NORTH CLARENDON — Greg Lewis isn't certain where he'll be bringing Mill River for some playoff football next week, only that he has a better team than at the beginning of the season, or even a few weeks ago.
The Minutemen ended a 2-6 regular season on a high note, rolling over Oxbow 46-32 in a Division III finale Saturday.
Quarterback Colby Fox threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and Adam Luzader had an 86-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Minutemen.
They will be at either Poultney or Springfield next week for the quarterfinals.
"We're definitely a better team than when we played Springfield and Poultney," Lewis told his Minutemen in the post-game huddle. "We've really put some stuff together in the last few weeks."
And they're still doing it. With Elijah WIlliams out for the year and fellow running Jacob Langlois sidelined after two long carries on Saturday the Minutemen turned to sophomore Ross Badgley and the rugged Badgley responded with some tough yards (47 of them), a 1-yard scoring run and a 1-yard TD reception.
"He did (step up)," said the coach. "He's young but he's a tough runner. It's just the next man up thing."
And then there's Fox, who has enjoyed a great year while taking some lumps of his own.
"He's unbelievable," said Lewis. "Every game he's bleeding but he brings it every game."
Oxbow fell to 3-5 despite two touchdowns passing and another one running by quarterback Cooper Simmons and a 75-kickoff return for a score by Trevor Moore.
The Minutemen bolted to a 21-0 lead and after the Olympians closed to within 21-13 they charged back with another 21-point burst.
The first TD was the return by Luzader, who patiently waited for a blocking wall for form in front of him, spied a hole and broke through it, and run untouched down the left sideline.
Later in the third period Fox got Tyler Shelvey in single coverage and laid a long pass right on his star wideout's hand for a 60-yard touchdown catch and run down the right sideline.
Mill River capped a 21-point period with Badgley's TD catch.
Moore responded with his kickoff return but Fox's 20-yard scoring run made it 48-26 with 1:39 left to play.
Mill River built its 21-0 lead when Langlois broke off a 36-yard scoring run, followed by Badgley's short run and a Fox-to-Shelvey scoring play of 40 yards.
Moore and Simmons both scored from a yard out for the Olympians' first two touchdowns.
Mill River's personnel and playbook adjustments aside, perhaps the most impressive thing about the win was the way the Minutemen responded after the Olympians seized the momentum.
"The line's been figuring things out," said Lewis. "We've played much better the past four weeks."
Fox competed 9 of 21 passes for 197 yards and ran for another 55, while Langlois had two carries for 58 years before his ankle injury. It's not likely he'll be back next week," said the coach.
Dallas Bryant, another sophomore, rushed for another 51.
Simmons had some long completions but a tough day overall (11 for 35, 236 yards) and felt a lot of pressure from the Minutemen defense. He was sacked by Will Farwell and Adam McPhee and the Olympians turned over the ball five times, with Evan McPhee picking off two passes and Caleb Page, Alex St. Marie and Jared McGee recovering fumbles.
John Moore and Kevin Rickers had interceptions for the Olympians.
Lewis says the Minutemen have doubled their playbook in the past couple of weeks and it showed up with some plays that produced some big-gainers. Now they'll have a chance to use them in the tournament and will go in on a high note.
"We've been hoping for another shot at Poultney and Springfield," Lewis said.
And now they have it.