Wave enjoy life in the trenches

  • Greenfield's Cam Lackey (74) celebrates after stopping a run from Turners Falls in the third quarter, Thursday, in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Above, Turners quarterback Kyle Dodge (12) throws under pressure from Greenfield's Cam Lackey (74), Thursday. Below, Greenfield celebrates as the clock expires. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield's Colby Avery (70) lines up against Turners Falls' Dominic Carme (50) in the first quarter Thursday in Greenfield. Below, Owen Phelps had time to complete this pass to Nate Haselton due to the solid play of his offensive line. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield celebrates their win over Turners Falls on Thursday in Greenfield, Nov. 22, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Greenfield quarterback Owen Phelps (10) completes a pass to Nate Haselton (38) for a first down against Turners Falls in the first quarter Thursday in Greenfield, Nov. 22, 2018. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/22/2018 11:43:47 PM

GREENFIELD — Thanksgiving is all about tradition. The linemen on the Greenfield High School football team celebrated their own tradition the night before playing rival Turners Falls High School for the 92nd time in series history, and celebrated the fruits of their labor with a big victory on Thursday.

Junior Cam Lackey recovered the fumble that sealed the deal for the Green Wave with exactly one minute left in the fourth quarter, helping Greenfield hold on for a wild 40-38 victory — the team’s second consecutive win on Turkey Day after suffering through a six-year losing streak.

While Thursday morning was spent battling in the trenches, the Greenfield linemen spent Wednesday night fueling up for the big occasion. Per tradition, assistant coach Glenn Wilson had his linemen over to the house for a deep-fried turkey dinner the night before Thanksgiving.

“All the linemen go over there, O-line, D-line,” explained Lackey of the tradition. “We sit down, get prepared and get ready for this moment right here.”

There’s one very important stipulation to the feast.

“No utensils,” said Lackey with a smile. “It’s all hands. We go in dirty. Everybody just goes in to get what you can get. And it’s gone in about five minutes.”

Happy with bellies full of turkey, the Greenfield linemen headed home for a good night’s sleep prior to Thursday’s showdown with Turners.

“We talked about just going out there and doing our job,” offered Lackey. “If (the linemen) don’t do our job, we won’t win the game. This game was going to get won in the trenches, and I believe it did.”

Two plays involving Lackey and his fellow linemen made the difference down the stretch. The first came with 1:15 remaining, after Turners quarterback Kyle Dodge scored an 8-yard touchdown run to pull visiting Turners within 40-38. The ensuing 2-point conversion likely would’ve forced overtime.

Turners standout lineman Reilan Castine lined up in the backfield at fullback. All signs pointed to him getting the ball to plunge the 3 yards necessary to even the score.

“To know he was in the backfield and know what he can do, that was scary,” said Lackey of Castine. “He’s a big guy. Credit to him, he’s the best player on that team.”

Greenfield sophomore Nick Lyons broke off a block and got the initial hit on Castine, allowing Lackey and junior Colby Avery to join the fray and finish the play that kept Greenfield in the lead.

“I knew they were going up the middle with Castine in the back,” said Lackey. “Nick Lyons stopped it, and me and Colby jumped on top. Once we stopped that, I thought, ‘We got this.’”

It wasn’t over just yet. Turners’ Tyler Lavin recovered the ensuing on-side kick, giving the visitors new life and plenty of time with a pair of timeouts still in their back pocket.

“I tried to rally the guys and let them know, they still have to go 40 yards to score on us,” said Greenfield sophomore linebacker Jake Sak.

On Turners’ first play, Wyatt Keith ran seven yards to the Greenfield 35. That’s where RJ Byrd met him, however, jarring the ball loose. Sak and Lackey pounced on it, with Lackey securing possession and lifting the Wave to an extra-happy Thanksgiving.

“It just happens quick,” said Lackey of the ensuing pig-pile. “I’ll never experience something like that again in my life. I saw the ball came loose, someone dove on it and I just dove on top. I had to get there first. To have an opportunity like that, you have to take it. They’re a good team. You can’t let them fumble and recover it. If they got the ball back, I don’t know what would’ve happened.”

Two-point conversion execution had a lot to do with the final outcome. Turners, which normally kicks extra points on the strength of a sure-footed Lavin, wound up chasing the game from behind and went for two on four different occasions. The Greenfield defense held all four times.

Castine was his usual dangerous self on both sides of the ball for Turners. In a game where line play was key, the senior scored a 1-yard touchdown on a carry with 7:44 left in the second quarter, and frequently visited the Greenfield backfield on defense.

“To go up against him every single play when I was on offense, it was treacherous,” said Lackey of Castine.

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