Belchertown, Mount Greylock kick off in Division 3 Super Bowl
Joe Sarno and the Belchertown football team face Mount Greylock in the Division 3 Super Bowl Saturday at 3 p.m. at Westfield State University. Purchase photo reprints »
James Ryan, center, and the Belchertown football team face Mount Greylock in the Division 3 Super Bowl Saturday at 3 p.m. at Westfield State University. Purchase photo reprints »
The Belchertown football team has spent the entire season defying the odds.
If the Orioles do it one more time Saturday, they’ll complete a Super Bowl championship season.
No. 1 Belchertown (10-1) faces No. 2 Mount Greylock (10-1) in the Division 3 Super Bowl at 3 p.m. at Westfield State.
Greylock is the two-time defending champion. The Berkshire League champion Mounties are coming off a 62-0 demolition of Greenfield in the sectional semifinals on Tuesday night.
“62-0, 62-0,” Belchertown coach John Mayo said incredulously upon hearing the score Tuesday night. “Well, we know Greylock is a great team. But we’re going to show up ready to play.”
The Mounties are averaging 34.1 points per game and have surpassed the 30-point mark in eight of 11 contests. Their defense (7.6 ppg, four shutouts) isn’t too shabby, either.
“If we can protect the ball and play defense the way we can, we’ll have a shot,” Mayo said. “We’ll put the best game plan we can together to help put the players in position to succeed.”
The preseason conventional wisdom was that the Orioles wouldn’t be able to continue the success they had with superstar quarterback Chris Ladd, who surpassed 6,000 career yards of total offense and carried the team to a pair of playoff appearances. But junior Nick Leduc has more than fit the bill.
“Nick’s taken a big step this year knowing he had to fill Chris’ shoes, and as good as Chris was, Nick’s done something Chris couldn’t, which is get his team to a Super Bowl,” senior back James Ryan said.
Leduc has passed for over 1,000 yards on the season, and showed off his running ability with 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Tuesday night’s 26-0 win over St. Joseph.
“Nick’s done a tremendous job for us all season, we wouldn’t be in this game without him,” Mayo said. “He may not look the part getting off the bus, but he’s a very athletic kid, a good runner. He’s shifty, makes solid cuts, and is much stronger than he looks.”
When Belchertown’s rushing attack stagnated around the midway point of the season, Ryan became the team’s featured runner, whether from his slot receiver position or lining up in the backfield. He’s surpassed the 700-yard rushing mark and has accounted for nearly 1,300 yards of total offense.
“I do whatever the team asks me to do,” said Ryan. “If we need me to go outside and catch it, if we need me to run it, doesn’t matter. I don’t feel I need a set position. As long as I do what I can to help the team win. We seniors have worked 10 years playing football to get to this point, playing in the Super Bowl. We’re very hungry.”
After clinching the league title, the stalwart defense (7.4 ppg) struggled against the run in the Thanksgiving Day loss to Pathfinder. The Orioles rebounded five days later, posting their fourth shutout of the season against St. Joseph, a squad with a triple-headed rushing attack.
“We came out in the playoff game wanting to show the world how we play Belchertown football,” said senior linebacker and team captain Tony Pellerin. “We got away from that against Pathfinder, but we responded (Tuesday). We showed what we’re made of.”
On Saturday, the Orioles will face their biggest challenge in 1,843-yard rusher Ethan Ryan, who had 284 yards on the ground and six touchdowns against Greenfield.
One concern Mayo addressed is having to play three games in the span of 10 days.
“We’ve endured some physical wear and tear the past two games,” said Mayo. “Pathfinder’s a physical team, St. Joe is a physical team. But we’re not going to Westfield State just to cover the spread. We’ll play as hard as we can and see what happens.
“There’s 11 seniors on this team, and they’ve been to three playoffs and it’s their first Super Bowl,” Mayo continued. “They’ve done things here that may never be done again at Belchertown High School. Hopefully we can cap it off Saturday.”
Said Pellerin, “It’s great for our program to get to a Super Bowl. We made the playoffs the past two years but lost in the first round. Now we have a chance to do something in 2012 that hasn’t happened since 2003.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.