Windsor football takes VPA D-III title with rout of BFA-Fairfax, finish season undefeated

  • From left, Windsor teammates Ben Gilbert, Richie Young, Dalton Clifford and Austin Gauld hoist the Vermont Division III championship hardware following their 53-7 win over BFA-Fairfax, Lamoille Union in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 13, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Windsor teammates Keegan Batchelder, left, and Travis McAllister congratulate each other on their Vermont Division III state championship over BFA-Fairfax, Lamoille Union in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 13, 2021. Windsor won, 53-7, to finish the season undefeated. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • The Yellowjacket defense of Austin Gauld (33), Ben Gilbert (20), Logan Worrall (24) and Kaleb Smith (71) swarm Bullets ball carrier Kenny Salls during their Vermont Division III state championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 13, 2021. Windsor won, 53-7, to finish the season undefeated. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

  • Windsor's Ben Gilbert pulls in a reception for a touchdown against BFA-Fairfax, Lamoille Union's Riley Greene during their Vermont Division III state championship on Nov. 13, 2021. Windsor won, 53-7, to finish the season undefeated. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Geoff Hansen

  • Windsor quarterback Maison Fortin drives into the BFA-Fairfax, Lamoille Union defense during their 53-7 win for the Vermont Division III state championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 13, 2021. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/13/2021 9:42:15 PM
Modified: 11/14/2021 7:04:11 AM

RUTLAND — For the Windsor High football team, 26 players were more than enough.

The No. 1 seed Yellowjackets capped their undefeated season with a 53-7 rout of No. 2 seed BFA Fairfax on Saturday afternoon to capture their first VPA Division III championship since 2017.

“We have players that worked out all summer. They were in good condition so that they could go both ways and play special teams,” Windsor coach Greg Balch said. “It’s just heart and determination. When you only have 26, it truly is a team effort because everyone has a role.”

The Yellowjackets (11-0) broke 50 points four times in the regular season, and they started their march toward that number again on Saturday’s first series of the game. Junior Travis McAllister took the opening kickoff across midfield, and less than four minutes later, senior Ben Gilbert started his big day with a 6-yard touchdown run.

The Windsor lead continued to grow because the Bullets (7-2) kept shooting themselves in the foot. BFA-Fairfax committed its first of six turnovers on its opening possession, fumbling ball away in their own red zone. The Yellowjackets took over inside the 10-yard line following a penalty, and it took just two plays for McAllister to pay it off to make it a 14-0 game.

It became 21-0 barely a minute later following another fumble, this one recovered by senior Kaleb Smith. Junior quarterback Maison Fortin then evaded pressure, got a great block from junior Logan Worrall and found McAllister for a 37-yard score.

“At the beginning of the season, I had a little bit of doubt,” McAllister said. “We were a smaller team. But (the offensive line) worked their butts off and blocked amazing all year. I’ve got to give it to them. They were one of the main reasons we were so successful this year.”

The Bullets turned it over on downs deep in their own territory on their next drive, and Windsor took advantage again, with Fortin finding Gilbert on a 14-yard scoring pass.

After another BFA-Fairfax fumble, the Bullets finally got a defensive stop, then got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter when Cooper Harvey found Kenny Salls, who made an incredible catch in the end zone to make it 27-7. Harvey intercepted Fortin on the following drive, and with BFA-Fairfax set to receive the second-half kickoff, it appeared the Bullets had a chance to get back in the game.

But Windsor senior Kaleb Swett made a pick of his own on the very next play to give the Yellowjackets the ball right back. And they cashed in on the final play of the half when Fortin found Austin Gauld for a 21-yard touchdown.

“At first, I wasn’t sure if we should kneel it or not,” Balch said. “(But) I felt like we didn’t have a whole lot to lose. Maison actually went to his third read on that play, but Austin was open, so it worked out.”

Even with a 34-7 lead, the result wasn’t a foregone conclusion — Windsor led BFA-Fairfax by that exact halftime score when they met in the regular season on Oct. 16. In that game, the BFA-Fairfax cut the deficit to 34-28 before the Yellowjackets pulled away to win, 54-35, for the Bullets’ only loss prior to Saturday.

But the heavy rainfall and Windsor’s stifling defense prevented BFA-Fairfax from getting any closer this time. The Bullets fumbled twice more in the second half, and the Yellowjackets turned both into touchdowns. Much of the fourth quarter was played with a running clock.

Gilbert led the way for Windsor with 118 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries as well as a receiving touchdown, and he also recovered two fumbles. Fortin threw for three scores and ran for another, and Worrall had 66 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts.

“I didn’t think we’d beat them by this much,” Gilbert said. “We played our hearts out.

“At the beginning of the year, we barely had a team. But we kept with it and made do with what we had, and it turned out great.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.




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