BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Bellows Falls has appeared in the final four of Vermont Division II football for the past six years in a row. No other Vermont school can make that claim. Whether the Terriers can extend that streak is anybody’s guess, but chances are they will.
Sitting around a gathering spot and listening to high school football discussion in any Division II town will definitely have the Terriers in the discussion. That discussion likely begins with Fair Haven jumps next to Burr & Burton and then onto the Terriers. In reality, it doesn’t matter; that’s why they play the games.
Bob Lockerby’s team has talent in most spots, but depth might be a question. They open their season this Friday night at home versus Spaulding of Barre who often lacks players at the skill positions. The Crimson Tide seems to always have the size in the line. Could this be the year they have an arsenal at other positions to challenge the better teams?
This is the year junior Griffin Waryas takes over full-time signal calling duties for Bellows Falls. Sophomore Grady Lockerby and freshman John Terry will back him up at the quarterback position.
Junior Brady Clark and sophomore Jed Lober will man the tailback position. This position often is key to the locals’ success. The fullback, who often leads the way making sure that vaunted running game succeeds, is senior Julian Christiansen this fall. Junior Hunter Smith and Lober should also see time there. The starting slotback will be junior McGregor Vancor with sophomore Jack Burke also seeing action at times.
The Terrier receiving corps has senior Joe Terry as the wide out with classmate Sam Mellish seeing action there as well. Tri-captain senior Noah Rawling is the starting tight end backed up by junior Dylan Clark.
Line coach Mike Empey’s linemen are a senior-dominated group, which is still a work in progress but could turn into a major strength of the team. Gunnar Sawyer will snap the ball at center with Jackson Brown lining up at right guard and tri-captain Braden Maxfield at right tackle. The other tri-captain, Reno Tuttle, will anchor the left side at the guard position with Ethan Morey and Troy Mounsey at right tackle. Two other seniors, Joe Zobitz and Austin Taylor, are expected to see line action, as is sophomore Dominic Kendall.
Defensively, the front line will have Maxfield and Sawyer at the ends with Tuttle at nose tackle. Senior Andrew Kim should see plenty of action at each spot, and Brown and Mounsey will see action along the line as well. The linebackers are Smith and Christiansen in the middle with Dylan Clark and Lober lining up on the outside with senior Aiden Smith. Lockerby and freshman Jeb Monier are waiting in reserve.
When the opponent goes to the air, the defenders will line up two corners and a pair of safeties. Brady Clark and Mellish will be the corners, while Vancor and Waryas will be in the safety spots. Seniors Andrew Elliott, Joe Terry, and Jeffrey Rainville will be waiting to get time at the defensive back spots.
The kicking game is always a big part of football, and this fall’s edition of the Terriers has Rawling to take care of the punting duties. The placekicker will be Monier with Waryas and Lockerby possible holders.
Bellows Falls has the most semi-final Division II football appearances in the past half-dozen years with their six straight trips. The semis have been a very elusive club. In fact, in those six seasons only six teams have more than a single semi-final trip. In addition to Bellows Falls, Burr & Burton has five trips, Fair Haven four, and Milton, Burlington, and Rice each have two. The latter two have both moved onto Division I.
So the road for 2018 begins this Friday. Division II has had four separate champions in the past four years. Fair Haven won last year, preceded by Bellows Falls, Burr & Burton, and Rice.
One of those three – other than Rice – should win this fall. Which one will it be?