Preseason practice came to an end as area high school football teams kicked off the 2010 season over the weekend. Mount Abraham Union High opened with a loss to defending Division III state champion Windsor High, but Middlebury and Otter Valley Union High opened with solid wins.
Windsor 34, Mount Abe 6
There are tough to take losses, the forget it and get ready for next week blowout, upset losses and then there is the occasional positive loss. While, on the surface the Eagles 34-6 loss to Windsor might seem to fall under the forgetable blow-out, there was actually more positives then negatives on this afternoon.
Coach Ernie Senecal's Eagles went from a tentative group to start the contest to proving to be more then competitive with the defending state champions. To be sure Windsor made plenty of first game mistakes turning the ball over six times, coupled with inopportune penalties. The Yellowjackets twice lost fumbles inside the Eagles two yardline and had two touchdowns called back by penalities, but a lot of that was a result of a hard hitting Eagle football team that grew in confidence as the game wore on.
Jacob Page's 53-yard pass interception return for a touchdown and 63-yard punt return for another score helped Windsor blow open a 14-6 game. But there was a point from midway way through the second quarter through the third quarter that the Eagles had the Yellowjackets on the ropes.
The Eagles also appear to have found a solid weapon in junior running back Geoffrey Grant. The diminutive 5'6'' Grant refused to go down on the first hit as it usually took two to three Yellowjacket tacklers to bring this little bull down. Grant totted the pigskin 11 times for over 70 yards and showed some diversity to his game hauling in a 30-yard scoring strike from Eagle quarterback Ian Shaw.
For his part Shaw showed he could be a threat with both his arm and his feet taking off a couple good looking scrambles. 6' 1'' receiver Pat Etka also looked like a target that Shaw could be looking for more as the season wears on.
I'm not going to say this was a preview of a potential Division III playoff match up, but if this Eagle football team continues to show the same level of improvement each week, they are going to be a team other Division III teams aren't going to look forward to facing as the season wears on. The Eagles return to action hosting Winooski High this coming Saturday, Sept. 11.
Middlebury 25, Lyndon Institute 12
During its surprising run to a the Division II playoffs last season the Middlebury Union High football team hosted a struggling equally young Lyndon football team. While, many expected the game to be a blowout, the Vikings threw a scare into the host Tigers before falling.
Lyndon had a chance to gain a measure of revenge this past Saturday hosting Middlebury in the season opener for both teams
After falling behind 13-0 in the first half the Vikings closed the gap to 13-12 in the third quarter. But the Tigers reestablished control with Marshall Hastings capping off a drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and Bryan Ashley-Selleck put the final nail in the Vikings coffin with a 36-yard scoring scamper in the fourth quarter.
Hasting who proved he could be a weapon as a sophomore last season either running or catching the football paced the Tiger offense rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tigers face another challenge this coming weekend visiting Fair Haven Union High.
Otter Valley 13, Spaulding High 6
This is one that a hard luck Otter Valley Union High football team would probably have seen go the other way last season. But 2010 offers a new beginning and the Otters took full advantage of that with the hard fought win over host Spaulding High on Saturday.
Peter Bautista accounted for the Otter scoring with touchdown runs of 39 and 31 yards in the first and fourth quarters. The Otters almost let this one get away losing the ball three times on fumbles three times in the final 5:40. The Otters return to action this Saturday playing at Mount Mansfield Union High.