Assistant Sports Editor
MANCHESTER -- One is Vermont's premier, prototypical signal-caller. The other is perhaps the state's greatest all-around scoring threat.
Together, Burr and Burton Academy quarterback Jake Stalcup and wide receiver Chris Redding have piled touchdowns on touchdowns at a rate usually left to XBox consoles and Heisman candidates in the Bulldogs' push for a Division II playoff berth.
And to think for three years the pair wore different color jerseys, played football for rival high schools -- Stalcup for BBA, Redding for Mount Anthony Union.
"We're not just teammates, we're best friends off the field, too. We've been friends since [grade school]," Redding said. "We used to hang out on the weekends, when he played here and I played for MAU."
"We always thought it would be really cool to go to the same school," Stalcup said.
After eight weeks on the gridiron, it's easy to see why.
With the addition of Redding, who transferred from Mount Anthony for his senior season, BBA (5-3) has averaged 43.9 points per game in its seven contested games this year -- not including a Week 4 forfeit by Springfield -- and is just 14 points shy of being undefeated.
After losing all his key receivers and backs from last year's title-game run, Stalcup, the state's 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year after a 31-touchdown campaign, has rebounded to throw for more than 300 yards a game and 27 TDs.
Redding, the Bulldogs' key offensive weapon, has amassed 25 scores -- five different ways -- and over 1,900 total yards.
"I don't think either of us thought we'd be putting up numbers like we are and, not just us, but as a team, scoring 44 points a game, offensively, it's gone way above our expectations," said Stalcup, who now has 83 career touchdown passes.
"It's the best decision I've ever made," Redding said. "Just the school in general is a good atmosphere, it's a lot of fun up here -- it's the most fun I've ever had playing football."
BBA coach Jason Thomas saw things a little differently.
"I had pretty high expectations when [Redding] came here because I'd seen him for a couple years now on film, coached against him last year and knew what he was capable of in an offense like ours, with a quarterback like ours," Thomas said.
"When anyone asked me, I said he was a ‘toy,'" he said. "He was a guy we could use running the ball, catching the ball and throwing the ball. And that's exactly how we've tried to use him."
In the Bulldogs' wide-open, spread attack, Redding has caught 58 passes for 953 yards and 13 TDs. He also has six touchdowns rushing, three passing (in five attempts), two returning kicks and one on an interception return.
"At home I had a little sheet that had what I wanted to do this year and right now I'm at where I thought I would be at Week 11," Redding said.
"He's way past where he thought he'd be in Week 11," Stalcup cut in.
And Redding didn't mince words when talking about the guy getting him the ball.
"He's the best player I've ever played with," Redding said. "He makes me who I am. We're a good 1-2 combo, we're tough to stop."
But the Bulldogs' explosive offense this year has also relied on more than just the dynamic duo.
Since falling into a 28-6 hole against previously unbeaten Lyndon in Week 6, the Bulldogs have reeled off three straight wins and outscored opponents 134-41 thanks to the contributions of players like receivers Seth Wilkins and Wilson Vickers, and running backs Eric Cerra and Dalton Blackwell.
"Our defense has grown up as the season progressed and we've fine-tuned the offense," Redding said. "There's really been some kids that have stepped up ... The team is not just me and Jake."
Ultimately though, Burr and Burton's playoff fate hangs on a game 150 miles from Applejack Field, where the Bulldogs host U-32 (2-6) tonight for their regular season finale.
BBA needs a win against U-32 and a Lyndon (5-3) loss to unbeaten Rice (8-0) to lock down a top-four finish ahead of the Vikings.
"I'd like to see what we could do if we get to the playoffs," Thomas said. "We have to take care of business [today], obviously, and we're real big fans of the Rice Green Knights this week, for sure."