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Wednesday, September 15, 2010
New England Roundup: Vermont

By Roger Brown

It may be too early in the season to make any definitive statements about Vermont high school football, but after two weeks it sure looks like Hartford High may have the best team in the state.

VermontHartford got off to a 2-0 start by posting victories over Colchester (27-13) and Mount Anthony (63-28). Of the 10 teams in Division I, Hartford and Bellows Free Academy are the only teams still unbeaten.

“It’s pretty early to figure out who’s where,” Hartford coach Mike Stone said. “A lot of people lost a lot of seniors from last year. We lost three players. Our strength is we are very deep for the first time in a long time and that’s mostly because we have almost everybody back.

“We’ll be able to throw a little bit more than we usually do.  How good we are defensively remains to be seen.”

The game against Colchester may have been the more impressive of Hartford’s two victories. Colchester won last year’s Division II championship and hadn’t lost a game since the 2008 season.

Hartford running back Trevor Wood rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns in that win. Wood missed most of the 2009 season with a hamstring injury.

“He passes the eye test,” Stone said. “He’s 6-foot, 207 pounds and he’s our fastest kid.”

Colchester rebounded by beating South Burlington, 48-21, last weekend. Running back Devon Grammo rushed for 235 yards and four touchdowns in that victory.

Hartford will face South Burlington (1-1) at home Friday, and then will get what may be its stiffest test of the season when it faces Catholic Memorial (West Roxbury, Mass.) at home on Sept. 24. Catholic Memorial (1-0) is ranked eighth among Massachusetts teams in the latest ESPN Boston poll.

After winning back-to-back Division I titles in 2007 and 2008, Hartford did not qualify for the playoffs last season.

“After two more games we should have a better idea of where everybody is settling in,” Stone said.

Essex beat Rutland in last year’s Division I championship game. Stone said he expects both of those teams to be battling for two of the four Division I playoffs spots this season.

“I expect South Burlington Essex, Rutland and BFA to be right there,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re in there somewhere too.”

The Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association selected Rice Memorial multi-sport athlete Brittany Pfaff and Essex High decathlon standout Mike DiMambro as the state’s female and male athletes of the month for July.

Pfaff competed against New Hampshire all-star teams in the Twin State senior all-star soccer and basketball games in July. She was named the Most Valuable Player in the soccer contest after she scored two goals to help Vermont post a 3-2 victory.

Pfaff is the first person in the history of the Vermont Athlete of the Month competition to win the award in back-to-back months for separate sports. She was named the VSSA’s Athlete of the Month for June for standout performances in track and field.

DiMambro, who is entering his senior year at Essex, finished eighth in the nation at the USATF National Junior Olympic decathlon championship on July 28 in Sacramento, Calif. He earned 5,976 points, which was his highest total in the three decathlons he competed in during the summer.

Vermont high school sports fans didn’t have to wait until October to see tournament soccer.

The Harry Loyzelle Tournament began Tuesday night at Rutland High School’s Alumni Field. The four-team event features the boys’ teams Mill River, Rutland, Fair Haven and Middlebury and attracts some of the biggest soccer crowds of the year.

Harry Loyzelle was a longtime educator, athletic administrator and official who played a large role in promoting soccer in the state. He died in 2009.

Middlebury beat Mill River, 2-1, in overtime and Rutland earned a 2-0 victory over Fair Haven in Tuesday’s semifinals.

Middlebury and Rutland will meet in Thursday night’s championship game. That contest will follow the consolation game, which will begin at 5 p.m.

Rutland beat Middlebury 2-0 in the 2009 championship game.

Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.