Mount Greylock goes for third Western Mass. Super Bowl win in a row today
WILLIAMSTOWN -- There's big wins and then there's what the Mount Greylock football team did to Greenfield on Tuesday.
Mounties coach Shawn Flaherty said he thought there was the potential for a comfortable Greylock victory in the Western Massachusetts Division III semifinal, but 62-0?
"It's funny," Flaherty said. "There's times when a team can just hit its stride. Possibly we've done that. The kids have just worked hard all year. ...
"The team is definitely just real excited about making it back to the Super Bowl. It's been a real boost."
The two-time defending sectional champs head into today's clash with No. 1 Belchertown at Westfield State University riding a high. Ethan Ryan has run for 1,843 yards -- including 286 yards and six touchdowns on Tuesday -- and the Mounties have already avenged their only loss in the last three years by beating Wahconah in the Berkshire County championship game.
But this Greylock dynasty, if that's what you want to call it, has been built on line play. Against the Green Wave, Flaherty saw something unusual even for his outstanding line. The Mounties were eager to block 30, 40 yards downfield, breaking Ryan free for those big runs.
"That was insane," Ryan said. "One play I actually stopped and turned around. There were three guys in front of me from Greenfield. All of a sudden I see the cavalry coming up to block for me. It was just amazing to see the determination and the willingness to actually give it their all on every play."
The Mounties will need that kind of hustle again today against the top seed. The Orioles (11-1) have, like Greylock, lost just once this year. Belchertown fell to Pathfinder -- which will play in the Division IV Super Bowl -- on Thanksgiving.
Orioles coach John Mayo said outsiders didn't expect his team to be much better than average this season. But a veteran defense led by lineman Alex Clair and linebacker Tony Pellerin has been stout in the red zone in addition to forcing more than 32 turnovers.
Despite those credentials, Mayo said stopping Ryan will require a very special effort.
"He's the best we've seen all year," Mayo said. "He seems very instinctive in his running. He knows where to cut and when to go. You can't teach that. If he's going to run wild like [he did against] Greenfield, we'll be in for a long day."
One advantage the Mounties will have is Super Bowl experience. This is Greylock's third straight trip to Westfield and Flaherty emphasized a business-like approach to truncated preparations for the Orioles. The Mounties had Wednesday off before spending two days practicing at Williams College's Renzie Lamb Field in an attempt to simulate the turf Greylock will see in Westfield today.
Flaherty said he likes to focus on defense during Super Bowl week, working through what Belchertown will throw at his team. The approach has certainly worked well the last two years.
"We like to play against teams not from Berkshire County a lot because it's more fun and more exciting. It's a new learning experience," said lineman Rob Buffis. "I guess there always is kind of an uncertainty and almost a worry for teams you haven't played before and you don't know a lot about."
Mayo said on Friday his team was a little behind in preparations. He had put his focus on defense and special teams, with the offense getting less attention.
"It's different but it was different on Tuesday and it turned out pretty good for us on Tuesday," Mayo said.
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