It’s been 46 years, packed with frustration, heartbreak and failure for Brattleboro football. But on a cold, sun-splashed Saturday on the frozen turf of Alumni Field before an adoring crowd, those years were left to history as the Brattleboro Colonels capped a perfect, 11-0 season with a resounding 46-7 victory over Bellows Falls and a Division II state championship at Rutland’s Alumni Field.
“This is nuts; we’ve been talking about it, those guys known as the Colonels who have played football here for 46 years, this game was for them too,” said Colonel quarterback Tyler Millerick. “We had to do it for the town. We had to get it done.”
And the Colonels got it done in style.
Brattleboro scored on its first seven possessions. Only when the game was in hand did Brattleboro not convert its last possession.
Running back Chris Frost had a day that should go down in the record books, running for a quartet of touchdowns while rolling up 213 yards on 18 carries. Frost got the Colonels off to a flying start by taking the handoff on the first play from scrimmage, bursting through the hole and motoring 98 yards to paydirt. But the shifty back, blessed with a ton of speed and nifty moves, added scoring runs of 6, 7 and 9 yards to his tally sheet.
“It’s surreal,” Frost said. “And pretty exciting to score four times in a state championship game.”
Clearly, this was the Colonels’ day all the way. Brattleboro racked up 444 yards from scrimmage: 304 on the ground and 140 through the air. Not since the famous “Point a Minute,” club of 1965 coached by the legendary Andy Natowitch have the Colonels enjoyed such dominance on the gridiron, routinely scoring 40 or more points per game.
The Colonels jumped to a 14-0 lead on Frost’s first two TD runs before the Terriers got anything going. Bellows Falls depended on the power running of Jed Lober (14 carries, 54 yards) and he carried the ball over the goal line, capping an 11-play, 60-yard drive with a 6-yard burst. But after Jeb Monier kicked the PAT, BF could not muster another point.
Much of that was due to the fact that the Colonel defense gave the Terriers a lot of different looks. But more to the point, with the Brattleboro offense scoring each time it got the ball, BF had to abandon its ball control running game and open up the offense. But passing is not something BF does well. Terrier QB Griffin Waryas did what he could, completing 8 of 14 passes for 62 yards. But he was rushed hard, sprung from the pocket and generally harassed by a fired-up Colonel defense.
To compound their problems, the Terriers made critical mistakes, lost a fumble, committed way too many penalties and missed crucial assignments.
“We knew how good they were,” said BF coach Bob Lockerby, who lost to Brattleboro 49-26 early in the regular season. “We knew that before the season began. Two guys: Millerick and Frost. Yeah, I know there are more guys over there but in order to have a shot at this game we were going to have to take something away. But you saw it: We couldn’t take the run away or the pass. They had their way.”
So the Colonels offense soared and the Brattleboro band played the school fight song again and again, while the large contingent of Colonel fans cheered and basked in the glory of the day.
Millerick dazzled with his deft fakes, clever handoffs, quick feet and equally quick release and was a master of the offense. Millerick called his own number and scampered 38 yards for the next touchdown bumping the lead to 20-7 at 9:00 of the second quarter.
Frost went 7 yards for the next Colonel score at 4:45 of the second.
The Colonels topped a huge first half by running the two-minute drill to perfection. They covered 56 yards in eight plays and 1:29, capped by a 4-yard TD pass from Millerick to Aaron Petrie, hiking the halftime advantage to 33-7.
Brattleboro took the second-half kickoff and drove 68 yards in seven plays and Frost finished it off with his fourth score: a 9-yard blast.
Although the Colonels enjoyed a 40-7 advantage, they had one more drive left in the tank. And it was one of the most stunning as Brattleboro went 99 yards in 12 plays, capped by Millerick’s second TD pass, a 4-yard toss to Henry Thurber, to achieve the final point total and initiate the running clock.
Millerick finished the day by rushing for 64 yards on seven totes, while completing 12 of 17 passes for 140 yards and the pair of scoring strikes.
“We knew we could run it past them; we just put our foot on the gas and didn’t stop,” Millerick said.
While the team celebrated in the end zone under the scoreboard, mugged for photos and held up their index fingers in the traditional No. 1 sign, coach Chad Pacheco stood on the fringe and watched holding the hand of his young daughter. The journey has been a long one too for the coach, who started as a ball boy in the 1990s and stuck with the team through some lean years in Division I before moving to Division II and realizing the glory of this day.
“I can’t even put it into words yet … being a ball boy, being with this program for so many years it’s just crazy,” Pacheco said. “It’s more for our community than just for our kids: for people like Ben Gilbert, Chris McNulty, people who played here before … it’s awesome.”