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Windsor Football Hopes to Continue Turnaround

Windsor High head football coach Greg Balch, left, discusses an upcoming drill with assistant Jordan Larson during the Yellowjackets' first practice of the season on Monday morning. Valley News - Tris Wykes

Windsor High head football coach Greg Balch, left, discusses an upcoming drill with assistant Jordan Larson during the Yellowjackets' first practice of the season on Monday morning. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »

Windsor — From 2007-11, the Windsor High football team reached the Vermont Division III finals five straight times under coach under Jim Taft, winning the 2009 championship with a 19-8 win over Springfield in the pouring rain in Brattleboro.

Taft departed after the 2012 season, when Yellowjackets failed to reach the playoffs.

Under new coach Greg Balch, the Jacks returned to the postseason in 2013 and lost to Mill River in the quarterfinals.

When Balch took over, he brought along a new staff that includes Jordan Larson, Matt Meagher and Jamie Richardson. All those coaches are back for the 2014 season along with the addition of Adam Kapusinski.

Despite the numbers problem — only 105 boys in grades 9-12 — Windsor is fortunate the school’s sports programs get strong support from the student body.

For instance, the football team has 33 players, an increase over last year. And Balch thinks the program is in pretty good shape.

“Listen, we would always like to have more players,” Balch said. “And there are some players in school that didn’t come out. But this program is in pretty good shape. It is not in danger.”

One reason Balch likes this team is that he has 10 seniors who have played together since they were third and fourth graders, said Balch.

Another indicator that football is not about to disappear in Windsor is the stability of the Pee Wee program, and the interest in middle school football.

“We had a phenomenal 63 kids playing football in the Pee Wee program and another 22 playing at the middle school,” Balch said.

At Tuesday morning’s practice, the Yellowjackets went at it for two sweaty hours.

While the teams under Jim Taft had leather-lunged Gary Hurlburt barking orders, the assistant coach with the big vocal chords this year is Jordan Larson. Balch agreed that every team needs one of those guys with the commanding voice.

“He’s our Herbie,” said Balch in reference to Hurlburt’s nickname.

While the numbers are sufficient to field a varsity squad, they are not quite enough to have a junior varsity or freshman team.

“We have 12 freshmen, which is good,” Balch said.

“But we’ll have to have some kind of combination team from the underclassmen for a sub-varsity squad.”

Windsor will continue to play a Division III schedule, but with Newport dropping the Jacks, there are only seven regular season games scheduled.

“I understand we could have added an eighth game, but I guess it would have been against a much bigger New Hampshire team and we didn’t want to do that,” said Balch.

“Besides, with eight teams making the playoffs, you can play up to three postseason games.”