Bellows Falls’ Max Hooke (11) looks to break a tackle on a pass play during Saturday’s Division II state championship game against Mount Anthony at Alumni Field in Rutland.

It felt good to have State Championship Saturday back on our football schedule this fall.

The 7-on-7 game was what it was. It kept kids active in a time where they needed it the most, but it didn’t compare to the real thing.

Saturday was the perfect cap to a great return of the 11-on-11 game as Division I Essex, Division II Bellows Falls and Division III Windsor were all crowned state champions.

It was a fun day of football action with many twists and turns. Here’s a sampling of my thoughts on the day.

Dominance personifiedWe were wrapping up the post-game interview with Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby when Windsor coach Greg Balch walked by and congratulated Lockerby and his Terriers. Lockerby responded in turn with something along the lines of, ‘now it’s turn.’

It was a small moment between coaches that led the most dominant teams in Vermont this fall.

The best, most dominant team doesn’t always win the championship. Look at the 2007 New England Patriots or the 73-win 2015-16 Golden State Warriors.

That wasn’t the case in Division II and Division III football this fall. From the opening week, it looked like Bellows Falls and Windsor were destined to be hoisting the championship trophy in mid-November in Rutland and both fulfilled that destiny.

Both teams flashed their dominance in a big way on Saturday. The Terriers dominated the opening half of the D-II final with Mount Anthony, before the Patriots started to break through in the second half.

As well as MAU played offensively in the second half, they had no defensive answer for Bellows Falls’ running game.

Windsor followed up the Terriers three-touchdown win and did them one better. From the opening snap, it was all Yellow Jackets against fellow-heavyweight BFA-Fairfax/Lamoille.

This wasn’t going to be a shootout like the first meeting between the clubs was as Windsor won by 46 points on Saturday.

Dominant teams have a knack for coming up clutch in the most important moments. Bellows Falls and Windsor did just that all season long.

Mother NatureWe saw Mother Nature take on three different looks across the three games on Saturday.

The start of the Division II game was without inclement weather, but there was a drizzle of rain starting by the game’s conclusion. That drizzle turned to a downpour for the Division III game and eventually turned to snow early in the Division I game.

Vermont high school teams have experience playing in rain, but not as much snow, so you have to give credit to Essex and CVU for battling through those elements in the D-I game.

You’d think in slippery, snowy conditions, you may want to keep the ball on the ground. The Hornets used that strategy to success in the second half of Saturday’s final, but weren’t afraid to pass the ball in the opening half.

CVU is by nature a balanced offense and the Redhawks didn’t shy away from that even with the weather conditions.

CVU receivers made a handful of really nice catches in the second half that kept the team afloat. The difficulty of those catches was only heightened by the weather.

Whether you’re a state champion like Essex or had come up just short like CVU, those players will remember the ‘snow game’ that decided their season.

The futureOnce the state championship games are over, your brain starts thinking if the teams that got there this fall can repeat that effort next year.

CVU looks like a team that definitely could if all the right things fall into place.

Quarterback Max Destito and wide receivers Jack Sumner, Alex Provost and Aidan Miller, all of which making an impact in Saturday’s final, are back next year.

Mount Anthony is losing some crucial senior pieces, but shouldn’t be counted out of the Division II discussion next year with Tanner Bushee leading the way under center.

Bushee displayed how special of a player he was in the second half of Saturday’s final against Bellows Falls. In the second half alone, he threw for more than 250 yards and finished the day with more than 300 passing yards.

Running back Ayman Naser was on the receiving end of a handful of those Bushee passes and he is a senior year year.

MAU coach Chad Gordon has a good team on his hands with Bushee and Naser leading the offense.

Well-run eventThere’s a reason the football state championships keep coming back to Rutland High School and it’s not just the Alumni Field turf. It’s about how well-run the event is each year.

This year was no different. Volunteers were there working their butt off all day. The grill was going and the atmosphere was great.

I was there for all three games, but I can only imagine how long some of those volunteer were there that day. You have to respect that kind of dedication to putting on a successful event.

The annual North-South All-Star Football game on Saturday wraps up the high school football season on Saturday and it won’t be long until we’re in gyms and ice rinks.

Such is life in Vermont high school sports.


Follow on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

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