Brodie Altiere was as green as they come when he took over for Hank Barrett in the second quarter against Wahconah on Oct. 26. The team was his to lead to victory that night and for the next three years.
Making the jump from junior varsity to varsity requires an adjustment period. How long that is depends on the athlete. Altiere, a freshman, didn't even have a full season on the JV team before making the plunge.
That surely played a factor in the team not extending its Berkshire County record winning-streak to 34 consecutive games Oct. 26. But today's Berkshire County championship game against those same Warriors may provide a glimpse into whether the freshman quarterback survives the plunge into the varsity game.
"I think we're at a great spot right now," said coach Shawn Flaherty, who isn't easily impressed. "He's taken the snaps. He's put in the time and done a great job. I think we're all impressed with his talents, so we're pretty excited.
"He's been doing fantastic. He's really come a long way, and he's been looking really good."
Often times the best way to learn is by doing. Altiere can't recall much of the Wahconah game, saying it's all a blur. That won't be able to be the case today.
If the regular season finale against McCann Tech and the past two-plus weeks are any indication, he'll be seeing much more clearly.
"Every day just starts clearing up more and more," he said.
As it should.
"It's helped a lot, especially just getting the looks, playing with that first team and actually having to read the defense," Altiere said. "Just every day makes it a lot easier. All these reps, I feel a lot more comfortable than the first week of these two weeks."
The biggest area he's seen himself improve in is not panicking in the pocket. When he was still acclimating himself to the speed of the varsity game, he'd lock onto his primary receiver and wait for him to get open. If he didn't, the play broke down. Now, he said, he's able to red the defense and even anticipate a little bit.
"Just being more aware of your surroundings and not just throwing to your first guy who's covered and actually taking your time and looking," he said. "See if that second or third guy's open, and if not, run the ball."
In the first week he took over the team, Altiere said having the upperclassmen rally around him was a big boost to his confidence. That hasn't slacked in the past three weeks.
Senior tailback Ethan Ryan has taken it upon himself to be front and center in that regard.
"I like to be more of a mentor towards him, somebody who's been here playing and played in big-situation games," he said. "I think me giving him a pat on the butt every once in a while and telling him ‘Good job,' things like that, ‘Calm down, it's not that big of a deal.'
"I think if he sees a captain saying stuff like that to him, it kind of makes him realize he can be calm and settle down inside the offense rather than being nervous about anything."
What's there to be nervous about? Greylock's just trying to win its third county title in as many years against the only team to beat the Mounties in more than two full seasons.
"He just needs to go out there and play the game," Flaherty said. "You don't want him to think, you just want him to react."
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