Boston High School: Steve Allosso

Minnechaug's Heineman closes storied career

June, 22, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Greg Heineman ended his high school football career the same way he spent it: throwing the ball.

The all-time leading passer in Western Massachusetts history racked up the yards throughout three impressive years under center at Minnechaug and was at it again Friday, running the offense for the Western Mass. squad in the annual Chowder Bowl All-Star Classic at Springfield College.

Incidentally, the game marked both the end of Heineman’s high school career and football career. Next year, he’ll attend Endicott College in Beverly to play baseball.

Heineman has been a key figure on the Falcons’ baseball squad the last two seasons, powering Minnechaug to an improbable run to the Division 1 state final last season and the Western Mass. final this year.

“Yeah, it was a tough decision but at the end of the day, baseball is my No. 1,” said Heineman, who made it clear to college coaches early in the recruiting process that he wasn’t interested in playing college football. “I’ve been playing it longer and it was my first love.

“I wasn’t ready to give that up. It was tough because I’ve had so much fun playing football the last few years. I’m going to miss it for sure.”

Still, the record-setting career he had on the football field will be what Greg Heineman is remembered for most.

All told, Heineman passed for 6,335 passing yards while at Minnechaug, easily surpassing the 4,571-yard mark set by his predecessor at Minnechaug, Drew Schwendenmann.

At first glance, it’s easy to write off Heineman’s accomplishment as a result of the system. Under head coach Steve Allosso, the Falcons operate a high-tempo, spread-style offense that involves using as much of the play clock as possible and throwing on the majority of downs -- regardless of the situation.

But the success of Minnechaug during Heineman’s career has been equal parts system and execution.

“Our offense is a progression offense where they go through reads,” said Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso, who also coached the Western Mass. squad Friday. “I go through films and see this kid going through four to five reads consistently. I’ll tell you right now, you could break down a lot of college quarterbacks and they probably don’t go through the progressions like he does.

“He’s a better quarterback than his numbers say he is.”

And that’s saying something.

Digging into the numbers, it’s clear Heineman is most deserving of the praise that comes along with being the top-ranked passer in the region’s history.

As a sophomore, the 5-foot-11 Heineman threw for 1,848 yards and 12 touchdowns. His junior year, he tossed for 1,831 yards and 20 touchdowns. And this past season, he exploded, throwing for 2,656 yards and 24 touchdowns while leading Minnechaug to a 9-3 record and a playoff berth.

Looking at his senior season, it’s easy to appreciate Heineman’s efficiency and effectiveness within the Falcons’ high-tempo offense. Following the graduation of Mike Mercadante, who ran for 1,729 yards and 20 touchdowns the year before, Heineman needed to pick up the offensive slack and did so brilliantly.

He had two separate 300-plus yard games, going for 348 yards in a win against Westfield and 301 with three scores in a come-from-behind win over Chicopee.

“Cerebrally, he’s a Division 1 quarterback,” Allosso said. “Physically, he could be bigger, stronger, faster. But mentally, his eyes, his mind and his selflessness is probably top two percent in the country.”

For Heineman, though, when he looks back at his high school football career, it won’t be the numbers or records he remembers.

“It’s just a title,” he said, referring to the Western Mass. All-Time passing mark. “It’s more the experience of playing with the team and on Friday nights with some of my best friends.”

Recap: CMass wins Shrine Chowder Bowl

June, 22, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- And the streak goes on.

In the 12th annual Shrine Chowder Bowl All-Star Classic, Central Massachusetts hung on to edge Western Mass., 14-6, making it nine straight victories for the visitors.

Central Mass. took that eight-point lead early in the second quarter and looked back only for a minute, ultimately withstanding one late final scoring chance for Western Mass.

“It feels great,” said Central Mass. Offensive MVP Luis Feliz of Clinton, who scored the go-ahead touchdown on an 11-yard run with 9:42 to go in the second quarter. “This will be a great memory.”

West seemed to have a shot at tying late in the fourth quarter. After forcing a turnover on downs, the hosts had a first down on their own 43-yard line. Two errant snaps later, though, they were forced to punt from their own end zone facing a 4th-and-45.

The ball bounced their way again, though, just one play later as Central fumbled on the very next play from scrimmage. Agawam safety Alex Efstratios picked it up and gave Western Mass. one more shot.

Minnechaug quarterback Greg Heineman and the Western squad moved the chains quickly thanks to completions to Tevin Jones and Melquawn Pinkney and hard-earned yards on the ground by T.J. Norris.

It would all be for naught, though, as Heineman, facing a 4th-and-15 on the Central Mass. 30-yard line, was sacked for a 14-yard loss.

On the first drive of the game, Central marched quickly after a 58-yard kickoff return by Leicester’s Tyler Goodney. Nashoba quarterback Trevor Wyand led an efficient six-play drive that resulted in a five-yard touchdown pass to Leominster’s Kevin O’Connor in the back of the end zone.

West answered back quickly, though on the ensuing drive. Heineman checked down to Pinkney, who caught a short pass and then took it 80 yards, weaving his way through many would-be tacklers for an impressive touchdown.

“It really meant a lot to put on a show for my city,” said Pinkney, a recent graduate from Springfield Putnam. “It felt really good to get out there.”

Reversing the curse? Entering Friday’s matchup, it had been eight straight victories for Central and nine wins in all 11 games played since the Chowder Bowl’s inception in 2001.

Despite the friendly nature of the charitable classic, the Western side was determined to turn the tides.

“We wanted to win pretty bad,” said Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso, who served as the head coach of the Western squad. “I know recently, we’ve been beaten pretty bad. The kids were fired up. I was fired up. After meeting these kids, it was a blast.”

Contrast in styles: Different styles of offense were seen throughout the game and the contrast was seen early on.

Wyand, the quarterback from Nashoba, led a smart and efficient ground attack from the first play on. Quabbin’s Kenny Goodnow, the other Central Mass. signal caller, sprinkled in a few more passes, but for the most part, the visitors were ground oriented Friday.

On the other side of the field, Heineman threw the ball 20 times, connecting on nine passes for 98 yards. Dayvon Williams of Springfield Commerce also went to the air, narrowly missing teammate Tevin Jones on a home run ball in the first half.

No. 10 Mansfield swarms Minnechaug

September, 18, 2010
WILBRAHAM, Mass. -- Mansfield head coach Mike Redding entered Friday night’s game against Minnechaug Regional worried about Minnechaug’s no-huddle offense.

He left the game impressed with his own offense.

The Hornets beat down the Minnechaug, 46-13, and showed off a very balanced attack. Just when it seemed as if the hosting Falcons could stop No. 10 Mansfield’s offense, the Hornets (1-1) used other options to gain yardage.

Mansfield’s Jamel Marshal started the game hot, and finished with 118 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.

“If we block well, we’re going to get a good run,” Redding said about Marshal. “But if we don’t block well, we’re still going to get a big run because he turns nothing into something.”

“I didn’t get to play last week so I wanted to come in and prove myself,” said Marshal. “I wanted to get a lot of yards -- and I did that -- but I wanted to get the win obviously.”

In the first quarter, Marshal carried the offense and Minnechaug (1-1) began to key in on him. Then, Redding showed off his passing attack.

Quarterback George Busharis completed 8 of 12 passes for 184 yards in the game. Although he did throw an interception in the first half, he also had two touchdown passes to Jeff Hill.

“His height is such a nice advantage,” Redding said about Hill. “You can just try and throw it up to him and he’s probably faster than he looks.”

Hill finished with two catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns but his game didn’t stop on offense. He also played well in the secondary and intercepted Minnechaug’s Greg Heineman in the second quarter.

For Minnechaug’s no-huddle offense, it was a tough night. Heineman completed 7 of 11 passes for 146 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Falcons fullback Mike Mercandante racked up 44 yards on nine carries and three catches for 55 yards.

Minnechaug head coach Steve Allosso tried to utilize Mercandante on the screen pass, but the Mansfield defense caught on.

“It was a frustrating game for me because I didn’t think they were as good as I thought they would be,” said Allosso. “The mistakes we had were the mistakes that I didn’t think we were going to make — they were ones we are in control of.”

Mansfield’s offense started in rhythm and stayed that way throughout.

Junior wingback Blayne Kelley-Taylor broke out before the first unit was taken off the field, scoring twice in the third quarter. Kelley-Taylor complemented Marshal and the Hornets’ passing game. He finished the game with eight carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns.