RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) On a chilly day in Rutland, Woodstock, Burr and Burton, and Mt. Mansfield claimed state titles in Vermont's three divisions of high school football.
The D-3 final saw Woodstock end their five-year drought with a 28-21 win over Poultney. The Wasps jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half, and after the Blue Devils got on the board in the third, Ben Marsicovetere responded with a kick return touchdown. Poultney made it interesting late by scoring the final 14 points of the game, but it was not enough.
"I've had a great season playing with my brothers in arms," said Marsicovetere. "I have been playing with those kids since elementary school. I love all of them and I know they all love me too and it just feels great."
"It feels great," added senior fullback Caden White, who also tallied two touchdowns in the game. "I feel like with this team we never really let off the gas pedal all season long. This was one of our goals all season long, to make it to that last game, and that's how it is every season. We executed well and we finished really well this year."
The afternoon game in D-2 saw Burr and Burton put two years of playoff disappointments behind them to roll defending champ Fair Haven 63-14 and claim the program's second title in four years.
The Bulldogs have been the #1 seed each of the last five years in the division but entering Saturday had just one title to show for it. This year, BBA was determined to put the demons of playoffs past behind them, and it showed as the Dogs took a 43-0 lead into the break before cruising in the second half.
"I've dreamed about this," said Burr and Burton QB Joey McCoy. "Kind of being the leader on this team, it feels really good because I'm a big part of this. And I'm just happy for my guys, my guys are really excited about this win. And I'm really happy for our community"
"We've put so much work into this," added senior captain Jake Baker. "It means so much to our town, our friends, our family, everybody. I couldn't be happier right now."
The D-1 final featured a battle between programs who couldn't be more different. Ten-time champ Rutland battled on its home field with a Mt. Mansfield team playing in the school's first title game in a decade. In the end though, it would be the Cougars who emerged with a 38-27 win to claim the school's first ever football championship.
The first half was back and forth the whole way, with Rutland taking a 20-18 lead into the break courtesy of a 30-yard touchdown connection between Ryan Moore and Lucas Hubbard.
But the game turned dramatically early in the third. A botched Rutland handoff resulted in a fumble that Patrick Burke scooped up and ran 45 yards in for the go-ahead touchdown at 26-20. The Cougars never trailed again, and Jehric Hackney put it away with his third touchdown of the game in the fourth.
For the twenty-player MMU senior class, it was the culmination of a long journey to the top of Vermont high school football.
"We've been through huge losses, huge wins, so many highs and lows," said senior quarterback Asa Carlson. "It just feels great that this time is finally at this point. This is what we've been working for for four years now."
"Me and the other nineteen seniors that are on this team, it's been four years in the making," added running back Jehric Hackney. "We knew what it takes to bounce back, and that's what we did. And I think this is the moment we've been waiting for. It's finally come."