As the Mount Greylock football team embarks on its pursuit for a third straight Western Massachusetts Division III Super Bowl title, one would think the team would be pretty set in its ways.
But that's not the case. The Mounties are changing their defensive look for the semifinals.
The second-seeded Mounties travel to Mahar Regional High School to take on No. 3 seeded Greenfield in the playoff opener tonight at 5:15.
Greenfield is led by senior quarterback Zach Bartak. He has tossed for 1,311 yards this season. He was held out of the team's first loss (Week 9), as was starting running back Garrett Hudson. Both are expected to play tonight.
The quarterback's big arm is forcing coach Shawn Flaherty to make some changes to his defense. The Mounties are known for their eight-men-in-the-box defense to stop the run, but will switch to a 4-2-5 defense for the semifinal game.
"Against Wahconah, you knew they were going to go five wide with an empty back field, but the majority of the plays were going to be [quarterback Lane] Grogan going up the gut," Flaherty said. "Greenfield is very similar with the fact they run a lot of draws, but it's with four receiver sets.
"We're going to honor [Bartak's] arm - which is just a canon," Flaherty said. "We're going to honor the arm and put  defensive backs in there essentially."
Eric Leitch will assume the safety position to start the game to account for Bartak's speed and ability to run the ball, as well. Bartak has thrown 16 touchdowns this year, but don't think that all he does is throw. The senior also rushed for 1,104 yards this season and added an extra 14 touchdowns on the ground.
"Their line is very, very big," Greylock defensive tackle Nick Disanti said. "We're going to have to beat them with our technique, speed and agility. We'll have to a good job spying on the quarterback to keep him from running, that's why we changed a little bit."
The Mounties usually run five down lineman, but this week will put just four players on the line and two linebackers in the box to account for the passing game.
"It obviously will leave them with an extra guy to block us," Disanti said. "But, that just means the four of us will have to work even harder and play our game."
Flaherty spent his Thanksgiving scouting Greenfield.
"What we've seen in our scouting is they run a four receiver set, rather than a five," he said. "Bartak is always in the shotgun and can always pass it or throw it."
He called the Green Wave's offense similar to the Warriors, but also much different. Bartak accounts for most of the offense, while the Warriors can spread it around.
While the Mounties will break away from their traditional defense, don't expect a surprise on offense. Ethan Ryan enters the game with 1,557 yards on the ground. He accounted for 151 yards against Wahconah last week before leaving with a cramp. The senior has scored 24 touchdowns on the year.
"Offensively, we haven't changed anything or done anything flashy," Flaherty said. "We're going to stick with our same game plan. We're very excited to face Greenfield.
"Their defense has shown at times they can struggle against the run. It's no secret we have Ethan back there, and I feel like Davion [Clement] is going to have a very big game."
The winner will challenge the winner of No. 1 Belchertown and No. 4 St. Jospeh's on Saturday for the Super Bowl.
To reach Sam Monroe, email email@example.com.
On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalSam