Green Wave soars past Athol
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GHS Zach Bartak defends Athol 32 Jake Lajoie Purchase photo reprints »
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GREENFIELD -- Not much was working on the ground Friday night -- Athol High School’s defense saw to that -- so the aerial show was in session for Greenfield High School.
Zach Bartak threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns, two to Parker Hickey, and the Green Wave’s defense pitched a shutout for three-plus quarters to secure a comfortable 26-8 Intercounty League victory over Athol at Veterans Memorial Field.
Hickey (three catches, 90 yards) and Mike Lively (three catches, 94 yards, TD) were Bartak’s favorite targets. The second Bartak-to-Hickey touchdown connection, a 15-yarder, came with just 34 seconds left until halftime, put Greenfield ahead 20-0 at the break, and kept the unbeaten Green Wave (7-0, 5-0 IL) in control for the final 20 minutes.
“Athol stopped me, they had a good rushing defense,” said Bartak, who finished 9-of-21 passing. “I had to get the passes off quick and it worked out pretty good. We were scrambling, we couldn’t get anything done -- I had to get the ball to my receivers and trust them.”
Including two kneeldowns to finish the game, Greenfield ended with 18 rushing yards in 19 attempts. Bartak, who entered Friday with 872 yards on the ground, added 16 to that total.
“It’s impossible to take away both things. We needed some bounces to go our way,” said Red Raiders coach Matt Gauvin. “We focused this week on stopping the running game, where (Bartak) has beaten up a lot of teams. We were successful, but the kid threw some great balls, and you can’t do anything about it. We can’t worry about bad breaks, and giving up 70 points in two weeks isn’t about bad breaks.”
Athol (5-3, 3-2 IL) fell into fourth place in the IL standings, coming off its 45-6 loss to Turners Falls High School last weekend.
Greenfield got throwing on its second play from scrimmage, with Bartak hitting Lively for a 40-yard gain to the Athol 28. Four plays later, facing fourth-and-7 at the 25, Bartak lofted a pass to the back of the end zone and Hickey, running along the back line, reached down to his shoetops to haul in the football for six points. The Wave missed the two-point conversion try but led 6-0 with 5:31 left in the first.
The Red Raiders punted on each of their six first-half possessions, managing only three first downs.
Starting from its own 17 midway through the second, the Wave immediately flipped the field on a 69-yard completion from Bartak to Lew Borden to put the ball at the Athol 14. After a 1-yard loss and an illegal-procedure call moved the ball back to the Raider 20, Bartak zinged a 19-yard pass to Lively to set up first-and-goal at the 1. Bartak plunged in on the next play, then threw the 2-pointer to Garrett Hudson to make it 14-0 with 2:36 remaining.
The Wave held for a three-and-out and Bartak’s 23-yard punt return got Greenfield started at the Athol 40. After a pass-interference call and a personal foul against the Red Raiders, Greenfield had second down at the 15. Bartak hit Hickey down the right seam for the TD with just 34 seconds to go, allowing the hosts to take a three-score lead to the locker room.
Even when Bartak didn’t find his primary receiver, the results seemed to work out just fine for the Wave. With time winding down in the third quarter and Greenfield looking at second-and-5 from the Athol 35, Bartak underthrew Borden and looked to have been picked off by the Red Raiders’ Andrew Poor. But the ball ricocheted between Poor and Greenfield’s Lively, who secured the football and took off for the left pylon, completing the 35-yard scoring play for a 26-0 Greenfield lead with 19 seconds to play in the third.
Athol followed up with its only scoring drive of the night, helped along by a 30-yard pass play from Jerry Parker to Jake Lajoie. Parker went the final 14 yards on a dive play with 6:59 remaining, then threw the two-pointer to Lajoie to make it 26-8.
Parker wound up 5-of-15 passing for 94 yards and ran for 68 yards on 17 carries. Matt Summers added 39 yards on the ground for the Red Raiders, who totaled 206 yards on offense.
“They had a great scheme against us, and we were fortunate enough to get 26 points,” said Green Wave coach Mike Kuchieski. “We made some great plays, some big plays, and I tell our guys that big plays are gonna win football games. When they came out man-to-man, we knew it would be seven, eight men in the box. We made some great throws and some great catches.”
Greenfield, which remained tied with Belchertown High School for first place in the IL, travels to Frontier Regional School Friday at 7 p.m. Athol hosts Belchertown Friday at 7, before Belchertown comes to Greenfield on Nov. 9.