Faces in Newer Places

Castleton, Vt. — Woodstock’s Ed Doton has long been regarded as one of the premier running backs in Vermont, leading the Wasps to back-to-back state championships his junior and senior seasons, rushing for more than 4,000 yards during his high school career. Consequently, his selection to the Green Mountain state’s team for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl was no surprise.

However, what is probably a surprise is that Doton will be playing defensive end when the Vermonters line up against New Hampshire in Saturday’s contest on Dartmouth College’s Memorial Field.

“They (the coaches) told me I might play some offense, but mostly as a blocking back,” said the 6-1, 205-pounder headed for St. Lawrence University.

And Doton is OK with his duties, knowing that Hartford’s Josh Claflin and BFA-St. Albans’ Doug Saffo will be doing most of the running. “I’m content with that,” said Doton. “I just want to do what I can to help the team. Who knows? Maybe they will let me run the ball some.”

Players from both states arrived in camp at Castleton State College on Saturday for workouts in preparation for the 60th edition of annual showdown.

There have been a couple of late roster changes. Woodstock lineman Jalen Peterson was a late scratch because of a military obligation, and a New Hampshire player failed to report.

“He emailed the Shrine office and just said he wasn’t going to report,” said New Hampshire coach Ray Kershaw, of Mascoma High. Kershaw said that the absent player will not be replaced. “We’ll just go with 35 players,” he said.

As always, the conversation for this game centered around whether Vermont can do anything to halt New Hampshire’s domination (the Granite Staters hold a 44-13-2 edge, having won the last 12 in a row). Shrine officials put another wrinkle in the New Hampshire selection process limiting the Granite State to just six players from each of the six divisions. This will reduce the number of players from the state’s two largest football-playing leagues.

“We’re aware of what the situation is, but we don’t talk about the past,” said Vermont head coach Jason Thomas, of Burr and Burton. “We’re just concentrating on the game at hand.”

There was one thing that players and coaches from both sides of the Connecticut River were a bit disappointed with. When both teams got to the Shrine Hospital in Springfield, Mass., on Sunday there were very few children there. “We thought there was some kind of mixup,” said Kershaw.

Dave Orr, the director of media relations, explained that unlike the past, a large number of children now go home on the weekend: “We’ll probably have to pick a weekday to go down in the future.”

“I’m very happy for the kids that they were able to go home on the weekend, but we were expecting to go there and try to cheer them up,” said Stevens C.J. Gosselin. “It was kind of disappointing.”

Newport linebacker Matt Tremblay said while it was unfortunate there were not a lot of kids there, the players were given a tour and shown some videos of what wonderful work is done there. “I know why we’re playing this game,” added Tremblay, who will be going to Columbia in the fall.

Tremblay said he expects to see a lot of playing time and that “I am loving every minute of this. It is a wonderful experience.”

Gosselin, headed for Norwich, said the team had a bonding run at 5 a.m. Monday morning and then was looking at triple sessions the rest of the day. “Sure, it’s hard,” said the former Cardinal, a late roster addition who will play a lot at defensive end. “But I came to camp in shape and (am) just very happy to be representing Claremont at this game.”

Gosselin said he doesn’t know if the coaches expect Vermont to throw a lot, “but they have been working me hard on the pass rush.”

The two Kearsarge representatives, Oliver Gallo and Jordan Barthol, will both be playing primarily on defense. While Barthol may take some snaps on offense at fullback. Gallo will be at safety and Barthol will swing from linebacker to defensive end and tackle. “I don’t think we have a lot people here at those positions,” said Barthol who will join Gosselin at Norwich in a few weeks. ”I’ve also been practicing from the fullback slot in the double wing offense.”

Gallo, who rushed for more 1,000 yards for the Cougars last fall, said he was OK with playing on defense. Gallo didn’t know if he’d carry the pigskin much on Saturday, but he has been used as a running back when simulating the Vermont offense in practice. “You know this is just one of those great experiences, where you get to play in a wonderful game and meet a lot of cool guys,” he said.

Both coaches said all the players reported in great shape. “And you know 95 percent of our players are going to college and the rest in the military, “ said Kershaw. “We’ll be ready.”

Game time on game day is 5:30 p.m.