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Working for a Future: Young Oxbow Blanked by Spaulding

  • Spaulding quarterback Jackson Pierson dives toward the end zone during a high school football game at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Spaulding defeated Oxbow, 32-0, in Oxbow's first varsity home game in two years. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow's John Moore, right, knocks Spaulding running back Jesse Dindo out of bounds before he's able to reach the end zone at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Spaulding defeated Oxbow, 32-0, in Oxbow's first varsity home football game in two years. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow quarterback Cooper Simmons is tackled by Spaulding players at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Simmons was soon helped off the field by the Oxbow coach and a trainer and sat the rest of the game out. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow football coach Jason Marsh makes his way onto the field to check on quarterback Cooper Simmons after a hard hit leaves him with an injury at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Oxbow cornerback Kevin Ricker flips a Spaulding player onto the ground at Oxbow High School in Bradford, Vt., on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. Spaulding would go on to defeat Oxbow, 32-0. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, September 08, 2018

Bradford, Vt. — The Oxbow High football team lost, 32-0, to visiting Spaulding on Saturday. It was the Olym-pians’ second straight shutout defeat to begin the VPA Division III season.

The Olympians gained minus-40 offensive yards while surrendering 212. The Crimson Tide twice scored on safeties and knocked Oxbow quarterback Cooper Simmons out of the game with a first-half shoulder injury.

The hosts fumbled five times, allowed a punt return for a touchdown and attempted an unsuccessful onside kick to open the second half.

“I thought it was a success,” said first-year Oxbow coach Jason Marsh, whose team dropped its season opener, 41-0, at Mill River. “My definition of success is that our kids came off the field with their heads up, and we’re moving forward to our next game.”

That clash is Friday night at longtime power Woodstock, which last year reached the division title game for the 16th time and has claimed 10 state crowns since 1996. Spaulding, by contrast, opened the current campaign with a 30-8 loss to Bellows Falls and hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2008.

Oxbow played hard on Saturday but dressed only 19 players, although Marsh said he’s still trying to recruit more. The Vermont Principals Association requires that a player participate in 10 practices before being eligible for game action.

Last year’s Oxbow varsity season was canceled in favor of a JV slate after only 14 players signed up, but Marsh declined to speculate on how low this season’s numbers might have to drop before a forfeit would occur. Oxbow began the 2016 season with 22 players but had only 18 available come playoff time because of injuries.

“I can’t make plans based on what might happen,” Marsh said. “I’m glad we made the decision to go varsity, and we’re not going back to junior varsity. We only lose one senior after this season, and these young players are the ones we’re going to build a program with.”

Oxbow debuted as a varsity program in 2007 and was 35-54 during the next decade, finishing better than .500 four times and reaching the playoffs five times, although the Olympians have yet to win a postseason game. The Olympians’ current roster features one senior and four freshmen.

Oxbow received Saturday’s opening kickoff and ran three plays before the punter fumbled the snap and was tackled for an 8-yard loss. Three plays after that, Spaulding’s Corey John ran 3 yards for a touchdown.

The Olympians drove to their 48-yard line on their next possession before surrendering a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown by Sam Bigglestone. The hosts’ third possession was a three-and-out followed by another punt. Three plays later, Red Tide quarterback Jackson Pierson threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Zach Millette, who had no defender within 10 yards of him.

A facemasking penalty was called on Spaulding on the ensuing kickoff. In a gesture both polite and indicative of how inexperienced the Olympians are, freshman Brennan Marsh, the coach’s son, picked up the flag and returned it to the official who had thrown it, leading to a gentle rebuke. Another Oxbow player later did the same with another official’s bean bag marker shortly after a punt.

Spaulding drove 48 yards in 15 plays to begin the second quarter, advancing to the Olympians’ 5-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. Oxbow then ran once for a 2-yard loss before Simmons was tackled in the end zone for a safety and was injured on the play. The score moved to 23-0, which stood up into the third quarter.

After failing to recover an onsides kick to begin the second half, Oxbow held Spaulding out of the end zone despite an 11-play, 37-yard drive. Millette kicked a 30-yard field goal attempt low and into the line.

Oxbow went three-and-out and punted, but Harley Wescott recovered a fumble on the play. The next snap produced a recovered fumble and an 8-yard loss charged to Olympians backup quarterback Kevin Ricker. Two plays later, the junior was sacked in the end zone for another safety and a 25-0 deficit.

The hosts, per rule, kicked the ball away after that two-point play and Spaulding drove 25 yards in four plays and closed the scoring on John’s 5-yard run and the last of Millette’s four conversion kicks.

Oxbow’s Simmons completed one of five passes for minus-2 yards. Ricker also completed one of five tosses, but for 3 yards. Wescott carried nine times for minus-24 yards, Ricker rushed 10 times for minus-22 yards and Marsh ran five times for 10 yards.

Spaulding’s Pierson completed three of 12 passes for 36 yards, and teammate John carried six times for 47 yards and two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide committed seven penalties for 60 yards and had a 36-yard touchdown called back for an illegal block after a Pierson pass bounced off two Olympians and into the hands of A.J. Castelleneta.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.