Football Camp

Rutland High School football players on Alumni Field during football camp Monday night.

One of the coaches on the staff of the Vermont Football Camp at Rutland's Alumni Field this week is Jim Shortle, but the camp is just one of many diverse components to his football year.

Shortle is the head freshman coach at Rutland High, runs a quarterback camp through the Rutland Recreation Department and serves as Jack Healey's color analyst for Castleton University football games on the Northeast Sports Network's videocasts.

Right now he is immersed in camp, which concludes Friday.

But he will throw himself headlong into the other football ventures when they arrive.

He is greatly anticipating that moment on Sept. 7 when the ball goes in the air at 1 p.m. against Plymouth State to start Castleton's season at Dave Wolk Stadium.

He has been doing the color to complement Healey's play-by-play at Castleton home games since 2011.

He takes the art of delivering good color commentary seriously and it is something he feels he has gotten better at since he started.

"I don't say the things that Jack just said now. I don't repeat him," Shortle said. "I try to give something else. Jack tells what happened and I tell why it happened."

Shortle said most viewers will see that the running back found the space between the tackle and tight end, but they did not see the block. Shortle views his job as identifying the player who threw the block.

There is an excitement around the Spartans this fall with perennial power Husson University having left the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The title and the automatic NCAA playoff berth that goes with it is up for grabs and Castleton figures to be in the scramble.

Sophomore Jake McCarthy will be a leading contender in camp for the starting quarterback spot following the graduation of Mitch Caron.

Shortle, a quarterback on the 1976 unbeaten state championship Mount St. Joseph football team, believes McCarthy is the real deal.

"He is an incredible talent," Shortle said.

That 1976 MSJ team is regarded as the best ever in Vermont, but naturally you will get arguments about that.

It was a team with uncommon depth and, in fact, Shortle and Terry Hermons shared the quarterback role.

"The parts were interchangeable on that team," Shortle said.

Those Mounties were so deep that when they were beating Stevens High of Claremont, New Hampshire, 58-16, a member of the broadcast team on the Claremont radio station said, "MSJ is the best team we have seen all year. And the second best team we have seen all year is the MSJ second team."

Shortle heard that story at camp on Thursday for the first time and laughed.

"That is why we were 10-0 and state champions. Interchangeable parts," he said.

Whether he is working the camp this week on the turf of Alumni Field, directing his own quarterback camp, pulling the strings on the sidelines for the freshman team or reaching for just the right piece of information to add sparkle to Healey's broadcast, Jim Shortle is all in.

___

The pro-style combine normally held Thursday at this camp was scratched partially due to an ominous weather forecast. It is now slated for Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Vermont Football Camp Director Chadde Wolf said the combine has been part of the camp for about 15 years.

Players are tested in the vertical jump, broad jump, shuttle run, 10-yard spring, 40-yard sprint and the Pro L drill.

Their performances are recorded and given to them. Wolf will also send them to any college coaches they want the results to go to.

"The way I explain it to them is that it is a lot like taking the SATs. The more you do it, the better you can do on it," Wolf said. "You get better."

That is an important message since the combines used at all camps and showcases are pretty much the same.

Historically, Wolf said Otter Valley's Carson Leary is one who stands out as blowing away everyone at the combine.

"He jumped through the roof. He stood out big time in the agility things," Wolf said.

It was later that year in November 2015 that Leary blew everyone away again and this time Wolf did not enjoy the show.

Wolf was an assistant coach for U-32 when Leary had a day for the ages against the East Montpelier school by rushing for 428 yards in Otter Valley's 33-14 victory in the state championship game in Rutland.

Today, another pro-style combine is scheduled. Wolf expects only four or five players to participate. But you never know, one of them might catch the coach's eyes in the mold of Carson Leary.

Follow Tom on Twitter: @RHSportsGuy

tom.haley@rutlandherald.com

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