CASTLETON — Vermont quarterback Ryan Moore knows one thing about Patrick Burke as he gets ready for Saturday’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl: He’s glad that he’s on his side.
It was in November’s North-South Senior Bowl that Moore drifted back and unleashed a pass that he felt was destined to be a completion. Mount Mansfield’s Burke went high in the air from his linebacker position to make an incredible one-handed interception.
“Ryan didn’t think he could get that high. Nobody did,” Vermont head coach Marty Richards said.
Moore, Burke and their Vermont teammates go into the Maple Sugar Bowl with three straight victories.
Vermont’s other quarterback, Cam Coloutti, knows New Hampshire is bent on ending the streak.
“They are ready to bounce back,” Coloutti said.
New Hampshire coach Bill Raycraft recruited hard in an effort to put a stronger team on the field, selling the 66-year-old Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl to some of the New Hampshire players who might have elected to play in their state’s East-West Game instead.
Vermont brings quarterbacks with dissimilar styles into the game. Moore has a penchant for sitting back in the pocket with the cool and cunning of a riverboat gambler, picking apart secondaries.
Coloutti relies more on a devil-may-care approach that will see him making a split-second decision to scramble, extending the play with his feet. He is just as likely to throw it on the run as keep it himself.
Raycraft also thought he was bringing quarterbacks to camp with contrasting styles, but once they got here he discovered they were very much alike.
He has Cody Potter, his own quarterback from Windham High School, and Nashua North’s Mike Loveless.
Potter played three years for Raycraft so he knew what he had with him — a good runner who became a prolific passer his senior year.
“With Lawless being from Nashua North, we thought we were getting someone with more of a running style. But we found he can really fling it, too. They are almost identical,” Raycraft said.
Moore and Coloutti have been working with one another during camp, each trying to impart some of their strengths to the other. Moore has been trying to get Coloutti to be more comfortable in the pocket and Coloutti has been teaching the nuances of extending plays with his legs to Moore.
“We have learned a lot from each other,” Moore said.
Moore said Richards’ Mount Mansfield offense is quite different from the Rutland offense that made use of zone read on every play.
“They have both picked it up very quickly,” Richards said.
Richards ran the Double Wing at MMU for years, but when the number of players began to shrink in the program, he went to the Spread attack.
“Kids weren’t coming out to run the Double Wing. We went to the Spread and the numbers went up,” he said.
The Double Wing will be run by New Hampshire, right out of the Windham playbook.
But that doesn’t mean you won’t see the ball in the air from the Granite Staters.
“They throw it 15 to 20 times a game,” said Richards of Windham film. “We have to be ready to stop the run and the pass.”
Moore, running back Dakota Peters and linebacker Noah Crossman are Vermont players who were on the Rutland team last year that scrimmaged Windham in August on Rutland’s Alumni Field.
The Jaguars had their way with Rutland that day.
“Watching film was a trip down memory lane,” Moore said.
Raycraft is not looking to attain any certain run-pass ratio. That will depend on how the game plays out, he said.
“We don’t go into a game thinking we are going to do any certain thing. We want to stay flexible,” he said.
Vermont has the weapons to attack over land or through the air.
The running backs getting their number called most frequently will be Peters and Mount Mansfield’s Jehric Hackney. Both rushed for more than 1,500 yards their senior season.
They are also productive after catching the ball.
Jehric will be with Coloutti’s unit and Peters will be with Moore.
“What can’t Jehric do?” Coloutti said. “He can catch, block and run.”
Moore and Coloutti have a fast stable of receivers led by Burr and Burton Academy’s Jake Baker, Rice’s John Rousseau, Mount Mansfield’s Harrison Leombruno-Nicholson, St. Johnsbury’s Renwick Smith and Fair Haven’s Jesse Tucker.
“Jesse Tucker hasn’t dropped a ball I’ve thrown to him yet,” Coloutti said.
The Vermont defense has impressed the coaches throughout camp.
Coloutti has especially been impressed by Rice’s Andrew Snell, who has closed windows in Coloutti’s throwing lanes quicker than what he is accustomed to seeing.
“Snell is the best corner I have ever seen,” Coloutti said.
“He is a lock down corner,” Richards said.
The most inspirational story in camp belongs to New Hampshire’s Nathaniel Tejada.
He is traveling from Castleton to Boston each day for treatments as he fights Stage II Hodgkins Lymphoma. The 5-foot-10, 200-pound defensive lineman is expected to play Saturday.
Not surprisingly, he was voted one of New Hampshire’s captains.
Everyone has been impressed by Tejada’s upbeat outlook and his nickname in camp is “Smiley.”
Richards says one of the biggest surprises in camp has been Poultney’s Jacob Allen, who could see some time at running back or at defensive end.
One player came to the sideline at Friday’s practice saying about Allen “that kid from Poultney hits hard.”
A surprise in the New Hampshire camp has been Hanover running back/linebacker Simon Roach.
“We knew he was good but we didn’t know how physical he was,” Raycraft said.
The Vermont Team: Ryan Moore, Rutland; Jake Baker, Burr and Burton; Kris Carroll, Brattleboro; Nick Porter, Hartford; Andrew Snell, Rice; Cam Coloutti, Fair Haven; John Rousseau, Rice; Andrew Proteau, U-32; Dakota Peters, Rutland; Noah Crossman, Rutland; Harrison Leombruno, Mount Mansfield; Manny Dodson, Burlington; Ryan Byrnes, Rutland; Jacob Allen, Poultney; Aaron Szabo, Fair Haven; Jehric Hackney, Mount Mansfield; Renwick Smith, St. Johnsbury; Caden White, Woodstock; Mike Blair, Colchester; Evan Eaton, Rice Memorial; Mark Howland, Mount Mansfield; Josh McQuinn, Milton; Patrick Burke, Mount Mansfield; Noah Vincelette, BFA-St. Albans; Reno Tuttle, Bellows Falls; Mason Hutchins, Poultney; Gavin Harriman, Windsor; Dave Seymour, Mount Mansfield; Olivier Cazaudumec, Burr and Burton; Ty Evans, Mount Anthony; Will Frank, Burr and Burton; Jared Salls, BFA-Fairfax; Gabe Marsicovetere; Jesse Tucker, Fair Haven; Mark Howrigan, BFA-St. Albans; Kevin Pearsall, Mount Abraham.
The New Hampshire Team: Mike Loveless, Nashua North; Seth Matteo, Windham; Nick Milano, Pelham; Jack Regan, Alvirne; Joshua Chase, Winnacunnet; Rick Hazeltine, Merrimack Valley; Cody Potter, Windham, Sam Pollard, Kennett; Adam Breton, Campbell; Tanner Plourde, Nashua South; Jason Edmiston, Exeter; Simon Roach, Hanover; Zach Garron, Bedford; Devon Titus, Newmarket; Tyrique Noel, Manchester Memorial; Jack Wixson, Bow; Tommy Emrick, Windham; Owen Zalenski, Milford; Matthew Nichols, Bow; Cameron Mann, Kingswood; Kobe Briand, Winnisquam; Garret Whitney, Laconia; Nick va der Merwe, Exeter; Gavin Lovely, Newport; Cole Keefe, Merrimack; Cole Sweeney, Kennett; Harley Huddleston, Merrimack Valley; Keegan Murphy, Keene; Kevin McCaffrey, Hillsboro-Deering; Logan DeCarolis, Campbell; Nik Lapan, Milford; Greg Ellis, Alvirne; Thomas Hayes, Merrimack Valley; Michael Sarette, Pinkerton; Kyle Hernon, Kearsarge; Nathanael Tejada, Nashua South.
NOTES: Kevin Pereau, the Fair Haven quarterback who engineered Vermont’s Wishbone to a 12-7 win in 1975, will be Jack Healey’s halftime guest on the Shrine Radio Network. ... New Hampshire leads the series 47-17-2 but Vermont has outscored the Granite Staters 93-15 over the last three games. ... The pregame parade is at 3 p.m. down Castleton’s Main Street and kickoff is at 5:30 p.m. at CU’s Dave Wolk Stadium. ... Manchester Central’s Don Sarette was one of New Hampshire’s top players in the 1957 game, a 35-7 rout of Vermont. His grandson Michael Sarette is on this year’s New Hampshire squad.