THIS + THAT

 

Just when I was beginning to think there was little common sense connected to high school football in Vermont and New Hampshire, it looks like the Granite State is about to step up big time. If a proposal now on the table, passes unimpeded through a classification committee this week, Fall Mountain should be placed in a newly created Division IV, which would allow the Wildcat Football Program to get one of the biggest shots in the arm in the program’s history.

I have been on a soapbox so long, posturing to get relief for both the Wildcat and Springfield football programs, that not only was I fully believing I was shouting at deaf ears, but I believed I was at a point where there was no hope. The old school brigade would hear none of it. Football was a sport where you needed to pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and get back in the game. Even if you lost 50-0 every week forever.

This is a surprising development, which makes all kinds of sense. If this proposal becomes reality, not only will Fall Mountain be competing in Division IV, but they will be there despite the fact that their enrollment numbers actually clearly place them in Division III. Those charged with improving the system, recognized that despite the fact the Wildcats have fielded football teams for 50 years, Division IV is where they clearly belong and are likely allowing their petition down to that division.

In the proposal, Division III will house schools with between 451 students and 640 students, while Division IV was structured for the schools comprised of under 450 students. Maybe those in charge of the task this time around in New Hampshire, really, really get what this is all about. Fall Mountain’s working number is presently 506 and they are right where they should be.

If the proposal as presently written moves forward, Division IV would have eight teams. The seven, in addition to the Wildcats, are Winnisquam, Farmington-Nute, Raymond, Newfound, Mascoma, Bishop Brady, and Franklin. Fall Mountain was the only school to request to be moved down.

Probably the biggest reason, besides common sense, the Wildcats will successfully land there, is the fact with only eight teams in the division, a lesser number, just might prevent teams in the division from landing a full schedule.

We spoke to Fall Mountain Football Coach Orion Binney about the possible change for his team and he told us, “I certainly like the sounds of that. I think it would make for a lot of more competitive games for most all the teams.”

One possible mammoth casualty of the new alignment is the end of one of New Hampshire’s biggest rivalry Hanover-Lebanon. Hanover has been assigned to Division II and Lebanon is in Division III. My suggestion is to have all teams schedule one less game in their division and be allowed one non-league/division game.

This is where I need to give at least some credit to Vermont, despite the earlier strong comments. They have allowed the Bellows Falls-Springfield, St. Johnsbury-Lyndon, Brattleboro-Mount Anthony rivalries to be preserved. Hopefully more common sense will prevail in this case. Hopefully, Vermont sees this shining example and creates one more division one year from now.

The new proposal has 20 teams in Division I, 18 teams in Division II and 14 teams in Division III and would be in effect for the 2018 and 2019 New Hampshire football seasons.

While on the subject of Fall Mountain, Gordon Danserau has announced that the Wildcats have a new boys’ varsity basketball coach, Justin Cassarino. He has had three years experience as the junior varsity coach at the school and now will be filling the shoes of Jason Bardis, who stepped down from the position. Veteran FM girls’ junior varsity coach Russ Pickering, who has been around the area over 40 years coaching the indoor winter sport, speaks highly of how Cassarino runs practices.

Obviously, this means the school’s JV position is open, and interested parties can either contact Danserau or go online to the Supervisory Union site and apply. Same is true for the varsity baseball position, which is also open.

We had someone take strong exception to one of our points in this column last week. Bellows Falls Union High School cross country and track & field coach Tim Eno said his sports draw bigger crowds than we gave them credit for. Eno did point out that often, meets of both types are held with multiple schools, but his emphasis is that in general, they draw more than they were given credit for.

I did point out that the article was referring to regular season attendance and not including tournaments and state events and I mentioned he certainly was correct about meets like the CVC’s (Connecticut Valley Conference Meets), but he next said the majority of his meets were Invitationals like that. So, Eno’s teams may attract bigger crowds than I and my assorted AD type sources think. We will be keeping an eye on this one.

Eno also pushed on us the toughness of cross country. “I think cross country is the toughest sport there is. Yes,” he goes on, “even tougher than football. Those who haven’t done it may not realize how tough it really is.”

Tim, I have a confession to make. I remember a number of September days back in the fall of the 1960s when I was at football practice and there was a break. I was kneeling on one knee listening to the coach talk and finding it hard to swallow because of the dust which was settling in my throat, and I saw those cross country runners dashing by on more than one occasion. I was tired and sweaty and could feel that dust and was thankful for the moment’s break. I thought way back then, “I am glad I am here, feeling uncomfortable, instead of being one of those runners.”

Twenty years after that, I competed in races, and I found my thoughts had been correct. Even though I may not have been real competitive, in the racing world, I was giving my best in those endurance type races. I believe cross country is tougher than football. It felt to me that it was easier slugging it out on the gridiron, than pushing myself on a good sized run.

Eno has told us that despite what might look to some like a down year for his boys cross country team, “I think we should be in competition with the top teams. We have run against some tough competition and I think it should have us ready for the state meet.” Eno has a point, the Terriers have run up in competition in many of their meets, so when they enter the Division III State Meet, they well could be in the picture. Eno noted that he could have as many as four runners finishing among the elite in that state meet this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. in Thetford. Nick Potter, Ian Wallace, and Timmy Salter-Roy are his boy top runners. Eno also expects a high finish from Lia Clark in the girls’ competition at noon that day.

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