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Football Jacks on the attack entering semifinals

  • Windsor's Caleb Meagher dodges Woodstock's Colby Eaton during their game in Windsor, Vt., on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Windsor won 32-0.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Windsor's Ben Gilbert fends off Woodstock's Corey White during their game in Windsor, Vt., on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. Windsor won 32-0.(Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/31/2019 9:23:29 PM
Modified: 10/31/2019 9:23:16 PM

WINDSOR — It is never surprising to see a Windsor High team have success. It has long been one of the Upper Valley’s most successful schools, with walls cluttered with championship banners and Hall of Fame plaques.

The Yellowjackets’ football team this fall is a little away from the norm. The Jacks not only started the season at 0-4 but looked bad doing so, getting outscored, 146-38 — all of which makes it hard to understand how this team could rebound from a rough start to a Saturday date in the VPA Division III semifinals.

One of the obvious answers was the schedule. The Jacks’ early-season games were against BFA-Fairfax, Brattleboro, Poultney and Springfield — all teams that finished with winning records. But there were more football reasons than the schedule, the first of which came down to attitude.

“These kids never gave up on themselves, and I’m so impressed by their diligence at practice and the dedication to believe in themselves,” said Windsor head coach Greg Balch, whose fifth-seeded squad (4-5) visits No. 1 Poultney (8-1) on Saturday afternoon. “I know it’s a cliché, but I’m really proud of how we stuck together when the going got tough.”

That was evident when the Jacks got their first win against Mill River on Sept. 28 to get the team on a run of four wins in five games.

“I knew we had some players here and a good team,” Balch said after the Mill River win.

Then there was the matter of youth and being patient as the learning process took hold.

“And we had a lot of guys playing new positions,” senior tackle Cam Burton said. “It just took us a while to put everything together.”

One of most consistent parts of the Windsor offense has been the running game. Senior running back Jacob Meagher has led the way, and he’s the first to acknowledge that the steady improvement of ball carriers Connor Hart, Ben Gilbert and Jackson Davis also made for a potent ground attack.

“And we can’t overlook the improvement of quarterback Max Clifford and the line,” said Meagher, who ranks second in the Upper Valley with 928 rushing yards entering the weekend.

“We had a lot of players on the varsity team but not a lot players with varsity experience,” Balch explained. “It was a learning process that included patience on the part of the coaches and the players as well. Hats off to the kids.”

The Jacks lost to Poultney in the regular season, 35-6, in the fourth game of the schedule, the last of the team’s opening four-game losing streak.

“We were awful that day,” Balch said. “We had six turnovers.”

Poultney was a 40-28 winner over Woodstock in its quarterfinal last weekend. While the final score indicates that it was a respectable game, Balch heard that was because Poultney was a gracious host.

“They are fast and aggressive and have a nasty defense,” Balch explained. “We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

“We know that this time around, we can’t make as many mistakes,” Burton added.

“I think most of those mistakes came in the passing game the last time, which we’ve cleaned up,” Meagher said.

And cleaning things up is what the Jacks did in the quarterfinals last weekend. They dispatched Springfield, 22-12, after losing to the Cosmos, 12-6, on Sept. 14.

BFA-Fairfax meets Mill River in Saturday’s other semifinal. The winners meet on Nov. 9 at Rutland High for the championship.

For Windsor, that would be a dream finish after an 0-4 start.




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