For years, the Vermont squads at the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl have been the gridiron equivalent of the skinny boys on the beach getting sand kicked in their face by the muscle-bound he-men of New Hampshire.
But in this annual clash of the top high school football stars from New Hampshire and Vermont, the Green Mountain Boys aren’t 98-pound weaklings anymore.
A hard-hitting defense combined with a clock-eating offense gave Vermont a 24-13 victory at the 65th edition of the Shrine game at Castleton University on Aug. 4.
It was the third straight year that Vermont has won the Shrine Game, the longest winning streak for the Green Mountain Boys in more than 40 years. New Hampshire still leads the all-time series, 47-16-2.
Burr & Burton’s Jay McCoy returned an interception for a 35-yard touchdown for Vermont’s only scoring play in the first-half. He then supplied the go-ahead score with a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter while Windsor’s Seth Balch, the starting quarterback, later ran for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Hartford’s Tyler Hamilton (67 yards) and Balch (59 yards) led Vermont’s rushing attack. Balch was 2-for-9 throwing the ball for 51 yards.
Vermont’s defense did the rest, as Champlain Valley’s Jake Bortnick (eight tackles), Missisquoi’s Hunter Nunes-Wales (three tackles and a sack) and McCoy (four tackles) were key contributors in limiting New Hampshire to 209 yards of total offense, and just 51 yards of rushing.
Despite the strong defensive effort, New Hampshire managed to get an early lead on Vermont. The Green Mountain boys fumbled on the second play from scrimmage and, three plays later, New Hampshire’s Matthew Harkins launched a 29-yard touchdown pass to Matt Simco.
McCoy’s interception would have tied the game, but a missed extra point gave the Granite Staters a 7-6 lead at the half.
Vermont tightened things up in the second half on both sides of the ball. On defense, Vermont intercepted two New Hampshire passes, while the offense dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 18:29 out of the 24 minutes of the second half.
Contributing to the dominating performance by the Vermont offense was Bellows Falls offensive lineman Jared Zobkiw, who played most of the snaps in the second half.
Shane Clark and Logan Cota were BF’s other representatives to the Shrine game. Clark was the starting running back for Vermont, while Cota was mostly used as a defensive back.
Besides being a showcase of football talent, the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl is a fundraiser for the three Shriners hospitals in New England and Canada — the Shriners orthopedic hospitals in Springfield, Mass., and Montreal, and the world-renowned Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston.
Colonels, Terriers start training camp on Aug. 13
The Shrine game closes the book on the 2017 Vermont high school football season. Now, we crack open a new journal dated “2018” and start writing the story of a new season.
For the Brattleboro Colonels, that season begins on Sunday, Aug. 12, when equipment is issued and the first team meeting is held at BUHS.
Seniors will draw their gear at noon, followed by the juniors at 1 p.m., the sophomores at 2 p.m., and the freshmen at 3 p.m.
A team/parent meeting will follow at 5 p.m. for all players. Prospective players must have at least one parent or guardian present for this meeting.
Preseason practices for the Colonels’ varsity and junior varsity teams will begin on Monday, Aug. 13. Single sessions are scheduled for Aug. 13 and 14 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Double sessions begin on Aug. 15, with practices at 7 to 9:15 a.m. and 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
The freshman football team has its first practice on Aug. 20 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
A team bonding exercise is scheduled for Aug. 18, followed by a day off on Aug. 19 before double sessions resume for the varsity and JVs on Aug. 20.
Scrimmages are scheduled for Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. against Mill River in North Clarendon, and on Aug, 24 at 7 p.m. at Keene, N.H.
After two days off, the Colonels will revert to single sessions from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., leading up to the season opener on Friday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m., at Natowich Field against Rutland.
After the Rutland opener on Aug. 31, here’s what the rest of the Colonels’ schedule looks like: Sept. 7, host Colchester; Sept. 15, at Mount Mansfield; Sept. 21, at South Burlington; Sept. 28, host St. Johnsbury; Oct. 5, at Hartford; Oct. 12, at Mount Anthony; and Oct. 19, host St. Albans.
If there are any questions about the team or the preseason schedule, contact varsity coach Chad Pacheco at 802-380-2058 or email@example.com.
• Bellows Falls, as well as the rest of Vermont high school football programs, will also start preseason practices next week.
BF’s first varsity football practice, for those entering grades 9-12, will be held on Aug. 13, from 7 to 11 a.m., at the high school. Players are asked to bring their completed paperwork along with sneakers and football cleats. For more information, contact head coach Bob Lockerby at 802-460-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Terriers went 8-3 last season and made it to the Division II finals, where they lost to Fair Haven, 46-20, at Rutland’s Alumni Field.
BF will open the 2018 season when they host Spaulding in the season opener on Aug. 31, at 7 p.m., at Hadley Field.
The rest of the Terriers’ season looks like this: Sept. 8, at Lyndon, 1 p.m.; Sept. 15, at Burr & Burton, 1 p.m.; Sept. 22, host Springfield, 1 p.m.; Sept. 29, at Otter Valley, 1 p.m.; Oct. 6, host Mt. Abraham, 3:30 p.m.; Oct. 12, host Fair Haven, 7 p.m.; and Oct. 19, at U-32, 7 p.m.
Putney Fossils are CRVBL champs
• The Putney Fossils, led by pitcher Danny Lichtenfeld and slugger Kyle Whitworth, defeated the Walpole Maples for the 2018 championship of the Connecticut River Valley Baseball League (CRVBL) on Aug. 5 at Ball-Roentsch Memorial Field in Walpole, N.H.
Putney was 8-4 during the regular season, while the Maples were 3-9, but both teams were the last ones standing in this year’s tournament.
Whitworth led the league in batting average (.455), and was second in runs batted in (13) during the regular season, while Lichtenfeld was second in wins (5) and fourth in strikeouts (32) and earned run average (1.00).
This is the second CRVBL title for the Fossils, who also won in 2014. Also on the this year’s championship roster were Richard Bissell, Chayse Cunniff, Isaac Earle, Alex Gauthier, Kenny Howe, Steve Kaparal, Ryan Lawley, Keith Lyman, Sam Ognenoff, Brandon Reilly, Ryan Smith, and Pete Wagner.
Registration begins for Hungry Lion Bike Tour
• The Whitingham-Halifax Lions Club says registration is now open for the Hungry Lion Bike Tour on Saturday, Sept. 29. The fall foliage tour, now in its seventh year, includes five different rides for cyclists of all abilities, from a short 5-mile loop to a 75-mile challenge.
All rides take cyclists through scenic country roads in southern Vermont and western Massachusetts. Brand new this year is a 25-mile “Gravel Grinder” for fat-tire cyclists who enjoy dirt road riding. All rides begin and end at Town Hill in Whitingham.
The Hungry Lion features several rest stops stocked with fruit, snacks and water, plus a barbecue picnic with live music, cold brews and a “goodie bag” for riders at the finish line. And because steep hills and flat tires happen, a “sag wagon” will be on patrol to provide assistance to cyclists.
All proceeds from the ride are used to help end hunger in the Deerfield Valley, fund programs for seniors, and provide free vision screening in local schools. Every cyclist who raises more than $250 will receive a custom artist-designed cycling jersey.
To date, the Hungry Lion Bike Tour has raised more than $100,000, making it the largest charity cycling event in the Deerfield Valley. Riders are encouraged to sign up early.
Non-riders can also help the cause, either by sponsoring a rider or donating directly to the Whitingham-Halifax Lions Club. Visit www.hungrylionbiketour.com to register, watch the video, and for more information.
Senior bowling roundup
With two weeks left in the summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League, Team 2 (49-21) is starting to pull away from the field as the first place team. Team 3 (40-30) is alone in second place, with Team 7 (39-31) now in third place. Team 1 (37-33) fell to fourth, followed by Team 9 (33-32), Team 4 (36-34), Team 6 (33-37) and and Team 8 and Team 5 (both 32-38).
Sandy Ladd had the women’s high handicap game (256), while Rosalie Howe had the women’s high handicap series (624). Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men’s high handicap game (243) and Peter Cross had the high handicap series (647). Team 6 had the high team handicap game (877), and Team 2 had the high handicap series (2,483).
In scratch scoring, Corriveau (570), Fred Ashworth (552), and Marty Adams (549) each rolled a 500-plus series. Adams (203) and Corriveau (226) were the only bowlers with 200-plus games.
New hours at Living Memorial Park pool
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department says that the Living Memorial Park Pool hours for this week and next week will be 1 to 5 p.m.
The pool will close for the season on Sunday, Aug. 19 at 5 p.m.