Otter football upsets the Wasps, will return to D-III final on Saturday
WOODSTOCK — The defending Division III champion Otter Valley Union High School football team is going back to the final: The No. 3 seed Otters on Friday upset No. 2 Woodstock, 38-36, in a semifinal matchup.
The win was the 8-2 Otters’ sixth straight and it avenged a 41-14 regular season home loss to the Wasps, who finished at 8-2. OV will face No. 1 Windsor at Rutland High School on Saturday at 11 a.m. for the title. The Yellowjackets defeated No. 4 U-32, 22-0, on Saturday in the other D-III semifinal.
OV Coach Jim Hill said the Otters, who will be making the program’s third straight appearance in a D-III final, are a different team that lost at Windsor, 55-13, the week after falling at home to the Wasps.
Hill said on Sunday as well as installing sophomore Tyler Rowe at quarterback — Rowe completed 25 of 40 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns on Saturday — he and his staff made a number of other moves, notably on the defensive front seven. Since then, the team steadily came together.
“We’ve really gelled,” Hill said on Sunday.
Against the Wasps, Hill said the plan was to attack through the air.
“Woodstock is really hard to run on,” he said.
But Hill said OV would look to be more versatile vs. Windsor.
“We want to be a little more balanced,” he said. “But we’re still going to use our passing game.”
On this past Friday, the Wasps used their punishing ground game to take a 14-0 lead. But the Otters and Rowe went to work, scoring touchdowns on five straight possessions to take a 32-20 lead.
Rowe threw for scores of 2, 14, 12 and 51 yards. Rowe tossed two touchdown passes to Conor Mackie, the second one a 51-yard bomb that made it 38-28 right after the Wasps picked off a bobbled pass for a 13-yard TD that pulled them to within four points.
Tyson Cram caught two touchdown passes and rushed for one score, and Noah Smith added a rushing touchdown for the Otters. Will Ross was Rowe’s go-to receiver, with nine receptions for 124 yards.
Hill on Friday told the Rutland Herald the Otter offensive line protected Rowe well: “I praise the offensive line (Erik Sherman, Robert Cook, Greg Whitney, Alex Flanders and Jeremy Frasier) for giving him time.”
For Woodstock, Ezra Astbury (186 yards and two touchdowns) and Daniel Robinson (110 yards) paced the ground game, while quarterback Luc Issa ran for one score and tossed a 27-yard TD pass to Robinson.