Weekend Warriors: Early Contenders Emerging

Getting off to a fast start gives a team an extra jolt of confidence as the air gets more bitter and the hits sting just a little bit more.

We’re just a few weeks away from seeing temperatures begin to drop and those light sweatshirts worn by spectators being traded in for jackets and hand-warmers.

There are a handful of teams in Vermont high school football that are building up a protection from those bitter temperatures with a coat of winning confidence.

Teams like Rutland, Hartford, Middlebury, Bellows Falls and Windsor have found an early groove. In the Tigers, Terriers and Yellow Jackets’ case, they’ve hit that groove in dominant fashion.

On the other side of things, there are contenders from the last tackle football season in 2019 that are still trying find success.

Defending Division I champion Burr and Burton looked great in Week 1, but took a step back last week in a showdown with Rutland. Defending Division II champion Brattleboro was close to breaking through in Week 2, but fell short. Division III champion Poultney is still looking for its first win.

All three would love hit their stride in a Week 3 that presents a bunch of fun matchups.

Rutland is the Division I team playing out division this week, as it travels down to Bennington to play Mount Anthony Friday night at Spinelli Field.

The Ravens’ defense was relentless in Week 2 against BBA, intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles. Rutland would love a repeat of that against the Bulldogs’ arch rival MAU.

The Patriots, like BBA, ran into fumble issues of their own in a Week 2 loss to Bellows Falls. Turnovers will clearly be a key issue to keep in check against a proven, opportunistic Rutland defense.

Despite losing a handful of skilled offensive players to graduation, most notably Gatorade Player of the Year Gavin Johnson, the Patriots have shown great offensive ability in the early weeks.

Even in last week’s blowout against Bellows Falls, MAU still threw for more than 200 yards with senior receiver Austin Grogan on the receiving end of 105 of those yards.

The Patriots view themselves as a contender in D-II, so competing with an elite D-I club like Rutland could give them plenty of confidence.

One of the most intriguing matchups of the weekend will be Saturday’s contest in Hinesburg between CVU and BBA. Both teams are coming off Week 2 losses and don’t want to fall behind in the race to capture a good seed in the D-I playoffs.

St. Johnsbury got back to the .500 mark beating the Redhawks last week and a struggling Colchester squad comes to town Saturday afternoon. The Lakers would love a stronger defensive effort, allowing 40 points per game this season.

Middlebury has yet to allow a point in 2021, but it will be tested in a big way Friday night when it travels to BFA-St. Albans. The Bobwhites struggled to score last week against Hartford, but were shutout winners themselves in Week 1 against Mount Mansfield.

Mount Mansfield got back on track last week, beating Spaulding, but the Cougars will be challenged, hosting Essex on Saturday. The Hornets bounced back from a 12-point effort in Week 1 to explode for 46 points in Week 2.

The last D-I matchup pits undefeated Hartford against winless Burlington/South Burlington. The Seawolves play host Friday night.

Fair Haven bested North Country last week and the Slaters would love to keep it going this week against a Mount Abraham team in search of its first points of the 2021 season. The Eagles host on Saturday.

An intriguing cross-division matchup sees D-II Milton travel to D-III Fairfax-Lamoille. The Yellowjackets were off last week, but impressive in Week 1, while the Bullets have two dominating wins over D-III opponents.

Brattleboro was long field goal away from its first win last week and the Colonels hope to finish the job this week against fellow winless club North Country. Brattleboro will be making the long trip up to Newport as the Falcons host Friday night.

Bellows Falls has been as dominant as they come across the state. Lyndon hosts the Terriers on Saturday as the Vikings take their best shot.

A Division II rivalry matchup between U-32 and Spaulding was canceled due to low numbers on the Crimson Tide’s side.

If Bellows Falls has been the most dominant in D-II, Windsor holds that distinction in D-III.

The Yellow Jackets have put up 110 points in two games and allowed just 19. Windsor travels to Springfield on Friday.

“Windsor is a big rival and they have some stud athletes, so it will be a challenge,” Springfield coach Todd Aiken said, after last week’s win against Mill River.

The Cosmos, winners in Week 2, pose the biggest threat that the Yellow Jackets have seen thus far. Can they knock Windsor off that pedestal?

Otter Valley is 2-0 and won both of its games in dominant fashion, averaging 37 points per game. The Otters should be favorites at Oxbow Saturday afternoon.

Woodstock looks like another contender in D-III despite last week’s loss to U-32. The Wasps are at Mill River Saturday afternoon.

A young, but talented Poultney squad hopes the third week is the charm. The Blue Devils are at Missisquoi on Saturday. Both teams come in 0-2.

adam.aucoin

@rutlandherald.com

Source : https://www.rutlandherald.com/sports/weekend-warriors-early-contenders-emerging/article_3dec3a85-195d-51df-808a-efb2b3c3c16a.html

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