We are now at the midpoint of the Vermont high school football season, and Brattleboro and Bellows Falls are atop the Division II standings.
Brattleboro (4-0) is in first place and the only undefeated team left in Division II after a 56-26 pounding of the North Country Falcons at Natowich Field on Sept. 20.
After losing to Brattleboro on opening night, Bellows Falls has won three straight games and moved into second place in Division II on Sept. 21 after a 37-14 road win against the Lyndon Vikings.
• Just how good are the Colonels right now? The story is still in progress, but fans have to like what they are seeing.
Quarterback Tyler Millerick, running back Chris Frost, and wide receiver Aaron Petrie are certainly having fantastic seasons. But the offensive line - Reed McKay, Sam Fontaine, Tyler McNary, Ellijah Isham, and Jem Cohen - deserve plenty of kudos too.
Put it together, and the Colonels now have a versatile quick-striking offense, which they showed by scoring on their first five possessions of the game.
In the first quarter as Millerick connected with Petrie for a 31-yard touchdown on the Colonels' first scoring drive. On the second scoring drive, they covered 98 yards in two plays, thanks to a 85-yard sideline jaunt by Frost for a 14-0 lead with 4:32 left in the first quarter.
North Country's Shawn Fearino scored on a 14-yard run as the opening quarter ended, but the Colonels got their lead back up to 14 with a Frost touchdown run at the start of the second quarter. Frost then scored again, this time after catching a short pass from Millerick and running 62 yards to the end zone.
Fearino scored again on a 5-yard run, but Millerick answered with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Trinly Warren as the half ended with the Colonels in front, 35-14.
Frost opened the third quarter with an 11-yard TD run, and the Falcons responded with a 7-yard TD run by quarterback Jack Young that, together with a 2-point conversion, made it 42-20 with 3:15 left in the quarter.
Millerick got two more touchdowns as he scored on a 2-yard sneak at the end of the third, and threw a 10-yard TD pass to Cobe Mager for a 56-20 lead with 9:07 left in the game. Fearino then got his third touchdown of the night with a 9-yard run in the final minute.
The Colonels did not have to punt in this game, a sure sign that your offense is going great. “Teams can't key on any one kid,” said coach Chad Pacheco. “You have to defend against a lot of people.”
One can argue that dropping down to Division II has played a part in the early success of the Colonels. But the Colonels faced three strong teams in their first three games, and won going away in all three games. And despite the final score of the North Country game, the Falcons put up a pretty good fight for as long as they could.
The seniors on this team, who've gone through some rough times in their sophomore and junior years, are hungry for success and are making up for lost time in a big way this season.
Millerick was 7-for-11 in passing for 167 yards and four touchdowns, and ran the ball 11 times for 124 yards and a touchdown. Frost had 10 carries for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
The underclassmen chipped in too. Warren, a junior, finished with four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Petrie, a sophomore, and Mager, a junior, each had a touchdown catch.
Kickers Conrad Auerbach and Reed Sargent were a combined 8-for-8 on extra points.
The 4-0 Colonels will look to keep their unbeaten streak alive as they host Mount Abraham in the Homecoming game this Friday at 7 p.m.
• Bellows Falls is hitting on all cylinders right now, with a corps of running backs that can move the ball and eat up the clock, and an effective offensive line that is giving them the space to pick up big yardage nearly every time the backs touch the ball.
Against Lyndon, the Terriers put the game away in the first quarter. Lyndon took the opening kickoff, but the drive stalled and a short punt gave BF the ball deep in Lyndon territory. Jed Lober finished a six-play, 37-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with 6:30 to play in the first quarter.
The same thing happened on the next Lyndon drive, but this time, it only took two plays to score as Harrison Gleim jetted into the end zone on a 28-yard sweep to make it 14-0 with 4:32 to play.
The third time was not a charm for Lyndon as penalties and a stout BF defense led to another score. Penned deep in their own territory and forced to punt out of the end zone, BF's Dylan Clark blocked the kick and the ball rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety and 16-0 lead with 2:03 remaining.
BF got the ball after the safety, and a long kickoff return by Monier and a 30-yard run by McGregor Vancor set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Monier, who was also perfect on all the day's point after kicks. It was now 23-0 with 1:42 left. The Terriers did not throw a pass in the entire opening quarter, yet piled up all those points to effectively end the game before it barely got started.
The second quarter was scoreless, but not for lack of trying by Lyndon. The BF defense stopped the Vikings at the goal line as time expired.
BF scored on the opening drive of the second half as quarterback Griffin Waryas threw to Vancor for a 10-yard touchdown, and Lober later scored on a 1-yard run as BF led 37-0 with 3:41 to play in the third quarter.
The 35-point mercy rule was now in effect, BF's second team took over, and Lyndon got its two touchdowns in the final quarter on a 7-yard run from Brian Noyes and a spectacular 85-yard catch-and-run pass reception by Sebastian Sanborn.
Now 3-1, Bellows Falls hosts U-32 on Saturday at 1 p.m.
• Brattleboro started the week with a 4-0 loss to Burr & Burton at Tenney Field on Sept. 16. The Bulldogs controlled play from the start, as Kaylyn Bailey made 11 saves in goal to keep the game somewhat competitive.
• Bellows Falls also felt Burr & Burton's bite, as the Bulldogs beat the Terriers, 6-3, in Manchester on Sept. 18. The Bulldogs took a 3-1 lead at the half as Katie Crabtree, Riley Callen and Celsey McMahon scored goals. Grace Wilkinson scored BF's goal.
Crabtree got her second goal of the day early in the second half, but Maya Wayras and Ariana Wunderle cut the Bulldogs' lead to 4-3 midway through. Crabtree and Annabelle Gray then potted insurance goals to put the game away.
• The Terriers finished the week with a 4-0 home win over Brattleboro on Sept. 20. Wilkinson led the way with two goals, while Waryas and Halle Dickerson also scored to improve BF's record to 3-4. Bailey made 22 saves in goal for the 1-4 Colonels.
• Burr & Burton avenged their first-round loss to Brattleboro in the John James Tournament by beating the Colonels a week later, 2-1, at Tenney Field on Sept. 18.
Alex Lier gave the Colonels a 1-0 halftime lead with his goal in the 33rd minute. The Bulldogs then scored a pair of goals in the second half. Niall Monahan got the equalizer in the 58th minute, and he assisted on the game-winning goal by Jayden Bloom in the 68th minute.
The Colonels then bounced back with a 3-1 win over Mill River on Sept. 21 at Tenney Field. Lier and Luke Williams had first-half goals, while Avery Bauer, who had a first-half assist, got help from Alex Shriver on an insurance goal in the second half. Brattleboro ended the week at 4-2.
• James Anderson scored the winning goal in the eighth minute of overtime to give Green Mountain a 1-0 victory over Twin Valley at Hayford Field on Sept. 18.
The loss ended a 23-game regular season winning streak for Twin Valley.
Chieftains goalkeeper Skyler Quizos made 17 saves to earn the victory.
• Goalkeeper Max Leninski picked up the shutout as Springfield beat visiting Bellows Falls, 3-0, on Sept. 18.
Springfield had a 20-7 shot advantage as Jared Pugh and Will Bishop both scored goals. The Cosmos picked up their third on a BF own goal off a corner kick.
• Riley Barton scored two goals in Leland & Gray's 4-2 loss at home to Arlington on Sept. 20. Arlington broke a 2-2 tie at the half with a pair of second-half goals. Quinn Kelloway made seven saves for the Rebels.
• Maddie Wilson had a pair of goals for Green Mountain as the Chieftains beat Bellows Falls, 4-2, on Sept. 18 in Chester.
Hannah Dupuis gave the Terriers a 1-0 lead midway through the first half, but GM's Kim Cummings tied it with 29 seconds remaining. Wilson got her goals in the second and Alexis Newsome added the fourth. Emma Graham also scored for the Terriers.
• Abby Towle scored three goals as Leland & Gray walloped Bellows Falls, 10-0, in Townshend on Sept. 20.
Izzy Ameden, Arin Bates, and Bay Holmes each scored two goals and Ansley Richardson added another for the 4-2 Rebels. Bates had two assists and Ainsley Meyer, Towle, and Ameden each had one assist. Sydney Hescock needed to make only four saves to earn the shutout. BF fell to 1-3-2.
• The Brattleboro boys' and girls' cross-country teams finished first and second, respectively, in a meet in Bennington on Sept. 17.
Burr & Burton had five runners in the top 10 to win the girls' meet with a team score of 18 points. Brattleboro was second with 47, Rutland came in third with 66, and Mount Anthony, Long Trail, and Mill River did not have enough runners to post a team score.
Brattleboro had only one runner in the top 10, Caitlin Robinson, who was ninth in 24 minutes, 40.3 seconds.
Five schools had runners in the top 10 in the boys' meet, but Brattleboro Finn Lamorder came in fourth in 18:24.8 to lead the five Colonels that finished in the top 12 spots to win with 33 points. Rutland was a distant second with 62, followed by Burr & Burton (65) and Mount Anthony (77).
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 3 of the fall season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl. Team 5 and Team 1 (both 13-2) tied for first and Team 11 (11-4) in third place. Team 2 (10-4) is in fourth, followed by Team 3 and Team 4 (both 9-6), Team 10 (8-7), Team 8 (5-10), Team 6 and Team 9 (both 4-11), and Team 7 (3-12).
Debbi Kolpa had the women's high handicap game (241), while Bunny Fogg has the high handicap series (662). Gary Montgomery had the men's high handicap game (250) and series (686). Team 6 had the high team handicap game (869) and Team 3 had the high handicap series (2,538).
In scratch scoring, Montgomery rolled a 219 and a 206 to lead the men with a 593 series, while Robert Rigby had games of 187 and 214 as part of his 561 series. Marty Adams (519) and Wayne Randall (503) also had a 500-plus series.
Fogg had the women's top scratch game scores of 181 and 179, part of her 509 series. Shirley Aiken rolled a 177 game and Kolpa rolled a 172.
Soccer goal fundraiser is a success
• The cry of “gooalll!” rang through Saxtons River as the Saxtons River Rec soccer program reached its fundraising target for new goals for its popular program.
Between 70 and 90 children from kindergarten to sixth grade participate in the program, which draws youngsters from Saxtons River, Rockingham, Bellows Falls, and Grafton.
The $2,620 in funds needed for the goals was raised through the efforts of parent volunteers.
The Saxtons River Inn hosted a slider night fundraiser, with food provided by the inn and Wagyu beef from Spring Rock Farm. A raffle of items donated by the Saxtons River Village Market, Vermont Academy, Village Square Booksellers, Ann DiBernardo, Smokin' Bowls and Jennifer Silver rounded out the evening.
The parents also organized a GoFundMe campaign, and other contributions came from Chroma Technologies, the Vincenzo Ruggiero Memorial Fund and individual donations.
“It's so great how everyone stepped up to support our efforts for the kids,” said parent volunteer John Edwards. “We've had these goals for 10 plus years, and they were used when we got them. They really needed to be replaced.”
Coaches for the program are Christina Aguiar and Krystal Hernandez (grades K-2), Garrett Allen, George Smith, and Matt Johnson (3/4) and Eric Nystrom and John Edwards (5/6). Volunteer referees are John Broadley and Greg Noble. Samantha Fletcher and Tammy Nystrom are also parent volunteers.