By Bill Murphy
Let’s see. At least I got one thing correct. Division I have a lot of good football teams.
Brennan Carney, veteran coach of the Burlington Seahorses, told us this morning, “IF anyone doesn’t come to play in a Division I football game, they could find themselves on the losing side. It doesn’t matter who it is. It has been said that any given week that anyone can beat anyone and there’s a lot to be said for that.”
Carney also told us, “this year’s team is built around good senior leadership. They realize how important each game is and they don’t want to have a letdown.” The Seahorses have bolted out of the shute 4-0. Today’s opponent, Champlain Valley Union is 2-2. I personally picked the Redhawks to win Division I. I asked Carney how crazy that pick was. He repeated the mantra of any given Saturday.
The Division I clash has been moved to Friday at 3 p.m. out of respect of Yom Kippur. To me, stealing words from an entertainer from years long gone by, this is a really big show. CVU hosts the game between the present number three and eight seed in Division I. This should be a special get together. From here, it looks like CVU wins a thriller 20-19.
I assure every Seahorse, this pick is not a kick in the face. You are a good football team, BUT, if on any given weekend and I was right in selecting CVU at the top of the pack, it is simply, their turn.
Carney told us something else, which really hit home. I had asked him about the confidence his program had gained while competing in Division II in recent years. He spoke about the key to gaining confidence being “playing competitive football games.” The next step is obviously winning those games.
“What stands out to me,” he said, “was the first year we won three games in the last seconds. That made us 6-2. Playing competitive football can bring a lot out of you.”
While some folks felt a school of Burlington’s size should never be dropped down a level, I have always felt differently. I am glad to see them have their success. Another important thing to note IS, Burlington High School may be big in enrollment, but IF other activities draw students, instead of football, the program should not be penalized. PLUS, Buck Hard Field is a wonderful location to watch a football game.
Bellows Free Academy is in most persons mind, the biggest DI surprise of the early season. They caught the attention of all DI football fans in the opener, when they surprised CVU 34-7 and have been on a roll ever since. They will be called on to elevate their game this week as the division’s top two teams, BFA and St. Johnsbury meet on the hill Saturday at 1 p.m. The encounter should draw a big crowd and let’s say this one goes into overtime before St. J prevails 20-14.
Hartford (3-1) is at home Friday night looking to at the very least hold on to first place as Brattleboro 0-4 comes in to challenge. I respect Carney’s on any given week line, BUT….. not this week, not this game, color this one Hurricanes 45-16. Mount Mansfield, like Burlington has been elevated to D-I and fared well. The fifth-place team is 3-1 and faces a tough match-up at 2-2 Colchester this Friday night. Both teams have shown in early season contests why they should be favored, BUT, our crystal ball goes the Mount’s way because they have been more consistent 24-21.
The remaining DI games this week have Middlebury (2-2) at Rutland (1-3) Friday night (Tigers 38-32), the same night Rice (0-4) travels to Essex (0-4) (Hornets prevail at home 20-18), while 1-3 South Burlington plays an out of division game at home Friday evening, versus Mount Anthony (2-2) which they sneak by in a 22-20 fashion.
Burr + Burton stands alone at the top of most believers DII football world after their astonishing 37-7 conquest of Fair Haven. It was just a couple of weeks back that Bulldog coach questioned all the people, who proclaimed Fair Haven the team to beat. Now all the same people are in your corner Jason. Believe it or not Fair Haven scored first, BUT….. they haven’t scored since.
The QPR tells us Milton is in first place at 4-0 and they are, BUT, not even Yellow Jacket coach Jim Provost believes that. In case you didn’t know, Burr + Burton pulled off their conquest early in the morning. The game was moved up to a 9 a.m. kick-off to defeat the heat index. BTW, don’t forget Slater coach Brian Grady told us last week, he had his eyes on that swarming Bulldog defense. We are afraid he even now sees that defense in his sleep. IF FH had not scored first, we would have joked the Slaters hadn’t woken up for the kick-off.
Burr and Burton hosts Spaulding Saturday at 1 p.m. and there will be no early start needed for this one. We cringe at the possible 64-12 score. Milton will travel to Mount Abraham on Saturday, where they attempt to stay unbeaten. The Yellow Jackets have played well all season with their signature victory a 40-34 shootout win over Colchester. Mt. Abe (1-3) eighth in the division has some injuries and won’t be able to match Milton 38-12.
Mt. Abe coach Lee Hodsden attempts to make whatever adjustments he can week in and week out to keep his team competitive, BUT, he realizes the lads are fighting an uphill battle. He told us he wants to win as much as the next guy, BUT, Hodsden says, “our goal is to give our players a positive football experience. We don’t have the numbers some of the other schools have and our focus is to create good leaders and citizens and that direction will allow us to play about as well as we can. The sport shouldn’t be all about winning. It should be first about setting standards. We are getting good numbers with the youth programs right now, BUT, this program is about changing a culture.”
Fair Haven (3-1) sits third in the QPR and D III Poultney/ Mount Saint Joseph sits in the not so popular position to face the Slaters in their rivalry game Friday night in a crossover non-conference tilt. This is another contest whose final score concerns me likely 58-6. Union 32 and Bellows Falls will meet down the road in a possible battle to determine which one of them earns a homefield first round game. In the meantime, the two 3-1 teams plod on. The team from East Montpelier hosts North Country Friday. Don’t sell the Falcons short, BUT….U-32 does manage a 30-26 victory. Bellows Falls has a daytime game at home Saturday when they host Otter Valley. The Terriers are expected to come away victorious something like 48-12.
There is a D II/D III crossover game this week which should prove to be an intriguing match-up. Lyndon hosts Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax on Saturday afternoon. We spoke to Bullets coach Craig Sleeman and both teams have kind of seen what they are facing today. Sleeman says, “our offenses are pretty comparable. We both run the flex bone veer, except Lyndon, uses their tight end differently than we do. This game may have some long drives and if there are no turnovers, we are hoping that we can slow them up.”
Lyndon’s 2-2 start has them in seventh position in D II by QPR, while BFA’s same record has them fourth in homefield play-off position in D III. “We are very young and we already lost three offensive linemen, BUT, we have moved people around and are just hoping we can take care of the football,” Sleeman told us.
“We all know Windsor is ahead of everyone in the division,” Sleeman went on to say, BUT…., he went on to remark, “our division is getting more closely competitive. Of course, Missisquoi must walk before they can run, BUT, we played Springfield the other week and they were a lot closer than the score indicated and I think all the others can play well enough to possibly beat each other every week.” We have put off our prediction off long enough, we see Lyndon nipping BFA 28-26.
Missisquoi (0-4) has to worry about Windsor this week on Saturday afternoon and that is another cringer. I hope Windsor does not score more than 60, BUT, that is the number we will choose in a 60-6 one sided game. The second and third place teams in D III square off in the D III Game of the Week Friday night in Woodstock. Both teams are 3-1, BUT, Woodstock is much better to the tune of 44-18. Last, BUT NOT LEAST, Springfield hosts an out of state foe on Friday night as they find Granville, NY visiting and the Cosmos, who have drawn compliments almost every time out, will find the win column 38-20 this time around.
Last week we were lucky enough to pick 12 of the 14 games we forecast correctly, bringing our seasons total in picks to 43-16. Here is hoping our hot stretch continues.