The offensive and defensive MVPs of Berkshire County football will raise no eyebrows.
Defensive MVP Jon Bianchi of St. Joseph's was the most cerebral -- and one of the toughest -- players in the county.
Offensive MVP Ethan Ryan of Mount Greylock needs no introduction, either. In fact, when speaking of Ryan, the only thing that needs to be written is a number: 2,060.
That is the number of yards for which Ryan rushed this year. That is a school record, as well as a county record.
There's a little more to the story. Ryan and the Mounties had to weather the loss of All-Eagle quarterback Hank Barrett in the eighth game of the season.
Backup quarterback Brodie Altiere did a good job in Barrett's absence. But it was Ryan who stepped up. It was Ryan who played the latter part of the season with the proverbial bullseye sitting on his back.
No problem, said his coach.
"He rushed for his first 1,000 yards in the first seven games," Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty said. "But he got his next 1,000 in five games."
That would include three postseason contests, if one wants to count the "plus-one" contest against Wahconah that settled the county championship.
They were all victories, and in each, Ryan was the star. The season culminated in a third consecutive Super Bowl win for the Mounties.
"I expected him to have a good season," said Flaherty. "I'd say I expected 1,600 or 1,700 yards. At the outside, 1,800 yards. But 2,000? That
Senior linebacker Jon Bianchi's coach was similarly impressed with his players' defensive play.
"There was no smarter football player that I have coached in my career than Jonny," said Bianchi's coach Gary Bianchi, Jon's father.
The younger Bianchi admitted that he had a slight edge over most of his fellow players.
"I had more access to game films than a lot of players," said Jon. "I'd usually watch film with my father."
"He watched a lot of film, and I was impressed with how quickly he picked things up," said Gary Bianchi.
This ability to be a quick study, both Bianchis conceded, at times led to some conflict.
"Yes, he would sometimes see things before I would," said the elder Bianchi. "And I would call a formation and he would disagree. That happened, absolutely."
"There were times when I would look at the sidelines and we would disagree," said Jon.
The Crusaders, like Greylock, were in the postseason, but were knocked out in the first round. Still, both Bianchis consider the season a success. Both will miss the young men who made it so.
"I've been playing with the same group of guys for a long time," said Jon. "It's hard to imagine that's it's over. I'll probably play somewhere next year, but to me, there was nothing like playing St. Joe football the last four seasons."
"It was," said his father, "a fun four years."
To reach Derek Gentile:
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