Katie Rogers Taylor
It was the perfect crisp, fall day for a football game. Top-seeded St. Albans Steelers and the second-seeded Chittenden South Buccaneers arrived at Essex High School in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 2, to warm up for what was sure to be an impressive show of football. The title of Northern Vermont Youth Football League State Champion was on the line. The Steelers arrived undefeated, and the Buccaneers’ only loss came at the hands of the Steelers earlier in the season.
It was sure to be an exciting game, and it did not disappoint.
The Buccaneers started the game with the ball and, on their first possession, scored a touchdown when quarterback Mitch Niarchos handed the ball to Jack Sumner who took off up the right side of the field to score. Thirteen seconds into the game, the Buccaneers had set the tone. The Steelers answered with a touchdown of their own, and it was back and forth going into the fourth quarter with the Bucs up 20-13.
The Steelers made an impressive comeback, drove down the field to go up 21-20, but the Bucs answered with a touchdown of their own to go up 26-21 with just minutes left to go in the game. The Steelers had an opportunity to win the game, but the formidable Bucs defense was able to hold them to victory.
Sandi Sumner, the team’s offensive coordinator, said, “It has been an absolute pleasure to coach a group of young men with such high moral character combined with a high football IQ. We installed an entirely new offense this year, and the kids accepted and mastered it in a matter of days, which allowed us to add new wrinkles almost weekly to keep our opponents off guard.”
The team was led by a group of 8th graders, for whom this wasn’t their first championship game. Last year, the Bucs lost to number one seed Castleton on a freezing, wet, windy day, and these kids were determined to bring home the championship for only the second time in program history.
Head Coach Glenn Steinman praised the athletes for their athletic skills, but also their teamwork. “One thing about the game that really makes me smile was the level of respect the players have for each other. They demonstrated it on and off the field; I could not have been more proud.”
Head coach: Glenn Steinman
Coaches: Tim Armstrong, Chris Destito, Mike Griffin, Pat Kennedy, Ben Litle, Matt Palmer, Sandi Sumner, Colin Simons