The Bellows Falls Terriers football team followed their common path, scored early and rarely looked back, in racing past Fair Haven 32-12, earning home field play-off advantage at Fair Haven last Friday night. On the same night, Fall Mountain finished their season at home bowing in a close contest to Mascoma 19-12 and the Springfield Cosmos were bullied by Spaulding for the second straight week 58-6.
Both BF and the Slaters knew what was on the line when they took the field for their game. The two were entwined as the second and third seeds in the Vermont Division II play-offs and were on a collision course for a semi-final match-up. One thing was up in the air though and that was home field, which would go to the winner of the game.
Bob Lockerby’s team took their first possession and in typical fashion, found the end zone quickly. The ball was lugged the final 13 yards by Shane Clark and thanks to Shane Lisai’s scamper for the extra points, BF would lead all evening, but for now 8-0 with 9:31 still to play in the first quarter. Fair Haven would draw close at 8-6, just before the opening stanza ended, on a nicely executed 25 yard pass, when the extra points pass failed, the Terriers stayed in front at 8-6.
Lockerby noted after the game, “I know what the final score was, there were some moments when they easily could have been much more of a threat. They had some chances that were left on the field,” the Terrier leader pointed out. What was included in those Slater opportunities was the fact the BF defense stopped Fair Haven several times in the red zone.
The Purple and White tallied again early in the second quarter (9:09 remaining) as Jake Lober scored the first of his two touchdowns. This was on a 4-yard run with a Logan Cota to Clark pass adding the extra points for a 16-6 lead at the half.
Just like in the first half, BF scored on their opening possession of the second half quickly. Cota crossed the goal line on a 3-yard run and then Lisai connected with Lober on the extra points pass and a 24-6 advantage. The count rose to 32-6 later with 4:23 left in the third stanza on a Lober 20 yard run and a fourth straight two point conversion, this one on a pass from Lisai to Liam Hackett. The hosts had their final score in the game with just about three minutes left in the contest.
Lockerby sang the praises of the BF line, who has been providing blocks for their backs all season. He said he challenged them at halftime with the 16-6 lead by saying, “I want to run the ball until it gets into the end zone and they did that.” He went on to say that “Center Brady Illingworth had a really good game, however the entire line played well again.” He went on to mention the consistent play all fall of Reno Tuttle, DJ Snide, Brian Green, Jared Zobkiw and tight end Liam Hackett, who make up those blocking positions.
The coach also said he told his team, “Really needed to be ready to play Fair Haven again this week because playing anybody back to back is difficult. I also told them that they (Fair Haven) would have more incentive because we had just beaten them.” The Vermont Division II semi-final game will kick-off at Hadley Field Friday night at 7 p.m.
Fall Mountain concluded their season 0-8, this week competed, after falling behind. Coach John Callahan felt, “If we had more time we would have won the game.” Mascoma started out just the way so many teams had begun against the Wildcats this fall by taking a 19-0 lead, which lasted into intermission. Callahan reflected, “I am not sure what happened in the second half. We just started playing better. We actually played our best football of the season.” This has been an undermanned football team due to injuries and even the coach was impressed with how they bounced back, with their numbers low and the depth chart seriously challenged.
Senior Koal Simonds stepped in at quarterback a few weeks back when sophomore signal caller Jacob Shoemaker suffered a concussion. Simonds has been a versatile standout for the Cats and he plays well whether he is in the line, at fullback or now at the quarterback position. Simonds scored the first TD in the third quarter on a 1- yard quarterback sneak to cut the lead to 19-6 and then he scored on a 20 yard run in the fourth quarter to create the final score.
Callahan says, “We held them and took over on downs with a little over two minutes to go and we were moving the ball when the game ended. It’s too bad we couldn’t win this one in the end.” Callahan said in addition to Simonds, “Chris Bashaw had a good rushing game and Kolby Chase stood out on the defensive line.”
Springfield expected a much better outcome than the trip a week ago to Spaulding, but that is not the way things turned out. When Mason Olney scored on a 55 yard reverse type play early in the encounter to make it 10-6, there was hope, but, the final count ended up high, partially because Coach Rich Saypack substituted more than the mammoth Tide did.
“When the game was over, I told the kids that you can’t be content with how things turned out this year,” Saypack said. The coach knows part of the result is due to the absence of seniors. He went on to mention, “we have fourteen juniors, who will be seniors and I told them that now it’s time to make sure next year, we are really a varsity football teams. Next year’s captains will be carrying responsibility to make football important again in Springfield.”