WESTFIELD -- It was an eerie replay of a year ago.
There was Hank Barrett once again clutching the Western Massachusetts Division III championship trophy on the field at Westfield State University, his smile a mile wide. Even with his arm in a sling, the Mount Greylock quarterback couldn't hide that smile.
"This is what we wanted no matter what," he said. "Whether I'm out there or not, this is what we wanted and we did it together. We did it through a lot adversity. It just feels great, feels amazing."
The loss of Barrett back on Oct. 26 was perhaps the biggest hill for the Mounties to overcome in their march to a third straight Super Bowl title and a 24-0 win over Belchertown on Saturday. The senior had led his team to an unbeaten record when he suffered a broken collarbone in a loss to Wahconah.
The injury ended his season prematurely, leaving him on the sidelines Saturday in jeans and work boots. His encouragement was unmistakable, though. After the game, 2,000-yard rusher Ethan Ryan quickly found Barrett and hugged him.
"He's the most vocal person on the team," Ryan said. "Even though he can't do anything out on the field, he's always there in spirit on the outside, rooting for everyone no matter what.
"It's definitely motivation. You hear from a kid who would give anything to be out on the field, just to play one more down. He's yelling for you, ‘C'mon, do this for us.' It breaks your heart but it also motivates you to do well.
Mounties coach Shawn Flaherty said Barrett put on "a completely different hat" after the injury. He stepped in right away to mentor freshman quarterback Brodie Altiere and provided constant motivation for the rest of the team.
When Greylock was holding a tenuous 8-0 lead Saturday and the Orioles were driving past midfield, Barrett yelled at his teammates to "dig deep" from the sideline. Tyler Picard's drive-killing sack a couple of plays later may have just been the play of the game, with Barrett pumping his free arm in the air.
Altiere could hear the senior. It was with Barrett's guidance that he was able to roll out in the first half and connect on a big pass to Brett McCormack at the Orioles' 3-yard line. Ryan scored the only points Greylock needed on the very next play.
"The support, he gave me confidence throwing that pass," Altiere said. "He gave me the confidence to make that throw. He was there every pass, every day."
No. 18 was there on Saturday, too, pumping his fists and blowing on his hands in the rain and snow. His father, Greylock assistant coach Paul Barrett, told him as the clock winded down that "as an alternative, this is what you wanted." There were no complaints from the younger Barrett.
"We've made our mark," Hank Barrett said. "After the first Super Bowl, no one expected us to do it again. Then after last year, not really anybody expected us to do it again. But we dug deep and we found it within us and we dealt with a lot of struggles. Not just me, but a lot of people [were] injured, went down. ... We came out here and finished strong."
It's just indescribable."
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