Wave smacks Raiders, 35-6
ATHOL — The Athol High School football team got a good look at the future of the Greenfield High School running attack — on that looks mighty bright indeed.
Sophomore tailback Brayten Stack torched the Red Raiders for 165 yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns as the Green Wave greatly improved its postseason chances with a 35-6 domination of the Red Raiders last night at O’Brien Field.
“I felt really good out there, and the line did a great job opening some holes,” Stack said of his breakout performance. “We’re really playing well now and everyone is working hard.”
“He’s a slashy, north-and-south kind of runner and he has great vision of the field for a sophomore,” Greenfield Coach Mike Kuchieski said of Stack. “And Jordan (York-Welcome) does a great job blocking for him, and those two guys definitely got it done tonight.”
Athol did not seem to have much of an answer for the Green Wave’s bread-and-butter play of the night, an off-tackle draw which often saw Stack enter the Red Raider secondary before anyone touched him. Stack scored the first of his three touchdowns with 31-yard draw run straight up the gut on the third Wave offensive play. The first of five Robin Marchese kicks split the uprights to make it 7-nothing Greenfield.
Athol would answer late in the second quarter, when quarterback Andrew Poor (3 for 4 passing for 17 yards, 1 carry for 16 yards) took a sneak up the middle and into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown run. Senior Jerry Parker’s (3 for 5 passing for 61 yards) point-after pass attempt to Todd Smith fell incomplete, keeping the score 7-6.
Stack would find the end zone again before the end of the half, taking it in from four yards out, capping a nine-play, 57 yard drive where he carried the ball exclusively. Marchese’s extra point kick made it 14-6 Greenfield at halftime.
“He’s a good player, and that’s a good system, hopefully we’ll have the horses to play against him over the next two years,” said Athol coach Matt Gauvin of Stack.
The Green Wave would score again on the first series of the second half, courtesy of a Stack 10-yard run. York-Welcome (9 carries, 43 yards) took it in from three yards out on the next series, and another sophomore back, Mikal Dobbins, rounded out the scoring with an impressive 38 yard touchdown run through the same tackle hole which Stack and York-Welcome exploited for most of the night.
“Everybody played hard, and we put together four solid quarters which is what we try to do every game,” Kuchieski said. “I was a little concerned about a possible letdown after last week, and especially against these guys, because Athol always plays tough and they’ve got a lot of weapons.”
A week removed from his 241-yard air assault on Ludlow, Greenfield quarterback Connor Eckstrom had a quiet but effective night in the pocket, going 3-for-6 passing for 56 yards and one interception. Garrett Hudson caught two balls for 27 yards, while Lew Borden caught one pass for 29 yards.
Kuchiessi said he’s not overly focused on the impact this win has on Greenfield’s playoff hopes — or even the postseason in general.
“I think that will take care of itself, but right now we need to take care of ourselves each week,” Kuchieski said. “If you keep winning, you make the playoffs, but if you start focusing on that and not what you have to do to improve, it’s going to come back and bite you on the butt eventually.”