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Windsor puts in the work and comes out a 7v7 football champion

  • Logan Worrall

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/4/2020 10:01:32 PM
Modified: 11/5/2020 7:56:50 PM

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Greg Balch had to change his entire system on the fly this season. 

In his seventh year as the coach of the Windsor High football team, he’s proven to be successful, helping the program win two VPA Division III state titles during his tenure. 

But before this fall, he had never spent time preparing to play seven-on-seven touch football. His teams don’t participate in the summer preseason pass-and-catch tournaments because the Yellowjackets employ a run-first wing-T offense during a normal fall. 

But they adapted, changing how they play the game so they could compete during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wednesday night was the bright spot of the unorthodox season as Windsor defeated Brattleboro, 42-21, in the VIFL Hartford area championship game at Natowich Field.

Maison Fortin threw four touchdown passes, connecting with Logan Worrall twice. Jordan Place tossed two touchdowns, too, and also caught one from Fortin.

The Colonels handed Windsor its only loss of the regular season, 26-19, back on Sept. 30. The Jacks handled the rematch with ease Wednesday, intercepting the Colonels five times and allowing just one second-half touchdown. 

“It feels tremendous,” Balch said. “This was a championship-caliber team no matter what style of football we were playing. And they were ready to work in the spring, they wanted to work in the summer, they wanted to work when we weren’t allowed to work yet. 

“When they found out it was seven-on-seven, nobody was hanging their head. They just got to work. We had to figure out how to play it, we had to figure out how to coach it, and they did.”

For much of the season, teams put up wacky scores and offensive numbers with the different game. The Jacks, however, turned the championship contest into a battle of possession and field position in the second half thanks to their stingy defense. 

The Colonels started the second half with possession, trailing 14-7. But on their fifth play of the drive, Windsor’s Kaleb Swett intercepted a Devin Speno pass, returning it 41 yards to the Brattleboro 24-yard line. 

Windsor (11-1) couldn’t take advantage, turning the ball over on a Place interception. But four plays later, Jordan Hart intercepted a Speno pass, and this time the Jacks didn’t shirk their chance. 

Place led them on a six-play, 63-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown pass to John Cook to take a 28-14 lead with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter. 

Brattleboro (7-4) answered, making it a one-score game with 1:08 to play in the third, but that was the closest it would get. 

Fortin connected with Worrall for a 1-yard score on the following possession, early in the fourth quarter. The Colonels threw an interception and turned the ball over on downs twice on their final three drives of the game. 

Owen Abrahamsen’s 30-yard TD grab from Fortin with 4:29 remaining iced the Windsor victory.

“This is the perfect way to end off our high school career, coming in here and ending it on top,” said Place, who made the switch to quarterback in preseason. “We had to deal with it being seven-on-seven, didn’t expect it. Didn’t even expect to have playoffs, but towards the end of the year we found out we had playoffs, and we worked as hard as we could to get to this moment and win the championship.”

Balch said that despite it not being a true season, his squad still won a championship. He’s hoping to get a trophy for his team, even if he has to buy one. 

He has some evidence to back his claim. Windsor’s path to the title wasn’t easy as it played a mixture of Division I, II and III opponents; some of the competition the Jacks would never have faced pre-coronavirus. Plus, some teams were much more geared to throwing the ball more than 40 times a game. 

But that just added to the feeling of satisfaction for the Jacks. 

“People just think it’s not a real season, this and that,” Abrahamsen said. “But we had a goal at the beginning of the season to be the best in seven-on-seven. No matter what people were saying about it, no matter what people thought about it. We had a goal and it manifested throughout the season.”

■ 

Notes: Austin Gauld finished the game with a touchdown catch. Abrahamsen, Ben Gilbert and Place each also intercepted a Brattleboro pass. … Fortin finished the season with 41 TD passes. … Swett was a perfect 6-for-6 on extra point attempts. … Windsor will graduate eight seniors: Caden Lockwood, Logan Goad, Cook, Jackson Davis, Place, Gage Dillingham, Abrahamsen and Owen Rhoad. 

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com. 




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