football

Manni Romero, right, carries the ball for the Norwich University football team during a game in Northfield last fall.

Saturday will be a festive day in Vermont. Lovers of high school athletics will be in a state of euphoria.

It has been a long time since high school sports fans have seen their teams carry the colors of their community into competition. Since March, in fact.

But here it comes. Spectacular Saturday. COVID can’t stop everything forever.

There will be one wonderful tradition missing Saturday. It was to be the day of the Little Army-Navy Game. The Norwich University football team would be running onto the field in New London, Connecticut to do battle with Coast Guard in one of small college football’s greatest traditions.

There are so many memories throughout this great rivalry. Rutland High football coach Mike Norman said he remembers all the ones he played in against the Bears as an offensive lineman for Norwich.

One of his memories is of when Paul Ricker, a former Norwich player who was a member of the USFL’s Chicago Blitz at the time, sent the Norwich players motivational hats just before the game against Coast Guard.

Poultney’s Bob Potter was involved in one of the rivalry game’s greatest finishes in 1967. The Cadets were trailing 10-9 late in the game and Potter, playing quarterback, was going to the ground for an apparent sack. He unloaded the ball just in time to Paul Phaneus and his receiver took it in for the winning touchdown.

Vermonters will savor the Little Army-Navy Game all the more when it returns.

Norwich won’t be playing any football this fall, but Coast Guard will still play a great rivalry game this season. It was recently announced that the Bears will play at least one game this autumn and it is another one on the list of NCAA Division III football’s most cherished traditions.

The Bears and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will still scrap for the Secretaries’ Cup on Nov. 14 in Kings Point, New York.

___

Castleton’s Johnny Bruno has to do little more than start his engine on Saturday to claim his second straight Limited Sportsman track championship at Devil’s Bowl Speedway.

But don’t expect Bruno to be out for a Sunday drive on Saturday. Bruno is going all out for the victory.

“I want to win my fifth feature race,” he said.

tom.haley

@rutlandherald.com

Follow Tom on Twitter: @RHSportsGuy

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