Oct. 29, 2009
By Mal Boright
Currently second in the Division 2 football race, the 7-1 Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks will be in full playoff mode Saturday when they host 3-5 Fair Haven Union at 1 p.m. in the regular season finale.
“We have everything at stake,” CVU head coach Jim Provost said Sunday. “We will prepare as if this is a playoff.”
The Slaters are eliminated from any chance at one of the four playoff berths, and got nailed last Saturday, 41-20 by Otter Valley Union High, a team the Redhawks nipped 7-6 in Brandon a few weeks ago.
But Provost was not letting that apparent blowout color his thinking about Fair Haven.
“Otter Valley is a good team,” the coach said. “Fair Haven has nothing to lose and is going to throw everything it has at us.”
While the Redhawks trail only unbeaten Colchester High in the division, a loss would put them into a scramble of two-loss teams including U-32, Mount Mansfield Union, Middlebury Union and Milton High, with three of the five to enter the “new” season.
CVU holds a 7-0 victory over Middlebury, but lost 14-0 at home to Milton.
Last Saturday, the Redhawks took a trip back to Division 3 and regained the Route 116 title that they lost last year, with a 62-0 triumph over the winless (0-7) and banged up Mount Abraham Union High Eagles.
Provost unleashed a bevy of nine backs and was rewarded with 320 yards of ground pounding, led by freshman Tyler Barnes, who broke loose for 97 yards. Barnes’ total included 55- and 30-yard trips into the end zone.
Senior flashback J.P. Benoit also scored twice, once on a 4-yard run early in the first quarter and later with a 53-yard punt return down the left sideline.
Touchdowns also came from Collin Teator (7 carries, 88 yards), Eric Palmer on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Konnor Fleming, Fleming on a 27-yard keeper, quarterback Ian Solomon on a 31-yard scamper and Nick Meunier on a 1-yard plunge.
Reliable kicker Brian Cherhoniak was perfect on his first six extra point tries, had one blocked, then connected on the final two. The miss snapped a string of 17 straight successes.
Defensively, CVU held the Eagles to three first downs, all in the first half, and just 17 yards of offense.
Linebacker Palmer was a muscular presence defensively, as were linemen Mikey Bean, James Datillio and Dan Thabault, among others.
Defensive end Matt Long and three teammates did not arrive until the second quarter because of testing at CVU. After entering the game early in the second period, Long, on his very first play, threw MAU halfback Shawn Thurber for a 4-yard loss.
Long then continued to ravage the Eagles’ offense, racking up 15 yards in losses through the second and third quarters.
Redbird nest eggs
> Seniors Datillio and Long have been named to the North team for the annual north-south all-star game at the end of the season.
> Sophomore quarterback-linebacker Drew Nick missed the game due to a concussion. Provost said Nick will return to the lineup Saturday.
> Lineman Cameron Fitzgerald, who suffered a concussion in the North Country game a week and half ago, may not play Saturday.
> Chris Long of the Football Boosters performed a remarkable job, holding an umbrella so game statistics could be kept dry.
CVU 7 21 14 20 – 62
MAU 0 0 0 0 – 0
First downs 7 3
Rushing yards 320 17
Passing yards 15 12
Return yards 79 148
Comp-Att-Int 2-4-0 3-10-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 0-0 1-12
Punts-Avg 1-49 4-13
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-1
Penalties-yards 2-21 4-40