A football team wants to be playing its best when the games matter the most.
The games are starting to matter a ton this time of year as we enter the final two weeks of the Vermont high school football regular season.
There are four teams still undefeated, Rutland, Bellows Falls, Windsor and BFA-Fairfax/Lamoille, but how about those teams that have tasted defeat and responded?
There are a few teams in high school football that are going on a run to help secure a high playoff seed.
In Division I, CVU has been one of the hottest teams, winning four straight since a Week 2 loss to St. Johnsbury.
The Redhawks’ offense has been tough for anyone in D-I to match, scoring at least 35 points in three of those four consecutive wins. What has been even more impressive is that they’ve done it against some of the best defenses in the state.
BFA-St. Albans and Middlebury had established themselves as elite defensive clubs and in consecutive weeks CVU put up 35 points on them.
In Division II, Mount Anthony has been making statements and changing narratives. MAU hadn’t beaten Brattleboro in years, but turned the tables and blew them out in Week 4. The Patriots went up against previously unbeaten U-32 in Week 5 and ran them right off the field. This past Saturday, they beat perennial power Burr and Burton.
While Bellows Falls looks to be in a class of its own in D-II, MAU looks like its the head of that next class.
In Division III, a lot of the talk is about undefeated Windsor and Fairfax, and for good reason, but don’t count out Woodstock, a team that has won four straight and done so in convincing fashion each time.
With the smell of playoffs starting to waft through the air, let’s jump into this week’s Rutland Herald/Times Argus football power rankings. Previous week rankings are in parentheses.
1. Rutland 5-0 (1). The Ravens were off last week not by choice as their game was canceled due to contact tracing at BFA-St. Albans, so I can’t penalize them for that. Rutland is the lone undefeated team in the state’s highest division. No. 1 is there’s until someone knocks them off.
2. Bellows Falls 6-0 (2). Dominance. Utter dominance. That has been the story of the Terriers’ season. Nobody has come close to touching them in Division II and 29-point win against a solid Spaulding club in Week 6 continued to prove that.
3. CVU 5-1 (4). Winning by three touchdowns and putting up 35 points against Middlebury is impressive to say the least. The Redhawks are peaking at the right time. They have a bye this week, before their season finale against Essex.
4. Hartford 5-1 (3). The Hurricanes are only dropping because of the impressiveness of CVU’s Week 6 win. Hartford is among the elite in Division I and continues to prove that. Hopefully, they don’t look past a solid Burr and Burton team in Week 7 with a Week 8 showdown with Rutland looming.
5. Windsor 6-0 (7). All eyes will be on the Yellow Jackets’ showdown with Fairfax on Saturday. Only one side is coming out with a perfect record intact. Windsor was dominant again in Week 6, but are about to face its biggest challenge yet.
6. St. Johnsbury 3-2 (6). The Hilltoppers were idle in Week 6 and their ranking will also stay in the same place. This weekend, they’ll host a Burlington/South Burlington team that is better than its losing record lets on.
7. Middlebury 3-3 (5). Two straight losses has the Tigers dropping a bit in our rankings, but this team still feels like a team that could be a problem for opponents in the D-I tournament. If Middlebury can shake off a rough defensive performance from Week 6, it should be just fine.
8. Mount Anthony 4-2 (10). The Patriots keep proving doubters wrong. Outlasting rival Burr and Burton in Week 6 was the latest example showing good this team is. If people are expecting BF to make championship Saturday in mid-November, they’ll need an opponent. Could MAU be that team?
9. BFA-St. Albans 3-2 (9). The Bobwhites stay in the same spot after not playing in Week 6. A matchup with Essex, another team in the middle of the D-I pack, could have huge seeding implications this weekend, if they get the green light to play following last week’s contact tracing.
10. Fairfax/Lamoille 5-0 (UR). The Bullets have scored more than 40 points every time they’ve taken the field. Their battle with Windsor on Saturday will have two of the best offensive teams in the state going head to head.
On the bubble: Woodstock, Essex, Lyndon.
Our top fives:
Division I: 1. Rutland; 2. CVU; 3. Hartford; 4. St. Johnsbury; 5. Middlebury.
Division II: 1. Bellows Falls; 2. Mount Anthony; 3. Lyndon; 4. U-32; 5. Rice.
Division III: 1. Windsor; 2. Fairfax/Lamoille; 3. Woodstock; 4. Otter Valley; 5. Springfield.