Playoff outlook rosy for a couple of CVU teams

CVU 28, Essex 21
The Essex and Champlain Valley Union high schools have a long tradition of gridiron rivalry, and this Saturday, Oct. 15, was more of the same — although it wasn’t apparent at the start.

Junior Ollie Cheer returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown to put the Redhawks up 7-0 right out of the gate on the Hornets’ home field.

Photo by Al Frey Alex Provost blocks for quarterback Max Destito in Champlain Valley’s 28-21 victory over Essex on Saturday, Oct. 15.
Photo by Al Frey. Alex Provost blocks for quarterback Max Destito in Champlain Valley’s 28-21 victory over Essex on Saturday, Oct. 15.

At halftime the score was 21-0 and those unfamiliar with this rivalry might have thought it was going to be smooth sailing for CVU.

But in the second half, the Hornets’ offense woke up and the Redhawks’ defense bent a bit. Essex scored once in the third quarter and twice in the fourth to pull within 7, but CVU hung on to come away with the 28-21 win and remain the only undefeated team in the division.

Besides his kickoff return, junior returner and backup quarterback Cheer passed for a touchdown and snagged two interceptions on defense, while senior starter Max Destito passed for two touchdowns.

“We made it more exciting than it had to be, but at the end, we had enough of what we needed, when we needed it, to get the win,” coach Rahn Fleming said.

The RedHawks’ final game of the regular season is Senior Day at 1 p.m. this coming Saturday, Oct. 22, against Bellows Free Academy (BFA-St. Albans) at CVU.

A win will take the Redhawks into the postseason with a No. 1 seed.

CVU 38, Burr and Burton 35
The Redhawks downed the only other unbeaten team on Oct. 8 when the Burr and Burton Bulldogs came to Hinesburg.

This was another game that the coach said “was closer than it needed to be.”

CVU had 38-28 lead in the fourth quarter, but a late fumble on the Redhawks’ part gave the Bulldogs the ball.

Burr and Burton capitalized on the turnover, turning it into a touchdown to pull within 3 points at 38-35. On the ensuing drive with the clock winding down, the Redhawks uncharacteristically went three plays without gaining a first down and had to punt.

With 28 seconds left on the clock, the Bulldogs came storming back but, with just 4 seconds left, were forced to settle for a 38-yard field goal attempt to tie the game.

The attempt was right down the middle but about 2 yards short.

As time expired, Fleming said he was filled with a feeling “somewhere between relief and elation.”

Field hockey

Champlain Valley 1, Essex 0
CVU beat Essex 1-0 this Monday, Oct. 17, in field hockey to improve its record to 10-2.

The Redhawks began the season with a string of wins to start with a 5-0 record, but fell to Rice and South Burlington in successive games. Since those two losses, the team has returned to its winning ways.

With a game against Mount Mansfield Tuesday that wasn’t finished by press time and a game today (Thursday, Oct 20) against Middlebury, things looked promising for the post season when this newspaper went to print.

Essex’s field was muddy and wet for Monday’s game.

“Despite terrible field conditions, both teams played a good game,” said coach Tucker Pierson said.

It was a defensive contest with neither team scoring until late in the game. Finally, with 2:31 left in the fourth quarter Carly Strobeck scored off a rebounded shot from a penalty corner.

Goalie Grace Ferguson had two saves for the Redhawks, and Adowyn Byrne had three saves for Essex.

Champlain Valley 5, Rutland 0
The Redhawks galloped to a 5-0 shutout of Rutland on Friday, Oct. 14, at Champlain Valley High.

Miranda Oppenheimer and Emily Gay each had two goals to lead the CVU scoring attack, while Emma Kim had one and Tess Everett had an assist.

The Redhawks kept the ball on the Rutland side of the field for most of the contest, which is reflected in the goalies’ stats for both sides. None of the Redhawks’ goalies had a save, while Rutland’s Emma Cosgrove had 15.

Champlain Valley 1, Mount Abraham 0
CVU hosted Mount Abraham and ultimately prevailed with a 1-0 victory on Oct. 12.

Tess Everett finally managed to carry the ball through traffic and put the winner in the net behind the Eagles’ goalie for an unassisted score.

It was another contest largely fought in front of their opponent’s net, so Eagles’ goalie Greta Jennison had nine saves, while Redhawks’ goalies Grace Ferguson and Rianne Nagelhout had none.

CVU 2, Burlington High 0
Champlain Valley shut out Burlington High 2-0 on Oct. 8 in a home game for the Redhawks.

Emma Kim scored for CVU on a penalty stroke in the second quarter.

That was all the scoring in this defensive contest until the game’s waning moments when Claire Marcoe scored with 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter with an assist from Emily Gay to make it 2-0.

CVU goalie Rianne Nagelhout had five saves and Sasha Whithouse had five saves for Burlington.