Windsor Gets New Grid Boss

Balch Takes Over Yellowjackets’ Reins

Windsor — Greg Balch can remember what it was like when the Connecticut Valley League was flourishing and big crowds flocked to gridirons all over the Upper Valley. As the new football coach at Windsor High School, Balch would like to see those kinds of crowds return to the sidelines at MacLeay-Royce Field this fall.

“I think it’s so sad when you see so few people at the games,” said Balch. “One of the things we are going to try and do is get the town come out in full force.”

Ryan Hingston and Jesse Taft were co-coaches last fall, but both have since resigned. Hingston, who was a physical education instructor at Windsor, left last year to take a job at Mount Ascutney Hospital, and Taft stepped down recently. The Yellowjackets went 4-5 last year and missed the Vermont Division III playoffs.

“It really happened so fast, “ said Balch. “We’re kind of behind the 8-ball. (Windsor High athletic director Bob Hingston) and I just started talking this week.”

“Jesse’s employment situation would not allow him to coach this year,” Hingston said on Thursday. “I know the timing is not good, but Greg has been in the program awhile, and he has expressed an interest in moving up.”

It may have happened pretty quickly, but Balch has already installed a staff that will include Jamie Richardson, Matt Meagher and Jordan Larson.

Balch, 39, a 1992 Windsor High School graduate, was quarterback and a linebacker on defense his senior year on a team coached by Jack Cohun. Others on the team, that went 5-4, included Harold Becker, Doug Buchanan and Jamie Hodgdon. He played a little football at Hartwick College before finishing up his education at Castleton State College and Plymouth State University.

While this will be his first year as a varsity head coach, Balch knows every member of the team because he has been the junior high coach the past five years.

One of the players he will be coaching this season is his nephew, Ethan Hill, who had several big games at running back last fall. Hill rushed for 664 yards and nine touchdowns, adding another half-dozen scores on receptions, defense and returns.

“We’ve got some good kids coming back,” said Balch, listing the names of Tyson Boudro (three TDs) and Russell Simonds (two).

As far as a coaching philosophy, Balch acknowledged that Windsor teams have long had the reputation of running the ball first and passing only when necessary. He thought that philosophy changed a bit the in the past few years when the Jacks developed strong-armed quarterbacks able to attack the field.

“I really like to have a game plan based on who we are playing and our own personnel,” Balch said. “We used to run (retired Bellows Falls Union High football coach) Bis Bisbee’s power-I, but we’ve been getting away from that.”

Balch is excited to get his team on the field, with practice starting Aug. 12. “This is a great opportunity,” he said. “Absolutely a dream come true.”

Balch is a father of four and lives in Hartland.

“Greg is a very smart man but, like any new coach, there will be mistakes made,” Hingston said. “He’s a Windsor grad and has the best interests of the program at heart.”