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Byrd, Wave soar past Senators in opener, 24-8

  • Greenfield High School’s Nate Haselton absorbs a blow on his way to the end zone to score the Green Wave’s first touchdown of the game during a 24-8 Intercounty League North win over Mahar Regional School Friday night at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield’s RJ Byrd runs over Mahar defenders on his way to the end zone for one of his three scores during the Green Wave’s 24-8 Intercounty League North win over Mahar Regional School Friday night at the Woodward Complex in Orange.. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield’s RJ Byrd did not go down easy on Friday night as he scored three times in the Green Wave’s 24-8 Intercounty League North win over Mahar Regional School Friday night at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mahar running back Jon Gariepy rips off a big chunk of yardage on Friday night but his Senators suffered a 24-8 loss to Greenfield in an Intercounty League North battle at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mahar quarterback Sam Paul fakes a throw before tucking the ball and running for a two-point conversion but his Senators suffered a 24-8 loss to Greenfield in an Intercounty League North battle at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield’s Owen Phelps gets ready to release a pass during his debut at quarterback on Friday night. The junior helped lead the Wave to a season-opening, 24-8, win over Mahar in an Intercounty League North battle at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mahar running back Jon Gariepy sprints down the sideline during the Senators’ season-opening, 24-8, loss to Greenfield Friday night at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Mahar defensive back Charlie Barnes comes down with an interception over Greenfield receiver Jacob Sak on Friday night but the Senators suffered a season-opening, 24-8, loss at the Woodward Complex in Orange. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



For The Recorder
Friday, September 08, 2017

ORANGE — It’s kind of tough to win a football game when you never touch the football.

The Mahar Regional School football team found that out the hard way when its offense got the ball for only four series’ en route to a 24-8 loss to the Greenfield High School Green Wave at the Woodward Sports Complex Friday night.

“We’re a young, inexperienced team and it showed tonight,” Mahar coach Chris Bailey said. “We had a hard time in a lot of areas and we couldn’t get (Greenfield) off the field.”

Part of the reason was Greenfield’s effective use of the onside kick, which gave the Green Wave the ball for what would have been Mahar’s opening series. Greenfield recovered at the Senator 48, and from there, junior backs RJ Byrd (29 carries, 219 yards) and Nate Haselton (15 carries, 66 yards) took over, as two runs from Byrd worked the ball down to the Mahar 9, where Haselton plowed it into the end zone to make it 6-0.

“We said at the beginning of this game that we were going to have to out-muscle and out-hit them to win and that’s what we did,” Greenfield Coach Mike Kuchieski said. “And RJ and Nate did a great job running.”

Mahar would get as far as the Greenfield 30 on the next series, thanks mostly to some impressive runs by junior tailback Jon Gariepy (11 carries, 101 yarda), who was the Senator’s most consistent offensive player. The drive ended on an incomplete Sam Paul pass on fourth-and-3. It would also be the last time the Mahar offense would touch the ball until the 7:17 mark of the second quarter.

Greenfield scored again on the next series, following a 13-play, 60 yard drive which ended with a Byrd 4-yard touchdown run to make it 12-0. Greenfield failed to the make two-point conversion attempts on all four touchdowns scored.

Greenfield got the ball back on the next play courtesy of another onside kick, which gave it the ball on the 50. The Green Wave would get the ball into the end zone, but it wound up in the arms of Mahar sophomore defensive back Charlie Barnes, who intercepted Greenfield quarterback Owen Phelps’ Hail Mary pass on third-and-13.

Mahar got the ball back on its own 20, where it would go on to execute its most effective offensive drive of the night, which was capped off by a 3-yard Paul touchdown. Gariepy hit the two-point conversion run to make it 12-8 at halftime.

Mahar came out fired up in the third quarter, where it mounted its best defensive effort of the night, pinning Greenfield back at its own 15. Hunter Campbell’s punt landed at about the Greenfield 38, where it was inadvertently touched by a Senator, allowing the Green Wave to recover it.

“Again, experience,” Bailey said. “You’ve got a first-year player there and we’re yelling ‘poison” and he thinks we’re telling him to grab it, and it ends up going back to them.”

The fumble would prove costly, as Greenfield tore down the field in just five plays, capped by a 36-yard Byrd touchdown run. Greenfield recovered the ensuing onside kickoff again at the Mahar 41, and would find the end zone again six plays later with a Byrd 8-yard touchdown run.

Mahar’s offense would get the ball two more times, but was unable to generate any consistent offense. The game ended when Phelps took a knee at the Mahar 17 after a 15-yard first down run by junior Dylan Duclos. The Green Wave did lose senior lineman Marty Brown to a right ankle injury in the first half. The severity of the injury has not been revealed as yet.