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Forfeits Draw the Attention of VIFL

Should it get that far, Hartford High’s football team would likely get to defend its Vermont Division I state championship at a neutral site next autumn. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan)

Should it get that far, Hartford High’s football team would likely get to defend its Vermont Division I state championship at a neutral site next autumn. (Valley News - Ryan Dorgan) Purchase photo reprints »

White River Junction — Last fall, Springfield High took a pair of season-opening football drubbings to Otter Valley and Fair Haven, then decided to forfeit the rest of its schedule because of a lack of bodies and an abundance of injuries. The Cosmos were scheduled to go to Lyndon the next week, and that cancellation turned into a mess for Lyndon — the school had a big event scheduled to honor two brothers who had passed away with brain cancer. Family members from across the country were coming and programs had been printed and an agenda had been established.

That brought the subject of forfeits to the forefront of yesterday’s spring meeting of the Vermont Interscholastic Football League at Hartford High School.

The forfeit issue hasn’t been limited to Springfield. Montpelier gave up two games last season, and Rutland’s Mount St. Joseph surrendered a game to Mount Anthony in 2009 while it was still a Division I squad.

“This problem is not going away,’ said Rutland High School coach Mike Norman, who suggested that the forfeiting school should pay a fee to the team it was playing. “If the average take at a football game is $1,000, then that’s what maybe the school should be fined,” said Norman.

The amount of the fee declined to $500 when the discussion turned to a school that forfeits most of the season when it was mentioned that a team with an eight-game schedule could face $4,000 in losses. While most of the coaches and athletic directors in attendance thought that figure was too much, it was eventually decided to let the athletic directors get together and present a proposal to the Vermont Principals Association’s football committee.

Springfield football coach Kevin Tallman was sorry for having to forfeit most of the season a year ago. “We just had too many kids getting hurt,” said Tallman, whose only game of consequence after Week 2 was an Oct. 13 scrimmage with Montpelier. “It was a safety factor.”

Tallman added the Cosmos will field a team this fall and that it will play down a notch, to Division III. “This would have never happened last year if they (the VPA football Committee) had not forced us to play in Division II,” he said.

Mill River football coach Art Peterson suggested that if a school knows that it has an inferior team, someone should let the team know that he is playing next. “I don’t think anybody here wants to run it up on anybody,” said Peterson.

The group could not agree on the way they would like to handle game film exchanges. There was some sympathy for making the previous week’s game film available to the next opponent. That drew some logistical disagreements, and eventually a committee was formed to come up with a proposal.

The VIFL also used the meeting to recognize last season’s coaches of the year, Mike Williams of BFA Fairfax for Division III, Bob Lockerby of Bellows Falls in Division II and Mike Stone of Hartford in Division I. In other coaching news, it was announced that Mike Hatt in Brattleboro and Sean Murphy in St. Johnsbury would not be returning.

The league also approved the notion of holding next fall’s state championship at the same place and on the same day. Castleton State College and Norwich University received mention, but no site was chosen. Last year’s title games were staged at South Burlington High School when schedule conflicts forced a move after two years at Castleton.