Ryan runs for 6 touchdowns as Mounties rout Greenfield

ORANGE — The wrong kind of history was made at the worst possible time for Greenfield High School football Tuesday night.

Mount Greylock Regional High School proved far too tall a summit for the Green Wave to tackle, and Mounties standout running back Ethan Ryan did more than his share of eluding and shedding tackles on his own. Greylock’s Big Red Machine scored on its first offensive play of the evening, raced to a 32-0 halftime lead and never let up, going on to smash the Wave 62-0 in the Western Massachusetts Division III semifinals at Mahar Regional School’s Woodward Complex.

Ryan, a 5-8, 180-pound senior, ran for 284 yards and six of the Mounties’ nine touchdowns on only 16 carries. In all, Greylock (10-1), the reigning two-time WMass Division III Super Bowl champion, rambled to 477 rushing yards and 537 yards of total offense, and advanced to its third straight Super Bowl appearance against Belchertown High School (10-1) Saturday at 3 p.m. at Westfield State University.

“Coach really prepared us well, told us what was coming, and everybody did their job great,” said Ryan, who has a shot to reach 2,000 yards for his senior season after coming out of Tuesday with 1,841. “(Zach) Bartak is a great quarterback, and we saw it tonight. This is huge, there’s no better feeling than going to the Super Bowl for the third time in a row.”

Greenfield dropped its third straight game to end the season following an 8-0 start, all coming against the three best teams on the Wave’s schedule. Tuesday’s rout marked the largest known margin of defeat in Greenfield history, and the most points allowed by the Wave since a 65-32 loss at Chicopee High School on Nov. 13, 1993.

“I guess the score speaks for itself. We played hard, but they’re a great team,” said Greenfield’s Bartak, still playing at less than 100 percent after a late-season injury, who managed 55 rushing yards and 79 passing yards Tuesday. “They run hard and they’re tough kids. I thought we did the best we could. I left it all on the field.”

Greenfield was under the gun from the very beginning, forced to punt on its first series as Ryan ran the punt back 21 yards to the Wave 48. Mounties coach Shawn Flaherty called his team’s staple play, “18 Toss,” as Ryan took a pitch from freshman quarterback Brodie Altiere and bolted off right tackle straight to the end zone for a 6-0 lead with less than three minutes gone.

A kick-catch interference call and ensuing 15-yard penalty allowed Greenfield to start at the Greylock 42, but the Wave lost the ball on downs on Bartak’s incomplete pass to Garrett Hudson. Greenfield was hit with a personal-foul call on fourth down, giving the Mounties possession at the Wave 48 once again. This time Greylock needed three plays before Ryan went up the middle for a 42-yard TD scamper and a 12-0 edge with 3:41 to go in the first.

Bartak kept Greenfield’s next series alive with a fake punt and a 10-yard gain on fourth-and-6, but an illegal-motion call wiped out a 38-yard pass to Lew Borden that would have put the Wave inside the Greylock 5. Bartak then threw the first of his three interceptions to Greylock’s Mike McCormack at the Mountie 28. Greylock showed it could go long-field as well, with a 10-play, 72-yard drive capped by Ryan’s 1-yard TD run with 6:44 left in the first half.

Greenfield’s best drive of the night featured completions by Bartak of 10 yards to Hudson and 32 yards to Borden, putting the ball at the Mountie 5, but the Wave would get no closer, with three incompletions and a no-gain by Bartak to lose the ball on downs.

“I think that really deflated us,” said Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski. “We had some plays that we didn’t execute, and that’s kind of the way it went for us all night. We knew we’d have to get into a scoring situation and take some chances. Unfortunately they didn’t go our way, and they scored a lot of points.”

From its own 5-yard line, Greylock got a 26-yard gain by Ryan, a 37-yard completion from Altiere to Tyrell Thomas and then Ryan’s fourth touchdown from 25 yards out on another “18 Toss” call. Ryan then turned receiver, grabbing Altiere’s conversion pass for a 26-0 lead with 1:35 to play.

A squibbed kickoff skidded past a Greenfield upman and McCormack covered the loose ball at the Greenfield 46, giving Greylock another chance before the break. Ryan and fullback Daivon Clement (10 carries, 114 yards) alternated 13-yard runs and Ryan finished it on a 7-yard TD run with only 4.3 seconds on the clock, boosting the Mounties’ lead to 32-0 and Ryan’s first-half totals to 221 yards on 15 carries.

His Tecmo Bowl-like outing lasted barely a minute into the second half, with a 63-yard scoring run on the second play from scrimmage. Altiere’s two-point pass to Clement made it a 40-0 game. From that point, Ryan only played defense and on punt returns.

“Best football player I’ve seen in a long time,” said Kuchieski of Ryan. “They’re probably the best football team and the most athletic team we’ve faced all year. There’s no doubt about that. They could do everything up front, and they have great backs — those two backs are thunder and lightning.”

The Mounties still had plenty of weapons in reserve to pile up the points. Three straight Greenfield possessions to start the second half resulted in a fumble recovery by John Nowlan and interceptions by Tyler Picard and Ryan. Altiere (2-for-3, 60 yards) threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Clement, then Clement broke off a 45-yard scoring run and added the two-pointer to make it 54-0 by quarter’s end.

McCormack’s 54-yard burst with six minutes to go, plus his two-point conversion run, capped the Mounties’ monster night.

“I thought we could establish our run game, but you don’t really ever plan to have such a big night,” said Flaherty. “The kids played hard and we were very effective with the run game. It’s a phenomenal offensive line, and we always start with that year in, year out.”

Ryan may get the numbers and the headlines, but Greylock’s offensive line of center Matt Malloy, guards Rob Buffis and Matt Hogan, tackles Andrew Leitch and Jake Benzinger and the 6-6 Picard at tight end did a masterful job of opening holes and paving the road for the Mounties’ 477 rushing yards.

Bartak finished 7-of-21 passing, with two completions to Borden for 35 yards and four to Mike Lively for 34. The Wave finished with 149 total yards. Only Bartak, Lively and lineman Steve Duclos will depart to graduation.

“There isn’t another team I’d want to lead into war,” said Bartak. “Last year was rough, the year before that was rough, but we’re a family, and that’s how we overcame it this year. We all worked together as a team and we couldn’t do anything better. I’m proud of every single one of them.”

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