Here’s hoping each and every one of you has a very enjoyable Holiday Season and take in some chestnuts roasting on an open fire, but do not have Jack Frost nipping at your nose.
This was the most scattered beginning of a winter sports season that I ever remember. The New Hampshire Girls basketball teams started practicing November 14th, the New Hampshire boys took the court a week later on the 21st, while those on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River didn’t begin until after Thanksgiving on the 28th. As a coach, I hate the late Vermont start, however it is student and athlete friendly, allowing everyone to enjoy Thanksgiving Weekend.
Fall Mountain football coach John Callahan has stepped down and it looks like the Fall Mountain powers that be, are putting their heads down and going full throttle ahead with the program. Athletic Director Gordon Danserau is playing it coy in letting me know that he knows that there are real football people, who have expressed interest. I know he is telling the truth because friends of former Newport coach Larry McElreavy, who recently coached Newport to a state title, said he would love to give the job a crack, but he had made a two-year commitment to Pembroke Academy. For those who don’t know, McElreavy has been a life as a coach at all levels, including leaving his mark at Columbia University. McElreavy has passed his 70th birthday; don’t be surprised if he coaches for a number of more seasons. Danserau’s expressed interest comment went well beyond McElreavy, so who else could there be?
The Wildcats do plan on competing at the varsity level next year and already have their schedule in hand. The 2017 version is much like the 2016 version; they open Labor Day weekend on the road at Interlakes and have the same number of seemingly alike opponents, three. They don’t face Raymond this time around; instead have Farmington/Nute, a similar opponent. The home opener is against Kearsarge in the seasons third week. Sending out the Holiday spirit, hoping somehow interest picks up for the sport in Langdon.
It will be the same old thing in Vermont with Bellows Falls in Division II and Springfield in Division III in football next fall. We were hoping that those in charge would see the light and make four divisions, but that is not what happened. For BF, the present set-up works, yet it still makes things very difficult for Springfield. To us, there is too much humbug in Vermont football. There were several changes and Mount Anthony, Spaulding, Union-32 and Otter Valley will be joining BF in D-II and Burlington and Mount Mansfield will be going up to Division I. Since there will be twelve teams in the Division now, there will only be eight regular season games
and three weeks of play-offs, signaling a change there. Springfield’s case is just the opposite; they hope to go to a nine-week regular season and two weeks of play-offs there in Division III. I believe they didn’t think that through well enough and many teams will have trouble finding more than seven games to play (unless they play some of their own division teams twice). Division III does lose Union-32 and Otter Valley, which could be a help to the Cosmos.
In case anyone was wondering what my perfect Vermont football system would be: they would have four divisions and the alignment would be decided by both the formula system presently used by the Vermont Independent Football League and the eye test of a well schooled three to five person executive committee. Placement could be appealed, but it would be better to present briefs ahead of time to state where one belongs.
My division I would include: Middlebury, Rutland, Essex, Champlain Valley Union, Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, Hartford, Colchester and Brattleboro. Division II would be made up of Burlington, South Burlington, Mount Mansfield, Rice, Burr + Burton, Mount Anthony, Bellows Falls and Spaulding. Division III would include Union 32, Lyndon, North Country, Mount Abraham, Otter Valley, Milton, Fair Haven, Mill River, Windsor and Woodstock and this would leave Missisquoi, Springfield, Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax, Poultney/Mount Saint Joseph Academy and Oxbow. Divisions I thru III would play nine games (two non-league in Divisions I and II)and have two weeks of play-offs and Division IV would play each team in their own division home and away with noplay-offs needed unless there was a tie for first place. This formula would not take into account at least a couple of rivalry games played against Division IV teams (Bellows Falls-Springfield and Fair Haven-Poultney/MSJ) BUT, we encourage the Vermont Principal Association allowing these match-ups in the last week of the scrimmage season being played in a game format, charging admission, BUT, not counting on the record. The truth is, they are both glorified exhibitions at the moment.
In closing today, the area lost a sportsman recently who should be remembered. Bellows Falls High School graduate Paul Aumand, who spent much of the later part of his life in Orange, Massachusetts, was a tremendous athlete in both football and basketball, going on to play both sports at a high level at St.Michael’s College before returning to his beloved North Walpole. Even though Aumand lived in North Walpole, he helped kids on both sides of the river. He built an outdoor basketball court on the property of North Walpole Elementary School and ran leagues for persons of all ages. I grew up in Bellows Falls, but I felt he cared about me personally as much as those across the river. He did various things to help build his own community. One thing I just learned last week though was that more than once, he took his high-level hoop game to Boston Garden. During the fifties, Bellows Falls and Rutland had very high-level semi-pro basketball teams and they were attractive barnstormers. They were good enough to play more than once, as a prelim to the Boston Celtics. Aumand also coached baseball at the varsity level for Fall Mountain and served as Legion coach at BF. Aumand lived to be 88 and now it is time for this great contributor to rest. That you “Paulie”, you were a great man.