Usually the two teams playing for the Berkshire County championship see each other throughout the season. The past two years have been no exception with Mount Greylock and Hoosac Valley squaring off for the second time on each occasion.
This year is no exception, but the Mounties are in an unfamiliar place. They have hosted the last two county title games because they were undefeated each time. That's not the case this year. Wahconah beat Greylock in Williamstown on Oct. 26, giving the Warriors home-field advantage for Wednesday's title game.
The Mounties haven't forgotten the loss, which snapped the all-time Berkshire County football record for consecutive wins at 33.
"It's definitely in the back of everybody's mind, thinking about they're the only team to beat us in a while," running back Ethan Ryan said. "It's not something to be vengeful over, hate the kids because of it. We really shot ourselves in the foot. "
The Mounties were given a relatively easy bounce-back game against a struggling McCann Tech team the week after and took care of business quickly.
The positive for the Mounties is they had a chance to work on what they did wrong against Wahconah.
"Getting a win under our belt after the Wahconah game was good, was great," coach Shawn Flaherty said. "We knew it was great to play McCann because a lot of the stuff is similar. [They have] different personnel, but still it was the spread, and it was the passing game, and it was a very good quarterback in Cote running draws and throwing it around. To know those things, it was good to have."
After a winning streak so long many of the Mounties hadn't experienced a loss on the gridiron, it could have driven the Mounties to finger-pointing, but they say it has actually done the opposite.
"I think the team's come more together since that loss. We also kind of came down to earth more," freshman quarterback Brodie Altiere said. "We just feel more as a team now from that loss. I think it actually helped us more than hurt us. After all those wins and now not having that streak on our back and going through a loss together, it really was a team-building experience."
Flaherty said he has seen more positive reinforcement from his players when a teammate makes a good throw, makes a nice run and the like. It's not that the Mounties were negative with each other before the loss, but they had come to expect certain things.
He said having Altiere under center has facilitated that.
"It was more business-like," Flaherty said. "But now it was like ‘OK, we got a new guy leading the troops here.' I don't think it was anything talked about or anything scripted, but it's that natural band of brothers, that, ‘Hey, we got a new guy. He's young, he's going to be thrown into a lot of high-pressure situations here.' So I think we've become a little bit more enthusiastic in a sense of being more positive."