Fall sports preview: Amherst football gets ‘nasty’ on defense

  • Amherst Regional quarterback Miles Foerster, left, evades Ahlam Moustafa during practice Thursday at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional Head Coach Chris Ehorn, Jr. directs his team during practice Aug. 25 at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional quarterback Miles Foerster caries the ball during practice Aug. 25 at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional Head Coach Chris Ehorn, Jr. directs his team during practice Aug. 25 at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional lineman Nick Rivera cools off during practice Aug. 25 at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional Assistant Coach Mike Thompson, center left, talks to linemen Nick Rivera, from left, Tyron Loper and Kaleb Ferro during practice Aug. 25 at the school. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional quarterback Miles Foerster looks for a receiver during practice. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional players Keenan Morrissey, left, and Juan Ross-Perkins run a drill during practice. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional first-year coach Chris Ehorn Jr. directs his team during preseason practice. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

Thursday, September 08, 2016

AMHERST — Will Budington’s football goals list starts simply: a home win.

The Amherst Regional senior has never celebrated a victory in Amherst.

He and his fellow class of 2017 members count five career wins.

“I’ve started every game here these last three years, and I haven’t won one of them,” Budington said. “That’s a pretty simple goal.

New coach Chris Ehorn Jr. has instilled a belief that this year will be different.

“I love the atmosphere that Coach Ehorn has created,” Budington said. “I feel very confident that we’re on a track to start winning some football games.”

Ehorn replaced David Thompson, who led the program for the four previous years.

Ehorn previously spent time as Northampton’s defensive backs coach and coached in his home state of California.

He breathes defense.

“Nasty. That’s how we play defense,” Ehorn said addressing his team during a preseason practice.

The defense will organize itself in either a 5-2 or a 3-4.

Ehorn wants it to play aggressively.

“I want people to be scared to play us,” he added after practice. “A lot of teams won’t like us, and I’m OK with that.”

Most of those teams will come from the newly formed Intercounty South.

The PVIAC in April voted to realign its football teams to better match up with the eight statewide divisions the MIAA created.

Amherst moved to Division 2 and will face Belchertown, Easthampton, Ludlow and Monument Mountain in its league schedule.

“We couldn’t compete in (the Suburban) league,” Budington said. “For our program, this is a really good move.”

Amherst, which finished 1-10 last year, will bring a new offense from its new coach to its new league.

It’s defining quality is its simplicity. Amherst has one formation: two tight ends, two receivers and a running back lined up in the shotgun with the quarterback.

“There’s not many plays,” Ehorn said. “I don’t care if somebody knows where we’re running it because we can block it better than you can defend it.”


Miles Foerster will be the guy for the Hurricanes this season after splitting time with Budington last season.

“Him being in the shotgun, his measurables are the dream quarterback. Now it’s ‘hey, can it translate into what we’re asking you to do,’” Ehorn said.

Foerster, a junior, threw for 283 yards last year and ran for two touchdowns.

“I feel good. I’ve been training all year,” Foerster said. “I’m happy to have a real quarterback coach (in Stuart Handel). We were missing that last year.”

Running backs

Amherst graduated three of its top four rushers last season in Jericho Sylla, Joseph Tavares and Angelo Jackson.

Budington and his 112 yards on the ground are back.

The lack of backfield experience doesn’t concern Ehorn.

He’ll turn to Alex Fernandez and Michael Doyle primarily, while freshman Josh Vecchio, originally from Maryland, has impressed.


Ehorn called the wide receiver spots “up for grabs.”

He noted the importance of blocking and physicality on the outside in Amherst’s offense.

Tight end is less of a concern.

Budington will primarily play that role while moving all across the Hurricanes’ formations.

Keenan Morrissey and Juan Ross-Perkins have also showed aptitude both blocking and receiving.

Offensive line/defensive line

A similar group of players will man both units for the Hurricanes.

All five of their starting offensive linemen top 200 pounds. Four of them are juniors with one senior mixed in.


Outside linebackers play on the line in Ehorn’s scheme and either rush the passer or drop into coverage.

The inside linebackers primarily play the run or drop into coverage.


Budington and Daniel Lyra will secure the back end of the defense at safety.

Cornerback looks murkier with Fernandez ahead of the pack.

Special teams

Ehorn doesn’t plan to punt or kick many extra points this season.

“I don’t see us punting, ever,” Ehorn said. “We’re going to be going for two every time. That’s just what we’re going to do.”

Field goals are on the table if the Hurricanes can make them in practice to prove it’s worthwhile to attempt in a game.

Lyra is expected to handle the kickoff duties.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettnet.com.

Amherst Regional

COACH: Chris Ehorn Jr., first season

LEAGUE: Intercounty South


LAST TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE: 1999, beat Southbridge 27-7 in Division 2A Super Bowl

RETURNING STARTERS: Seniors — Will Budington, SS/WR/RB/TE; Daniel Lyra, FS/WR; Juniors — Miles Foerster, QB/CB; Leo Kahan, DT/G; Tyron Loper, DE/G;

OTHER RETURNING PLAYERS: Seniors — Helton Cabral da Silva, OL/DL; Michael Doyle, LB/RB; Cole Elson, LB/RB; Keenan Morrissey, TE/LB; Ahzam Mustafa, LB/TE; Nick Rivera, OL/DL; Marcus Suon, RB/LB; Kishan Tewani, DB/WR; Alexander Walsh, TE; Juniors — Cleiton Almeida, RB/LB; Jonathan Cruz Rodriguez, LB; Brendon Ewell, OL/DL; Brandon Feldman, LB; Kaleb Ferro, OL/DL; Alexsander Garcia Fernandes, CB/RB; Timothy Griffin IV, WR/SS; Ausitn Hardy, WR/FS; Leo Kahan, OL/DL; Savian King, OL/DL; Taya Mathers, RB/LB; Roberto Melendez, LB; Austin Miles, RB; Isaiah Rodriguez, WR/CB; Juan Ross-Perkins, TE/LB; Denzel Shular, LB; Sophomores — Carlos Ayala-Sibrian; Rene Garcia Alvarado, OL/DL; Jordan Kason, WR/CB; Samuel Leonard, DB/TE; Jason Marques, CB; Thoas McCarthy, OL/DL; Steven Steele, WR; Becket White, WR;

NEWCOMERS: Freshmen — Cenai Collins, OL/DL; Thomas Dion, LB; James Mills, DB/QB; Joshua Vecchio, LB/RB; Hunter Wolfson, OL/DL;

OUTLOOK: A new coach has brought a businesslike attitude to the Hurricanes. They’ll have to replace three of their top four rushers from last season. Foerster returns at quarterback, while Budington will fill a variety of roles on offense and defense.