In recent years Vermont's head coach for the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl has looked like someone about to start a fistfight wearing handcuffs.
New Hampshire has nearly twice as many schools with varsity football as Vermont, and that usually translates into more talent on the field. Rutland's Mike Norman, Vermont's head coach for this summer's game, will be trying to end New Hampshire's 11-game winning streak.
“Having done this a couple times, I know we're not gonna have as many big kids or skill kids as New Hampshire,” Norman said when the Vermont roster for this year's game was announced last week. “You have to have kids who are willing to stand up to New Hampshire during the game.”
This year's contest will be played Aug. 4 at Dartmouth College. New Hampshire leads the series 43-13-2.
Norman, who has guided Rutland to seven state championships, coached the Vermont Shrine team in 1998 and 2001. Vermont won 21-13 in 1998, and New Hampshire prevailed 21-0 in 2001.
“We're gonna try to do what we do – and what that is remains to be seen,” Norman said. “I know we'll have to defend the run, have a solid kicking game and be able to run the ball enough to make them defend it.”
Mike Beliveau, the head coach at Souhegan High School in Amherst, will be New Hampshire's head coach. Believeau was New Hampshire's head coach in 2000, when Vermont posted a 47-40 victory. It was the highest-scoring game in the event's history.
Beliveau has led Souhegan to four state championships and 14 championship game appearances in the last 14 seasons.
“For me the priority was to put together a quality offensive line,” Beliveau said. “The second thing I was looking for was a couple of quarterbacks who would be able to pick up the offense quickly.”
New Hampshire has prevailed by using a power running game the last few years, but Beliveau said New Hampshire fans can expect to see his team throw the ball often this summer.
“We will be different than the last few New Hampshire Shrine teams, when their were 60 snaps and maybe five or six passes,” Beliveau said. “We'll be way more balanced than that.”
Hartford's Tucker Stone, a three-year starter, and Fair Haven's Robert Coloutti will be Vermont's quarterbacks. Each led their team to a state championship last season.
“A lot of this game is gonna be determined by who your quarterbacks are,” Norman said. “We think we have two pretty good ones.”
Practice for this year's game will begin July 26 at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden.
“I like the overall athleticism of the group,” Norman said. “We have kids who will compete, and that's important against New Hampshire.”
Vermont Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl roster
BFA-St. Albans: Zach Devoid, DB/RB; Taylor Raftery, LB/OL; Ben Thieken, DE/TE.
Brattleboro: Soren Pelz-Walsh, WR.
Burr and Burton: Benjamin Hunter, OL; Jakob Oliver, WR/P/K.
Colchester: Eric Decker, OL/DL; Alec Kozlowski, RB/DG.
Fair Haven: Robert Coloutti, QB; Levi Ellis, WR/DB; Parker Lamoureux, G/T.
Hartford: Bobby Annis, DT; Troy Bell, RB/WR/DB; Steven Ladka, DT/OL; Miles Latham, DB; Bobby Murray, LB; Owen Newton, OL/DL; Tucker Stone, QB/S/WR; Travis Wilson, FS.
Middlebury: Marshall Hastings, RB; Austin Quesnel, DT; Dillon Robinson, S.
Milton: Jayson Collette, TE/LB; Jamie Holbrook, DL/OL.
Mount Anthony: Alex Cross, RB; Jonathan Seward, LB.
North Country: Cody Collins, OL/DL; Adam Fortin, OL/DL.
Oxbow: Sam Kelly, RB/DE.
Rutland: Kyle Kelly, WR/DB; Ryan Ragosta, DE/TE; Mack Shea, OT/DT.
South Burlington: Connor DeVarney, RB/LB,DE; Will Thompson, WR/DB.
Windsor: Matt Rafus, RB/LB.
MOUNT ANTHONY NEARS RECORD
Mount Anthony won its 24th consecutive state wrestling title Saturday, which put the program within one state title of matching the national record.
Paulsboro, N.J., won 25 straight wrestling championships from 1983 to 2007.
Mount Anthony wrestlers prevailed in 10 weight classes. Sophomore Rachel Hale won at the 106-pound weight class. According to the Burlington Free Press, Hale became the first female in the nation to win consecutive state championships against male competition.
Roger Brown is a freelance writer who has been covering high school sports throughout New England since 1992.