REGION – Bellows Falls won the state football title in Vermont Division II last year. Fall Mountain and Springfield tried their darndest to win games in their respective states Division III ranks. Springfield had some success in the win column, Fall Mountain didn’t. They all, except BF, hope to improve this year. The Terriers hope to have a highly successful season again, but you really can’t improve on a state crown, I guess, that is, unless, you are a perfectionist and that would be really asking a lot for any team to go undefeated.
The local Purple and White squad went to 2-0 on the season with a 52-29 blasting of southern neighbor Brattleboro. Bob Lockerby’s eleven was stunned early by a Colonel score and a 7-0 deficit, but in the end they were prepared.
“I tried to explain to the kids during the week that the level of football we are now going to play was different than we have seen so far,” Lockerby told us. He went on to say, “They jumped on us, they hit us hard right away. I knew they remembered what I had told them, so we pushed right back.”
And pushed they did. Shane Clark has been the early offensive catalyst with this Hadley Field based team. Clark had three more touchdowns versus Brattleboro, adding to his total of four in the opening triumph at Spaulding, to pace the win last Friday, with the longest being 29 yards. Quarterback Logan Cota, who threw for over 100 yards, including scoring strikes of 38 yards to Noah Rawling and 14 yards to Keenan Lowe, also rushed for two scores himself.
It took BF two scores to push back ahead of Brattleboro in the opening stanza because they failed on their first extra point conversion. “[Brattleboro] kept playing hard after we took the lead back, but I never felt threatened,” Lockerby noted as the home-towners had grabbed a 33-14 advantage by the half.
The BF schedule moves them up another notch this weekend, as they host Burr & Burton Friday night at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs and Terriers had become accustomed to meeting late in the season, but the new schedule cycle has them meeting in week 3 in the fall of 2017. Needless to say, this is a big contest.
The FM Wildcats sit in the winners’ circle for the first time since 2014 and Orion Binney says, “We have had a ton of growth in the last two weeks. We have improved so much and I don’t have to tell you, the kids believe in themselves so much more now.”
Obviously that is exactly what winning does and the Cats clawed Farmington 26-14. Just like BF, Binney’s team fell behind 7-0 at the start, and it would take two scores for them to retake the lead. We imagine this for tougher for the Wildcats, than for the Terriers because where the Terriers have always received a deficit as a challenge, FM has often seen such a development as, here we go again.
This time the visitors from Langdon found a way to have the patience to bounce back and actually have a 20-8 halftime advantage. The opening Farmington TD had been set-up by a Cat fumble, but the offense found some quick strike capability to cut the margin to 8-6 at the seven minute mark of the opening twelve minutes, when Jacob Shoemaker found Morgan Wilbur on a 65-yard scoring pass. Two plays later, the Cats came up with a turnover of their own as Chris Bashaw read a Farmington pass perfectly, gathered in the pigskin and ran it back for a touchdown, which combined with a Wilbur extra points rush, gave FM a 14-8 first period lead. A 43-yard Shoemaker to Justin Gernau screen pass for a score upped the margin to 20-8 good guys at intermission.
“We kept up the momentum going into the second half,” Binney proudly stated as another long-range screen pass to Gernau of 40 yards gave the eventual winners a 26-8 lead that would not be challenged. Binney, knowing the Cats have never made things easy even with a lead, gave us some coach-speak, “We were concerned when they drove down deep in our territory a couple of times after they scored to make it 26-14, but they turned it over a couple of times to help us out.” One of those times Alex Flynn made a big play with a strip sack and Connor Rieandeau recovered the fumble.
Fall Mountain (1-1) has their home opener this Saturday night at 7 p.m. as Kearsarge visits. The Cougars are also 1-1, having bowed to Newport 14-12, before sticking it to Franklin 47-0. The Cats hope to continue their improvement on the field in front of the home folks.
Springfield seems to have the deck stacked against them. Not only have they lost big the first couple of weeks, the schedule maker did not give them any teams of their own level at the outset, like FM had. This does not mean to take anything away from FM, but it does refer to cutting Springfield some slack. They fell to defending state champion Windsor in the opener and now in week two, it was defending runner-up Woodstock. Both teams could end up at the top again this season.
The Wasps handled the Cosmos easily in the Green and White’s home opener 48-12. Then in game two, Springfield had their second difficult start in a row and Coach Rich Saypack feels if his team could start better, they could be more competitive.
“We don’t start fast. That is something we need to change. When we fell behind 7-0, I thought we will come right back and score. We can play good offense, but so far, we have not been able to stop the run. That is our Achilles heel. We are also not physical enough. If we can get better in those areas, we should be much better off,” Saypack told us.
Matt LaChapelle had two carries for 21 yards out of the shoot, but when the Cosmos went to the air, a toss was intercepted and it was 15-0 by the time they had the ball back and now the pass became the main choice on offense and although the team was able to pick up over 300 yards of total offense, the combination of Woodstock keying on LaChapelle and an effective passing game, limited LaChapelle’s rushing total the rest of the night. Saypack commented, “You get down three touchdowns and you generally put the ball in the air.”
It was 22-0 by the time Kyle Monier connected for the first Green and White score on a 20-yard pass play with Mason Olney. Later in the game, the Cosmos other score came when Monier found JJ LeCouffe for a 31-yard scoring connection.
Springfield is in the middle of a number of games at home. This Friday night they will again be the underdog versus a 1-1 Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax outfit at home, but Saypack feels if he team starts better, they may be a surprise in store.