester County League tonight at Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham at 5:15 p.m.
The National Weather Service is calling for the snow/rain mix to continue right through the game. No significant accumulation is expected, but it will do enough to make the football cold, and awfully tough to handle. The winner of tonight's semifinal will advance to the Super Bowl on Saturday.Tantasqua is coming of a tough Thanksgiving Day loss at the hands of their rival Shepherd Hill.
The Warriors led 20-6 at halftime, but the Rams came storming back to win 36-20. Groton-Dunstable comes into the playoffs as a No. 2 seed in the playoffs after finishing the season with an impressive 10-1 record. The Crusaders collected their first-ever Mid-Wach C title, when they knocked the stuffing out of a tough Tyngsborough squad 30-6 on Thanksgiving.
Looking at the records, it would be easy to say Groton-Dunstable should have this game in the bag. But, that's the easy way of looking at it.
Tantasqua is making their first trip to the postseason since they won the Super Bowl in 2008. The Warriors are a pass-heavy team with their gunslinging quarterback Randy Harrington. Harrington has thrown for 27-TD's that is the most by any quarterback in Central Mass. this season.
Groton-Dunstable's secondary needs to be ready to lock down the deep-threat receiving tandem of Jon Beaudry, and Spencer Duncan. Beaudry has hauled in 40 catches for 599 yards and 13-TD's. Duncan is not far off from his teammate's totals with 23 catches for 579-yards and 7 TD's. Duncan averages just over 25-yards per catch.
For the Crusaders, offensively the game will be placed in the hands of junior quarterback Mack Eberheart who is a duel threat through the air and on the ground. The fleet footed Eberheart has rushed for 968-yards on 112 carries and 12 TD's. Eberheart's arm is equally lethal. Eberheart has a completion percentage of 47 percent. In 93 attempts, Eberheart has amassed 942-yards through the air and 14 TD's.
Senior fullback, Matt Manning towards the latter end of the year caught fire on both sides of the ball and was named the Thanksgiving game MVP. Manning had three touchdowns in the blowout of the Tigers Thursday and he even chipped in a monster day on defense as well.
Other things to watch out for tonight is the play of Groton-Dunstable's defensive front, it will be interesting to see how the pass-rush of the Crusaders shapes up with the Warriors' offensive front. The Crusaders need to get a good rush on Harrington, or he will light them up on short passes and screens.
Tonight's game should be a lot closer than many expect. The snow might slow down the pass-heavy Tantasqua offense. Weather shouldn't be much of a factor for the Crusaders' run game tonight.