And then there was one – area football team left playing that is.
Three area football teams; three strong seasons. Springfield was eliminated first, but I was so impressed with the big step they took this fall. Although things flattened out at the end, each and every Cosmo should realize they have accomplished a lot.
Bellows Falls advanced to the Vermont Division II State title game. If this hadn’t been the first year Brattleboro dropped down from Division I, the Terriers likely would be claiming the football title again. If Brattleboro had not dropped, then Burr & Burton might still be Division II, and all they did was capture the Division I crown. I guess it is what it is.
One thing is certain, the Terriers overcame heavy graduation losses to grow as a team during the season and outdistance all their opponents – except the Colonels. For the most part, Saturday was tough sailing, but the Bellows Falls squad played hard to the end in a tough game.
Coach Bob Lockerby saluted his team following the final whistle when he said, “They worked their butts off to get here to this game. We played hard and I’m proud of them. This team nobody gave a chance to be anywhere near here. They are an awesome team. These guys persevered through a lot of things this year. Guys playing positions they never thought they would play, including one who has played quarterback his whole life and he played guard. Not many teams can do that, and this team did. I am real proud of them for that.”
Despite sacrifices and hard work, the final tally of 46-7 showed that Brattleboro was the class of the division and the clear 2019 state champions. Bellows Falls moved the ball well on the opening drive, taking over after a short kick at their own 39 and advancing to Brattleboro’s 17 before the Colonel defense stiffened, pushing the locals back to the 28, where Bellows Falls had a perfect punt downed at the opponents’ 2-yard line. Bellows Falls had them just where they wanted them – or did they?
On Brattleboro’s first play from scrimmage, Chris Frost was handed the ball and sprinted 98 yards for the opening score and a 7-0 lead. Obviously, that gave Brattleboro the upper hand in this battle of Windham County.
Unfortunately, the Terriers had a handoff exchange problem on second down, which left the ball on the ground, and Brattleboro recovered on the 50-yard line. Five plays later, Tyler Millerick ran for a touchdown from the 2-yard line and the conversion doubled their lead to 14-0. If Bellows Falls could have shut down the running and passing of Millerick, they might have had a chance.
“There were two guys, Millerick and Frost – we knew that in order to be in this game and have a shot at this game, we were going to have to take something away. Our goal was to take away the run, and you saw we couldn’t do it. In the end, we couldn’t take the run away. When they went to pass, they passed. They had their way. We made mistakes that you don’t make at times like this if you want to compete,” Lockerby summed up. “My hat’s off to Brattleboro. What else are you going to do? We knew it had to be a close game, and a low scoring game. It got out of hand.”
Certainly, 14-0 was close to out of hand, but Bellows Falls pushed through for a score. They began their next possession at the 40 and drove 60 yards in 11 plays to cut the lead in half. Two Griffin Waryas rushes of 7 yards and a Waryas 13-yard pass to Dylan Clark were the big plays in the drive, which was aided by a Colonel 15-yard penalty for a personal foul. Lober covered the final 3 yards to paydirt with 11:13 remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 14-7. Lockerby’s team was definitely back in the game, but everyone knew they needed to clamp down soon on the Brattleboro offense.
It took Brattleboro six plays to cover 78 yards for their next score, a Millerick 4-yard run. Bellows Falls had a slight bit of luck when the extra point kick was blocked. However, two fumbles short-circuited the next Terrier possession, which was followed by another long Millerick dash for a score and an already hard to imagine 26-7 deficit that would be too much to overcome. Like Springfield, the Bellows Falls players should realize they accomplished a great deal this fall and should walk away with their heads high, remembering their performance.
Which brings me back to the Fall Mountain football team, whose hard to believe 37-0 victory over Raymond was one for the books. Despite the fact Raymond had easily handled the Wildcats 31-7 back in September, the only thing Raymond had last Saturday that the throng from Langdon didn’t have was a McDonald’s.
Can you imagine that in seven weeks time, Orion Binney’s Wildcats became 61 points better against Raymond? Fall Mountain won 37-0 against the same team that had defeated them by 24 points. How does that happen, Orion?
“We just really improved during this season. When they beat us, the score was misleading. We made some mistakes and we stopped them a lot. They just kept scoring on big play stuff. It wasn’t really like what it seemed,” Binney offered.
Binney credits his assistant coaches, Rich Boone, Jim Tremblay, and Cole Boone with “really helping improve us throughout the season. Their experience has been so important in getting us where we are.”
The semifinal contest was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter, and Binney was confident they could continue to play with their opponent. Then Fall Mountain exploded for 28 second-quarter points. As they say, it was all over, but the shouting. First, 30 seconds into the stanza, Izaac Westover took a pitch for a 5-yard touchdown run for the first score. Then the Wildcat defense took hold, setting up a couple of scores.
A Morgan Wilbur interception with a 40-yard run attached, helped set up another Westover touchdown of 4 yards. Then the pressure of that Wildcats’ D unit kept coming allowing Westover to score again on a 28-yard pick six. Quarterback Luke Gay’s 21-yard touchdown throw to Alex Flynn completed the first half scoring. The first second half score came on a 15-yard Westover run, and Gay added to the defensive heroics by dropping the Raymond quarterback in his own end zone for a safety.
The Wildcats move on to the title game where they face a Winnisquam team that had dropped them handily 33-14 at the beginning of the season. This Division IV title game is Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in Laconia’s Bank of America Stadium.