By Stephen Dravis
07:06PM / Saturday, November 24, 2012
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional High School football team should be well prepared for its Western Massachusetts Division 3 opener.
Mount Greylock meets Greenfield in the WMass Division III opener; Wahconah, which broke the Mounties' winning streak but couldn't take the county title, meets Hoosac Valley in the Division II opener. St. Joe's also on the road Tuesday against Belchertown in Division III.
"We've still got stuff to work on, but ... we pretty much are going to see Greenfield Tuesday night, and they're running the spread," Mounties coach Shawn Flaherty said Wednesday moments after his team beat another very good offense running the spread, Berkshire County runner-up and Division 2 Western Mass qualifier Wahconah.
"The D-backs are going to have their backs up against the wall. [Greenfield quarterback Zach] Bartak's a great runner. This was a tuneup. And I'll put the Berkshire County guys up there. Wahconah is the real deal.
"This was exactly what we needed to see."
Mount Greylock (9-1) wrapped up its third straight county championship game with the Thanksgiving Eve win over Wahconah (7-2). On Thursday, the Mounties learned for certain their regional playoff opponent would be Greenfield.
On Friday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association set the playoff dates and times for all four divisions of the Western Mass playoffs. The semifinals will be played in four double-headers around the region on Tuesday night.
In Division 2, second-seeded Wahconah will face No. 3 Hoosac Valley (7-3) in the 5:15 game at Westfield State University. The winner can stick around to get a good look at the other two semifinalists. Top-seeded South Hadley faces No. 4 seed Commerce at 7:45 at Westfield State.
Second-seeded Mount Greylock travels over the Mohawk Trail to meet No. 3 Greenfield (8-2) at 5:15 at Mahar Regional High School, the first half of a double-header with a Division 4 game involving Turners Falls and Ware.
The other half of the D3 bracket features No. 4 St. Joseph (8-3) against top seed Belchertown (10-1) at 5:15 at Holyoke High School. That game will be followed by a Division 4 game between Pathfinder and Easthampton.
The Hoosac-Wahconah game is a rematch of their Week 5 match-up, a 21-8 Hoosac Valley victory.
The Hurricanes used that win to start a 5-1 run, the only loss coming against Chicopee Comp, the No. 3 seed in the Division 1 tournament.
In their regular season meeting, Hoosac held Wahconah's high-powered offense to a season low for points and just 34 yards through the air.
The Hurricanes feature a powerful ground attack of their own with five rushers (Ian Hill, Matt Braman, Tyler Mach, Colby Gage and Blake Gaylord) each running for 290 yards or more and Hill going for more than 500 yards this fall.
Wahconah counters with the most balanced attack in Berkshire County led by quarterback Lane Grogan, who is as dangerous running the QB draw as he is distributing the ball to a quality corps of receivers led by big play threat Darrow Brown.
In the top half of the D3 bracket, St. Joseph faces a Belchertown team coming off its first loss of the season, a 30-8 Thanksgiving Day decision against unbeaten Pathfinder.
The Orioles' Nick Leduc has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. The Crusaders have the most potent one-two running back combination in Berkshire County with Taverick "Tank" Roberson and Lavante Wiggins. Between them, they have 26 touchdowns this season.
Mount Greylock's Ethan Ryan has that many TDs all by himself, and even though he missed most of the fourth quarter because of leg cramps on Wednesday night, look for him to be back on the field in the regional semi-final.
Unfortunately for the Mounties, there will be no such return for senior quarterback Hank Barrett, who was hurt in the next-to-last game of the regular season and is out for the year. Freshman Brodie Altiere has gone 2-0 in his first two varsity starts, however, and he has the full confidence of the team.
"We've been working with Brodie the last couple of weeks, and he's definitely been getting more comfortable under center," said Mountie end Tyrell Thomas. "He's just stepped up to the plate, and you'd never know he was a freshman and this was his first year of varsity football playing quarterterback.
"I'm so proud of him. I just wish Hank was on the field with us to celebrate that moment."