Tigers, Rutland High School to meet for D-I football title on Saturday
MIDDLEBURY — The undefeated and No. 2 seeded Middlebury Union High School football team will take on top-seeded Rutland (9-1) for the Division I championship at 5 p.m. on Saturday on the Raiders’ home field.
The Tigers will be seeking their third straight D-I crown after a drought that lasted since a win in 2002, and their 33rd straight victory. Rutland last claimed the D-I crown in 2006 and is making its first appearance in a final since 2009.
MUHS officials confirmed early this week that the team will play without senior quarterback, safety and kicker Oakley Gordon, who left with a leg injury during this past Friday’s Tiger 21-0 semifinal win over No. 3 Hartford.
Junior Andrew Gleason, who filled in for Gordon last week, will start at quarterback for the Tigers in the championship game. Junior Doug DeLorenzo, who nailed all three extra points last Friday, will handle punting and kicking chores vs. Rutland.
The Tiger offense has featured their option running attack, with Cortland Fischer, Ali Abdul Sater, Jerry Niemo, Trey Kauffman, Parker Gross, and now Gleason all getting carries.
Gleason threw sparingly in relief of Gordon, but completed a pass to tight end Brady Larocque. Tight end Sawyer Ryan, running back Niemo and flanker Chase Messner have often been targeted when the Tigers throw.
The Tigers have scored at least 20 points in all of their games except one, when they rallied for 18 points in the fourth quarter to win at Colchester, 18-14.
Defensively, only once have they surrendered more than 14 points, when Essex surprised the Tigers by scoring 27 at Doc Collins Field on Oct. 2.
The Tigers and Raiders did not play each other this fall. Rutland, which lost only to an out-of-state team, has amassed some impressive point totals but also shown some defensive vulnerability.
Coach Dennis Smith said Rutland will pose a challenge with a read-option running attack and with the play-action passing of quarterback Andy Kenosh.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].