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Tiger football routs Lakers in home opener

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School football team debuted in promising fashion this past Friday, taking a 35-6 third-quarter lead in a 49-20 victory over visiting Colchester in the opener for both Division I squads.
The Lakers scored on the game’s first possession, a four-play, 63-yard drive capped by a 5-yard pass from quarterback Zack Morin to wideout Bailey Olson and keyed by a 44-yard Morin-to-Olson bomb.
But the Tiger first-string offense answered with touchdowns on five or their next six possessions before sitting the final 17 minutes. The most critical was the first score, a 1-yard run at 3:37 of the opening quarter by senior tailback Lane Sheldrick that finished a 16-play, 58-yard march.
The Tigers first established the running of senior fullback Tyler Hotte (14 carries for 71 yards), and then senior quarterback Cody Pomainville (13 carries, 58 yards) started faking to Hotte and taking off. Pomainville also made the key play of the opening Tiger drive, scrambling for 16 yards to the Laker 12 on 4th-and-14.
Pomainville, who also completed all three of his passing attempts for 84 yards and two touchdowns to junior tight end Wyatt Cameron, said the Tigers were not shaken by the Lakers’ quick strike.
“We got scored on, obviously, but we kept our heads high. We knew we could come back, and we showed how important it is just to stay positive,” Pomainville said.
Tiger Coach Dennis Smith said he was pleased that the Tigers, many of whom are first-time starters and a number of whom are underclassmen, began to relax and play well after the first Laker series.
“What I was really happy with is they didn’t hang their heads after giving up that first score. Like I said going into the season we’ve got a bunch of young guys that are new out here. We made mistakes,” Smith said. “But nobody got down. And the offense came out and moved the ball right out and scored. And then we just kind of settled in a little bit from there.”
A big tackle for a loss by junior cornerback Simon Fischer helped stop the Lakers’ second possession and set up the Tigers’ dominant second quarter, in which they scored three times and outgained the Lakers, 168 yards to 33.
In all, the Tigers outgained the Lakers, 379-299, including by 188-99 in the first half. Offensive balance was key: Sheldrick finished with 76 yards on seven attempts, and fellow senior tailback Paul Deering added 43 on nine carries.
The Tigers made it 14-6 at 11:35 of the second on a perfect 27-yard pass to Cameron down the left sideline. “Wyatt did his job, sold them out, faked it, wide open, touchdown,” Pomainville said. That play concluded a 54-yard drive, and Jackson Donahue kicked the second of his seven extra points.
The Tigers soon got the ball back and moved 67 yards to make it 21-6. A play after Hotte plunged for 20 yards, Pomainville found Cameron again, and he muscled past a defender into the end zone at 4:42 for a 36-yard TD.
With 3:45 to go sophomore cornerback Timothy Goettelmann picked off a deep Morin pass at midfield that was underthrown because of a strong rush. A 21-yard Pomainville pass to Goettelmann helped set up a 14-yard Sheldrick TD at 0:47.6.
The Tigers fumbled on their own 27 after receiving the second-half kickoff, but a sack by senior lineman Jaro Perera helped force a Laker punt.
A penalty put MUHS on its 10, but 90 yards later it was 35-6 and time to give the substitutes a chance to see what they could do. A slick option pitch from Pomainville created Sheldrick’s 54-yard touchdown run.
Pomainville said the performance of the offensive line — Perera at center, senior Brian Foote and junior Spencer Cadoret at guard, and seniors Carter Leggett and Jack Deppman at tackle — made the offense click.
“Without them none of these points are getting scored. It’s just awesome to have a line like we do, and how smart they are and how aggressive they are,” he said.
Highlights for the Tigers the rest of the way were Fischer’s 68-yard touchdown run at 6:23 of the fourth, sophomore Tyler Buxton’s 75-yard kickoff return for a score with 4:18 to go, junior Joshua Trautwein’s fumble recovery and 10-yard return, and linebacker Cooper Bullock’s interception, which he also returned 10 yards.
The Lakers scored twice in the fourth quarter, on a 12-yard Morin run and a 7-yard Morin to Olson pass. Morin finished 5-for-18 for 58 yards and also rushed three times for 30 yards.
Several Laker backs ran well: Andrew Spencer carried the ball five times for 57 yards; Alex Murray, eight time for 48; and Thurman Dusablon, four times for 34.
Overall, Smith was pleased.
“We just had to get into game speed, compared to practice, and that’s where I felt once the guys got game speed down and got a feel for what they had they settled in there and defensively did a pretty good job,” he said.
A game at defending D-I champion Hartford this Friday night is next, and the Hurricanes will be smarting after a close opening home loss to St. Johnsbury. Smith described the challenge.
“It’s just preparing for a lot of different formations. Secondly, it’s just getting our guys comfortable and ready to play football,” he said. “It will be a physical game, which it always is against Hartford. And my kids will look forward to it.”

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