Derek Gentile: Picking our schools' best-ever teams
So I was sitting around wih most of the senior members of Mount Everett’s Greatest Sports Team of All Time the other day.
When I mentioned that to them, they thought it was a good fit. The 2012 version of the Mount Everett baseball team went farther than any other Eagle squad ever, right to the Division III state finals. And let’s have some respect for the Mount Everett 1990 softball team, who were also Western Mass. champions, knocking off previously unbeaten Monson 14-11 in the final.
As I was driving home, I got to thinking about other schools in Berkshire County. There are a host of great teams, and I proffer this list in hopes of getting some good-natured feedback. Emphasis on good-natured, okay?
So, from north to south, here we go.
Mount Greylock: Some outstanding boys’ and girls’ cross country and track teams, and cross country ski teams, almost too many to delineate. The Mounties have had great softball, soccer and wrestling teams, as well. Greylock’s four consecutive state softball finalists from 1992-95 stand out. But I think about the football team this past season. That squad was 3-0 against local Super Bowl teams in 2011 and 6-0 against playoff teams. That is a heck of a record.
Drury: Lots to like about the Blue Devils’ 1978 and 1990 state baseball champs, both of whom won by blowouts. But as a little kid, I was in awe of Drury’s 1971 Western Mass. basketball team that went to the New England tournament. A lot of talent on that squad. But in fairness, it’s one of those baseball teams.
McCann Tech: The Hornets’ 1987 baseball team were Western Mass. finalists. But I have to take the 2011 Super Bowl team.
Hoosac Valley: The 1991 football team was unbeaten, allowing the second-fewest points in the state that year, and dominated Turners Falls 31-0 in the Super Bowl. I also liked Hoosac’s 2003 state runner-up boys’ basketball team, the 1998 state softball finalists and the 1974 Western Mass. track champs.
Wahconah: Another strong athletic program, but it’s hard to argue with the 2011 softball state champs -- unless you come back with the 1987 boys’ basketball state champs. Their comeback from 15 points down late in the fourth quarter remains the greatest comeback in state history. Pick ‘em, as they say in betting circles.
Pittsfield: If you don’t count the 1915 New England boys’ basketball champions (and I’m not, only because they didn’t earn that title in tournament play), I think you have to go with one of the state baseball champs. All have something to help them make their case: I’ll go with Tommy Grieve’s 1966 champs. Props to the Generals’ back-to-back state finalists in girls’ basketball in 2001 and ‘02.
St. Joseph’s: Baseball or basketball? A tough one. The 2001 boys’ state hoop champs have a lot to recommend them, as does the ‘88 squad. But the 1975 state baseball champs capped a four-year period in which the Crusaders were in the state finals three of four years, winning in 1972 as well as 1975.
Taconic: The Braves’ 1974 Super Bowl champs were the first football team in the county to win a Western-Central Super Bowl. I think I’m going with them, although the 1976-77 back-to-back Western Mass. baseball champs were tough, as well.
Lee: Obviously, one of the Wildcats numerous girls state championships. I’m picking the 1991 champs, who topped off three consecutive state crowns that year. Their three victories in the state finals were by an average of 22 points. You read that right. But I am also giving a shout-out to that 1993 Super Bowl team. Quarterback Jeff Puleri did not throw an interception all year.
Lenox: Some great cross country ski champions. But it’s hoops in Lenox, isn’t it? The 1974 boys’ state champs, led by freshman Billy LaHart; Lisa Boenitz’s 1984 state champs; and Sam Herrick’s 1992 Massachusetts title winners were all great. I think the 1984 winners were the most dominant, the 1974 boys had the toughest road, and the 1992 team was the best story. Take your pick.
Monument Mountain: I’m partial to the Spartans’ 1986 unbeaten girls basketball team. But the Spartans’ 2000 state champions were tough, as well. And Monument’s 1990 unbeaten football squad won a rough-and-tough Super Bowl over Ware.
Mount Everett: It’s going to be hard to unseat the 2012 state finalists in baseball.
Some other great teams from schools that no longer exist: The Dalton High 1943 state baseball runners-up and the 1945 Adams High basketball New England runners-up.
To reach Derek Gentile:
On Twitter: @derekgentile.
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