Unbeaten. Untied. Unbelievable.
The Bellows Falls Terriers capped off an undefeated 11-0 season on Nov. 13 with a 57-35 win over the Mount Anthony Patriots in the Division II state football championship game at Rutland’s Alumni Field.
This was the 21st time that BF was playing for a state football championship, and the Terriers’ fifth trip to the final in the last six seasons. The win over Mount Anthony gave BF its 12th state title, and their first since beating Burr & Burton in 2016. The 92 total points in this game were the most scored by two teams in a Vermont state football championship game since the VPA started the tournament in 1970.
It was a season to warm the heart of every football fan who appreciates the timeless brand of football that has been the Terriers’ trademark for decades — control the line of scrimmage with a strong offensive line and a sure-handed, sure-footed running game that piles up the yards as it burns up the clock.
Yes, the current vogue in football is spread offenses with lots of passing. Running the ball almost exclusively seems old-fashioned. But it works, especially in Bellows Falls, which always seems to produce hard-nosed running backs and even harder-nosed linemen.
This year was no exception. BF piled up 3,500 yards of rushing, with 61 touchdowns, heading into the championship game. Quarterback Jonathan Terry, and running backs Jed Lober, Jeb Monier, Caden Haskell, and Harrison Gleim all had success this season, and they are quick to credit the linemen in front of them who gave them the daylight to run through.
Offensive linemen Kevin Patterson, Jake Moore, Peter Kamel, Dillan Perry, and Patrick Barbour can all take a bow for helping the Terriers win another title. Monier and Lober ran for 142 and 180 yards, respectively, and each ran for three touchdowns. Gleim (88 yards) Terry (76 yards), and Haskell (25 yards) also contributed to a ground game that gained 511 yards for the day.
The Patriots entered the title game with a more diversified offense than BF’s, as sophomore quarterback Tanner Bushee threw for 1,041 yards and 16 touchdowns, and ran for another 356 yards and six touchdowns this season.
It helped that MAU has two great receivers in Austin Grogan (580 yards) and Carter Thompson (309 yards), and a solid tight end in Braedon Billert (270 yards). But the Patriots were not totally one-dimensional, as they featured two good running backs in Ayman Nasar (775 yards) and Hayden Gaudette (416 yards).
Even though BF clobbered the Patriots, 45-14, in Week 2, Terriers coach Bob Lockerby and his team were taking nothing for granted. Starting with a 36-12 win over Brattleboro in the Elwell Trophy game in Week 4, MAU went on a five-game winning streak to pick up the No. 2 seed in Division II. With convincing playoff wins over Rice and Spaulding, the Patriots were peaking at the right time.
Lockerby’s concerns were short-lived as the Terriers did in this game what they’ve all done all season — jump out to an early lead and force the opponent to play catch-up. BF would score on eight of their 10 possessions in the game, and neither of the two possessions where they didn’t score ended with a punt or a turnover.
BF scored on their first possession of the game, an 11-play drive that finished with a 7-yard touchdown run by Monier, who also kicked the extra points a 7-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots got as far as midfield on their first possession, but a false start penalty and a failed fake punt play gave the ball back to BF, who immediately cashed in on the great field position with a 41-yard keeper by Terry for a touchdown.
An interception by Jamison Nystrom set up BF’s third touchdown, a 37-yard sideline run by Monier. A five-yard run by Lober, and a successful two-point conversion gave the Terriers a 29-0 lead at halftime.
To MAU’s credit, they came out strong to start the second half and made it a competitive game. After a 6-yard TD reception by Naser, the Patriots successfully recovered an onside kick, and Bushee found Naser in the end zone for another touchdown. Suddenly, it was 29-14 and the Patriots had a glimmer of hope.
The Patriots then tried another onside kick, but BF recovered and Lober later scored his second touchdown of the day. MAU responded with a 8-yard TD pass from Bushee to Grogan.
BF responded with a pair of touchdown runs — a 63-yard burst by Monier and a short run by Lober to take back control of the game.
Gaudette ran in a pair of touchdowns for the Patriots, but the Terriers pulled out a trick play as Nystrom threw a 39-yard halfback option pass to tight end Max Hooke for BF’s final touchdown. It was the only passing play of the afternoon for the Terriers. Hooke also had an interception on defense.
Bushee finished the day with 333 yards of passing, as Naser (137 yards) and Grogan (155 yards) both had big days catching the ball. But MAU could not establish a running game as the BF defense held them to just 85 yards on the ground. Gaudette ran for 67 yards, but those yards came late in the game when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
All in all, it was a great game by a great BF team led by its 10 seniors — Terry, Lober, Hooke, Monier, Gleim, Scott, Barbour, Patterson, Jordan Keefe, and Owen Garaffa. It was a team that got better and more confident with every game this season, and was rewarded for its hard work with a state championship.
Hayford steps down as Twin Valley girls’ basketball coach
• At age 64, Leland “Buddy” Hayford has been coaching at Wilmington and Twin Valley high schools for a long time.
He is Vermont’s all-time winningest boys’ soccer coach, but he is no slouch as a girls’ basketball coach. He has a lifetime record of 437-283 with two state championships, 10 Final Fours, and 29 appearances in the state tournament. He’s also won 12 Marble Valley League championships.
Hayford loves coaching varsity girls’ basketball, but he has never loved the long bus rides on the cold winter nights. Whitingham is long way from everywhere Twin Valley plays.
Even the short trips to Townshend or Arlington entail an hour on a school bus. And going to Proctor or West Rutland or South Royalton is even longer. Last season alone, Hayford said his Twin Valley squad traveled 1,520 miles.
Those long rides through iffy winter weather take their toll after a while. So, after 34 seasons, Hayford announced last week that he won’t be coaching this winter. James Anderson, who has coached Twin Valley’s boys’ basketball teams, will be taking his place. Hayford says he is confident that Anderson will do a great job running the girls’ program.
Hayford still plans to continue coaching boys’ soccer in the fall, and track & field in the spring, as well as continue as Twin Valley’s athletic director. He just would like to spend a little more time at home in the winter months, and I don’t blame him one bit.
Remembering Bill Lockerby
• When you live and work in a place for more than three decades as I have, you can’t help but see your life intersecting with a lot of other lives, particularly if you work as a newspaper reporter.
And that means writing about the children of the high school athletes you wrote about when you first came to town, and the grandchildren of the coaches you first wrote about.
That cycle of life is one of joy and sorrow. The sorrow came when I learned about the death of Bill Lockerby, who died in a hunting accident in Ohio on Oct. 28.
I remember Bill as a standout shortstop and pitcher for the Bellows Falls Terriers in the early 1990s, playing for coach Bis Bisbee in baseball and football. He went on to American International College in Springfield, Mass., and had a decent career playing college baseball at AIC before graduating.
He came back to BF and coached Pee Wee football and youth baseball. I got to know him again as the coach of the American Legion Post 37 baseball team over the past few years. He loved baseball, loved coaching, and gave a lot of his time to young people in the Rockingham area.
As longtime BF resident Doug MacPhee told me last week, “Bellows Falls lost a very devoted man to youth sports. We can never have enough of them.”
My condolences to Bill’s wife, Jessica, his children Grady and Delaney, and the rest of the extended Lockerby family.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 11 of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on Nov. 11 saw Stayin’ Alive (32-23) have another 0-5 week. They remain in first place, but Alley Katz (31-24) had a 5-0 week to move into second place. Pin Falls (30.5-24.5) had a 1-4 week but are hanging on to third place, followed by Pin Setters (29-26), Rolling Stones (27.5-27.5) Team Four (27-29), Trash-O-Matic (22-33), and Old Farts (21-34).
Sally Perry had the women’s high handicap game (241) and series (654). Warren Corriveau Sr. had the men’s high handicap game (249), while Stan Kolpa had the high handicap series (675). Pin Setters had the high team handicap game (881) and series (2,496).
In scratch scoring, Robert Rigby again led the men with a 612 series, with games of 226 and 215. Corriveau had a 550 series that featured games of 230 and 182. Jerry Dunham had a 521 series and Marty Adams had a 194 game.
Nancy Dalzell and Josie Rigby had the high scratch games, as both rolled a 181, and Rigby had the high scratch series (486) to lead the women. Carol Gloski rolled a 175 game and Sally Perry had a 174 game.