GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. – The Monument Mountain football team used its power run game and stifling defense to stun the visiting Mount Greylock Mounties 26-8 in their home opener at Spartan Field on Friday night in Great Barrington.
"I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life," said Spartan senior Mark Leon-Duque. "A lot of people didn't believe in us and just proving those people wrong. It feels so great to know that when you believe in yourself you can do anything."
Monument set the tone with their running game right from their first possession. On the Spartans' third play of the game, junior running back Mike Buffoni took the ball around the left end and broke free for a 35-yard touchdown. He plunged in from three out for the two-point conversion and Monument took an early 8-0 lead. The defense took over from their and was instrumental in building a 20-8 lead going into intermission.
Greylock answered in the second quarter with a 20-yard touchdown by sophomore Patrick Storie, but that would be the only points the Mounties could muster the rest of the night. Of their eight offensive possessions on the night, the Spartan defense recovered a fumble, intercepted a pass, forced three punts, and made the Mounties turn the ball over on downs twice including a huge goal line stand at the start of the fourth quarter.
"This team impresses me," said Monument coach Chris D'Aniello. "It's first and goal and Greylock is going to score their second touchdown. We stood them up. You can't coach that. That's heart. That's determination. That's all them."
"We're a defensive team," added Buffoni. "We hit you, you don't hit us. We knew if we wanted to win this game tonight that we had to make that stand right there and we did it."
"Defense is just having a force with one another. We all have our own responsibilities, and you just got to trust one another. Trust your partner next to you to watch the cut back. Trust yourself. Trust everyone around you and you'll make the plays," said Leon-Duque.
After fumbling on the Mounties 10-yard line, the Spartan defense got the ball back by recovering a fumble on a bad handoff between the Greylock quarterback and running back. One play later Buffoni smashed his way into the end zone from a yard out to put Monument up, 14-8.
But the defense was just getting warmed up as junior Brandon Perry picked off the Greylock quarterback on the Mounties' next possession and returned it 40 yards to the Greylock 25-yard line. Leon-Duque then got in on the power running action taking the next three runs and pounding his team down to the 7-yard line to set up teammate Buffoni for his third touchdown of the game.
Buffoni finished the game with 24 carries for 128 rushing yards and the three touchdowns. He credited his success to his offensive line.
"Our offensive line knew they were going to have a tough task with Jake Benzinger at the end and with Mike McCormack in the secondary,” Buffoni said. “You know they are big tough kids and our line stood up to the test today. Our captain lineman James Allentuck was telling them don't quit, keep driving forward. They did awesome and that's why I succeeded tonight.”
Leon-Duque also gave credit to the offensive line saying, "The run game was particularly excellent just because of the offensive line, who usually doesn't get credit, was blocking great tonight. Me and Terrance Powell were blocking for Buffoni. Terrance and Buffoni were blocking for me. It was just a very selfless offense which is what you want. One team getting those yards instead of individual players."
The run game made its final statement of the night when the Spartans came out of half-time and put together an eleven play, 60-yard drive that included four first downs and sucked seven minutes off the clock. Sophomore Cayvon Truden got his first chance to tote the rock and showed that despite Monument's power running ways they also have some speed in their arsenal.
Truden took the ball from Greylock's 21-yard line on a sweep to left and looked bottled up as soon as he reached the sideline but he spun his way out of a tackle and saw open space on the opposite side of the field. Truden turned on the boosters and dashed across the field to the right sideline, juked a would be tackler and crashed in for the Spartans fourth and final score of the night.
"The whole team played their hearts out tonight," D'Aniello. "It was just an awesome game. I was telling the guys it doesn't get any better than this. A cool Friday night under the lights on this beautiful field. These guys wanted to avenge that loss last week. They felt like they were close and they just wanted to get it done tonight. It was a great week of practice and that's really where it starts in practice. I could feel the vibe. The vibe was good this week and we were trying to stay inspired the whole time. That was a tough loss but this made up for it."
"We've been playing football together for six plus years and we are a family," said Leon-Duque. "We are all brothers and that's a huge part of football. Just getting to know people around you and playing for each other."