Championships defined 2012 for many locals
There were state champions, those who fell just short of state championships -- and one created opportunity for state championships. Some teams continued winning, while a few defied all odds with their victories.
By many accounts, 2012 was a successful year for Berkshire County sports. The pressure is on for football to meet or exceed the momentum it gained this season, while baseball experienced new successes and lacrosse announced its presence with authority.
Here are the 10 stories The Eagle's sports staff believes stood ahead of the rest this year. Mount Greylock's Super 3-peat
For their third consecutive trip to a Western Mass. Super Bowl, the Mounties didn't even allow a postseason point. Greylock torched Greenfield in the Division III semifinals 62-0 before shutting out Belchertown 24-0 in the Super Bowl at Westfield State in early December.
Ethan Ryan, who scored three times in the Super Bowl win, rushed for more than 2,000 yards for Greylock this season. The Mounties, despite losing quarterback Hank Barrett to injury late in the season, avenged their only regular-season loss, beating Wahconah in a rematch to win the county championship.
They said it: We've made our mark. 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.
St. Joe's reaches state boys
basketball title game
Led by All-Eagle MVP Tank Roberson and a tough bench, coach Paul Brindle's Crusaders finished 20-6, winning the Western Mass. Division III championship and advancing to the state finals before losing to Danvers in the championship game in March.
St. Joe's reached the state final by knocking off defending D-III state champion Whitinsville Christian in a nail-biting semifinal in Springfield.
They said it: We started off and we wanted to be city champs and county champs. We accomplished our goals. We just fell short for the state championship.
-- Joe Wiggins, St. Joe's senior
Lenox's Scott Carpenter is a state cross country champ
The Millionaires' senior runner couldn't be caught in a Massachusetts high school race this fall. Carpenter won every race in which he was entered in the Bay State, winning county, Western Mass. and state Division II championships along the way.
The state title was the only one which had eluded him until he finished the Northfield Recreation Center course in 15 minutes, 55.75 seconds on Nov. 17 to earn his championship.
They said it: I thought, 'This is the moment we've been waiting for. He's doing it.'
-- Lenox coach Jeanne Teasdale, at states
MIAA votes for a state
Football will no longer be the high school sport without a state champion in Massachusetts. After a number of previous tries failed in past years, the MIAA's membership voted 161-131 on Oct. 26 to institute a state playoff system, which will begin next school year.
The plan establishes six divisions for football -- four of them in Western Massachusetts -- and saves the Thanksgiving Day rivalry games that are cherished by many schools east of the Berkshires. The program is a two-year pilot program to start.
They said it: It's something that needs to happen. You have to have a state champion. Otherwise the story's never
-- Bill Bryce, Drury football coach
Wahconah wins W. Mass.
D-II Super Bowl
After a six-year stint running the football program in Berwick, Pa., Gary Campbell Jr. returned to Wahconah Regional as head football coach and co-athletic director. His presence was felt immediately, as the Warriors not only ended Mount Greylock's 33-game win streak, but played for a county championship and eventually won a Super Bowl for the first time in nine years.
With Lane Grogan throwing for two touchdowns and running for another, and Ethan Wells getting the go-ahead TD on the final play of the first half, Wahconah won its championship on the Gillette Stadium turf, beating South Hadley 24-21 on Dec. 1.
They said it: It's an unbelievable experience. To come back home and do this here is an unbelievable feeling. ... This one year has been crazy.
Mount Everett's Cinderella run to state baseball final
The Eagles couldn't bring home Berkshire County's first state baseball championship since 1990 -- but no one expected Mount Everett to be in a position to win its first Western Mass. title, let alone the Division III state title.
Behind the pitching of Dylan Wheeler and Erik Derwitsch, Mount Everett rolled through the Western Mass. bracket. Wheeler two-hit Frontier in the sectional title game, and Derwitsch shut out Oxford in the state semifinals. North Reading beat the Eagles 8-4 in the state title game in Worcester.
They said it: For our community, it took us close to 60, 70 years to make a run and get a team in the state final. We found a way to do it.
-- Jesse Carpenter, Mount Everett coach
Pittsfield Babe Ruth
15-year-old All-Stars reach World Series
In a run that saw them honored at Fenway Park at summer's end, the Pittsfield Babe Ruth 15-year-old baseball All-Stars advanced all the way to Van Buren, Ark., and the Babe Ruth World Series. Pittsfield reached the single-elimination playoff portion of the 10-team tournament, falling to El Segundo, Calif., in their playoff-round opener and finishing fifth overall.
To win the New England regional championship, the Bob Shade-led Pittsfield squad had to beat Waterford, Conn., twice in early August. Once it reached Arkansas, Pittsfield won three pool-play games in the World Series.
They said it: This is huge. We've never been this far before. It's huge for the city.
-- Mitch Clary, Pittsfield player
High school varsity lacrosse makes its debut
Last year at this time, the mere addition of lacrosse programs was one of the big stories. Now, it's all about taking the field in the Berkshires.
Lacrosse finished its first season as an MIAA-sanctioned varsity sport in Berkshire County high schools this spring. Lee, Mount Greylock and Pittsfield's boys advanced to the Western Mass. playoffs, while Lee and Greylock's girls made Western Mass. -- with Lee reaching the quarterfinals. Monument Mountain's boys join the league this spring.
They said it: It certainly vindicates all the efforts we've had over the past seven years, showing it's a viable sport.
-- Paul Lange, Wahconah boys coach, after Monument's addition
Pittsfield Suns make city, Futures League debut
The team was named in April, took the field in June and is preparing for its second season now. The Suns, Pittsfield's latest venture into summer wooden-bat college league baseball, averaged 1,344 fans per game over 24 home dates. That figure put the franchise second in the league to the Brockton Rox.
Pittsfield will have some new faces this season, with Kevin McGuire taking over as general manager and 22-year-old Tom Conley stepping in as manager.
They said it: We couldn't be any happier. I think it [the first season] blew everyone's minds.
-- Former manager/GM Jamie Keefe, on the first season
Continued state Nordic
dominance for Greylock
The winter wasn't mild enough to stop Greylock. For the fifth consecutive year, the Mounties won the state girls Nordic championship. The Greylock boys were state champions for the fifth time in six years.
Led by All-Eagle MVP Mackenzie Hitchcock, Greylock's girls placed four in the top 20 at the state meet at Prospect Mountain Ski Area. Two-time All-Eagle boys MVP Josh Harrington finished third in the boys race, as Greylock distanced itself from runner-up Concord-Carlisle.
They said it: It felt like we were doing this for the team we have this year and the teams I've been on since seventh grade. We're keeping the tradition of skiing going.
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