Storm start the charge for a title

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BENNINGTON — The regular season is over for the Southern Vermont Storm and five months of practices and games have led to a No. 1 seed in the New England Football League's 'A' Division at 7-1.

Now, the second season begins, and for the Storm, that's a game on Saturday, at 3 p.m. at Mount Anthony Union Middle School against the No. 8 seed Seacoast Warhawks.

For many of the players, it's a game that's nearly two years in the making after the Storm folded before the 2016 season.

"It started in the offseason, which is more than half the battle," said Pat Seaver, the Storm's owner and its offensive coordinator. "Starting early, we got a bunch of guys from the [Berkshire] Kings, which folded. The guys are hungry and the ones who took it off last season were upset when we folded. We came back strong, we [did fundraisers], we changed the look to make things look totally different. We got the coaching staff we promised and it's all coming to fruition now."

Chris Cipperley, the assistant general manager and the defensive coordinator, said the rebirth has been amazing to watch. Cipperley played for the team in its infancy and returned this season as a coach.

"A lot of guys had to learn each other," Cipperley said. "We grew a lot, mostly in June when we played the exhibition against the Troy [Fighting Irish], guys learned and leaned on each other. We're a team now. In years past, we had a bunch of guys, this year we have a team."

On the field, the Storm have been good on offense, scoring 185 points, an average of 23 points a game.

"Offensively, we finally became physical and it's made a difference these last couple of weeks," Cipperley said.

Defensively, the Storm have allowed only 73 points, less than 10 points a contest.

That total is good for third in the division.

"It's about teamwork, they work well as a unit and communicate very well," Cipperley said. "We come off the field and talk between series. This team is smart. We run our base defense, midgame, we can jump to something we haven't run in a few weeks, we can go to something new."

Seaver said the team is excited about playing a playoff game in Bennington.

"I think having a year off, people missed the football aspect of it, when we had the game at the high school, the stands were full. I looked at halftime and the place was jamming," Seaver said. "People get something to look forward to, go to the football game and support the team. It's a playoff game and the more the community is involved, we'll be able to do bigger, better things for the team. Having a playoff game here in Bennington shows we are worthy of having a team that's good and it's going to get better."

Cipperley said it means a lot to try to bring a NEFL title back to Bennington.

"I've been a part of this team from the very beginning, things were very good back then, the team has been successful, but support has wavered," Cipperley said. This year, the support has really grown and we want to repay the community with a championship, to me that's the way to give back."


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