Bellows Falls, Windsor off to big starts

REGION – Sitting here wondering how many high school football fans recognize any of these names: Pat Barbour, Peter Kamel, Jake Moore, Dillan Perry, Kevin Patterson, Richie Young, Vance Martin, Dalton Clifford, Bradley Bowers, Avery Dean, and Austin Gauld. Chances are unless you are part of their circle of influence, most of these gridiron performers aren’t on your radar.

The claim to fame is that these young men make up the offensive lines of the Bellows Falls and Windsor football teams and performed well in their season opening victories this past weekend. You will most likely read the name of several skill position standouts of both these teams throughout the fall of 2021, but chances are the names mentioned above will go generally unreported. Remember you read it here first, these standouts in the trenches are a big part of any success the Terriers and Yellow Jackets achieve.

Both schools opened their campaigns in high gear with Bellows Falls shocking Brattleboro 36-7 on Friday night before the Jacks rode to Mill River and came away with an equally impressive 53-13 runaway on Saturday afternoon. Both teams clearly established themselves as contenders in Vermont Division II and Division III football ranks respectively this fall. They both came out of the chute quickly and hardly glanced back.

From the time when Jeb Monier took the opening kick-off back 43 yards until he concluded the Falls first touchdown drive four minutes later on a 19-yard romp, Bellows Falls established the control they never relinquished. The Terriers failed on their first extra points run and by the time Bellows Falls’ defense forced Brattleboro to a quick three and out on their first possession, any confidence the Colonels may have gained from stopping the Purple and White conversion was forgotten moments later for the rest of the evening.

Bob Lockerby’s 11 put up 23 more points before intermission and no one thought it was anything but over with the scoreboard reading 29-0. Jed Lober, who led Bellows Falls in rushing with 179 yards, scored next with a long 65-yard touchdown carry with a Jonathan Terry quarterback bootleg of 8 yards and a Monier short 3-yard run concluding the touchdown parade for the first half. The Terriers only score after the break was on Harrison Gleim’s 1-yard run. Monier had a two-point conversion as well as two extra point kicks and Lober added a two-point extra run.

“It went the way I wanted it to go,” said Lockerby at the start of his postgame press conference. “We like to run the football. Tonight was an unknown, but I couldn’t ask for it to be any better other than turning the ball over down there,” motioning with his head to one end of the field. Lockerby went on to say he knew people questioned how good his team’s linemen would be this season, but he proudly said, “They are getting better and better every day.”

Greg Balch’s team script was just about the same except they put up higher numbers on the scoreboard. The Yellow Jackets raced to a 32-6 halftime advantage despite not engaging in any preseason scrimmages.

“It was a tough decision and I did wonder if it was the right one, but we have such a small roster and we have a lot of kids playing for the first time so that’s what I decided to do,” Balch told us. “We needed to put in the extra time on emphasizing what they had to learn. I am thankful it turned out fine.”

It was a lightning quick start. Ben Gilbert scored the first two times he touched the ball almost single hand-idly erasing any hopes the Minutemen had of an upset. On the game’s first play from scrimmage of the season, Gilbert took a hand off and raced 65 yards to pay dirt. The Minutemen would come right back and actually took a 7-6 lead before.

Gilbert took the ensuing kick-off to the house on a 95-yard special teams score galloping the length of the field to reestablish a lead they would hold the remainder of the game. Other scoring plays for the Green and Gold were by Logan Worrall, who had two touchdowns and two extra point conversions including a 26-yard run and single end zone finding dashes by Travis McAllister from 41 yards (he also had a two point conversion), a touchdown 1-yard run by Maison Fortin and Keegan Batchelder, a 27-yard run and a two-point conversion. Kaleb Swett captured a two-point conversion pass from Fortin and kicked three extra points.

The rest of the area gridders didn’t fare as well, going 0-2-1 on the weekend. Really sharp readers already are saying 0-2-1? There are no longer ties in high school football. Fall Mountain was the one, and a tie would have been much better than their plight. They were informed a little over a week before the game that Farmington-Nute would not be fielding a team this year. Since they were most likely the easiest team on the Wildcat schedule, that was a really sad opening night.

“We did really well in our scrimmages so that will have to be our experience gained,” summarized coach Orion Binney. He went on to say those sessions were a plus, “but without real game action it kind of leaves us floating in the breeze.”

Stevens and Pelham have faced off in some important games, but this was just one game to start the season. Pelham may get back to the top of New Hampshire Division III this season; at least they began things in top gear fashion with a 48-6 triumph over the Cardinals.

“I don’t see anybody beating them,” Stevens coach Paul Silva remarked of the team, which jumped to a 28-0 first period advantage and led 41-0 at the half. The Cardinals were short-handed losing five starters in the preseason before they ever took the field versus Pelham. “They were returning 18 starters so we knew we had our hands full even if we hadn’t lost our injured players. We hope at least a couple of them will be able to play next week. We took a long time to get going but we had a good talk at halftime and I felt we played our best ball after that.”

The lone Cardinal touchdown was a beauty when Zack Bundy connected with Kaden Thyne on an 84-yard passing score.

Last but not least, unfortunately injuries also were prevalent in Springfield’s opening game. Todd Aiken’s team was whole when the game started, and they led Woodstock 16-14 at the half. But as the game moved on, three injuries forced the Green and White’s hand and Aiken said, “That was part of the reason the second half didn’t go well in the 35-16 defeat. We were forced to move people around leaving us inexperienced in several positions.”

“We didn’t capitalize on a number of opportunities and they executed at a higher level than we expected,” the coach said.

The Cosmo touchdowns came on passing plays from the arm of Sam Presch, the first to Tanner Gintof and the second to Garet Twombly. Presch ran for both conversions.

All five teams return to action next weekend with Bellows Falls, Springfield, and Fall Mountain hosting Friday night home games at 7 p.m. versus Mount Anthony, Mill River, and Raymond respectively. Windsor will also be at home Saturday against Oxbow at 1 p.m. with Stevens the lone team on the road at Winnisquam Saturday at 2 p.m. in a game Coach Silva expects that one “to be a better match up physically.”

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