By Mal Boright
The previously 0-2 Champlain Valley Union High football Redhawks returned to the land of the victorious with a bamboozler of a triumph Friday night at Burlington High, and this week, with new confidence, are preparing for a visit Saturday to 2-0 St. Johnsbury Academy.
“St. Johnsbury is a team to be aware of this year,” CVU head coach Jim Provost said Sunday. “They are well coached and have more kids returning than other teams.”
After CVU wrapped up a 56-6 win Friday night for a 1-2 record, St. Johnsbury, at home Saturday afternoon, polished off Mount Mansfield Union 43-20 as quarterback Colton Hudson completed 26 of 38 passes for a whopping 372 yards and five touchdowns.
The Hilltoppers’ other victory came in the season opener, a 20-7 thumbs-upper over Rutland High. In a game to be completed, St. Johnsbury led Bellows Free Academy 28-3 in the third quarter, when play was suspended by lighting at the St. Albans field.
For CVU Friday, it was the ground game that rumbled all night over the Buck Hard Field turf as the Redhawks offensive line opened huge gaps for quarterback Andrew Bortnick (145 yards) and halfback Richard Lowrey (123) to pound away for a combined gain of 268 yards.
And the blitzkrieg did not stop there. CVU finished the night with 362 yards over land and 23 first downs as reserve quarterback Jake Evans (8 carries, 75 yards) and running back Brandon Young (4 lugs, 21 yards) tore up turf late in the game.
The running room creators were the line of, from left tackle to right, Graeme Waples, Sam Belisle, Kiernan Kittredge, Bijan Motia and Sam Lewis, with Jack Zahn also getting in some blocks.
“The kids really executed well Friday night,” said a proud Provost.
It took no time at all for the Redhawks to take charge of matters.
CVU took the opening kickoff at its 27 yard line, lost a couple of yards on the first play, and then marched 75 yards in 11 plays, with Bortnick picking up 65 yards on eight keepers, running in untouched from the 4 to register the initial score.
And that set the stage for the remainder of the evening.
Bortnick finished with two touchdowns plus an 18-yard scoring pitch to end Sam Mikell. Lowrey dashed for three scores while Evans and Young each found the end zone once.
Kicker Tanner Smith split the uprights on six of seven extra point attempts.
Provost called it “a complete team win,” noting that the kickoff coverage was much better and the defense was able to get pressure on the Burlington High quarterbacks, which crippled the Seahorses’ vaunted aerial attack.
The lone BHS touchdown came with 29 seconds left in the third quarter and CVU leading 49-0. Substitute quarterback Jackson Macdonald hit receiver Connor Plante with a 30-yard paydirt pitch.
Burlington finished with just seven completions in 22 tries with one interception (by Mason Cohn). The Seahorses’ starting signal caller, sophomore Peter Labracio,left the game with an injured arm late in the second period.
The Redhawks were missing two-way starter Matt Goldsborough (line, linebacker) along with back Jack Zullo and lineman Nick Fecteau. As to when they return Provost said Sunday, “it is up in the air.”