Football squads ready for semis

ADDISON COUNTY — All three area high school football teams will play in semifinal games this weekend. Middlebury (9-0), the top seed in Division I, and Otter Valley (7-1), the No. 1 seed in Division III, will host contests; Mount Abraham (5-4), No. 6 in Division III, will hit the road.
The D-I and D-III finals will be held at Rutland High School on Saturday, Nov. 8, at times to be announced early next week.
The defending D-I champion Tigers, winners of 20 straight, will entertain No. 5 Colchester (7-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday. The Lakers knocked off host No. 4 Rutland this past Friday, 26-21, at the same time the Tigers were dismissing No. 8 Champlain Valley, 54-6.
In their win at Rutland, the Lakers rushed for 388 yards, and Travis Boutin scored three times. But when the Tigers defeated the Lakers on Sept. 12, 34-0, Colchester managed just 120 yards on 39 carries. Dakota Navari led the Lakers with 48 yards on 11 attempts in that game.
Vs. Colchester, Tiger tailback Bobby Ritter (five carries, 82 yards) and Cortland Fischer (10 carries, 72 yards) led a balanced rushing attack, Cullen Hathaway scored three times, and quarterback Austin Robinson had a typically efficient passing evening, completing three of five attempts for 56 yards.
No. 2 St. Johnsbury (9-0) is hosting No. 3 Essex (7-2) in the other D-I semifinal.
OV, winners of seven straight, gets a visit from a dangerous No. 4 Windsor team that thumped No. 5 U-32, 37-20, this past weekend while the Otters were easing past No. 8 Poultney, 41-21. Game time in Brandon is 1 p.m. on Saturday.
OV and Windsor have not met this fall. OV has developed a balanced attack, with record-setting running back Carson Leary routinely gaining 200 yards and scoring multiple touchdowns while QB John Winslow, a running threat himself, regularly connects with a group of receivers that includes Josef Scarborough, Robertas Nielsen and Leary out of the backfield. OV has scored at least 41 points in every game this fall.
OV will have to play run defense against a team that relies on misdirection. Vs. U-32, Windsor rushed for 443 yards and had three runners go for at least 130 yards apiece: Russell Simonds (130 plus four TDs), Trevor Worrall (149) and Hunter Patenaude (161). In a 35-6 win at Mount Abe this fall, the Jacks rushed for 312 yards behind Worrall (18 carries, 200 yards) and Patenaude (nine attempts, 90 yards).
The Eagles upset No. 3 Mill River, 20-15, this past Saturday to earn a rematch with No. 2 BFA-Fairfax (8-1) on the road at 1 p.m. this Saturday.
In the first go-round, the host Eagles took an 8-0 lead on a 70-yard drive capped by a 15-yard Wyatt Gracie run. But they were unable to dent the Bullet defense the rest of the way and were held to 54 yards in the second half in a 20-8 setback. Liam Sweeney (102 yards rushing and two TDs) and Matt Larose (82 yards rushing) led the Fairfax attack, and Cam Place added a 16-yard scoring run.
Fairfax rallied to oust No. 7 defending champion Woodstock this past Saturday, 34-22, as LaRose scored on two long runs and Luke Langelier scored from eight yards out and caught the go-ahead touchdown pass from Dylan Lumbra.
The Eagles have relied on the running of Ryan Paquin, Gracie and Anthony Warner, but added a couple dimensions in their upset of Mill River. Quarterback Joey Payea had probably his most effective day throwing, seven of 17 passes for 164 yards, and Trevon Smith scored on a 62-yard reverse.

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