The three best football players in Vermont this season — Fair Haven quarterback Cam Coloutti, Rutland running back Dakota Peters, and St. Johnsbury quarterback Jake Cady — put their stamp on this year’s edition of the North-South All-Star Football Game played at Castleton University’s Dave Wolk Stadium on Nov. 17.
Cady completed 26 of his 36 passes for 442 yards and five touchdowns and ran for two more TDs as the North rolled to a 56-35 win.
Coloutti threw for one touchdown and Peters ran for 80 yards and three touchdowns for the South squad.
Local representatives on the South team included Brattleboro’s Kris Carroll and Malick Mane, and Reno Tuttle and Braden Maxfield of Bellows Falls.
Assistant coaches included Chad and Todd Pacheco of Brattleboro and Mike Empey and Frank Brown of Bellows Falls.
The North leads the series, 11-7.
Division I football all-stars named
• The Division I all-star football team was recently announced, and several Brattleboro players were honored.
On offense, Kris Carroll was a first-team selection at fullback. Malick Mane was a second-team selection at tight end and Tyler Millerick was a second-team selection at quarterback.
On defense, Mane was a first-team selection at outside linebacker. Carroll was a second-team selection at defensive end, while Millerick was a second-team selection at defensive back. Lineman Elijah Isaham and defensive back Jordan Warner received honorable mentions.
Is eight-man football the answer?
• The 2018 season started with 32 Vermont high schools with varsity football programs. This year, we saw two Vermont high schools — Mount St. Joseph in Rutland and Missisquoi Valley in Swanton — disband their football programs in mid-season due to a lack of players. We saw another school, Oxbow in Bradford, forfeit a game for the same reason.
We saw two of the largest high schools in Chittenden County — Burlington and South Burlington — form a cooperative team. Other schools had smaller rosters, which meant seeing more players doing double-duty on offense and defense.
As enrollments keep falling in Vermont schools, if football is to stay alive at the high school level, it may be time to revisit eight-man football.
At the Vermont Interscholastic Football League’s (VIFL) fall meeting at Hartford High School on Nov. 14, this idea was briefly discussed.
Eight-man football shares the same rules and procedures as the traditional 11-man game, but with three fewer players on each side. The width of the eight-man field is scaled down a bit, 40 yards wide instead the standard 53 yard, 1 foot width of 11-man fields, but the length is generally the same in both versions, 100 yards.
Seventeen states offer eight-man football. It’s a faster, higher-scoring, and exciting game that’s quite popular as a varsity sport in Texas, the Midwest, and in the High Plains states, but never really caught on in Vermont.
The Vermont Principals’ Association sanctioned an eight-man football division from 1992 until 2006. Smaller schools such as Mill River, Mount Abraham, Otter Valley, Colchester, and U-32 all started their football programs at that time with eight-man teams.
However, rather than keep playing at that level, those five schools used eight-man as a stepping stone toward fielding an 11-man team.
That strategy didn’t work for every school. Winooski won the first two eight-man state titles in 1992 and 1993, eventually moved up into the 11-man game, and ultimately had to drop the sport in 2015 due to a lack of numbers.
Montpelier, another early adopter of the eight-man game, also could not make the transition to 11-man and it too dropped football.
Writing in the Valley News, Poody Walsh reported that “there was some discussion, but no resolution, about some teams playing eight-man football, rather than no football at all.”
Walsh reported that while Oxbow says it will field an 11-man team in 2019, Missisquoi says it will play a junior varsity schedule next year and return to varsity status in 2020.
As for Mount St. Joseph, there is a strong probability that one of the most storied football programs in Vermont history, with 12 state championships to its credit, may give up the sport altogether.
The VIFL will take a closer look at bringing back eight-man football in the coming weeks, as part of the realignment process that may see several schools drop down or move up the divisional ladder.
I agree with the sentiments of Tom Haley of the Rutland Herald, who wrote on Nov. 15 that “a rebirth of the 8-man game just might be the shot-in-the-arm Vermont high school football needs.”
With eight-man, football fans would see more exciting and competitive games, The best analogy would be the National Hockey League, which uses a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period to settle ties during the regular season. With more space for skilled players to create scoring chances, the result is wide-open, entertaining hockey.
More space on a football field would have a similar effect. Less “three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust” and more long throws downfield.
The VIFL and the VPA should consider giving smaller programs the option of playing eight-man football. The alternative is watching high school football in Vermont continue its slow and steady decline.
Three ex-Colonels playing for Castleton basketball
• The path on Route 30 between Brattleboro and Castleton is a well-worn one, as many area student-athletes have chosen Castleton University as their collegiate home.
Three former Brattleboro Colonels will be playing basketball again for the Spartans this season. Eli Lombardi of Brattleboro and Josh Hanson of Guilford will be on the men’s team, while Abby Lesure of Vernon will again be on the women’s team.
Lesure, a 5-foot-2 senior reserve guard, played in every game in her sophomore and junior seasons for the Spartan women. This season so far, she is averaging 2.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Lombardi, a 6-foot-5 sophomore forward, averaged 2.3 points per game and pulled down 22 rebounds last season.
Hanson, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, scored 86 points last season and had 62 rebounds and four blocks.
Turkey Trot draws 130 runners
• Despite being 12 degrees — the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record — 130 runners participated in this year’s edition of the Red Clover Rovers’ Jerry Gagliardi Memorial Turkey Trot.
The race was named this year to honor Gagliardi, the former Dean of Students at Brattleboro Union High School who died in October.
According to longtime club member Fred Ross, Gagliardi was one of the club’s founders in 1977. In 1975, he created the Firecracker 4-Miler for the July 4 holiday and, a few years later, Gagliardi and Colonels running coach John Dimick created the Turkey Trot race.
As Ross wrote on the club’s Facebook page, “A finer person you would not find!”
Colin Costa-Walsh won the men’s race, covering the three-mile out-and-back course on Upper Dummerston Road in a time of 18 minutes, 28 seconds. Rick Evans was second in 18:34 and Jon Copans was third in 18:44.
Costa-Walsh, now a freshman cross-country runner at Ithaca College, was a standout at BUHS and was selected to the Marble Valley League’s all-star cross-country team in his junior and sophomore years.
Sarah Lange was fourth overall and the first female finisher in 18:46. The rest of the top 10 in order of finish were Tomas Bok, 18:53; Daniel Simonds, 18:56; Evan Koch, 19:14; Kalle Jahn, 19:26; Halie Lange, 19:43; and Gus Williams, 19:55.
Kole Wagenbach won the one-mile race in 7:48. The biggest winner, though, was the Groundworks Food Shelf, which received food and cash donations from all the runners who participated.
Jingle all the way!
The Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual 5K Jingle Bell Jog is set for Saturday, Dec. 8. It’s a fun, family-oriented way to celebrate winter in Brattleboro.
The course starts downtown at the Brooks House, and runs along the Whetstone Brook before turning around at the halfway point and returning along the same route.
Prizes will be awarded to the first three men finishers, first three women finishers, and first three kid finishers (ages 12 and under). Prizes will also be awarded for best costume! Participants are encouraged to wear holiday-themed attire. Jingle bells will be provided!
The entry fee — age 13 and over, $20; kids 12 and under, $10; and a family of four, $50 — includes a limited edition Jingle Bell Jog t-shirt. The race will be professionally timed by Split Time Race Management. To register, go to runsignup.com/Race/VT/Brattleboro/5KJingleBellRun.
Same day registration closes at 9:25 a.m., and the race starts promptly at 9:30 a.m. in the Harmony Lot behind the Brooks House. The awards ceremony will take place at 10:30 a.m. If there are other questions, contact the Chamber at 802-254-4565 or info@BrattleboroChamber.org.
Senior bowling roundup
• Team 5 (42-20) stayed in first place and Team 2 (40-20) remained in second place after Week 12 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl.
Team 7 and Team 4 (both 36-24) are tied for third place, followed by Team 8 (33-27), Team 10 (30-30), Team 1 and Team 11 (both 29-31), Team 9 (28-32), Team 3 (27-33), and Team 6 (22-38).
Rosealie Howe had the women’s high handicap game (247) and Lorraine Taylor had the high handicap series (662). Jerry Dunham had the men’s high handicap game (241) and Larry McIntosh had the high handicap series (633). Team 2 had the high team handicap game (865) and Team 5 had the high handicap series (2,415).
In scratch scoring, Warren Corriveau Sr. (564) had the men’s high series, while Taylor (458) had the women’s high series.
Corriveau (564) and Dunham (562), and Wistrom (513) each had a 500-plus series.
Dunham (241) and Corriveau (205) were again the only male bowlers to top 200 for a single game, while the women were led by Nancy Dalzell (185) and Dolly Stone (172).