WESTFIELD -- Tyler Picard has been making big plays for the Mount Greylock football team since he was in the eighth grade.
In his final game as a Mountie, he cemented his legacy by making a game-changing sack late in the third quarter to help the Mounties win a third consecutive Western Massachusetts Division III Super Bowl.
"[Belchertown] started throwing the ball a lot because they were behind," Picard said. "I just pinned my ears back and got the sack. When I got around [the corner], I knew I was going to have a chance for a sack and I wanted to make it."
After Nick DiSanti sacked Belchertown's Nick Leduc on first down, Picard repeated the feat. The defensive end beat his man clean and delivered a bone-crunching, blind-side hit on Leduc to set up a third-and-21 from the Orioles 49-yard line. The back-to-back sacks put an end to Belchertown's best drive of the second half.
"They were really moving the ball well after [Ethan Ryan's] fumble and really just kept going. It was a really impressive drive," Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty said. "Then we dug in our heels and Tyler made just a great sack. That was huge.
"Just the essence of the play. The rush, the hard and powerful hit. It was a game-changer. It had that huge motivational effect."
It certianly did. Five plays later, Ryan scored on a 51-yard run to put the game out of reach.
It wasn't just that play that Picard will be remembered for. The 6-foot-6, 220-pound defensive end has been starting for the Mounties since he was a 13-year-old eighth-grader.
"Fifty-five varsity games, more than any Mountie I can ever remember," Flaherty said after Picard's final game with the team. "He maybe missed one game with a broken finger. He's just been a phenomenal player for the Mount Greylock football program."
One thing that will be hard to replace is Picard's experience. After 55 games, he accrued quite a bit, but it didn't just stay in the defensive end's head. He passed that knowledge along to all of his teammates. Defensive tackle Nick DiSanti can attest.
"It's great having him on that line next to us," said DiSanti. "Just having that experience and leadership out there. He is so dominant on every single play. It's comforting having him out there."
It's not just his size and play-making ability that makes him a unique player. Before this season, he was the only Greylock player who knew what it felt like to lose a football game. The team was just 2-8 in his first varsity season. The team was 35-1 in his final three.
"You just feel a winning atmosphere here now," Picard said. "That wasn't here in my eighth grade year.
"After that first Super Bowl [in 2010], we had a feeling we were going to be good, but I never pictured winning three Super Bowls in a row. I've been playing football for five years. This is the best feeling of my life."