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Wave ends Turners’ streak, 12-0

  • Greenfield running back RJ Byrd finds some running room around the end during the Green Wave’s 12-0 win over rival Turners Falls in an Intercounty League North football win Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Above, Greenfield running back RJ Byrd was a tough man to tackle Friday night as he rushed for 241 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Green Wave to its first win over Turners Falls since 2010 with a 12-0 victory in Intercounty League North action at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Below, Wave quarterback Owen Phelps (10) fires a pass. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield quarterback Own Phelps throws a pass during the Wave’s 12-0 victory over Turners Falls in Intercounty League North action Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield running back Nate Haselton totes the ball Friday night during the Green Wave’s 12-0 victory over Turners Falls in Intercounty League North action at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Green Wave receiver Hunter Campbell is met by a pair of Turners Falls defenders during Greenfield’s 12-0 victory in Intercounty League North action Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Running back Marcus Sanders rips off an early run against the Green Wave but Turners Falls suffered a 12-0 loss in Intercounty League North action Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners quarterback Kyle Dodge goes back to throw during his team’s 12-0 loss to Greenfield Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners receiver Andy Craver can't haul in this pass as Green Wave defender Daniel Vega breaks it up during the first quarter of Greenfield’s 12-0 Intercounty League North win Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Greenfield quarterback Owen Phelps throws on the run Friday night as he and the Green Wave ended a seven-game losing streak to Turners Falls with a 12-0 Intercounty League North victory at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • It took a team of Turners Falls defenders to bring down Greenfield running back RJ Byrd on Friday night. The junior back piled up 241 yards as his Wave defeated Turners, 12-0, in Intercounty League North action at Veterans Memorial Field in Greenfield. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz



Recorder Staff
Friday, September 22, 2017

GREENFIELD — Defense, time of possession, and a whole lot of RJ Byrd.

It all added up to another solid victory to open the season for Greenfield High School, as the Green Wave improved to a perfect 3-0 on the year with a 12-0 shutout of rival Turners Falls High School in a Intercounty League North Division football game Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field.

The win snapped a string of seven straight victories in the series for the Powertown, which lost to Greenfield for the first time since 2010. The two teams will meet one more time this season for the tradition Thanksgiving Day contest on Nov. 23.

“We’re happy with this win, but our offense is going to have to learn to put games away,” admitted Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski. “Give Turners credit. They played hard until the end and didn’t let us off the hook one bit. We have to be able to close teams out better than this going forward.”

The Green Wave (3-0, 3-0 IL North) defense was the story in this one. Turners (1-2, 1-1) was held to just 71 yards of offense and three first downs in the loss, including a mere 22 yards in the second half. With Greenfield’s offense consistently moving the ball and chewing up time of possession, the Powertown was unable to get the ball back in the second half. Turners ran just seven offensive snaps in the second half after falling into a 12-0 deficit at intermission.

“Defense won this game,” Kuchieski explained. “The game plan on that side of the ball was great. Coach (Al) Dean does a great job with that group. They made the plays and got our offense back out on the field.”

In addition to the defensive effort, Greenfield’s huge advantage in time of possession was aided by the work of Byrd. The junior tailback has been a workhorse through three weeks of the season, and Friday night’s performance proved that opposing defenses are going to have to slow him down if they want any chance of beating the Wave this season. Byrd carried the ball a whopping 36 times for 241 yards, both season-highs, and a pair of touchdowns. Through three games, Byrd has rushed for 555 yards on the ground with a better than six-yard average per tote.

“By no means do we want to have to feed RJ the ball 30 to 35 times a game, but he’s running really hard and running well north and south,” said Kuchieski of his featured back. “Our offensive line blocked well for the second week in a row. It was another good performance from that group.”

Byrd's big night enabled Greenfield to hold a decisive 17-3 advantage in first downs, and the Wave took advantage with a massive time of possession that saw them maintain possession for 31 minutes and 46 seconds of the 44-minute contest.

Byrd got the scoring started late in the first quarter, capping off a seven-play drive with a 16-yard touchdown run around the left side that put the hosts on top, 6-0, with 3:34 remaining.

He doubled the advantage with 4:41 left in the second quarter. Another lengthy Greenfield drive saw the offense march 73 yards on 12 plays in a span of 6:42. Byrd carried the ball six times on the drive, including the final four carries, and he scampered in from 12 yards out to extend the lead to 12-0.

Turners was still within striking distance in the second half, however. After stuffing Byrd at the Powertown 3 with 6:59 left in the third quarter, junior John Torres ran for 9 yards on first down and a 15-yard facemask penalty gave the visitors signs of life. But like it did all night, Greenfield’s defense stepped up and shut things down, forcing another punt in the process.

Marcus Sanders led the Turners offense with 46 yards on 10 carries, including the team’s longest gainer of the day on the very first play from scrimmage in the opening quarter (28-yard run).

While Byrd did the bulk of the work offensively for Greenfield, fullback Nate Haselton also had a nice game. The junior bulldozer amassed 34 yards on the ground on seven carries and hauled in two catches for 27 yards. Quarterback Owen Phelps completed four of his nine passes for 56 yards and an interception.

With the win, Greenfield is now one of just two undefeated teams left in the Intercounty North along with Easthampton High School (2-0 in the league, 2-1 overall). The league appears to be wide open, and Kuchieski knows nothing will be easy moving forward. The Wave next host Franklin County Technical School Friday night at 7.

“They’re a physical, physical team and they’ll grind it out on you like they always do,” lauded Kuchieski of Tech. “The Intercounty is pretty even across the board right now so we’ll see where this thing goes week to week.”

Turners travels to play at McCann Technical School (0-1) in an independent game Saturday in North Adams (1 p.m.).