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Friday night football: Hartford wins with a purpose in mind

  • Hartford football hosts Woodstock in White River Junction, Vt., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Referees made adjustments to accommodate for mask wearing and electronic whistles. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Hartford quarterback Colin Vielleux finds Jackson Balch, left, open for a pass during their game with Woodstock in White River Junction, Vt., Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Balch scored three touchdowns for the Hurricanes in the game. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 10/16/2020 10:32:47 PM
Modified: 10/16/2020 10:35:02 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — The Hartford High football team approached Friday night’s seven-on-seven affair with Woodstock looking like it had a higher goal in mind. Until recently, the Hurricanes didn’t.

With the Vermont Interscholastic Football League’s confirmation of a postseason this week, Hartford now has a championship to chase. The Canes executed with both their big and skill units in rolling to their sixth straight victory, 45-19, at the Hartford Alumni Athletic Complex.

Hartford (6-1) learned on Friday it will host its first seven-man playoff game at home on Oct. 30 against an opponent to be determined. A postseason is all the Hurricanes desired when the Vermont state government determined there would be no tackle football during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re psyched; that’s all we wanted to hear,” said Jasmin, who finished 12-of-20 for 257 yards and three TDs, the last his 20th of the season. “Whether it’s seven-on-seven or tackle, we want to compete for something. I think having the playoffs has really given us a second push, a second urge, to keep going, because we’re pumped.”

Even as autumn began with no postseason planned, Hartford coach Matt Trombly expected the topic to come up for discussion again. Now that it’s official, he’s glad he set his team up the way he has.

Jasmin was always a known quantity, having started behind center for two years. Colin Vielleux will assume that role next year with Jasmin’s graduation; the seven-on-seven format has given the junior important game reps with a group of linemen-turned-receivers new to running routes. His group methodically moves down the field; Jasmin’s skill squad scythes through a defense.

“We kind of waited it out to see how things were going and how people felt,” Trombly said. “We knew that in mid-October it was going to get brought up and a survey was going to go around to see about how people felt about playing. Everybody I talked to certainly was in favor. … We were pretty confident it was going to happen.”

Vielleux (21-for-30, 210 yards, 3 TDs) securely marched Hartford to a score on its opening possession. The lanky signal-caller hit eight straight passes to his bigs during an 11-play drive capped by the first of senior Jackson Balch’s three scoring catches on the night, from 9 yards out.

Hartford freshman Matt Franklin intercepted Woodstock freshman QB Brooks Ruderman on the Wasps’ third play, setting up a second Vielleux-to-Balch pitch-and-catch, this time a 24-yarder for a 14-0 cushion. Jasmin entered to start the second quarter and immediately launched a 40-yard scoring strike to Jacob Seaver on a post pattern for a 21-0 lead.

Jasmin added two more TDs before halftime, a 52-yard catch-and-run with Jacob Dwinell and a 34-yard bomb to Kobe Peach on an audible after Jasmin spotted the speedy senior with one-on-one coverage. Junior QB Colby Eaton hit Corey White on a 2-yard TD toss early in the second quarter for Woodstock’s only first-half points, a score set up by a 48-yard post-pattern toss to Robby Macri.

Vielleux linked with Balch (seven catches, 107 yards) from 19 yards out early in the third quarter for Hartford’s final touchdown. Peach was perfect on six PAT kicks and later added a 34-yard field goal. Eaton (13-for-22, 193 yards, 3 TDs) delivered two fourth-quarter touchdowns for Woodstock (0-6), a 40-yarder to White and a 14-yarder to Macri.

Woodstock coach Ramsey Worrell confessed he wasn’t in favor of a postseason, having dedicated the campaign to teaching a lot of new things to a lot of new football players. News that playoffs are coming — the Wasps have an Oct. 27 date at Bellows Falls — will require more game-plan work than he’d first intended.

Despite going winless to date, Woodstock’s season has been a success, Worrell said. His is a roster with just two seniors, only one of whom runs routes, and plenty of younger athletes who are new not only to seven-on-seven but football in general.

“I’ve told the kids all year you can’t judge things on the scoreboard,” Worrell said. “We’re playing with kids with numbers on their jerseys in the lineman portion (first and third quarters) that are skill numbers, but these kids are either new to the game or they’re young. And they’re playing against kids who are older and more seasoned. … These kids have given me everything they’ve got. They’re improving every week game to game.

“I was telling Coach Trombly that, for two wing-T schools, to wing the ball around like we did in pouring rain, I thought we did pretty good. I’m pleased with the progression of these kids.”

Hartford’s thinking a deep progression, too, in a playoff campaign. That’s all they wanted. Now they’re going to have it.

“We want to go into the playoffs rolling,” Jasmin said. “That’s what’s on the line here. We want to keep going, foot on the gas, no let-up. We want to go in on fire.”

Audibles: Hartford is the second seed, behind Brattleboro (5-1) and ahead of Windsor (5-1), in its six-school area tournament. The two survivors of the group will meet for the championship on Nov. 3 or 4. … Dwinell had a game-high 118 receiving yards on five catches for Hartford. Fourteen different Hurricanes had at least one reception. … Wyatt Begin caught six Eaton passes for a team-best 68 yards for Woodstock. Macri had 62 yards on two receptions, and White had 52 on three catches with the two scores. … Willy Underwood picked off a deflected Veilleux pass in the Woodstock end zone and returned it 60 yards on the final play of the third quarter to set up the Wasps’ second TD. … Freshman Brody Tyburski had Hartford’s other interception. … Ruderman’s father, Brad, is a former star Woodstock High quarterback who still ranks fifth in career passing yards (5,959) at New York’s Hartwick College. … Woodstock visits Windsor (5-1) on Wednesday to open the final week of the regular season before hosting the Yellowjackets on Friday. Hartford wraps with Brattleboro at home on Tuesday before visiting Middlebury next Friday.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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