Injuries are unavoidable in high school football and it's rare for most teams to reach the playoffs with the same lineup that started the season. Unfortunately, Bellows Falls has been hit harder than most.
Quarterback Eli Allbee was knocked out in Week 2 against Hartford with a broken collarbone. Running back Walker James suffered an ankle injury against Lyndon in Week 7, and running back Blake Bertrand suffered a concussion against North Country in Week 8.
"We've only played one game this season with what I'd call our starting 11 on offense," said BF head coach Bob Lockerby. "And that's not crying because a lot of teams are in the same boat. I understand that. Ours just happens to be very, very key people as everyone knows."
But the depth of this year's Terriers team was enough to carry them through in a 54-7 rout of the Spaulding Crimson Tide in a Division II quarterfinal game on Oct. 27 at Hadley Field.
Running back Jesse Darrell ran for three touchdowns and had a 68-yard TD catch to lead the Terriers. Quarterback Cole Moore had a pair of touchdown runs in the first half, and reserve running backs Wyatt Whidden and Stefan James each had a touchdown run late in the final quarter.
BF led 20-7 at the end of the first half, but could have put the game out of reach much sooner. In the second quarter, a holding penalty wiped out a touchdown run by Darrel,l and an electrifying 70-yard punt return by Curtis Green for another apparent touchdown was negated by a penalty.
Spaulding's lone touchdown came on a 65-yard run by quarterback Gabe Hoar, who took full advantage of some confusion on coverage by the BF defense in the opening quarter.
On the sideline, Lockerby was livid at the mistakes his team was making and said he told his players at halftime that their toughest opponent wasn't Spaulding, it was themselves.
Lockerby said his team was "just not sharp at times" and "those are things that I can't fix for them. They got to figure that out. We prepare them in practice, but you've got to do it in the ballgame."
The Terriers pulled themselves together in the second half and utterly dominated play. On defense, Green and Josh Streeter each had an interception, and BF racked up 34 points on offense.
That, said Lockerby, is the way the Terriers will need to play if they want to continue in the playoffs. "You've got to play four quarters of football against North Country and you can beat them, but it's going to have to be an awfully well-played game."
The 5-4 Terriers will have a rematch with second-seeded North Country this Friday at 7 p.m. in Newport in the semifinals. North Country advanced to the semifinals with a 42-0 win over Rice on Oct. 27.
Bulldogs bite Bears
• Brattleboro's football season ended with a 41-0 loss to the second-seeded Burr & Burton Bulldogs in a Division I quarterfinal game on Oct. 28 in Manchester.
The Bulldogs led 28-0 by halftime as quarterback Jack McCoy threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns and had 16 carries for 108 yards. Kaleb Gabert had a 24-yard touchdown catch and, on defense, ran back an interception for another TD. Zakariah Chani had two touchdown catches and Peyton Gray and Carver Cave each had a rushing touchdown.
Now 8-1, Burr & Burton hosts No. 3 Champlain Valley for a semifinal game this Saturday. The Bears ended their season with a 3-5-1 record and will lose a strong senior class - Noah Perusse, Karson Elliott, Will Miskovich, Jackson Emery, Trevor Gray, Cam Cruz, Sam Madow, Jett Emery, Jolie Glidden, Quentin Forchion, and Amari Jordan - to graduation.
• Top-seeded Twin Valley had no problems handling No. 8 West Rutland in a 6-0 victory in a Division IV quarterfinal on Oct. 27 at Hayford Field.
Cody Magnant broke the school record for goals scored in a season when he got his 33rd and 34th goals. The previous mark was 33, set by Scott Hayford in 2009. Noah Dornburgh, Hunter Roth, Steven Oyer, and Chris Eckert also scored for the Wildcats as they put 27 shots on goal. Twin Valley goalkeeper Kman Lackey had three saves to earn the shutout victory.
Now 15-0, the Wildcats will host a semifinal match with fifth-seeded Rivendell on Nov. 1 at 3 p.m. at Hayford Field.
• West Rutland earned the date with Twin Valley by beating ninth-seeded Leland & Gray, 2-1, in overtime on Oct. 25.
The game was scoreless through the first 78 minutes before West Rutland's Tristan Rocke converted a penalty kick with 1:50 to play. The visiting Rebels then forced overtime when Finch Holmes blasted in a penalty kick with six seconds left in regulation time. Rocke then scored the game-winner just 1:21 into overtime to end it.
• Fifth-seeded Brattleboro opened the Division I playoffs with a 2-0 first-round win over the BFA-St. Albans Bobwhites on Oct. 25 at Tenney Field. Emmett Hoyer scored both goals for the Bears, and goalkeeper Sam Bogart played an excellent game, including stopping a penalty kick in the second half.
However, the win came at a high cost as Brattleboro's leading scorer, forward Ozzie VanHendrick, collided at full speed with BFA goalkeeper Hayden Crowe-McManus midway through the first half. While both players finished out the half, coach Ben Brewer had VanHendrick sit out the second half as a precaution.
The Bears led 1-0 at the half, thanks to a goal from Hoyer in the 38th minute, but Brewer admitted that the Bears' offense struggled in the second half without VanHenrick. However, Hoyer stepped up and scored an insurance goal off an indirect free kick by Charlie Kinnersley five minutes into the second half.
Brattleboro advanced to the quarterfinals and lost to fourth-seeded Colchester, 3-1, on Oct. 27. Jacques Alfani scored twice in the first half to give the Lakers a 2-0 lead at halftime. Jack Atkins scored Colchester's other goal in the second half. Sean van Ranson got the visiting Bears' lone goal, assisted by Kinnersley. Bogart had nine saves in goal for the Bears, whose season ended with a 10-4-1 record.
• Bellows Falls ended its season with a 13-0 loss to top-seeded Stowe in a Division III first-round game on Oct. 25. The Terriers finished with a 0-15 record.
• Leland & Gray began its defense of its Division IV state title with a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Proctor Phantoms in a quarterfinal game on Oct. 26 in Townshend.
The Rebels jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first seven minutes on goals from Mary Sanderson (set up by a direct kick from Maggie Parker) and Samantha Morse (set up by a long throw-in by Parker). Proctor goalkeeper Cadence Goodwin kept the game close with several big saves as she faced constant pressure from the Rebels.
In the second half, Proctor got back into the game in the 51st minute when Isabel Kreb scored on a direct kick, but Sanderson scored again off a Parker throw-in in the 65th minute. That goal proved crucial after the Rebels gave up an own goal with 11:57 left in the game, but Proctor was held scoreless the rest of the way to snap a streak of 12 straight trips to the Division IV final.
At press time, the Rebels beat No. 3 Rivendell, 2-1, on Oct. 31 in the Division III semifinals. They will now face No. 2 Arlington in the championship game on Nov. 4.
• Brattleboro lost its Division I first-round game to St. Johnsbury, 3-0, on Oct. 24 at Natowich Field. The Hilltoppers scored all of their goals in the second half.
Goalkeeper Abigail Henry kept her team in the game by making 21 saves. The loss in Brattleboro's first home playoff game since 2010 left the Bears with an 8-6-1 record.
• No. 17 Bellows Falls beat No. 16 Thetford, 3-2, in overtime in a Division III play-in game on Oct. 23 in Westminster. BF ended up with a home game because Thetford's field was too soggy to use.
The Terriers reward for winning that game was traveling to Fair Haven to play the top-seeded Slaters. The result was an 11-0 loss for BF, which finished the season with a 2-14 record.
• Fifth-seeded Bellows Falls lost to fourth-seeded Colchester, 1-0, in a Division I quarterfinal game on Oct. 27. Nicole Norton scored late in the third quarter, assisted by Hanna Coughlin, for the game's only goal and denied the visiting Terriers a third straight quarterfinal win over the Lakers.
• Ninth-seeded Brattleboro lost to the eighth-seeded Mt. Abraham Eagles, 1-0, in a Division II first-round game in Bristol on Oct. 24. Brattleboro finished with a 4-10 record.
• The Vermont Cross-Country Championships were held at Thetford Academy on Oct. 28, with near-perfect conditions for runners on the 5-kilometer course.
In the Division I boys' race, Brattleboro's Nico Conathan-Leach finished 18th in 18 minutes, 24.8 seconds. Rounding out the scoring were teammates Miles Ackerman-Hovis (62nd, 22:14.4), Jonas Ackerman-Hovis (64th, 22:25.2), Galen Hagarty (67th, 22:42.6), Jude Anders (70th, 22:58.8), and James Burke (73rd, 25:18.7). Brattleboro finished 10th in the team scoring as St. Johnsbury won its third straight Division I title.
Elliana Galdamez was the top Brattleboro runner in the Division I girls' race, finishing 62nd in 27:46.8, followed by teammates Meredith Lewis (72nd, 31:24.4), Evie Kiehle (74th, 31:33.6), Addison DeVault (80th, 35:40.5), Priya Kitzmiller (81st, 35:40.5), and Abby Barnes (83rd, 40:51.4). Brattleboro finished 13th overall as Champlain Valley won the Division I title for the 19th time in 21 years.
Ninth-grader Desi Broadley led Bellows Falls in the Division III girls' race, finishing sixth in 23:11.6, followed by teammates Lilly Ware (19th, 26.05.0), Gillian Robb (25th, 26:54.5), Chloe Benson (48th, 31:40.6), Aurelia Crinchfield (53rd, 33:35.5), Beatrix Robb (56th, 34:41.1), and Kendall Roman (57th, 31:51.3). That was good enough to give Bellows Falls sixth place in team scoring, with Stowe winning its first Division III championship.
Rec. Dept. hosts winter sports gear sale
• The Brattleboro Recreation & Parks Department and the Brattleboro Outing Club presents the annual Phil & Mary Dunham Ski, Skate, Snowboard & Hockey Equipment Sale on Saturday, Nov. 4, from 8 to 11 a.m., at the Gibson-Aiken Center on Main Street.
On sale will be snowboards, skis, poles, bindings (both downhill and cross country), ski boots, skates, miscellaneous winter items, winter clothing, and hockey equipment. Only 20 items per person will be accepted from sellers, and buyers should know that that all sales are final.
If you have gear to sell, bring it to the Gibson-Aiken Center on Friday, Nov. 3, between noon and 7 p.m. No items will be accepted before this time. You can pick up your money and unsold items on Monday, Nov. 6, from noon to 6 p.m.
The Recreation & Parks Department retains 40% of sale proceeds for special programming. For more information, call the Gibson Aiken Office at 802-254-5808.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 8 of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on Oct. 26 saw Stepping Stones (29-11) have a 1-4 week but still stay in first place. High Rollers (25-15) had a 5-0 week to move into second, followed by Skippers (both 24-16), Hairiers (23-17), Four Seasons (23-17), Four Pins and No Splits (both 22-18), Dumblebor (19-21), and PEWJ (6-34).
Diane Cooke had the women's high handicap game (251), while Pam Greenblott had the high handicap series (670). Eric Brown had the men's high handicap game (258) and John Walker had the high handicap series (670). No Splits had the high team handicap game (874) and series (2,583).
Robert Rigby again had the men's high scratch series (641) with games of 238, 204, and 196. Walker had a 592 series with games of 203 and 198, Marty Adams had a 530 series with a 193 game, and Fred Ashworth had a 520 series with a 182 game. Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 517 series with a 194 game and Skip Shine had a 505 series with a 182 game. Eric Brown had a 189 game and Pete Cross rolled a 181.
Carol Gloski again had the women's high scratch series (490), while Cooke had the high scratch game (186). Greenblott had a 176 game and Nancy Dalzell rolled a 173.
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.