×

Wasps Swarm Ahead, Return to D-III Title Game

  • Woodstock's Ben Marsicovetere leaves the Windsor defense in the distance as he runs for an 80-yard touchdown late in their Division III semifinal game in Woodstock, Vt., on Nov. 2, 2018. Woodstock won, 55-13. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor seniors Josh Gaudette, left, and Robert Slocum hug after their 55-13 Division III semifinal loss to Woodstock in Woodstock, Vt., on Nov. 2, 2018. Woodstock advances to the championship game on Nov. 10. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Woodstock's Jed Astbury, left, reaches up to knock down a pass intended for Windsor's Ryland Richardson in the rain during the third quarter of their Division III semifinal game in Woodstock, Vt., on Nov. 2, 2018. Woodstock won, 55-13. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Windsor's Robert Slocum turns upfield for yardage as Woodstock's Ben Marsicovetere (5) and Micah Schlabach pursue him early in the Division III semifinal game in Woodstock, Vt., on Nov. 2, 2018. Woodstock won, 55-13. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Saturday, November 03, 2018

Woodstock — The first two quarters of Friday’s VPA Division III semifinal game between neighbor rivals Woodstock and Windsor had just about everything: two fumbles, one interception, one botched punt attempt, an onside kick recovered by the kicking team and a whopping eight touchdowns.

When the dust settled, the undefeated Wasps found themselves in familiar territory, with a double-digit lead powered by a seemingly unstoppable offense.

Woodstock, the top seed in this year’s D-III tournament, scored six touchdowns before halftime and added another two in the third quarter in a 55-13 win over the fifth-seeded Yellowjackets at James T. McLaughlin Field, earning a spot in next week’s D-III championship game for the second consecutive season.

“This group of seniors is special,” Woodstock head coach Ramsay Worrell said. “In Division III, it’s all about having a good class that’s there for four years. If we get eight kids in a class together for four years, we’re happy. This is 12. They’ve been playing together all the way up. They have a pretty good bond. … It’s a good group.”

Some of Woodstock’s biggest playmakers are seniors: Ben Marsicovetere, Charlie Amato, Harrison Nunes, Micah Schlabach, Jed Astbury, Caden White, Yeabsira Miles, Matt Carlson and linemen Paul Dunbar, Jacob Maxham, Gabe Marsicovetere and split end Evan Alsup.

“Two years ago, after we graduated that huge senior class after losing to Otter Valley (in the playoffs), we didn’t have a lot of hope going into last season,” said White, who led the Wasps with 165 rushing yards on 11 carries and five touchdowns. “We saw what we could do with the junior class and the seniors we had. This season, we knew we were going to click.”

The Wasps will take on the winner of today’s other semifinal between No. 2 Poultney (6-2) and No. 3 BFA-Fairfax (5-3) in the D-III final next Saturday at Rutland High.

It was the second time in three weeks these teams had met, with Woodstock handing Windsor a 48-0 defeat on Oct. 19 in the regular season finale. This time, the Yellowjackets weren’t going quietly.

Woodstock took a 14-0 lead 6 minutes, 8 seconds into the first quarter, in just five plays on two drives. Ben Marsicovetere opened up with a 28-yard run with 8:35 left in the quarter; White added to it with a scamper up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown run.

The Yellowjackets — who beat No. 4 Mill River last weekend in the quarterfinals — responded with an 11-play drive, marching 78 yards in 5:06 capped by a 2-yard run up the middle by Robert Slocum for his 12th touchdown of the season.

Then, the teams traded punches. Woodstock scored again four plays into its next drive, a 34-yard run by Schlabach 38 seconds into the second quarter. Windsor scored in five plays in on some trickery, a 25-yard touchdown pass by Yellowjackets’ running back Slocum, operating in a wildcat formation, to quarterback Ryland Richardson. Woodstock led, 21-13, with 9:07 left before half.

“We had a very talented class last year,” Windsor head coach Greg Balch said. “I think, in the beginning of the season, these guys kind of had to find their way around that, but they did. As we progressed through the season, they kind of found their role, find themselves. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Windsor’s Jackson Davis then recovered an onside kick attempt, giving the Yellowjackets the ball back with a chance to tie. Two plays later, Woodstock’s Amato intercepted a Slocum pass. White scored again for Woodstock three plays later for a 28-13 lead. The Wasps never looked back.

“I can’t even describe it, I’m really hyped right now,” White said. “Really proud of the team. We haven’t come together like this all season. It’s nice when, especially in that first quarter, when they scored those two touchdowns back-to-back, we saw some adversity. Kids started hopping on each other. Then, right away, we banded together again.”

Woodstock scored on its next two possessions, including an 80-yard run down the right sideline by Ben Marsicovetere, to take a 41-13 lead into halftime. White added another touchdown in the third quarter; Wasps quarterback Trevor White and wideout Nunes connected on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:04 remaining in the third quarter to round out Woodstock’s scoring.

White led the way with 11 carries for 165 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

“I was a little concerned, this was only our second game this month, both against the same opponent,” Worrell said, who’s team has had two bye weeks in the last month. “It is a ginormous challenge to keep kids focused on one bye week, so to do it twice was a challenge.

“I knew we were going to come out and probably be a little rusty at some things. We were. But overall, nobody panicked. The kids stayed with it.”

Windsor graduates five from its roster in the offseason: Slocum, Richardson, lineman Gavin Harriman, and running backs Josh Gaudette and Dakota Sanderson.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Balch said. “Anytime you get (12) seniors in D-III, you should roll through. It may be a little bit of a down year in D-III, even. I’m happy with this team. As far as Woodstock goes, I know they’ve fallen short in the last couple of years. I’m sure this is sweet for them.”

For Woodstock, the run has been special. Its 12 seniors have helped the team outscore opponents, 382-68, in nine games this fall, making it the third highest-scoring team in the state.

The Wasps, who fell to Windsor in last season’s championship game, will make their 17th D-III championship appearance with redemption on their mind.

“I mean, 103-13 in two games (against Windsor) sounds pretty good,” White said with a grin, aware of the point differential without being prompted. “Especially after the taste they left in our mouth last year.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.