The Brattleboro Colonels football team had their home opener against the Windsor Yellowjackets at Natowich Field on Oct. 2, but there were a lot of things missing due to COVID-19.
The BUHS band wasn’t there. Neither were most of the fans, with attendance limited to a masked and socially-distanced 150 people. There was no long line of people waiting for hot dogs and popcorn at the Colonel’s Den. There was no National Anthem.
And, most especially, there was no blocking, tackling, or running the football.
Welcome to 7-on-7 touch football, the COVIDtized version of the game that bears only a slight resemblance to what fans are used to seeing played in Vermont.
I’ll admit that it took some time for me to get adjusted, particularly as a sports photographer, to covering a football game where every play is a passing play and the pace of the game is much faster. But, as the late Jimmy Durante used to say, “dems da conditions dat prevail.”
Last year, Brattleboro crushed Windsor, 61-12, on the way to an undefeated season and a Division II state championship. But, of course, that was a game where you could block, tackle and run the ball and the Colonels could use their size and strength to pummel teams.
In the 7-on-7 game, that dimension is taken away and a smaller school like Windsor has a chance. While Brattleboro beat Windsor, 26-19, on the road on Sept. 30, the Jacks spoiled the Colonels’ home opener with a 27-21 victory.
After a scoreless first quarter, Windsor got a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter as quarterback Maison Fortin twice found Jackson Davis in the end zone with scoring passes of two and 10 yards. Brattleboro blocked the extra point on the second score to make it 13-0 Jacks at the half.
The Colonels had to play catch-up the rest of way. Alex Kendall reeled a 37-yard pass from Devin Speno for Brattleboro’s first score early in the third quarter, but Windsor responded with a short touchdown pass from Fortin to Owen Abrahamsen and got a two-point conversion to make it 21-7 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Speno connected Jordan Warner for a touchdown and Reed Sargent booted the second of his three extra points to cut the Jacks’ lead to 21-14 with 9:12 to play.
Fortin got Windsor’s last touchdown with a toss to Logan Worrall in the end zone near the end of the game, and Aaron Petrie caught a touchdown pass from Speno in the final minute for Brattleboro’s last touchdown.
Speno completed 23 passes for 316 yards. Trinley Warren had five catches for 109 yards, while Kendall finished with seven catches for 84 yards and had an interception on defense. Warner had four catches for 51 yards.
The game got a little chippy at times, as both teams were touching receivers with a bit more force that you’d expect in touch football. Colonels coach Chad Pacheco was not happy with his players’ lack of composure.
“This may be a weird game, but it doesn’t matter what game you play, you want to be the best and you want to win,” said Pacheco. “Windsor out-hustled us the entire game and had more intensity. We didn’t play with a lot of poise.”
Terriers lose home football opener
• For years, Bellows Falls has been known for its its hard-hitting running game. So, as you might expect, adjusting to a 100-percent passing game would be a huge change for the Terriers.
In their 7-on-7 home opener on Sept. 30 at Hadley Field, Hartford beat the Terriers, 37-20. Four interceptions hurt the BF cause as the Hurricanes took a 20-7 halftime lead.
Grady Lockerby and Jonathan Terry shared the quarterbacking duties for the Terriers. Lockerby was 11-for-18 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Terry was 9-for-18 for 111 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Jack Burke, Logan Lisai, and Dominic Kendall each caught touchdown passes. Burke led the BF receivers with 99 yards on four catches. On defense, Jake Moore had BF’s lone interception.
• The Bellows Falls girls look like a team determined to win its third straight Division III title and, judging from their early season performances, it would be hard to bet against them.
In a Oct. 1 meet at Thetford Academy, junior Abby Broadley covered the 5K course in 20 minutes flat to finish first. Stephanie Ager (third), Lily Ware (fifth), Molly Hodsden (seventh), and Burgess Schemm (10th) also finished in the top 10 for the Terriers.
The Terrier girls continued their dominance at the Russ Pickering Invitational on Oct. 3. Running on her home course, Broadley easily won the girls meet in 18 minutes, 12 seconds. Ager was fourth in 20:35, while Ware was 14th in 24:24, Hodsden was 16th in 24:32, and Shelby Stoodley was 23rd in 30:39.
• An SAT testing session in Brattleboro left the Colonels’ teams shorthanded for the Pickering Invitational. Ninth-grader Tess Bogart was the lone Brattleboro runner in the girls meet and finished 25th in 51:33. The Colonel boys did not have any of their seniors run.
• Brattleboro traveled to Chester on Sept. 28 to take on the Green Mountain Chieftains and came away with a 3-1 win.
Kiki McNary, Jillian Mahon, and CC Allenbert were the goal scorers for the Colonels, and Sylvie Normandeau, Mahon, and McNary each had an assist. Goalkeeper Bella Powell made eight saves to pick up the victory.
The Colonels took a 2-0 lead to start the first half before Green Mountain’s Riley Paul scored the Chieftains’ only goal with a header off a corner kick by Kim Cummings. Brattleboro then held the Chieftains scoreless in the second half.
• White River Valley grabbed a 2-0 lead and held on for a 2-1 victory over Bellows Falls on Sept. 28. While BF dominated play in the second half, they could only manage one goal when Emma Graham scored on an assist by Abby Broadley.
On Oct. 2, the Terriers traveled to Chester and lost to Green Mountain, 6-0. The Chieftains scored three goals in each half. Chloe Ayer and Cummings had two goals each and Grace Tyrell and Paul also scored. Alex Hutchins and Hailey Pierce split time in goal for the Chieftains, and faced a combined three shots.
• Elliot Rupp scored four goals as Windsor defeated Leland & Gray, 4-3, in the Rebels’ home opener on Sept. 28. Ayla Ryan, Ainsley Meyer and Abby Towle all scored for the Rebels, and goalkeeper Makaila Morse played well in her first varsity start.
• Twin Valley opened its season at home on Sept. 28 with a 2-1 loss to Mount St. Joseph.
• Ayoub Lajhar has established himself as the most dangerous player on the field for Brattleboro. After scoring the game-winning goal in overtime in the Colonels’ opener, Lajhar followed that performance up with another game winner against Mount Anthony on Sept. 28 and a goal and three assists in a 5-1 win against Leland & Gray on Oct. 1.
In the Mount Anthony game, the Colonels trailed, 3-2. Alex Lier and Lajhar scored in the first half, and Nick Bingham scored the tying goal in the 55th minute. Lajhar then booted in the game-winner in the 72nd minute.
Leland & Gray’s Riley Barton scored the first goal of the Oct. 1 game, then the Colonels followed with five unanswered goals to down the Rebels. Emilio Ogden and Lajhar scored to give the Colonels a 2-1 lead at the half. Lajhar then set up the next three goals in the second half by teammates Sam Hall, Alex Lier and Ryder Sullivan.
• Leland & Gray played Woodstock to a 0-0 tie on Sept. 29. The visiting Rebels had three near misses, hitting the crossbar twice and a post once. The next day, they hosted Bellows Falls and rolled to a 6-1 win.
• Bellows Falls bounced back from the Rebel rout to edge Mill River, 3-2, on Oct. 2. Mack Ross scored all three BF goals. Jamison Nystrom set up two of Ross’s three goals, while Owen Edwards assisted on another.
• Twin Valley, the defending Division IV champions, were upset by Rivendell, 2-1, at Hayford Field on Oct. 2. Garrett Stever and Josiah Welch each scored for the Raptors. Welch’s tally broke a 1-1 tie with 20 minutes remaining. Colin McHale scored for Wildcats as goalkeeper Liam Wendell finished with eight saves.
• Bellows Falls scored all of its goals in the first half as the Terriers cruised to a 3-0 win over Rutland on Wednesday. Two nights later, BF defeated Brattleboro, 8-0, under the lights at Tenney Field.
Goalie Jaia Caron earned a shutout for Bellows Falls. Maya Waryas scored three goals to lead the Terriers. Ashlynn Boucher added two more, and Grace Bazin and Julianna McDermid each scored their first varsity goal. Ashlin Maxfield also scored for BF.
The Terriers got a tougher test the next afternoon when they traveled to Manchester to face Burr & Burton and won in overtime, 2-1. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead when Katie Crabtree scored on an assist from Annabelle Gray with 8:09 to go in the first quarter. BF responded with a goal from Maxfield, off a Waryas assist.
The game remained tied at 1-1 until overtime when Waryas scored the game winner. Caron made six saves in goal for Bellows Falls, while Hannah Callen had four for Burr & Burton.
Gymnastics classes at the Rec
• The Brattleboro Recreation and Parks Department will now be accepting registrations for Gymnastics Classes for everyone 18-months-old and up. Classes will be held at the Gibson-Aiken Center from Oct. 12 to Nov. 5.
Classes will be in four-week sessions and the fees are $45 for Brattleboro residents and $60 for everyone else per session. Checks should be made out to “Brattleboro Recreation and Parks.” Participants should wear snug clothing and bring a full water bottle to classes.
To register or for more information, call 802-254-5808 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to noon or from 1-5 p.m. If there are special needs required for this program, you should let the Rec Department know by five days in advance. For all programs, events and online fillable registration forms, go to www.brattleboro.org.
Senior bowling roundup
• Team 4 (18.5-6.5) is in first place after week 5 of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team 3 (15.5-9.5) is in second place, followed by Team 6 (15-10), Team 1 (12-13), Team 5 (10-15) and Team 2 (3-22).
Carole Frizzell had the women’s high handicap game (227) and Shirley Aiken had the high handicap series (623). Pete Cross had the men’s high handicap game (251) and series (691). Team 2 had the high team handicap game (867) while Team 4 had the high handicap series (2,508).
In scratch scoring, Robert Rigby had games of 224, 223, and 210 to complete a 657 series to once again lead the men. Cross had a 195 game as part of his 523 series and Wayne Randall notched a 190.
Josie Rigby rolled a 179 as part of her high scratch series of 492 to again lead the women. Aiken had a 173 game.