MUHS football eyes Otters, D-II playoffs
ADDISON COUNTY — The Middlebury Union High School football team scored twice in the second half to upset host Division I foe Mount Anthony on Friday night, 14-2, but a more critical game for the D-II Tigers will come this Friday at home vs. league foe Otter Valley.
The Patriots fell to 5-3, while Tigers improved to 6-2 overall, and remained at 4-2 in D-II. The Tigers also got good news elsewhere when Rice upset Milton, which had been ahead of them in the D-II standings. The Tigers, Milton and U-32 now all have 4-2 league records, behind Colchester (8-0 overall, 6-0 D-II), CVU (7-1, 5-1) and Mount Mansfield (6-2, 5-1).
Games this weekend will determine which teams will make the four-team D-II postseason. Colchester and CVU are assured of berths, and the MUHS coaching staff believes the Tigers have a good shot if they can win at home over improving OV (4-4, 3-3) on Friday in their final regular season game.
Other contenders face one another: Milton hosts Colchester, while U-32 hosts Mount Mansfield. CVU will entertain Fair Haven (3-5, 1-5). Because the teams do not all face each other, a “quality points rating” (QPR) index will be used to choose teams if they finish with identical records. The QPR is based on the won-loss record and strength of schedule of the teams that each contender defeats in the course of the season.
The Tiger coaches said their team has to win to reach the playoffs. If MUHS wins and Milton loses, the Tigers are in. But if both MUHS and Milton win, they said the Tigers will need help elsewhere — specifically, U-32 must defeat MMU and Rice must win at North Country — to give MUHS the playoff berth. Other scenarios are also possible, they said, but the bottom line is the OV game is a must-win for the Tigers to earn a No. 3 or 4 seed.
On Friday at MAU on a rainy evening, the first half was scoreless. The Tigers had the best chance, but quarterback Brendan Burrell was picked off on the goal line.
The Tigers took a 6-0 lead on a short Marshall Hastings run on their second possession of the third quarter; the score came at 2:12. The Tigers converted on two fourth downs on the drive, both on Burrell runs.
A Dillon Robinson interception then set up the Tigers deep in MAU territory, but a penalty and an interception killed that drive.
But the Tigers stopped the Patriots at the MUHS 43 on a fourth-down play, and then marched 57 yards, all on the ground, for the clinching score with 4:14 left in the game. Kaden Odell scored on a five-yard run, and Bryan Ashley-Selleck ran in a two-point conversion.
MAU scored a safety when the Tigers elected to run out of the back of their end zone on a punt late in the game.
Burrell led MUHS with 99 yards on the ground, and Hastings ran for 82.