Mount Greylock surfs over the Green Wave on Tuesday on their way to the Super Bowl.
ORANGE, Mass. — With more than 1,800 yards and 32 touchdowns this season, Mount Greylock Regional High School senior Ethan Ryan has a lot of fans.
Count Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski among them.
"He's the best football player I've seen in a long time," Kuchieski said Tuesday after Ryan ran for 287 yards and six touchdowns to propel the Mounties to a 62-0 win over the Green Wave and a third straight trip to the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Super Bowl.
"They're the best football team we've faced all year. There's no doubt about that. They can do everything up front, and they have great backs. Those two backs (Ryan and Daivon Clement) are thunder and lightning."
On Saturday afternoon at Westfield State University, the Mounties will go for a third straight Western Mass crown against Belchertown, a 26-0 winner over St. Joseph on Tuesday evening in Holyoke.
Against Greenfield (8-3), the Mounties scored on their first play from scrimmage — a 48-yard scamper by Ryan — and never looked back.
Ryan had just one carry after half-time, a 62-yard score, and fullback Clement ran for 112 yards and scored two touchdowns — one off the right arm of freshman quarterback Brodie Altiere.
Defensively, the Mounties (10-1) limited Greenfield star quarterback Zach Bartak to 60 yards rushing; 33 of those yards came on a 35-yard drive in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Bartak did manage 78 yards through the air, but he also threw two interceptions.
"We take so many chances offensively that we kind of rely on the big play to happen sometimes with some of our athletes, and sometimes when that doesn't go it hurts us a little bit," Kuchieski said. "I think with the type of offense we have, we have to get the big play, and Mount Greylock is probably the most athletic team we've faced all year.
Ryan credited Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty and his staff for getting the Mounties prepared to shut out a Greenfield offense that scored 30 or more points five times this year.
"Coach Flaherty prepared us really well," said Ryan, a senior captain who plays in the defensive backfield. "Bartak's a great quarterback, obviously, as you saw tonight. But coach really prepared us and told us what was coming, and everyone did their job tonight."
Greylock won its third straight game and posted its fourth shutout of the season. The defense added a new wrinkle in its late season run of four games — and counting — against teams that run a spread offense.
"We played that 4-2-5, that seems to be the 'now' defense with modern football," Flaherty said. "In Division I football, it's all spread, and the 4-2-5, I think, is going to be the defense that is the answer — at least the closest thing to an answer for that.
"And we let the kids play. We put an aggressive pass rush on and were able to blitz our linebackers at times."
Tyler Picard recorded a sack for 4 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and Matt Malloy added a sack for 5 on Greenfield's second possession.
The closest the Green Wave got to sniffing the end zone was a second quarter drive that started on Greenfield's 39 with the Mounties holding an 18-0 lead.
A pass that deflected off Clement's hands found Greenfield's Garrett Hudson for a first down at midfield, and four plays later the Green Wave had a first-and-goal at the 5. But Picard knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage on second down, Spencer Haley broke up a pass in the end zone on third, and Haley made a shoestring tackle on Bartak for no gain on fourth down to end the threat.
"It definitely was a momentum swing," Ryan said. "They were coming hard, and nobody wants to see anything but a zero on the other side of the scoreboard. Everyone dug down deep and really just did what they had to do."
That included Haley, a 5-foot-8, 150-pound senior who wears the eye-catching No. 70 in Mount Greylock's defensive backfield. The number looked more natural at his former position: the defensive line.
"It's a good story," Flaherty said. "When he was younger, he was a D-tackle and an O-lineman. But when we'd run the scout teams, when our team was offense, he would play corner. You get your opportunity to play at different spots if you want to at times.
"He got to play, and he really did a nice job. And with Hank [Barrett] gone and some other injuries or some tenderness here or there ... We used to make jokes about 'Haley island,' but we said, 'Son of a gun, he can play there,' and we put him in. And he did a nice job."