The Hartford High School football team won the Division I state championship last season, but the team's accomplishments didn't end there.
USA Today High School Sports recently crowned Hartford as the People's Champion – the top high school football team in the nation for 2012.
The competition began Jan. 7 with 64 schools vying for a $500 prize and the chance to be named the top high school football team – as chosen by fans – of 2012. Each state, plus Washington D.C., had a representative in the competition. The highest-ranked champion in each state, as determined by the Massey computer rankings, automatically qualified for the contest. In addition, the USA Today High School Sports editorial staff chose 13 at-large teams.
Sixteen teams advanced to the second round. Hartford received 43 percent of the votes in the final round, which ended Jan. 18.
Maine Endwell (Endwell, N.Y.) finished second, Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) was third and Jordan (Sandy, Utah) ended up fourth.
"When you look at the numbers, you had to do well enough to get to the next round and once that happened, everyone’s imaginations started taking off," Hartford athletic director Joe James told USA Today High School Sports. "I was sending out regular email updates to folks and trying to rally the troops. The comments on the website were from all over the country. We’re such a small town and a close-knit community. There's a tremendous amount of pride."
Hartford went 11-0 last season and won their third consecutive Division I title. The Hurricanes beat Middlebury 42-6 in the championship game to cap a season in which they outscored their opponents 508-112. Hartford has won five of the last six Division I championships.
"There was a lot of buzz all over the community," James said. "We live on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire, and really, in this whole Upper Valley, there was buzz about this."
MANWARING REACHES MILESTONE
Jason Manwaring, a 6-foot-1, junior forward, became the latest Vermont player to reach the 1,000-point plateau when he tossed in 24 points during a 73-5 triumph over Rochester on Jan. 15. Manwaring also had 11 rebounds and blocked four shots in the victory.
Manwaring was averaging 18.8 points, 9.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks through 11 games this season. Williamstown, last year's Division III champion, got off to an 11-0 start.
Manwaring became the sixth player in the program's history to score at least 1,000 points.
U-32 LOOKS LIKE A CONTENDER
The U-32 girls basketball program is coming off three consecutive losing seasons, but that streak will end this year.
U-32 opened the season with a loss to Division I Hartford, but has won nine in a row since then. Junior Madison Bennett tossed in a game-high 18 points in the team's most recent victory, Monday's 52-13 triumph over Randolph.
U-32 is one of two Division II teams with one loss. Mt. Abraham (10-1) is the other. BFA-Fairfax (10-0) is in sole possession of first place.
The South Burlington girls indoor track 4x800 relay team set a state record at the Dartmouth Relays earlier this month.
Anne-Marie Farmer, Allie Flaherty, Kayla Gilding and Katherine Cook posted a sixth-place finish in 10 minutes, 2.38 seconds. Mount Mansfield set the previous record (10:07.97) in 2011.
WOODSTOCK'S WANNOP RESIGNS
Wendy Wannop announced that she was stepping down as Woodstock's field hockey coach on Jan. 15.
Wannop had a 198-76-16 record in 30 seasons as Woodstock's coach. She guided the Wasps to three state championships, and four runner-up finishes.
Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader, and has been covering high school sports throughout New England.