CASTLETON — The best of the Vermont 2017 football season was celebrated Sunday at 25th annual National Football Foundation Vermont Chapter Awards Dinner held at Glenbrook Gymnasium on the Castleton University campus. Several student-athletes and coaches were among the honored as well as a pair of others for their lifelong mark on football and other athletics in the state.
Skylar Stone from North Country Union High School and Brayden Duggan of Colchester High shared the 2017 Most Courageous Athlete Award and Scholarship, presented by Fred Peet, Attorney at Law. A senior, Stone persevered from the sudden and tragic loss of his mother the previous year to become one of the Falcons team leaders on and off the field, capping his final year on the gridiron in the North South Senior Bowl. Duggan, also a senior, battled cancer as a junior only to find out his mother had another form of cancer. Like Stone, he found strength through his team and while recovering he served as the Lakers manager. He, and his mother, recovered prior to his senior year and he persevered to have an excellent season.
Dylan Moore, a senior two-way standout lineman at Rutland High is the winner of the Robert Stafford High School Athlete Community Service Award, also sponsored by Fred Peet, Attorney at Law. An excellent student, who was named to the All-State second team, Moore volunteered all four years as an official and coach for many sports at the Vermont Special Olympics. He also gave his time to Rutland area food drives and youth sports among his many community service efforts.
Six high school seniors, Trent Cross of Milton, Kevin Garrison of Burlington, Tyler Hamilton of Hartford, Jay McCoy of Burr & Burton, Jasper Rankin of St. Johnsbury and Alexey Rizvonov from Essex were honored as the 2017 Vermont High School Football Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame Inductees and each received a $500 scholarship from the NFF.
Announced earlier this spring, the six were chosen from finalists around the state. The others recognized at the dinner were: Shane Clark, Bellow Falls; Griffin Knapp, BFA St Albans; Kyle Derosia, Brattleboro; Scott Stanley, Champlain Valley; Andrew Spencer, Colchester; Seth Park, Fair Haven; Justin Joyal, Lyndon; Jaro Perara, Middlebury; Ryan Ward, Mill River; Sean Burke, Missisquoi Valley; James Mars, Poultney-MSJ; Jacob Messineo, Rice Memorial; Damian Smith, Spaulding; Seth Balch, Windsor; Daniel Green, Union 32 as well as Moore of Rutland.
Seniors Eric Decker (Colchester, Vt.), an offensive lineman from Castleton, Kevin Hopsicker (Delmar, N.Y.), a defensive back from Middlebury College, another defensive back, Austin Roberts (East Bridgewater, Mass.), from Norwich and Sam Messenger (Middlebury, Vt.), a two-way lineman for the UVM Club program were named Vermont Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame inductees, representing the state’s four collegiate football programs.
A longtime volunteer coach and administrator, Tom McCoy of Manchester was the winner of the Vermont Youth Football Achievement Award for his efforts and success with the Equinox Valley Youth Football Club.
Former Windsor coach and athletic director Bob Hingston was selected as the winner of the Contribution to Amateur Athletics Award for his over three-decades of service to high school and amateur sports in the state. He began as a coach for the Yellow Jackets in 1983, served many years as the Windsor athletics and activities director and currently serves as the executive director of the Vermont Interscholastic Football League. He also has a hand in many committees for the Vermont Principal’s Association. Outside of the high school level, he has been instrumental in introducing and organizing flag football throughout the state at the middle school and youth level.
The state’s high school coaches presented its 2017 Vermont Coach of the Year Award to Windsor head coach Greg Balch for the leading the Yellow Jackets to the Division III state title. The other divisional coaches of the year were of St. Johnsbury’s Rich Alercio in Division I and Brian Grady of Fair Haven in D-II.
The Vermont Football Officials Association gave its season-long team sportsmanship awards, the Stan Amadon Trophy for the North was shared by Milton High coached by Jim Provost and Burlington High coached by Brennan Carney. The James Howard Trophy for the South went to Windsor High School, led by Balch. The group also honored longtime official Leon Johnson of North Bennington as its 2017 Vermont Official of the Year.
The final award was the Vermont Chapter’s Distinguished American Award and it was given to longtime Central Vermont radio pioneer and broadcaster, Ken Squier of Waterbury. The longtime owner of the WDEV family of networks in Central Vermont, his stations have always been a great broadcast location for local Vermont high school sports. Squier also promoted local auto racing in Vermont as the owner of Thunder Road in Barre, and other local tracks, and spent over three decades as an award-winning racing broadcaster on regional and national television.
The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame was founded in 1947 as a non-profit educational organization to run programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. For more information log on to www.footballfoundation.org