Storm aim to stay undefeated
BENNINGTON -- Off to one of its best starts in program history at 3-0, the Southern Vermont Storm look to continue its unbeaten reign on Saturday when they face the Northern Berkshire Kings at Reid Middle School in Pittsfield, Mass at 4 p.m.
The Storm and the Kings already played this season, with the Storm scoring a 35-18 victory.
"We're ready for them, prepared, and we took that game as a wake-up call," said Storm coach Pat Seaver. "We've always played well against them, obviously they got better. We're a great team, we play down sometimes because we've done well against those teams in the past."
The Storm have looked strong in the first three weeks, outscoring opponents 94-41. They are one of only four teams still unbeaten in the New England Football League's A Division.
Quarterback Will Cole has brought a spark to the Storm offense, passing for 779 yards and 12 touchdowns in the first three games. Cole, who took over the quarterback spot this season when former QB J.C. LeBarron moved from the area. He's hit six different receivers with touchdown strikes.
"It's a big change, the offensive line has worked together for a while and Will's style is completely different," said lineman John Cross. "He can scramble, he's good at it. So as a lineman, you have to keep your head on a swivel because you want to protect him."
One major piece that is out for the Storm is tailback Mike Woodson. Woodson, a former member of the Kings, rushed for 152 yards and a score in the opening game of the year against the Vermont Ravens, but injured his shoulder in the first quarter against the Kings, and hasn't returned yet.
In his place, Sean Willette and Greg Wescott have shouldered the load as a nice 1-2 punch out of the backfield for the Storm.
"We're still strong, even with some guys moving around and playing in different spots," Seaver said.
An area of concern for the Storm is second-half scoring. In the games against the Kings and Marauders, the Storm only scored one touchdown each in the second half.
"We're a first half team and we're working on making it the entire 60 minutes," Seaver said.
Defensively, the Storm are led by linebackers Bill Demers and Adrian Gruber, along with safety Nick Bennett and a rotation of defensive linemen. That group will have to be on point against a speedy Kings team.
"They are a fast team and that can take a toll on you after a while," Cross said. "Not just the last three weeks, but even over the last three years, the defense has progressed and it's nice to see that all click."
After the matchup with the Kings on Saturday, the Storm come home -- to play at Spinelli Field in Bennington, many players' high school stomping ground -- against the Southern New Hampshire Beavers. As enticing as it is to look ahead, the Storm are doing just the opposite.
"The [guys] are showing up, we're trying some new things out to keep up with the fast pace," Cross said. "We aren't taking anything lightly, it's like each week we're facing an undefeated team."
No matter what happens, it will be a fight to the final whistle.
"It's 60 minutes, records don't matter," Cross said. "We have to live in that 60 minutes and whoever's hungrier is going to [win] it."
To get to Reid Middle School, take Route 7 South from Bennington for 32 miles and the school is on the left. The field is in back of the school.
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