Monument Mountain drills

The Spartans spent last Thursday's practice working on fundamentals, like pursuing the football, at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington.

GREAT BARRINGTON — The Spartans spent the spring chiseling through the metaphorical tunnel that was the Fall II sports season.

Monument Mountain could only participate in two games and featured a thin roster in coach Darren Carlson’s first season as coach. However, the Spartans kept digging toward the light at the end of the tunnel — the 2021 season.

“We saw some success during the spring and I think it helped harden the players and expand our knowledge going into the fall,” quarterback Hunter DeGrenier said. “We just needed to sharpen what we knew, make it feel simple and easy.”

The Spartans rostered eight juniors in the spring and for the returning seniors, this will be the first time they’ve played under the same coach for multiple seasons.

“It is a whole new experience and we’re loving it,” said Reece Mullen, who will play running back and linebacker for the Spartans. “There is plenty of stuff on the table. We studied and worked hard all summer and throughout last spring.”

The Spartans had two spring games wiped out due to the pandemic, but continued to work on the practice field.

“As far as myself, the coaches and the seniors, we’re more like a team now,” Carlson said. “We’ve gotten through COVID and been together for seven months. We had two games together but a ton of practices — it almost feels like it’s been three years.”

The Spartans began working even before the spring season. Carlson added that the team benefitted from the 7-on-7 league at Wahconah High School in the Fall of 2020.

“It is an all-new experience for me and the older guys,” Mullen said. “This is our first time using a pass-first spread offense and we’re loving it.”

DeGrenier threw the ball 27 times during the spring season as the Spartans went 1-1, falling to Hoosac Valley and defeating Drury.

“They’re excited about the offense and they’re starting to feel like a machine,” Carlson said.

Junior Nick Henderson and senior Connor McLeod will be the primary receivers for the Spartans. Seniors Arthur Labrie and Ashton Aloisi could also gobble up targets. Henderson may even appear in the backfield when Mullen needs a breather as the primary back.

Defensively, McLeod and DeGrenier will join junior Jay Howard in the secondary.

Monument Mountain also welcomes some depth after shuffling numbers in the spring.

“We had workouts in the summer with at least double digits and a lot of the younger kids,” Carlson said. “We’re sitting close to 30 players after having around 20 last year.

“You can base the offense around a single purpose in order to make it easier to remember. We have a lot of young linemen and using a numbers system really helps.”

Players like Owen Wade and Nate Smith return to the trenches. However, the team lost seniors Cori Keefner and Tyler Kibbe on the offensive line.

Young and old, the same mindset resonates throughout the Spartans.

“We’re working to win and our coaches are pushing us to get there,” Mullen said. “We do everything in practice as hard as we can every time we do it.”

As if the Spartans needed any more motivation, the season will begin on Sept. 9 with the south county rival Lee Wildcats taking a trip down to Monument Mountain.

“Everyone is a little more focused this year,” Carlson said. “Having Lee in the first game, that gets [the team] excited every week.”

The Spartans have a dress rehearsal scheduled with a scrimmage against Taconic on Friday night.

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com or 413-464-3655. On Twitter: @JMendel94.

Sports Reporter

As a lifelong Pittsfield resident, Jake gravitates to the nearest field or park. He joined The Eagle as a paperboy in 2005 and worked his way up, becoming a full-time reporter in 2018. He's currently a sports reporter.