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Border Country Sports Blog-August 10

Good Morning! With the Border Country Sports Blog, I'm Keith Harrington.

Shrine Bowl Provides a Moment of Pride Despite Vermont Loss

I only was able to watch the first half of Saturday's Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl game at Castleton University's Dave Wolk Stadium. I had another commitment that afternoon so I watched the first half on my computer in my recliner. Even though New Hampshire defeated Vermont 21-0 and I couldn't watch it all, the portion of the annual contest that I did get to watch provided a moment of pride for me.

First of all, two of my former students at Poultney Elementary School played very strong games. Both Levi Allen and Ryan Alt were significant factors in the part of the game that I saw. Alt was a force on defense for the Vermont squad and was in on multiple tackles. Allen played linebacker on defense and running back on offense. He recovered a New Hampshire fumble in the first half.

I was also proud of the representation of the Vermont Vipers youth football program. Although I didn't start youth football in Poultney, that distinction goes to Jim Oakman. I did begin the Vipers program. After Oakman, Bob Scott took over the program and changed the name to Poultney Blue Devils. The team was only 5/6 and had mainly Poultney kids, with a few exceptions.

After Scott ran the team for two years I took over. I opened up the Vipers to any kids from around the area. We not only had players from Poultney, but from Castleton, Fair Haven, Rutland, Clarendon, Brandon, and even Whitehall, NY. I re-branded the team as the Vermont Vipers, changed the color scheme added a 3/4 junior tackle team and flag.

So when I saw that so many former Vipers were on the Vermont Shrine team it was a real "feel good moment" for me. I havent seen a Vipers game in years, but I still keep an eye on the program. Vermont players Alt, Allen, Kohlby Murray, Zack Ellis, Evan Pockette, and Owen Loughan all honed their skills at an early age with the Vipers. The last game I saw was when they played Hoosic Valley in the NYFL championship game at Greenwich I believe.

Other Vipers who were supposed to play in the game in 2020 before it was cancelled due to Covid-19 were also honored at halftime of the game. Those players were Caden Capman, Jacob DeBonis, Dylan Lee, Joey Gannon, and Malik Henderson.

It is so great to see the Vermont Vipers progaram thriving and still producing great local high school football players. Thanks to everyone who has worked hard to keep this program going, and for also choosing to keep the name that I came up with back in about 2005/2006 or so. I still have one of the original Viper's helmets. The logo has changed a bit, but the success of the program has only grown. And for that I am very appreciative. It will always be a part of my legacy.

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