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Castleton football: How no 2020 season impacts 2021

No football season this fall at Castleton will impact the program in multiple ways for 2021
Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 9:07 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - At colleges and universities across our region, coaches of fall sports teams are preparing for their teams to return to campus, and trying to come up with ways to keep those teams together and focused even as their seasons have been postponed or canceled. That includes the Castleton football team.

In mid-July, the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference announced it was cancelling it's fall conference schedule. Initially, Castleton head coach Tony Volpone held out hope the Spartans could play some sort of modified schedule with in-state or other nearby Division Three opponents, but that was not meant to be.

Volpone says that when it comes to players either deciding to spend the fall semester taking classes remotely, or taking the semester off entirely, he’ll have approximately sixty percent of his roster on campus this fall. He hopes, by the spring, the full team will be back on campus and they can hold a traditional spring training season. Valpone says, this year more than ever, team building will be the focal point because the realities of the pandemic has kept his team, including the incoming freshman class, from being together and building the off field camaraderie that is essential to eventual on field success.

"Then we can work really hard on team chemistry types of activities in that spring season, probably more than we ever have,", says Volpone. "Because you're trying to bring a team back together again. One that has been splintered, if you will, because of this Covid effect.

So we're probably going to work as much on that, chemistry, as we will the development of fundamentals, because it's just as important to accomplish that chemistry within your team."

And the realities of playing football this fall under the cloud of the pandemic will also have an impact on next year's team. Volpone says numerous seniors on this year's Spartans are pursing different educational opportunities in order to return for one more season in the fall of 2021.

That’s good news from a depth and experience standpoint for the Spartans, but it could also impact recruiting. Volpone says with the additional players remaining on the roster, the total number of new recruits this coming season could be cut in half.

Since the Castleton program was founded in 2009, the program has been one of the best, if not the best, opportunity for Vermont high school players to continue their careers in college. A smaller recruiting class would mean fewer opportunities for this year's high school seniors.

Those seniors will already have a tougher time getting noticed by college's with the transition to 7-on-7 this fall, especially the offensive and defensive lineman, who, by the rules of 7-on-7, won't get to play their traditional positions.

The Spartans traditionally have multiple offensive and defensive lineman from Vermont on their roster. Volpone knows it will be a challenge finding those players this fall, but also knows it's worth the effort to try.

"You're going to have to rely a lot on junior film, what the coach says and you're gonna have to extend yourself a little bit.", says Volpone.

"But I'll say this, we have Tucker Gaudette from Saint Albans and we have Dustin Rock from Milton. One plays offensive line, one plays defensive line. They're both from Vermont and if there's any of those types of guys out there this year, we can't miss."

“We’ve got to find those guys and they have to be playing for us,”, adds Volpone. “because they’re two very qualified, sound guys that play the line of scrimmage that came from the state of Vermont, and if anybody like that is out there, we have to get them.”

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.

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