CVU football on nocturnal jaunt for opener (9/3/09)

Sept. 3, 2009

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

It will be two teams setting foot for the first time in Vermont Division 2 football Friday night when the Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks travel to Manchester to take on Burr and Burton in the 2009 season opener for both schools.

The two foes, in Division 3 the past few years, were lifted into Division 2 for this campaign.

While locals in Manchester have for years referred to their traffic-clogged shopping town as Malfunction Junction, CVU head coach Jim Provost and his staff clearly hope any malfunctioning Friday night comes from the Bulldogs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Reached by telephone Sunday, Provost was generally pleased with his team’s efforts Saturday morning in a three-way scrimmage at Colchester against Division 1 Essex High and Division 2 Colchester High.

“Physically we stood up very well against both teams, especially defensively,” the veteran coach said. “At times we were very average, but at other times we were very good. Other than some poor tackling at times, we did pretty well. It was a good learning scrimmage against two good teams.”

The Redhawks lost 13 players from a year ago by graduation, but have some experience coming back in key positions.

Junior Konnor Fleming appears set at quarterback after effective running and passing from that slot last season.

Also returning is elusive running back J. P. Benoit, another junior, who had a pair of 100-yard rushing games early last season and can also snare passes.

Senior Matt Long, a lanky 6-foot-5, has been solid for two years at defensive end and also on the offensive side. Junior Derek Goodwin will see action at halfback and in the defensive backfield, while junior Eric Palmer, now up to 200 pounds, returns at a linebacker spot.

The offensive line will be led by 270-pound senior Nate Mills.

Senior Ryan Busch, who played little last year due to illness, is looking good at safety while sophomore Drew Nick has done good things as backup quarterback and linebacker.

Provost said he has seen some film of Burr and Burton from a year ago, but it was a game in the mud at Winooski.

“They use spreads and shotgun formations and throw a lot,” he said. “We will need to play very well in the secondary.”