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Field hockey, football seasons start this weekend

The preseason practices and scrimmages are wrapping up, and the fall high school sports season gets going this Friday, Aug. 31.

• Field hockey opens with the Brattleboro Colonels on the road at Springfield for a 4 p.m. game on the 31st, while Bellows Falls begins its quest for a fourth straight state title when they open in Manchester against Burr & Burton on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Bellows Falls looks to extend its 40-game regular season win streak this season. After winning Division III state titles in 2015 and 2016, the Terriers moved up to Division II in 2017.

BF proved to be just as dominating in their new division, with a 17-0 record and another state championship. They outscored their opponents, 109-4, in their march to another title.

Coach Bethany Coursen still wants the Terriers to move up to Division I and play the northern schools. That could happen in 2019 or 2020. This season, however, her biggest job will be keeping her team focused and ready for the playoffs.

• The Colonels have a tough assignment for their first football game, as they host Rutland at Natowich Field for a Friday night contest.

Bellows Falls, last year’s runners-up in the Division II football final, also open at home on the 31st, with a 7 p.m. game against Spaulding at Hadley Field.

Last year’s Terriers had a stout defense and a high-flying offense that was the top-scoring regular season team in Division II with 419 points, or an average of more than 46 points per game. While they lost quarterback Logan Cota and top running back Shane Clark to graduation, BF head coach Bob Lockerby has plenty of talented players coming back for 2018.

After a 4-5 record in 2016, Brattleboro finished with a 2-7 record last season. Head coach Chad Pacheco hopes to get the Colonels back on an upward trajectory in 2018.

• Boys’ soccer begins on Sept. 1 as Brattleboro hosts St. Johnsbury at Tenney Field at noon. Bellows Falls has its first match at home against Long Trail on Sept. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

Twin Valley also has a home opening on Sept. 4, with a 6 p.m. match against Otter Valley at Hayford Field in Wilmington, while Leland & Gray hosts Woodstock on Sept. 5 at 4:30 p.m.

• Girls’ soccer begins on Sept. 1 as Bellows Falls hosts Springfield for an 11 a.m. match. Leland & Gray travels to Arlington on Sept. 5 for a 6 p.m. match.

Twin Valley also opens on Sept. 5, with a 4:30 p.m. game at Bellows Falls, while Brattleboro plays in a tournament at Mount Anthony on Sept. 7.

• Cross-country gets off to an early start as Bellows Falls will open on Aug. 31 with a 4 p.m. race in Langdon, N.H., against Fall Mountain, and they host Brattleboro for a meet on Sept. 4 at 4:45 p.m.

Football turnout varies in Vt.

• With school enrollment dropping for many schools around Vermont, it’s hard even for larger schools to get enough players to field a football team.

That’s why it seems so strange to see the Burlington Seahorses and South Burlington Wolves forming a co-op team. You would figure that two Division I schools in Chittenden County wouldn’t have to resort to that.

Unfortuately, that wasn’t thecase. Last season, South Burlington had 44 football players, compared to 59 boys opting to play soccer, 40 participating in cross-country and 17 in the volleyball program.

It was even more dire in Burlington. They started the season with only 36 football players, and had 25 still on the roster at season’s end, 17 of whom were graduating seniors.

The Vermont Principals’ Association’s Activities Standards Committee gave the okay in February for the two schools to merge their junior varsity and varsity programs and to compete in Division I.

The combined Burlington/South Burlington entry will be known as the Seawolves, and the first day of practice saw a total of 50 players from the two schools come out for football, considerably more than either school saw last season.

Mount St. Joseph in Rutland thought it had enough players to have a stand-alone team in Division III after two seasons as a co-op with Poultney. Unfortunately, they’re having trouble again.

The Rutland Herald reported last week MSJ has only 15 or 16 players, well below the VPA’s minimum number of 20 players for a varsity squad. MSJ now will have to ask opponents for permission to play them as an 8-man team.

Teams will have the option of playing MSJ in an 8-man game that won’t count in the standings, or accepting a forfeit win if MSJ can’t field an 11-man team. The school hopes this will be a temporary measure.

Co-op requests sometimes aren’t enough to save a football program. Oxbow had to cancel their season last year, but will have enough players this season to field a team in Division III. Winooski dropped football in 2016.

And, sometimes, the population problem is cyclical. A few years ago, Windsor had to forfeit games because they didn’t have enough players. Last year, they were Division III state champions.

Want to be a hunting instructor?

• The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is offering a New Instructor Training Course for people interested in volunteering to teach Hunter Education, Trapper Education, or Bowhunter Education courses in Vermont.

The training will take place Saturday, Sept. 15, at 8 a.m., at the Deerfield Valley Fish & Game Club in Whitingham. Policies and procedures, field techniques, and teaching methods will be covered to give instructors the tools to teach future hunters how to have a safe and enjoyable experience.

“The skills and ethics that our instructors impart to their students will serve them for a lifetime,” Training Coordinator John Pellegrini said in a news release. “There is no better way for a hunter to give back to the outdoors than by instructing the next generation of hunters. Early fall is a great time to take this training, as there will be plenty of courses to help with.”

All applicants are required to pass a background check with a warden and apprentice-teach with a Chief Instructor before they can teach on their own.

Upon course completion, they will receive their full State of Vermont Hunter Education Instructor certification. Applicants may choose to teach a real course at the Deerfield Valley Fish & Game Club the very next day.

Those planning to attend should sign up online at tinyurl.com/NIT2018 or call 802-828-1193 at least one week prior to the course date. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities are available upon request.

Senior bowling roundup

• A 0-5 week has left first place Team 2 (55-30) with just a four-game lead over second place Team 4 (51-34) with just one week to go in the Brattleboro Senior Bowling Summer League. Team 1 (48-37) remained in third place, followed by Team 9 (46-39), Team 5 (45-40), Team 3 (43-42), followed by Team 6 and Team 7 (both 42-43), and Team 8 (38-47).

Shirley Aiken had the women’s high handicap game (244), while Pam Prouty had the women’s high handicap series (668). Marty Adams had the men’s high handicap game (277) and Stan Kolpa rolled the men’s high handicap series (677). Team 4 had the high team handicap game (906), while Team 6 had the high handicap series (2,401).

In scratch scoring, Adams (242) and Wayne Randall (211) had 200-plus games. Adams (546), Warren Corriveau Sr. (533), and Gary Montgomery (525) all rolled 500-plus series.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #474 (Wednesday, August 29, 2018). This story appeared on page D4.

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