If you’re going out for the running back spot on the Bellows Falls football team, you learn quickly that it’s tough for an underclassman to crack the starting lineup.
Shane Clark had to wait his turn. This year, he’s a senior and, after two years of being a supplemental back, he is the undisputed main cog of the Terriers’ offense.
Clark ran for 192 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries as BF defeated the Brattleboro Colonels, 52-29, before a big crowd at Hadley Field on Sept. 8.
That Clark is making the most of his new role is no surprise to Bellows Falls head coach Bob Lockerby.
“Shane has been a three-year starter for us,” said Lockerby. “He gained about 600 yards the last two seasons while getting half the carries. He’s a 1,000-yard back.”
And Clark is doing it behind a strong offensive line. Jared Zobkiw, Reno Tuttle, Gunnar Sawyer, Jackson Brown, and Braden Maxfield opened up big holes for Clark and quarterback Logan Cota as BF took a 33-14 lead by halftime.
Brattleboro put up a good fight at the start. The Colonels drove down the field on their first possession and scored on a 28-yard pass from quarterback Tyler Millerick to wide receiver Jeremy Rounds. Jack Price’s point after kick made it 7-0 with 7:01 left in the opening quarter.
BF responded with a quick score set up by a long run by Clark. Cota scored on a 1-yard plunge, but failed on a two-point conversion run, to make it 7-6 Colonels with 5:29 left in the first quarter.
The Terriers took control of the game from there. Cota intercepted Millerick and brought the ball back deep into Colonels territory. Clark scored on a 3-yard run, and Cota’s extra point made it 13-7 BF with 3:01 remaining in the first.
In the second quarter, Clark got his second touchdown on a 6-yard run, while Cota scored on an 11-yard keeper up the middle.
With 1:08 to play in the half, Chris Frost scored on a 7-yard run and Price’s point after cut the lead to 27-14. However, BF prevented a momentum shift before the half when Cota threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Noah Rawling with 26.6 seconds to go.
With only four seniors on the roster, Colonels coach Chad Pacheco knew that his team had a tough hill to climb against the Terriers.
“We tried to match their intensity,” said Pacheco. “We came out hot on our first possession, but faded after that. That’s what can happen when you have so many sophomores in the starting lineup.”
Brattleboro started the second half with the ball, but BF lineman Gunnar Sawyer recovered a fumble on the Colonels 29, and Clark ran the ball in on BF’s first play from scrimmage after the turnover. Keenan Lowe made a great catch at the goal line for another touchdown and a 46-14 BF lead with 5:38 left in the third quarter.
Kris Carroll took a screen pass from Millerick and ran it in for a 29-yard touchdown less than two minutes later, but there was no Colonel comeback in the offing. The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter as Cota scored on a 3-yard run and Millerick threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Frost.
Millerick completed 11 of 20 passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns, with Kyle Derosia and Rounds each finishing with three receptions. Frost and Carroll rushed for 74 and 55 yards, respectively. Cota finished with 122 passing yards and added 73 yards of rushing for the Terriers.
Brattleboro, now 0-2, will be looking for its first win on Friday night when they host Mount Mansfield in the home opener at Natowich Field. BF, now 2-0, hosts Burr and Burton on Friday in a rematch of last season’s Division II state championship game.
• Jack McHale’s header with 50 seconds left in regulation time gave Twin Valley a 3-2 win over Windsor in the season opener for both teams on Sept. 7 at Hayford Field in Wilmington.
Dylan Dupuis set up the game-winning goal with a booming kick from 40 yards out. Surrounded by defenders, McHale leaped and knocked the ball in. Windsor had a 2-0 lead midway through the first half on goals by Hunter Grela and Daniel Cardillo, both assisted by Dylan Hodgdon.
The Wildcats tied the game with goals from Gunnar Nilsen late in the first half and Colin McHale early in the second half.
• Brattleboro got its season off to a rough start with a pair of close losses in the Mount Anthony Tournament in Bennington.
In the first round of the tourney, MAU’s Caroline Musinski scored the game’s only goal in the 56th minute to give the Patriots a 1-0 victory over Brattleboro.
In the consolation match, Arden McKnight scored two goals for Wahconah in a 2-1 victory over the Colonels. Hailey Derosia scored for Brattleboro.
Colonels goalkeeper Megyn Ayotte made five saves against MAU and then stopped 10 shots in the Wahconah game.
• The Twin Valley girls also took on Windsor for the season opener, and also prevailed in the final minutes with a 3-2 road victory on Sept. 8.
Tatyana Bowman converted a penalty kick with three minutes left in regulation to win the game. Bowman also scored earlier in the second half.
Evelyn Page had two goals for Windsor. Sadie Boyd also scored for the Wildcats.
• Tim Salter-Roy finished fourth in 19 minutes, 14 seconds to lead the Bellows Falls boys to a win last week at a four-school meet on the BFUHS trails.
The Terrier boys came in first with 34 points, barely edging second-place Monadnock (35 points). Conant was third with 70 and Fall Mountain had 100.
Ian Wallace (fifth, 19:25), Nic Potter (sixth, 19:36), Colton Baldasaro (eighth, 20:10), and Gabe Hakimoglu (11th, 20:38) rounded out the BF top 5. Other BF finishers included Stone Bradbury (16th), Collin Robertson (20th), Issac Wilkinson (23rd), Jacob Howarth (24th), Ethan Lauricella (35th), Jack Bador (37th), and Logan Comstock (40th).
Only three runners competed for the BF girls. Lia Clark came in third in 22:27. Molly Hodsden was 10th in 25:45, and Haley Covillion was 11th in 26:03.
• The Brattleboro girls took first place, while the boys came in second in a Sept. 7 meet at Bellows Falls.
Sarah Gallagher was second in 20:07 to lead the Colonel girls. She was followed by Liz Morse (fifth, 21:43), Annie Takacs (sixth, 22:07), Alexandra Miskovich (seventh, 22:36), and Molly Patenaude (eighth, 22:52) as Brattleboro finished with 24 points. Stratton Mountain School was second with 48 points, and Hartford was third with 72.
Isaac Freitas-Eagan led the Colonel boys with a first place finish in 16:28 for the Colonels. Colin Costa-Walsh was fifth in 17:35, followed by Trevor Kipp (seventh, 17:46), David Pierce (15th, 19:03), and Bram Tabachnik (17th, 19:24). Stratton won the meet with 26 points to Brattleboro’s 44.
• Bellows Falls rolled over Springfield, 8-0, on Sept. 8. Abbe Cravinho scored threw goals and Dani Marchica added two more for the Terriers.
Madison Streeter, Molly Kelly, and Sophia Hyslop all scored goals in BF’s season opener, with assists going to Meagan Kelly, Paxton Santorelli, Cravinho, and Streeter.
NECCA expands options for young gymnasts
• I’m a big baseball fan, but I can’t help but notice how much gymnastics has in common with baseball when it comes to the long odds to overcome to make it to the top. The winnowing process in baseball and gymnastics is swift and unforgiving, and for every person who makes it to compete at the elite level, there are a thousand others whose dreams are dashed early.
Most young gymnasts peak in their mid-teens, with puberty bringing a shift in body shape and change in muscle to weight ratio. Like ballet, a gymnast’s body must align to a narrow set of physical parameters. Add intense competition and relentless pressure, and you quickly see that, like being a big-league baseball player, reaching the top level in gymnastics is literally a million-to-one shot.
Fortunately for the people who wash out in their quest, there is circus. And for gymnasts, the skills learned pursuing that discipline translate easily toward learning skills such trapeze, aerial straps, or acrobatics.
Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, co-founders of the New England Center for Circus Arts (NECCA) in Brattleboro, have steered many former gymnasts into circus. They say NECCA graduates can be found on tours with Cirque du Soleil, Circa in Australia, Big Apple Circus in New York, on Broadway with “Pippin,” and in cruise ship shows, music concerts, and caberets around the world.
Smith and Smith-Forchion say that gymnastics and circus offer many of the same joys — physical fitness and empowering accomplishments, and a community of hard-working and supportive friends and coaches. But unlike gymnastics, there is no “should not” or “not allowed” in the circus arts.
They point to one of their alums, Kerren McKeeman. She is a Hollis, N.H., native and star of Cirque du Soleil’s “Varekai.” As a young gymnast, she discovered circus at about the same time her gymnastics career was reaching its end point. Currently on tour as lead character and trapeze artist with Cirque du Soleil in South America, McKeeman shared her insights in a recent news release from NECCA.
“The circus is a special place where everyone can fit in — you might have excelled at [balance] beam, but find yourself wanting to make people laugh. Use it! Make a clown act on a beam! Sometimes what comes most naturally is what is the most truly you— and if it’s not something you’ve seen before take the leap and create. . .listen to your inner spark — it will guide you.”
Emma Rogers of Peterborough, N.H., offers another example of how a love of acrobatics turned into a professional life. She wrote that “when you use your body in such an acrobatic way since a young age, your body craves that in a way. It becomes part of your identity.”
Now based in Montreal, Rogers progressed from NECCA’s Youth Performance Group, to being accepted into Circus Smirkus, to graduating from the National Circus School in Canada, to achieving her dream of becoming a professional circus artist.
Elsie and Serenity understand from experience what it’s like to not fit into the narrow boxes of gymnastics.
“When we performed our duo aerial act as the pre-show for an Olympic gymnasts presentation after the 2004 Olympics,” wrote Serenity, “we stood a foot taller than some of the gymnasts we lined up next to. We are 5-foot-7, which in gymnastics would have been a career-ender as shorter bodies flip faster. But now we perform as acrobats, professionals who make a living being creative with our unique physical characteristics.”
Fall classes are beginning at NECCA, and there are openings in the Youth Performance Troupe, as well as opportunities for youth and adults at recreational through professional levels in their new, fully-equipped trapezium in Brattleboro. Find out more at www.necenterforcircusarts.org.
Annual West Hill Grinder challenges adventurous bikers
• If you’re a mountain biker looking for a challenge, circle Sunday, Sept. 24 on your calendar — the date for this year’s West Hill Grinder, organized by the West Hill Shop in Putney.
Three different gravel-road biking loops will offer a variety of rural challenges for intermediate and advanced cyclists. Routes ranging from 19-39 miles will wind through scenic Westminster, Athens, Brookline, and Putney on town dirt roads, Class-4 woods roads, and Pinnacle Association hiking trails, with a bit of pavement here and there.
The “West-West” Loop is the easiest and shortest ride on packed dirt roads without technical challenges. There are bail-out points on all routes if a ride must be shortened. Both the start (at 10 or 11 a.m., depending upon the route chosen) and finish will be at High Meadows Farm in Westminster West, which offers water, facilities, protected seating, and on-site parking.
Individual, student, and family rates include an after-event lunch catered by John Labine of Taco Barn. For information on the routes, bike recommendations, equipment requirements, prices, food, as well as registration, visit www.bikereg.com and search for West Hill Grinder. Or go to www.westhillshop.com/about/group-rides-pb103.htm. For questions, contact the West Hill Shop at 802-387-5718 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior bowling roundup
• The fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League began last week with Team 7 (5-0) winning all of its games to start the first week in first place. Team 1, Team 5, and Team 10 (both 4-1) are all tied for second, followed by Team 3 (3-2). Team 4 (2-3), Team 6, Team 2, and Team 9 (all 1-4), and Team 8 (0-5).
Doris Lake had the women’s high handicap game (251) and series (692), while Fred Bump had the men’s high handicap game (250) and series (692). Team 3 had the high team handicap game (934) and series (2,562).
Robert Rigby (608) rolled a 600-plus series, while Jerry Dunham (585), Warren Corriveau Sr. (528), Peter Cross (501), Fred Ashworth (550) Marty Adams (533), and Wayne Randall (508) all had 500-plus series. Josie (203) and Robert Rigby (232) had his-and-hers 200-plus games. They were joined by Dunham (216).