Hurricanes Welcome Mount Greylock Back to the Gridiron
CHESHIRE, Mass. -- For high school football players throughout Western Massachusetts, it was a long 16 months between opportunities to represent their school on the gridiron.
At Mount Greylock, make that 28 months.
The Mounties, who were forced to join a co-op with Drury for the 2019 season, had their long awaited return to the field on Saturday afternoon.
And while the final score, a 44-8 Hoosac Valley win, is not one the Mounties may want to remember, the experience of reviving their program is one they might not soon forget.
"It means everything," Mount Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty said. "It's either Mount Greylock football or no Mount Greylock football. And today, it's Mount Greylock football. The kids played their guts out, and they held their heads up high. This is our starting point.
"The first day of practice, I told the entire team, 'If you're fortunate enough to come back to Mount Greylock in 10 years and go to John T. Allen Field and watch a football game, you know that that's you -- that you did this.' That was the message right from Day 1."
On the other side of the field, football season is a given for the Hurricanes ... or it was until the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the Fall 2020 campaign. So first-year Hoosac Valley coach Mike Bostwick also knows something about the importance of having an opportunity to play.
"For our guys, [Saturday's win] means a lot because we don't know how long the season's going to last from week to week," Bostwick said. "So just to have a win, get a 'W,' I think that's awesome."
The Hurricanes (1-1) took their lumps in the season opener a week ago at Berkshire Community College and wasted no time taking out their frustrations on Saturday.
Hoosac Valley scored touchdowns the first four times it touched the ball, taking a 30-0 lead in the first quarter.
It needed just 10 offensive plays on its first three possessions combined, and eighth-grader Griffin Mucci returned an interception 25 yards for the other score.
After a 30-yard return by Kobe Valois on the opening kickoff gave Hoosac Valley possession at midfield to start the game, the Canes went 45 yards on three plays -- the last yard a 1-yard plunge by quarterback Carson Meczwyor.
Mucci's pick-6 ended Mount Greylock'sfirst possession. And a three-and-out for the Mounties and errant snap on a punt attempt gave the Hrricanes the ball on the plus-39 the next time it went on offense.
It tookjust four plays to get in the end zone on a 31-yard run by Shaun Kastner to make it 20-0, and Meczywor completed a pass to Caleb Harrington to push the lead to 22-0 with less than six minutes off the clock.
Mount Greylock again was held without a first down, but this time it got the punt away and down to the Hoosac Valley 26. But Logan Davis and Aaron Bush broke off runs of 20 and 48 yards, respectively, the latter going to the end zone, in a three-play scoring drive. Kastner ran in the 2-pointer, and it was a 30-0 game.
The only thing that could slow Hoosac Valley was Hoosac Valley in the first quarter, when it took four penalties for 40 yards.
"Sometimes, just mentally, how you prepare and how view your opponents from week to week, you come out and you're not as fluid as you want to be," Bostwick said. "But they simmered down and got things rolling for us. That was it."
After a 10-yard penalty on the first play of the second quarter, Hoosac Valley was flagged just one more time the rest of the game.
It's next two scoring "drives" consisted of one play apiece. And each time, it was the youngster Mucci doing the honors.
Late in the second quarter, he went 53 yards for a score after a Harrington interception. In the third quarter, he answered Mount Greylock's first touchdown by going 56 yards on the first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff.
Mucci, one of six eighth-graders on Hoosac Valley's roster, ran for 113 yards with a pair of TDs plus the pick-6 to steal a little of the limelight on Senior Day in Cheshire.
"Honestly, sports in general, I don't care what sport you're playing, if you can build a kid's confidence and you can build it at a younger age and keep that kid working hard, that is everything we want to do," Bostwick said. "That was great to see. The support that he got from his teammates, the fact that they wanted to see him succeed to that extent, was awesome too.
"As a coach, that makes you feel pretty good, that they've got each other's backs out there and they're supporting one another."
Mount Greylock, meanwhile, could take a little bit of confidence away from its offensive performance in the second half, which was played with running time.
The Mounties went 52 yards with their first possession of the third quarter, 45 of those yards came on passes by freshman Ben McDonough, who finished the drive with an 11-yard completion to freshman Dom Carnavale.
McDonough (84 yards passing) ran in the two-point conversion to make it 37-8 before Mucci's second rushing TD.
After the Hurricanes got their final score, Mount Greylock drove from its 32 to Hoosac Valley's 27. But Hoosac Valely senior Davion Cote ended thoughts of another score with a pickoff at the goalline in the final minutes.
"We're definitely learning to play high school football," Flaherty said. "We're going to take our lumps. But each practice, each session is a growing experience. This is another one today."