Redhawks notch first gridiron win of the season (Sept., 11, 2008)

Sept. 11, 2008
By Mal Boright
Observer correspondent

With the glow of the season’s first victory lighting the way, the 1-1 Champlain Valley Union High football team got to work this week with preparations for Saturday’s 1 p.m. Spirit Day home contest against Winooski High.

The 0-1 Spartans are coming off a 29-6 loss last Friday night at Montpelier High.

“This is a very important league game for us,” CVU head coach Jim Provost said on Sunday. “We just need to keep improving each week.”

Provost said he expects to a see a Winooski team that runs out of a shotgun offense and “likes to throw the ball.”

In putting away Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax 27-6 on Saturday, the Redhawks displayed a balanced offense that chalked up 343 yards, divided almost evenly between ground and air.


    Courtesy photo by Terri Zittritsch
Champlain Valley Union High’s Konnor Fleming (left) pulls down an interception in Saturday's win against Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax.

Provost also praised a defensive effort that essentially shut down the Bullets after a long march on their first possession until late in the final period, after the game had been decided.

“Our defense did the job,” Provost said.

BFA gained 166 yards in the game, 68 of those coming immediately after the opening kickoff. In the opening series the Bullets, with their option offense and misdirection plays, drove to the CVU 6-yard line before being stopped on fourth down when junior defensive lineman Mike Bean hauled down Bullet quarterback Shayne Kirby on a keeper.

Later in the quarter, after defensive lineman Tyler Hulbert recovered a BFA fumble at midfield, the CVU offense got geared up and rolled 42 yards in seven plays. The possession culminated when sophomore scat back J.P. Benoit raced in, untouched, from the 2-yard line for six points. Senior Andrew Lieberman then booted the first of two extra points.

Benoit, the sophomore backup to senior running back Tommy Powers, had himself a day after taking over when Powers (3 carries for 19 yards) injured an ankle in the first quarter. The elusive 135-pounder racked up 107 yards in 22 carries and had three touchdowns, one on a 49-yard bolt in the second quarter for the Redhawks’ second score.

Provost on Sunday was unsure as to when Powers, also a linebacker, will return, the angry ankle apparently a day-to-day situation.

“Tommy is a key member of our team,” the coach said, adding they will not rush him back.

Another sophomore who had a solid day was quarterback Ian Solomon. In just his second start, the 6-foot-1-inch signal caller connected on seven of 11 throws for 170 yards, including a 70-yard scoring bomb to senior wide receiver Michael Bonfigli that gave CVU a 19-0 halftime advantage.

“When I let it go, I thought it was the worst possible pass,” Solomon said of the cannon toss, which traveled some 35 yards in the air before Bonfigli caught it in full stride down the right sideline.

Solomon gave his line credit for the big passing day.

“My front five was awesome,” he said.

Benoit went 1 yard for his third pay dirt trip to cap a second half-opening, 64-yard drive that, after a Lieberman extra-point, hiked the lead to 26-0. A key play on the march was a 45-yard Solomon pass to end Matt Long that took CVU deep into BFA territory.

Long finished with three receptions for 73 yards.

Among defensive standouts was sophomore linebacker Eric Palmer, who inserted himself all over the place.

“He played a very good game,” Provost said of the 200-pounder.

Overall, the defense caused three BFA fumbles and picked off two passes.

The Bullets’ lone score came with just under five minutes left in the game on a 1-yard burst by halfback Jared Hughes, the end of a 46-yard march after a BFA interception.

BFA-CVU, Stats


BFA        CVU
First downs        10        15
Rushing yards    142        173
Passing yards    24        170
Return yards        92        23
Comp-Att-Int        4-12-2        7-11-1
Fumbles-lost        5-3        3-1
Punts-avg        3-18        3-25
Penalties-yards    1-1        5-37

BFA    0    0    0    7—7
CVU    7    12    7    0—26