Hard to believe it’s been 30 years since one of the more celebrated classes in Lyndon Institute history matriculated to college, the armed services, or the work force. My memories of that class are still fond, as guys like Bryan Fenn allowed me to hang out with them on various nightly incursions. I’ve often compared this years graduating seniors, the Class of 2014, to the Class of 1984. Both classes were eerily similar in that it seemed/seems like they are full of grown men who were ridiculously gifted athletically.
In 1984, under then Head Coach Rick Cameron, the Viking football team had extraordinary talent, with the likes of Fenn(Shrine Team selection and a beast of a lineman, perhaps the best ever to wear a Viking uniform), David Boera(great route runner), Tommy Liberty(one of the most underrated running backs ever), David Lay(a gargantuan running back), CJ Anderson(ruthless in the trenches), John Merrick(ruthless pass rusher), Craig St. Marie(tough as nails), Lonny Ruggles(one mean and rotten s.o.b on the field), Brad Hebert(totally underrated on that team, and I mean totally underrated-an awesome player), Eric Hazard(also a very tough son-of-a-gun!), Sean Barlow(downright scary from the linebacker position), and the late-and especially great, inside linebacker, John Simpson(who was in on every play there ever was). I’m probably missing someone on that team, and I’ll apologize right now for doing so. That team was something behold-and was absolutely screwed out of a game tying touchdown at Winooski which would have helped propel it to the state championship. Unfortunately, and I have to mention it, a loss to St. Johnsbury Academy also had as much to do with it. A 7 and 2 record back then didn’t warrant a playoff berth as only 1 Northern team and 1 Southern team vied for the state title. The Northern Team was Rice, whom Lyndon had beaten in Week 5 that year, 35 to nothing. It still sickens me to this day, I mean were cave man presiding over high school sports then?
Regardless of that unpleasant ending I love the little games I play in my head(and there a lot of games I play in my head as you know) wondering how a match up would be between ’84 and ’14. It’s a sports science dream. Could the vaunted ’84 defense stop the relentless, ground pounding of the ’14 steamrollers led by James Shufelt. If memory serves me right, and by now it might not, I don’t believe that Lyndon team(the one in ’84) gave up more than a touchdown in the first 5 games. It may have been a couple, but not much more. On that defense, Lyndon also had inside linebacker Todd Fisher(Class of 1985), who one could argue was one of the best to play the position at Robert K. Lewis Field(31 tackles vs. SJA in the fall of ’84). I’d give the defensive edge to the Class of ’84 and the offensive edge to ’14-but only slightly. LI got steady play from its quarterback, Joe Bolch(’85), and had great depth from seniors, Michael Geremia, John Sanderson, Kelly Bean, along with juniors Tracy Rivers(may God rest his soul), Gary Cassidy, Troy Charron, Jim Cleverley, and Robert Rahm. Again, I’m probably missing someone and for that I am sorry. Oh wait, I’m missing myself. I was the practice dummy. Man did they love to beat on me in practice!
Anyway, how great would it be to somehow see a match up of Dakota Ball vs. Bryan Fenn? The offensive line of ’14 with Logan Croft, Ball, Miguel Collazo, Jason Berry or Jake Potter, and Dave Peters vs. the defensive giants that were made up of the meanest, rottenest, toughest, badasses(and I mean that in a good way) that ever laced ’em up in Lyndon Center? Like the ’14 class it seemed that those guys from ’84 just loved football. Loved practice. They lived for it. By the way, back to Rice for a minute. I’ll never forget the time when Coach Cameron-a devout, religious man-got all fired up as the Burlington Free Press had predicted that Rice would beat Lyndon in our upcoming Week 5 match up. Our mentor brought a box of rice to the field, to everyone’s surprise, that started with a rant and ended up with 25 varsity football players stomping on rice that had been spread on the ground. Rice never knew what hit ’em that week. My point is, what excited the most about the ’14 team is it reminded me so much of the ’84 squad.
I’m going to tick some people off right here(I’ve never done that before), but I think the Class of ’84 would beat the Class of ’14 in a virtual match up, measuring all qualities from both teams. In the end both teams were fantastic and unparalleled really.
In the end I’m excited about today’s LI golf tournament where I’ll see so many old friends. I often times remember what the late-and especially great, Tim Simpson, said about the class of 1984 one day when I wasn’t paying attention in Physics(I did hear that part though). He proclaimed that the Class of 1984 was the greatest class he had ever seen at Lyndon both academically and athletically. It’s hard to argue.