Belchertown stays undefeated, sacks Frontier Regional
James Ryan of Belchertown, right, runs for a gain as teammate Jake LaFleche blocks Charlie Tirrell of Frontier Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Belchertown quarterback Nick Leduc scrambles against Frontier Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Belchertown quarterback Nick Leduc, left, scrambles before being tackled by Jared Fydenkevez of Frontier Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
James Ryan of Belchertown, right, runs for a gain before being tackled by Charlie Tirrell of Frontier, center, Friday in Belchertown. Jake LeFleche looks on, left. Purchase photo reprints »
James Ryan makes a touchdown catch against Frontier Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Chris Toomey of Frontier, right, runs for a gain before being tackled by Belchertown defenders Tony Pellerin, left, and Alex Clair Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Ben Thornton of Belchertown celebrates his interception and subsequent touchdown run against Frontier with Tony Pellerin Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Jack Hebert of Frontier, right, runs as teammate Dylan Talbot blocks Alex MacDonald of Belchertown Friday in Belchertown. Purchase photo reprints »
Brian Goodridge of Frontier, front right, is tackled by Steve Boudreau of Belchertown Friday in Belchertown. Goodridge caught a pass for a gain on the play. Ben Thornton looks on, left. Purchase photo reprints »
BELCHERTOWN — Belchertown senior James Ryan is certainly making a name for himself in his final season of high school football.
Ryan, the top playmaker for the Orioles offense, accounted for all but four yards in a 25-8 victory over Frontier Regional on senior night Friday.
“We have a whole team of playmakers, and we look to spread the ball around as much as possible,” Ryan said. “My number got called a lot (Friday), and I just want to do all I can to help the team win. And it’s great to do this on senior night.”
Taking snaps at wide receiver and running back, Ryan rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. He also had all three of the team’s receptions for 38 yards and a score.
“Having him in the backfield wasn’t in the game plan, but we’ve had some kids sick, so we decided to give the ball to James as much as possible,” Belchertown coach John Mayo said. “Let’s give our best athlete the ball. He’s had seven great games for us. We definitely need to keep him healthy.”
If other results fall right this weekend, Belchertown (7-0, 6-0 Intercounty) could clinch a third straight Division 3 postseason berth.
Frontier (2-4, 1-3) likely saw any playoff hopes come to an end.
“This game kind of told the story of our season,” Red Hawks coach Scott Dredge said. “We’ve only got 19 guys dressed, so it’s difficult. We had a shot, but we get stopped down in scoring territory, then turn it over a couple times. That was the game. But I can’t say enough how tough and well our guys played.”
The Orioles displayed their penchant for big plays at key times on their first possession. Going for a fourth-and-9 from the Frontier 24, Ryan got open down the left sideline and hauled in a perfectly thrown ball by Nick Leduc for the touchdown and an 8-0 lead.
“Nick throws a great long ball, and it was a quick double move that got me open,” Ryan said. “He found me and made a tremendous throw. We receivers did a lot of summer work with Nick and it’s paying off right now.”
Just two plays later, Belchertown was in the end zone again, as defensive back Ben Thornton picked off Rylan Baronas in the right flat and went untouched the final 32 yards.
The Belchertown defense turned Frontier over three times and bailed out the offense early in the third. After Leduc lost a fumble on his own 30, the Red Hawks drove to the 10 with a chance to tie or take the lead. But Joe Sarno stopped Toomey on a fourth-down rush.
“I give our kids credit, they always seem to rise to the occasion,” Mayo said. “But we need to be better from the start of the game. Frontier had the ball down 14-8 going in for a touchdown. If they go ahead, who knows what happens? But it’s good for the defense to have these opportunities in tight situations.”
Frontier running back Chris Toomey (18 carries, 47 yards) bulled his way into the end zone from 5 yards out on fourth-and-goal in the final minute of the half and Baronas ran in the 2-pointer to cut it to 14-8.
But after a third-quarter stalemate, Leduc nailed 34-yard field goal late in the quarter to give the Orioles a two-possession advantage at 17-8.
When Jake LaFleche recovered a Baronas fumble on the next Frontier possession, the Orioles went in for the clinching score as Ryan ran in from 6 yards. Before the touchdown, he picked up a pair of third downs, including a 15-yard gain on third-and-15.
Ryan “was really tough to stop on the perimeter, once he gets past that first line of defense,” Dredge said. “If he gets that corner, he’s really quick and hard to bring down.”
Baronas, who had 20 rushing yards, finished 6-for-9 for 56 yards and a pair of interceptions. On defense, Jared Fydenkevez had a pair of sacks, and Charlie Tirrell had a fumble recovery.
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at email@example.com.
Belchertown 25, Frontier Regional 8
Frontier 0 8 0 0—8
Belchertown 14 0 3 8—25
B-James Ryan 24-yard pass from Nick Leduc (Ryan run), 5:23
B-Ben Thornton 32 interception return (pass failed), 4:14
F-Chris Toomey 5 run (Rylan Baronas run), 0:44
B-Leduc 34 field goal, 1:48
B-Ryan 6 run (Leduc run), 6:03
Passing: Frontier: Baronas 6-9-56-2; Belchertown: Leduc 3-8-38-0
Rushing: Frontier: Toomey 18-47, Baronas 9-20, Hebert 6-6, Talbot 3-6, Tirrell 1-2; Belchertown: Ryan 12-99, Leduc 8-(-1), Thornton 2-1, Sarno 1-4
Receiving: Frontier: Simanski 2-29, Fox 2-21, Goodridge 1-7, Talbot 1-(-1); Belchertown: Ryan 3-38