After a season opening loss, the Champlain Valley Redhawks jumped back onto a two-game win streak with victories over Bellows Free Academy and South Burlington-Burlington-Winooski.
The difference may be due to preparation on the part of his players, said coach Rahn Fleming.
He said the coaches watched film with the players and asked the players to also watch film on their own. As a result the Redhawks were aware of the opponents’ tendencies and able to respond quickly.
“So, when they saw what they saw on the ball field, it was like déjà vu. They recognized it quickly and accurately,” Fleming said.
On defense that meant his players were able to make tackles as soon as the ball was in a receiver’s hands. Against the South Burlington-Burlington-Winooski Seahawks this meant in many cases they were able to make interceptions or at least knock the ball away.
Champlain Valley 29, BFA-St. Albans 7
On Saturday, Sept. 9, the Redhawks traveled to St. Albans for a game against the Bobwhites that was expected to be a smash-mouth contest and didn’t disappoint in that regard.
CVU’s defense was able to shutdown St. Albans for all of the second half and most of the first. The Bobwhites’ lone score came with 10 seconds left before halftime.
The scoring began with a 1-yard run by senior Jacob Bose shortly after the opening kickoff.
In the second quarter, junior Nolan Walpole put the Redhawks up 14-0 on a 12-yard run.
Late in the second quarter, the Bobwhites were threatening to score. On the sideline Fleming told junior Chase Leonard: “Make this play your moment. We know they’re throwing. We know where they’re throwing.”
Leonard made it his moment, snagging the ball at the 10-yard line and just managing to get a foot down before going out of bounds.
On the next play, CVU capitalized on the turnover when junior Dylan Frere caught a pass from senior Ollie Cheer, avoided two would-be tacklers and raced 90 yards to put CVU up 20-0 with just over three minutes left before halftime.
The lone blemish on the Redhawks’ stifling defensive performance came just 10 seconds before intermission when Bobwhite quarterback Seneca Durocher ran it in from a yard out. Durocher finished 11 for 24 in passing attempts for 164 yards and had nine carries for 73 yards.
CVU knew that Durocher was the Bobwhites’ workhorse, and if they couldn’t contain him, things wouldn’t go well for the Redhawks, said Fleming. But his team was able to contain Durocher.
“That comes back to solid play in the middle by Josh Quad, Connor Simons and Sean Kennedy and phenomenal outside linebacker support by Dylan Terricciano, Daniel Tuiqere and ninth grader Orion Yates,” Fleming said.
Cheer ended up connecting on six of 13 passing attempts with one touchdown. Walpole had 10 carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
CVU 49, Burlington/South Burlington 0
Less than eight minutes into CVU’s first home game of the season and the Redhawks had used explosive offense and stifling defense to go up 14-0 against the Seawolves.
On its opening possession, the Seawolves fumbled on the 16-yard line and three plays later Cheer scored on a 2-yard run.
The Seawolves turned the ball over on downs on its second possession and again the Redhawks took three plays for Cheer to toss a 34-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Steele.
And the rout was on, as the Redhawks went on to five more touchdowns to the Seawolves’ none.
However, the coach was quick to tamp down overconfidence. “We have plenty to work on. Let’s be clear about that,” Fleming said. He doesn’t think the score means that CVU is seven unanswered touchdowns better than the Seawolves.
“Laurels are flimsy things. If you try to rest on them, you’re going to fall over and probably embarrass yourself,” he said, adding that he had sent home an email to players and their parents pointing out that “this week is the most important game we play this season. That is going to be our theme every single week throughout the season.”
It’s been such a constant refrain of his that now his players are repeating it back to him.
Anderson McEnaney had the unique achievement of getting touchdowns on both offense and defense, scoring on a 10-yard run and returning an interception for a touchdown for the final score.
Fleming praised Cheer’s ability to spread his passing around. Against the Seahawks he was almost flawless through the air, connecting on nine of 10 passes for 198 yards. All of Cheer’s touchdown passes went to different players.
“When you’re able to give that much opportunity to that many different guys, the game becomes fun again,” Fleming said.
CVU hosts St. Johnsbury this Saturday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m.