The local high school football season began on Sept. 1 with a 34-0 rout by Bellows Falls over the Springfield Cosmos at Hadley Field in the 110th meeting between those two teams, and a 35-6 loss by Brattleboro to the Middlebury Tigers in the Bears' home opener at Natowich Field.
• Springfield hasn't won a game over their rivals in Bellows Falls since 2009. The Terriers retained "The Trophy" and upped their all-time record against the Cosmos in this gridiron rivalry that began in 1894 to 62-45-3. It's the second-oldest rivalry game in Vermont; while the annual clash between St. Johnsbury and Lyndon also began in 1984, those Northeast Kingdom rivals played more games in their series.
The Cosmos had hopes of being competitive this year against BF, but even with a sloppy and mistake-filled game by the Terriers, they could not break through.
BF, the runner-up in Division II last season, showed that they have plenty of talent on this year's squad. The defense held Springfield to just one first down for the entire game and the offense moved the ball at will. The biggest problem for BF was penalties, which kept the final outcome from being even more lopsided.
A 53-yard touchdown romp by BF running back Walker James and a point-after kick by Colby Dearborn made it 7-0 with 9:10 left in the first quarter, but another scoring drive was thwarted by an interception thrown by BF quarterback Eli Allbee with 3:06 left in the quarter. Allbee soon atoned for the interception with a 2-yard touchdown run, but a bad snap spoiled the point-after kick for a 13-0 lead with 5:11 left in the second half.
James made a spectacular play on defense on the ensuing Springfield drive with a one-handed interception catch of a pass thrown by Cosmos quarterback Carson Clark with 3:48 left in the first half. However, a series of penalties on the ensuing drive, including one that wiped out a touchdown run by Albee, left the Terriers empty-handed and clinging to a 13-0 lead at intermission.
"It wasn't pretty in the first half," BF coach Bob Lockerby said. "We're still green at some positions and it showed in how sloppy we played. We talked about it at halftime and they played much better in the second half. We ran hard and blocked well."
That was evident in the Terriers first drive of the second half, where they methodically moved the ball downfield in the patented BF way - run, run, and run some more. The drive culminated with a 6-yard touchdown run by James for a 20-0 lead with 7:41 left in the third quarter.
The next time BF got the ball, it was more of the same as running back Jesse Darrell was stopped just short of the the goal line after a 22-yard sideline run and then he finished the job with a 1-yard scoring plunge for a 27-0 lead with 3:28 left in the third.
Tempers were starting to rise between the two teams and after a hard tackle by a Springfield player led to an exchange of some X-rated words at the end of the third quarter, the coaching staffs of both teams huddled up and agreed to finish the game with a running clock. Allbee scored on a 34-yard run in the fourth quarter with 8:36 left in the game for the final BF touchdown.
After celebrating another year of The Trophy staying at BFUHS, Lockerby reminded his players after the game that they needed to get ready for what will be a considerably tougher test, playing the Hartford Hurricanes on the road in a Thursday night game on Sept. 7.
"It will be a short week for us, with less time to prepare against a really tough Division I team," said Lockerby.
• Middlebury, who were the runners-up in Division I last season, gave Brattleboro a less-than-warm welcome back to the top football division in Vermont with a dominating performance.
The Tigers led 14-6 at halftime, and shut out the Bears the rest of the way while scoring three more touchdowns as turnovers and penalties doomed Brattleboro's chances for a comeback.
Middlebury running back Jackson Gillett provided much of the offense for the Tigers as he ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns and had three catches for 43 yards and another touchdown. Gavin McNulty was a standout on defense with seven tackles.
The Bears will host Mount Mansfield this Friday at 7 p.m.
• Twin Valley knew it had a big task taking on the defending Division IV champion Leland & Gray Rebels on Sept. 2 in Townshend. And while the Wildcats lost, 8-1, they played well and did something they hadn't done since 2021 - score a goal in a game.
The Wildcats were winless and goalless last season, but Scarlett Cimino - one of five eighth-graders playing for Twin Valley this season - ended the scoreless streak when she found the back of the net with 13:56 left in the first half.
"I feel really good about our performance," said Twin Valley coach Taryn Lawrence. "We took more shots and showed more courage on the pitch. It was a good effort against the defending champs."
As for the Rebels, coach Joe Towle started the preseason with the tall task of replacing seven seniors from last year's champs, including the Rebels' all-time leading scorer Abby Towle, and Mary McDonald and Cat Shine, who combined for 11 goals last season.
But the Rebels have a good returning core, including midfielders Maggie Parker, Mary Sanderson, and Abigail Emerson. Against the Wildcats, Parker had three goals in the first half and assisted on two others, Sanderson scored two goals and added an assist, and Emerson got a goal. Samantha Morse and Ava LeCours each scored goals in the second half.
"Maggie and Mary are exceptional players," coach Towle said. "We're going to be leaning on them to distribute the ball and score when they need to."
The Rebels had a 5-1 lead at the half, and used their reserves for most of the second half. Twin Valley had two spare players, and Lawrence did what she could to rotate people to give them a brief rest and a drink of water before going back into the game.
Twin Valley will be on the road on Sept. 6 against Long Trail School in Dorset, while Leland & Gray will take on Green Mountain in the Green Mountain Tournament on Sept. 8 at 8 p.m. under the lights at Dorsey Park in Ludlow.
• Brattleboro opens its season on Sept. 7 in Bennington when the Bears play in the Mount Anthony Tournament, while Bellows Falls begins its season with a trip to Springfield on Sept. 6.
• A goal in the final minute was the margin of victory as Twin Valley beat Leland & Gray, 3-2, in Townshend on Sept. 1. The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead into halftime on goals by Hunter Roth and Brayden Brown, but the Rebels rallied to tie the game in the second half with goals from Finch Holmes and Cody Hescock before Twin Valley got the game-winning goal from Roth as regulation time was winding down.
• Brattleboro will open its season on Sept. 8 in Dalton, Massachusetts when the Bears will play in the Wahconah Regional High School tournament. At press time, Bellows Falls was at Windsor for its season opener on Sept. 5. Their first home game is on Sept. 8, when the Terriers host Leland & Gray.
• Brattleboro opened its season Sept. 2 at Fair Haven with a 1-0 loss to the Slaters. Jaylena Haley scored the only goal of the game for the Slaters in the second quarter. Next up for the Bears is a trip to Woodstock on Sept. 6 to take on the Wasps.
• Bellows Falls gets its season started on Sept. 6, with a road game in Windsor.
Senior bowling roundup
• The spring/summer season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl concluded on Aug. 31 with Five Pins (62-28) as the league champion. Skippers (55.5-34.5) had a 4-1 week to finish in second place, just a half-game ahead of the third place Turkeys (55-35). No Splits (53.5-36.5) was fourth, followed by Slo Movers (46-41), Wrecking Crew (42.5-47.5), Stayin' Alive (41.5-48.5), and High Rollers and The Bowlers (both 40-50).
Carol Gloski had the women's high handicap game (246) and series (685), while Skip Shine had the men's high handicap game (285) and Bob Uccello had the high handicap series (740). Stayin' Alive had the high team handicap game (912) and series (2,545).
Robert Rigby had the men's scratch series (574) with a 229 game. Shine had the men's high scratch game (234) as part of his 512 series. Uccello had a 572 series with a 192 game, while Milt Sherman had a 557 series with a 206 game. Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 554 series that featured games of 204 and 180, while John Walker and Chuck Adams both had a 526 series with Walker rolling a 206 game and Adams posting a 192 game. Duane Schillemat had a 512 series, Jerry Dunham had a 185 game, and Fred Ashworth had a 181 game.
Gloski had the women's high scratch series (538), with games of 197, 178, and 163. Notable games included Shirley Aiken (176), Nancy Dalzell (169 and 161), and Deb Kolpa (165).
Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column since 2010 and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at [email protected].
This Sports column by Randolph T. Holhut was written for The Commons.