I have been on a little unplanned vacation for a couple of weeks and so on my return, I thought it would be a good idea to get back to the original intent of this column and give you a little bit of This and a little bit of That.
The rosters for the 2017 Shrine Football Game were announced today and four area gridders were among the athletes named. Bellows Falls has three players on the squad, which will be coached by Terrier Head Coach Bob Lockerby. The members of Lockerby’s title team, who have been chosen to represent the Purple and White are Jahyde Bullard, Brady Illingworth and DJ Snide. All three veteran Terriers performed at a high level all season long.
Fall Mountain will be represented on the 2017 New Hampshire Shrine roster. Koal Simonds, who stood out in a big way each time I saw the Wildcats in the 2016 season, becomes the first Wildcat since the turn of the century to become a Shrine player. Simonds was a standout on a team, which was short on numbers and talent and he showed a grit that helped those around him play as big as they could. It looks like the last Wildcat to be part of a Shrine game was Ryan Trapani, a running back.
While on the subject of Fall Mountain football, FM AD Gordon Danserau tells me the school hopes to officially name a new coach in early April. Danserau is excited that former varsity head coaches came forward and would like to pursue the challenge of making Fall Mountain football something other than a 0-8, 1-7 or 2-6 experience for those involved. Danserau told me weeks ago,
“I still think you will see a day when there will be excitement in Fall Mountain football again.”
Those who have seen the product in recent years know that it is great that the Maroon and White still field a team, but recently the number of additional freshmen who need to be relied on each year, has made the future very questionable. Coach John Callahan worried at times last fall when he had to play athletes, who likely should not have been competing in a varsity game. The new coach faces a minimum of a three-year battle to create a squad with enough upperclassmen to think about taking the next step. Give Fall Mountain credit for not abandoning the sport.
Competition is the backbone that sport is built on. In recent years Division I girls basketball in the state of Vermont had turned into UConn 2. There was Champlain Valley Union, then the rest of the field. For four straight years, Ute Otley had sent her team out on the floor with little chance of losing. Like, UConn, it was about CVU, not the rest of the field. CVU was that good and it concluded in four consecutive Vermont Division I titles. I spoke to Otley in early December and she told me back then,
“there will be competition this year. I think we have a chance to repeat, but there will be plenty of competition.”
She was right. CVU’s long winning streak was ended in the second game of the season when Rice defeated them and CVU lost twice to Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans in regular season contests too. Long time Division I girls enthusiasts were really excited about this years tournament. In the end, CVU, came out on top again in a close low scoring affair, but there was certainly competition. That Rice’s team, which ended CVU’s streak, never even made the final four, where the match-ups were CVU-Mount Anthony and St. Johnsbury- BFA. Incidentally, BFA was the team which ended Rice’s season, but they never had a chance to see if they could defeat CVU three times, because they were eliminated by St. Johnsbury in a classic semi-final and then the Hilltoppers fell in the finale to CVU.
Last but not least, UVM senior basketball forward Kurt Steidl is undergoing surgery for the ACL he injured in last Thursday’s NCAA Tournament game versus Purdue. Fans around the state were rightfully excited about the strong performance by the Catamounts against the Boilermaker team, which is one physical match for just about anyone in the tournament. One rabid fan asked me,
“Does this mean unless Vermont lands a genuine big man, they will never win another NCAA Tournament game again?”
My answer is no. Tournaments, especially the NCAA, are all about match-ups and you are right, it was almost impossible for the Cats to match up in this one, but they gave it more than the old college try and there were high seeded teams like Virginia, Notre Dame, Butler (UVM lost to them by 12 on Butler’s floor without a starter) and Minnesota, which the Cats may have been able to pull off an upset against. UVM plated well making the Green Mountain State proud of their season’s accomplishment.