Good Morning! With the Border Country Sports Report, I'm Keith Harrington.
High School Football Practice Begins Today
Today is like an unofficial national holiday for people like myself. It has been since I was a little kid even though I went to a school that didn't have football. The first day of high school football practice means the season is just a couple of weeks away. As a young boy my brother and I would be out in the backyard on Saturday mornings playing mock high school football games, with me doing the play by play of course, I even had the players names memorized, using the Post Star preview for rosters. Getting that preview n my hands was as exciting as the Sears Christmas Wish Book arriving in the mail.
New York schools kick off practice today. Vermont schools just compeleted their first week of practice. The 2022 season is unique as there are many questions that I feel need to be answered. Let's take a look at a few of the storylines that I think are interesting.
1.) Granville and Whitehall begin practice today as one program for the first time. These once storied rivals join forces for the 2022 campaign. I have been an advocate of this merger for a few years as both programs struggled with numbers and the ability to compete. It will be fun to see how these two former bitter foes meld into one team. The schedule is daunting, but I see this as a move that will eventually pay dividends.
2.) Speaking of mergers, can a three team merger work? The folks in Corinth, Hadley-Luzerne and Fort Edward sure hope so. The three schools have merged to form the Mountaineers. Holy Trinity was recently an example of a three school merger that enjoyed tremendous success. Mountaineer fans are hopeful that they can do the same.
3.) Another merger of former age-old rivals that will debut this season is the Warrensburg and Lake George combo. I feel that this will be the most successful merger out of the box. Warrensburg had an outstanding season a year ago and Lake George was more than competitive. Sure some seniors graduated and they will be moving to Class C, but this team should have enough talent returning to be dangerous, especially with it all on one team.
4.) Can anyone stop Greenwich? The Witches ran unscathed through the regular season last year before beating Stillwater for the sectional championship. Greenwich lost to Moriah in the Class D semifinals. The Witches suffered heavy graduation losses but usually reload, not rebuild. They will be an overwhelming favorite in Class D again.
5.) Will Cambridge-Salem bounce back? We are not used to seeing Cambridge-Salem be anything less than a power in Section II football whether in Class D or Class C. Cambridge-Salem only won a single game in the Covid-19 shortened season and were 6-4 last season. The good news is wins over Chatham and Watervliet late last season may indicate that one of the strongest programs in local history is on the comeback trail.
6.) Speaking of strong programs looking to rebound, will our two teams closest to the New York/Vermont border turn things around in 2022? Just a couple of years removed from a state championship Poultney struggled to a 1-8 mark last season. The Blue Devils were young however and going through some growing pains with a lot of new faces. Look for a bounce back season from Dave Capman's kds this fall.
Fair Haven has been an annual state title threat in Vermont Division II, but last year was not a typical Slater's season as they went 3-6 and fell to Bellows Falls in the opening round of the playoffs. There is too much tradition and usually too much talent in Slater Nation for them to stay down long. Expect improvement from Fair Haven and for them to be a playoff team at the end of the season.
7.) Will there be enough officials in Vermont to make it through the season? It was recently announced by the VIFL that some games are being moved to Thursdays, Saturdays nights and even Sunday. There is simply not enough officials to have cover all of the games on the traditional Friday nights and Saturdays. This is a story to keep an eye on for sure.
8.) How will new coaches at a pair of schools do in their first seasons? Jordan Toller takes over at Otter Valley and Phil Hall at Mill River. Both coaches have plenty of experience and have connections to Castleton University. That should bode well for Otter and Minutemen fans.
With the Border Country Sports Report, I'm Keith Harrington.
Photo Credit-Stacie Arnhold