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2019 Upper Valley high school football preview

  • Oxbow High’s Kevin Ricker, left, and Caden Spooner attempt to corral a loose football during an Aug. 16, 2019. drill in Bradford, Vt. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow High quarterback Cooper Simmons looks downfield and prepares to throw during an Aug. 16, 2019, practice in Bradford, Vt. The Olympians are preparing to run a full spread offense, throwing the ball early and often. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Stevens High junior quarterback Owen Taylor hands the football to freshman running back Devin Genes during an Aug. 21, 2019, practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont, N.H. Waiting his turn is senior running back Keaghan McAllister. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor High senior lineman Adam DeBartolo pushes a blocking sled under the gaze of head coach Greg Balch during the Yellowjackets’ practice on Aug. 16, 2019, in Windsor, Vt. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Mascoma High’s Owen McKinney completes a bike ride from home to practice on Aug. 19, 2019, in West Canaan, N.H. The sophomore said he started out with his helmet on the handlebars, but it caused his bike’s gear shifter to engage unexpectedly. So he donned the bucket, figuring it would also provide some added safety. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Center Caleb Palazzo practices his snaps to quarterback Trevor White before their first practice of the season begins at Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. The Wasps were undefeated in 2018, winning the Division III state championship over Poultney. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock head coach Ramsey Worrell runs warm-up drills with the team during the first day of practice at Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. The Wasps lost a dozen players to graduation following their Division III state championship win in 2018. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock senior quarterback Trevor White runs a passing drill during the first day of practice behind Woodstock Union High School in Woodstock, Vt., on Aug. 12, 2019. The Wasps are the defending Division III champion yet have lost a dozen players to graduation. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • First-year Newport High football coach John Prosper speaks with players, — including his son Tanner (80) — during the Tigers’ Aug. 23, 2019, practice in Newport. Prosper, a former Tiger player during the mid-1990s, has coached some of the current players since the second grade in various capacities. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Newport High junior Tanner Proper can’t haul in a pass during the Tigers’ Aug. 23, 2019, practice in Newport. (Valley News — Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bean

  • McAllister

  • Morse

  • Burek

  • Willeman

  • Morse

  • McAllister

  • Burek

  • Bean



Valley News Sports Editor
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

You’ve heard the one about the championship football coach, asked how last year’s title affects this year’s preparations.

You’ve probably heard the answer as well. It doesn’t.

Woodstock High’s Ramsey Worrell faces a new season with his Wasps on several fronts. Few teams have put on as dominant a display as Woodstock did last year in running the 10-game table en route to an undefeated VPA Division III state crown. The Wasps scored more than 400 points and won by at least three touchdowns in every game save for the 28-21 title-game defeat of Poultney.

More than a dozen graduates have since moved on, and D-III will certainly remember last year’s thrashings. Worrell and company, however, will focus on getting a young roster up to speed for the playoffs and improving as the season progresses.

Hanover, Lebanon and Stevens all look promising in their respective NHIAA divisions, with offensive and defensive talent returning from winning campaigns in 2018. Windsor is hoping to be a beneficiary in a more wide-open VPA D-III. Hartford will have its hands full in Vermont’s top division.

Mascoma looks for continued growth with second-year coach Kyle Colburn, and Oxbow and Newport both enter the season with new coaches.

HANOVER

Coach: Sam Cavallaro (5).

Last Year: 6-4, lost in quarterfinals to Plymouth.

League: NHIAA Division II.

Returnees: Seniors — Caleb Morse (QB/S). Juniors — Ben Wagner (L/DL), Noah Bradley (C/DE), Hank Trimble (RB/LB), Gabe Schroeder (RB/LB), Cole Dunham (RB/LB), Jack Watson (RB/DB), Moe Kado (WR/DB), Sam Goodwin (RB/LB). Sophomore — Sheamus Murphy (RB/DB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Greg Phillips (TE/LB), Jackson Ray (TE/DL). Juniors — Sawyer Brown (WR/S), Danny Pitiger (RB/LB), Mikey Pitiger (RB/DB), Erik Blix (WR/LB). Sophomores — Connor Chambers (OL/DL), Sasha Green (RB/LB), Josh Buddi (TE/LB), Colin Pierce (QB/DB), Jack Crandell (OL/DL), Nick Svennson (TE/LB), Max Galbraith (QB/DB), Ryan Carter (OL/DL). Freshman – Ben Williams (RB).

Analysis: With 1,000-yard rusher Simon Roach graduated, Cavallaro will first and foremost be seeking one or more people to fill that gap in his run-oriented attack. There are plenty of candidates behind a line the fifth-year coach hopes will be more physical than last season.

“This has been the hardest-working group in the weight room that I've coached,” Cavallaro said. “We have a large and talented freshman class coming in and the biggest middle school team since I have lived in Hanover. We are excited about the season.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Matt Trombly (5).

Last Year: 5-4, lost to St. Johnsbury in quarterfinals.

League: VPA Division I.

Returnees: Seniors — Zach Burek (RB/DE), Kyle Hamilton (TE/DE), Cody Chapman (OL/DL), Chris Phelps (OL/LB). Juniors — Jackson Balch (OL/LB), Cole Jasmin (QB), Kobe Peach (K/WR/DB).

Newcomers: Juniors — Alex Bushway (RB/DB), Shea Bean (RB/DB), Dylan Morse (TE/WR/DB), Dan Kelliher (RB/LB). Sophomores — Cole Shambo (RB/LB), Brandon Potter (RB/DB), Owen Sprague (OL/DE).

Analysis: The Hurricanes, who have seen their numbers dip during the past few years, ran out of steam late last year, but they at least return key players in key positions. Jasmin played competently behind center, Burek led the Upper Valley in rushing (1,247 yards; 11 TDs) and Hamilton has been a solid contributor on both sides of the line. Depth and health will be Hartford's biggest concerns.

“We want to run the ball and play sound, aggressive defense,” Trombly said.

“The culture and style we play will remain the same as it has been for 30 years. We will be relying on some sophomores in key positions. We have some strong leaders who will make up for some lack of experience on the field.”

LEBANON

Coach: Chris Childs (13).

Last Year: 6-4, lost to Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton in quarterfinals.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Jon Willeman (QB/WR/DB), Jack Chamley (RB/LB), Phillip Mellish (RB/LB), Noah Tyler (OL/DL), Nathaniel Beaulieu (OL/DL), Mason Adams (OL/DL), Cole Ames (TE/DE), Caleb Smith (TE/DE). Juniors — Calvin Bates (WR/DB), Logan Sanchez (RB/LB), Jake Hibner (RB/DB), Jon Carrier (OL/LB), Josh Mondragon (OL/DL). Sophomores — Jack Stone (WR/QB/DB).

Newcomers: Senior — Josh Roebuck (WR/DB). Sophomores — Justin Decarlo (RB/LB), Hunter Grant (WR/DB), Nyeoti Punni (RB/LB), C.J. Childs (RB/LB), Sebastian Yates (OL/DL), Cameron Davio (OL/DL), Steve Miller (OL/DL), Moses Mellish (WR/DB), Zach Whitcomb (C/DL), Connor Brown (OL/DL).

Analysis: The Raiders felt they left something on the field in dropping their D-III quarterfinal to an evenly matched foe last year, so getting a home playoff game is among Lebanon’s top objectives. There’s plenty of talent in the skill positions and plenty of smarts to learn what veteran coach Childs is teaching.

“We had a lot of kids play a lot of snaps last year and we got into the playoffs,” Childs said. “Our goal is to get a home playoff game; we’ve only had it one other time at Lebanon. Let’s get in and see what we can do from there.”

MASCOMA

Coach: Kyle Colburn (2).

Last Year: 1-6, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division IV.

Returnees: Seniors — Laurence Gibbs (OL/DL), Tyler Davis (RB/DL), Sean Rostron (WR/RB/MLB), Hawk Shawn (OL/WR/DL), Raven Streeter (OL/DL). Juniors — Cooper Peavy (RB/LB), Josh Evans (RB), Mike Evans (QB), Caleb Hobbs (OL/DL), Kolbie McBee (OL/DL). Sophomores — Roman Farnsworth (RB/DB), Josh Williams (RB/OLB), Eathon Gelinas (RB/OLB).

Newcomers: Juniors — Justin Brewster (OL/DL), Tyler Mekus (WR/DL). Sophomores — Hawkins Barton (OL/DL), Owen McKinney (OL/DL), Lacey Laware (OL/DL). Freshmen — Issia Ruell (OL/DL), Almon Savery (OL/DL), Gabriell Weatherbee (OL/DL), Asia Machette (RB/DL).

Analysis: The Royals showed promise even during a one-win debut season for Colburn, with four of their six defeats coming by a touchdown or less. That leaves the eternally optimistic coach feeling upbeat about the immediate future.

“I’m excited for year two,” Colburn said. “We have a lot of veterans from last year’s team, many who played both sides of the ball as sophomores and juniors. Having the offseason to keep the team active and conditioned has given us a new understanding of the system and work ethic we need.

“We are improving every minute, day and week. We understand and accept that there will be challenges and welcome those challenges with a point of emphasis on learning how to finish games win or lose. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but someone started to build. We’ve started to chisel the marble and are eager to begin carving our blueprint.”

NEWPORT

Coach: John Proper (1).

Last Year: 1-8, missed playoffs.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Austin Malool-Juneau (QB/DB), Blake McKinney (FB/LB), Cory Bowie (OL/DL), Reuben Relente (OL/DL). Juniors — Bryce Willey (WR/DB), Marius Edwards (QB/LB), Josh Sharron (FB/LB), Jagger Lovely (RB/DB), Chase Hamilton (FB/DE), Josh Orlowski (OL/DL), Adriano Urista (OL/DL). Sophomore — Devyn Heino (TE/DE).

Newcomers: Seniors — Cody O'Brian (WR/DB), Cameron Hall (OL/DL), Ayden Hennessy (OL/DL), Kurt Gagne (WR/DB). Juniors — Ryder Lovely (WR/DB), Tanner Proper (TE/LB), Caleb Turgeon (OL/DL), Adam Whipple (TE/DE), Nick Hogan (TE/LB), Hayden Patenaude (OL/DL). Sophomores — Liam Almstrom (OL/DL), Darshawn Chesser (RB/LB).

Analysis: After a rough debut to D-III play with last year’s realignment and expansion, things look better already for the Tigers. Newport has more speed, decent size and a new coach who is getting the players’ attention. Many on this year’s varsity, in fact, played for Proper’s junior varsity last year. But it’s also a fact that Proper is the fourth coach to take the Newport job since the end of Larry Carle’s 34-year tenure in 2013. Stability and continuity would do a young roster wonders.

“We have decent team speed and some size to match,” Proper said. “The challenge is to utilize that in the right ways with the right personnel to be competitive and win some games. Our numbers are solid, with about 10 more (athletes) than last year. Our coaching staff preaches to stay healthy and positive and good things will come.”

OXBOW

Coach: Chad Wescott (1).

Last Year: 2-6, lost in quarterfinals to Poultney.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Cooper Simmons (QB), Cooper Smith (RB/LB), Hunter Locke (WR/S), Harley Wescott (RB/LB), John Moore (WR/S; attends Thetford), Kevin Ricker (WR/DE; attends Blue Mountain). Juniors — Drew Shaw (OL/DL), Dylan Shaw (OL/LB), Memphis Cahill (OL/DL), Jordan Johnson (WR/CB). Sophomores — Greg Tilton (OL/DL), Andrew Emerson (WR/CB), Dana Blair (WR/CB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Jace Page (RB/DE), Trevor Moore (RB/LB). Junior — Connor Moore (OL/DL). Sophomores — Elijah Rodriquez (OL/DL; attends Thetford), Darcy O’Connell (WR/CB). Freshmen — William Ilsley (RB/CB), Nikkolas Schwarz (RB/CB; attends Rivendell), Gavin Tellier (RB/LB; attends Blue Mountain), Cooper Mardin (TE/DE; attends Blue Mountain), Calvin Carbee (OL/DL), Caden Spooner (TE/DE), Ben Knehr (OL/DL).

Analysis: Chad Wescott was set to be Oxbow’s defensive coordinator this season when last year’s coach, Jason Marsh, left over the summer for a job in Alabama. Wescott set about building a roster and, with 25 players at the start of preseason, the Olympians at least have a better shot at completing their schedule than last year. Oxbow forfeited a late-season game because of low numbers and also gained a forfeit victory from similar circumstances with another program.

With Mount St. Joseph no longer fielding a football team and Missisquoi concentrating on junior varsity-only play, Oxbow will again automatically make the D-III state tournament. That gives the Olympians eight regular-season weeks to prepare in a situation where wins matter less than improvement.

“This group is coming off a tough year with high expectations,” Wescott said. “Senior and junior leadership will play a huge role in how far these kids can get this season. (We’re) returning 13 varsity players that have, for the most part, started since freshman year and have a lot of experience. Look for this team to move the ball at a fast pace on offense and load the box and come after you on defense.”

STEVENS

Coach: Paul Silva (9).

Last Year: 6-5, lost to Campbell in semifinals.

League: NHIAA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Quentin Bicknell (TE/QB/MLB), Tucker Derosier (G/DE), Matthew Jones (RB/WR/LB), Phillip Mason (T/DT), Keaghan McAllister (RB/LB), Lucas Mudge (WR/CB), Hunter Paradis (G/DE), Logan Steadman (OL/DT), Alex Taylor (WR/CB). Juniors — Eddie Brodeur (T/DT), Owen Taylor (QB/FS), J.J. Tursky (WR/CB), Tobyn Von Kahle (OL/DT), Clayton Wadsworth (WR/FS). Sophomores — Keegan Batchelder (WR/FS), Zachary Bundy (QB/CB), Nicholis Burke (WR/DB), Hunter Christian (FB/NT/LB), Anthony LaCaillade (RB/CB), Pascal Lemieux (RB/LB), Chris Robison (OL/DL).

Newcomers: Seniors — Hayden Blouch (TE/DE), Michael Gaspar (OL/DT), George Prach (WR/DB). Juniors — Trent Page (WR/LB/DB), Braxton LeBlanc (RB/LB). Sophomores — Angelo Gardner (RB/LB), Liam Williams (T/DE). Freshmen — Barrett Companion (OL/DL), Devin Genes (RB/LB), ,Xavier Glidden (OL/DL), Robert Inglee (OL/DL), Kayden LaClair (WR/DB), Cam Oxton (C/DT), Jai-Lique Riberio (RB/DB), A.J. Rozzell (OL/DE), Colby Shepard (OL/LB), Luke Smith (TE/RB/LB), Kaden Thyne (WR/CB), Carson Vielguth (OL/DT).

Analysis: There’s a lot to like about this year’s Cardinals. They get back a proven runner and scorer in Keaghan McAllister, who ranked third in Upper Valley rushing (1,047 yards) and fourth in scoring (90 points) last year. If he can make himself available every week, Stevens will be a threat every week, and he should have a little more backfield depth to back him up. Quarterback Quentin Bicknell is back as well after ranking second in the region in passing in 2018 (691 yards, three TDs). There’s size on the line and experience returning from a deep playoff run.

“We have some returning players with varsity experience that played a big role for us last year,” Silva said. “We also have some younger players being asked to step up and several players learning new positions, so we will be inexperienced in some key positions.

“I was extremely pleased with the participation and effort in our offseason program, and the players have worked extremely hard since our preseason started. As with every year, our goal is to look to get better each day and try to win enough games to get into the playoffs. If we can do that, we have a chance to get where we want to be at the end of the season.”

WINDSOR

Coach: Greg Balch (7).

Last Year: 5-5, lost in semifinals.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Wyatt Bean (T/DL), Max Clifford (QB/LB), Caleb Meagher (RB/LB), Devan Sullivan (OL/DL), Grayson Frazer (OL/DL), Rhett Barrows (OL/DL), Conner Hart (RB/LB), Camden Burton (OL/DL). Juniors — Caden Lockwood (OL/DL), Jacob Underhill (OL/DL), Jackson Davis (RB/DB), John Cook (OL/LB).

Newcomers: Seniors — Adam Debartolo (OL/DL), Carter LaBounty (WR/DB). Juniors — Logan Goad (OL/DL), Jordan Place (WR/DB). Sophomores — Ben Gilbert (WR/DB), Dalton Clifford (OL/DL), Ethan Belvin (RB/LB), Austin Gauld (TE/DB). Freshmen — Logan Worrall (RB/DB), Maison Fortin (QB/DB).

Analysis: After Woodstock steamrolled the field last year, Division III is likely to have more parity, creating more potential for the Yellowjackets. Windsor need new faces to offset graduation losses of RB/LB Robert Slocum (nearly 1,000 total offensive yards), QB Ryland Richardson (34-for-66, 547 yards passing, four TDs) and several experienced two-way linemen.

“Windsor football expectations are high every season,” Balch noted. “This team has worked hard all summer, and they are showing tremendous effort and attitude throughout the (preseason). Continued strong leadership and expanding confidence for new players will be a point of emphasis.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Ramsey Worrell (7).

Last year: 10-0, won state championship.

League: VPA Division III.

Returnees: Seniors — Zane Adams (G/DT), Trevor White (QB/DB), Dan Lessard (RB/LB), Trevon Olmstead (T/DT), Alden Shoemaker (OL/DL). Juniors — Caleb Palazzo (OL/DL), Chase Christensen (WR/DB). Sophomores — Corey White (RB/DB), Memphis Begin (G/LB), Wyatt Begin (FB/LB), Colby Eaton (RB/QB/DB), Eric Blanchard (TE/LB), Reese Palmer (OL/LB).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Robbie Macri (SE/DB). Freshmen — Andrew Crouse (OL/DL; attends Mid Vermont Christian).

Analysis: The Wasps lost a lot to graduation and will go into the season with low numbers in experience and numbers. It’s to Woodstock’s advantage, however, that every team in D-III makes the postseason. That will give Worrell more time to get his team up to speed.

“I like it; it’s a nice luxury to have in Division III,” Worrell said. “I like it because we need it. We’re playing two seasons: One’s the regular season, one’s the playoff season. That’s how we’re going to approach it.”