Hartford High offensive lineman/linebacker Matthew Lucke and Woodstock High running back/strong safety Dan Robinson have been nominated for Vermont’s PRIDE Award for their accomplishments in Vermont Principals Association football this season. The nominees were announced on Friday in a news release from Rene LeBerge, president of the South Burlington, Vt.-based Dolphins Foundation.
The PRIDE Award, which started in 2006, is granted annually to a senior football athlete from each VPA division who illustrates an exceptional work ethic, leadership among his teammates and the ability to play at the collegiate level, according to LeBerge. Vermont football coaches vote for a winner from nominated athletes from their own teams. LeBerge said at least eight players from each division were nominated this season.
Lucke, a captain for the Hurricanes this season, helped pave the way for Hartford’s first Division I championship since 2013. He also received the Great American Rivalry scholar-athlete award and last year’s Mike Stone Hurricane Award for “a football athlete that demonstrates leadership, character and commitment to excellence,” according to the news release. He plans to study civil engineering in college.
“(Matt) is our most coachable player and does exactly what he is told to do,” said Hartford head coach Matt Trombly. “He’s our jack of all trades on the offensive line. Matt takes time to mentor upcoming players and makes sure they all feel part of the football family. … He is not loud or boisterous, but has a quiet confidence.”
Robinson led the Wasps with 783 rushing yards on 72 carries in an offense that relied heavily on its running game. He was responsible for 11 rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and three 2-point conversions for Woodstock this season and will be studying conservation biology at St. Lawrence University next year.
“Football gave me the opportunity to compete at a very high level and show people what I am capable of doing,” Robinson said in the news release. “Last December, my father passed away from cancer, and (football) gave me something to work for and to prove to him what I could do on the playing field. ... My family is my biggest supporter, and I owe this all to them.”
Woodstock head coach Ramsey Worrell said Robinson was “the kind of leader coaches always look for.”
“He represented our program with class and character on and off the field,” Worrell added in an email. “Dan is reliable, and someone I could count on to talk to a younger player whenever they were struggling with the rigors of being a student-athlete. … On the field, Dan brought a level of football IQ, athleticism, determination and leadership that has put him in a class with some of the best that have ever worn the Woodstock colors.”
Bellows Falls offensive and defensive lineman D.J. Snide received the PRIDE Award for VPA D-II. Each athlete will receive a granite plaque for their achievements.
“What’s great is that two of those guys are linemen,” LeBerge said. “Usually it’s running backs and quarterbacks. It sort of gives you an idea of their outstanding ability. Like, ‘Hey, this is the guy we game-plan for. This is the guy that screwed up our game plan when we played them.’ ”
Film of all three athletes will be sent to retired college coaches to study before a PRIDE of Vermont winner, chosen from the three divisional winners, is selected at the National Football Foundation awards ceremony on May 7 at Castleton University.
Matte Bound for Bowdoin: K.J. Matte’s long-term goal was always to play college basketball, no matter what level. But Bowdoin College’s combination of academic and athletic programs just made the school too good to pass up for the Lebanon High senior.
“I really think it’s a good fit,” Matte said in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s not a very big school, but it’s a prestigious school. People who go there really seem to like it.”
Matte, still with a cast on his broken right foot following a preseason injury, said the decision came down to Bowdoin and Connecticut’s Trinity College, though the Lebanon senior said he made his choice in the fall and was awaiting his acceptance before making it finalized. Along with the academic standing the Maine school carries, Matte is encouraged by the young team that Bowdoin head coach Tim Gilbride has assembled and is excited to make an impact as quickly as he can.
“There have been a decent amount of ideas thrown at me about how I could be useful to the program,” he said.
Matte has yet to see the court this season but has developed into Lebanon’s most prolific scorer in recent memory. Last season, he led the Raiders — who reached the D-II finals — with 370 points and an average 14.8 points per game. Matte said he’s proud of the kind of player that Lebanon basketball has helped him develop into.
That pride makes his current injury that much more frustrating.
“I’d like to be remembered with a positive legacy,” Matte said. “I think we’ve definitely been able to do some good things. We’ve had the opportunity to really make progress as a basketball program. Hopefully we can bring home a championship this year. It’s definitely a possibility.”
Matte, who plans to study political science and government, is scheduled to have another X-ray on his foot on Sunday, the results of which will help determine if he can return to the court this season.
VIFL All-State Teams: Hartford, Woodstock and Windsor were all heavily represented on the Vermont Interscholastic Football League’s Division I and Division III all-state teams following state titles for the Hurricanes and Yellowjackets, a deep playoff run for the Wasps and a combined 29-3 record for the three teams during the 2016 season.
Hurricanes quarterback Gavin Farnsworth, running back Kody Rhodes and fullback Hunter Perkins were all named first-team all-state by VIFL D-I coaches. Farnsworth threw for 619 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games for Hartford, Rhodes ran for 777 yards on 105 carries as the Hurricanes’ lead back with 10 touchdowns and Perkins ran for 523 yards and seven TDs. Third-year coach Matt Trombly was named D-I coach of the year.
Windsor’s Hunter Patenaude was named to D-III’s all-state team for running back, linebacker and kick returner. Yellowjackets quarterback Seth Balch was also named to the all-state first team and head coach Greg Balch was named D-III coach of the year. Woodstock running backs Ezra Astbury and Bill Wood were also chosen to the first team, as was Robinson for defensive back.
The full list:
Hartford — First team: Khant Thu (OL), Brian Moran (OL/DL), Hunter Perkins (FB), Kody Rhodes (RB), Gavin Farnsworth (QB), Bailey Nott (DE), Jack Wozniak (OLB), Tyler Hamilton (DB), Brett MacLaren (DB). Second team: Wozniak (TE), Hamilton (RB), MacLaren (RB), Justin Koloski (DE), Matt Lucke (OL), Nott (OL), Austin Gaudette (DB). Honorable mention: Nick Porter (RB/DB), Perkins (ILB). Coach of the Year: Matt Trombly.
Windsor — First team: Seth Balch (QB/DB), Hunter Patenaude (RB/LB/KR), Hunter Judd (LB), Dakota Page (WR), Ben Meagher (OL/DL), Trenton Allen (OL/DL), Zach McLeod (DB), Caleb Harrington (DL). Second team: Judd (RB/PR), Duncan Frazer (OL), Jake Tucker (LB). Honorable mention: Kylor Lato (OL), Page (DB), Gavin Harriman (DL). Coach of the Year: Greg Balch.
Woodstock — First team: Ezra Astbury (RB/LB), Bill Wood (RB/KR), Hunter Balch (OL). Second team: Dan Robinson (RB), Alex Blaiklock (WR), Caleb Webb (TE), Cole Wescott (OL/DL), Andy Buchan-Groff (OL/DL), Evan Patch (OL), Wood (K/DB), Patrick Potter (LB), Robinson (P/KR). Honorable mention: Luc Issa (QB), Cody Chase (OL), Balch (LB), Dylan Carnehammer (DL), Brendan Schwartz (DL).
Oxbow — Second team: Owen Pelletier (WR), Orin Mahikoa (WR). Honorable mention: Josh Walls (OL), Jake Stimson (DB).
Josh Weinreb can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.