CASTLETON — Mount Anthony senior Andrew Gilbert was among the honorees during the 27th annual Vermont Chapter Awards Dinner held at Glenbrook Gymnasium on the Castleton University campus.
The awards dinner, hosted by the Vermont chapter of the National Football Foundation (NFF) on Sunday, honored the best of the 2021 football season.
Student-athletes and coaches from around the state were honored in addition to others who were recognized for lifetime service and achievement.
Gilbert received the Robert Stafford High School Athlete Community Service Award for his work with the NAACP, volunteering at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic as well as helping set up the holiday decorations in downtown Bennington.
He also has been a camp counselor and he volunteered with Bennington youth football as an official. An honor roll student, Gilbert finished second statewide in a Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) competition in personal finance.
Gilbert also played in the North-South Senior All-Star Game last November.
The community service award is sponsored by Fred Peet, Attorney at Law.
Gilbert helped lead the Patriots to their first state championship game appearance of the millennium as a two-way starter on the line during his senior campaign this past fall.
Gilbert will continue his education and football career at Bridgewater State University.
The Bennington County recognition didn’t end there. Burr and Burton’s Will Addington was one of six Vermont high school football-scholar-athlete inductees honored for outstanding football ability and performance, outstanding academic achievement and outstanding school leadership and example.
Jonathan Terry of Bellows Falls, Oliver Orvis of Essex; Slade Postemski of Rutland; Samuel Begin of St. Johnsbury; and Dalton Clifford of Windsor joined Addington among the honorees, and each student-athlete was awarded a $500 scholarship from the NFF.
Camden Benoit of Winooski, a member of the Burlington-South Burlington high school football program, was awarded the 2022 Most Courageous Athlete Award and Scholarship, presented by Peet.
Benoit overcame a serious injury suffered in his first varsity game as well as a rare degenerative bone disease, to have an outstanding senior season. His resilience paid off- he was named his team’s defensive MVP and earned a spot in last fall’s North-South Senior All-Star Game. He also played basketball at Winooski High. This fall he will attend Norwich University, looking to play football for the Cadets.
Seniors Anthony Martinez (Brattleboro, Vt.), an all-league wide receiver from Castleton University, Jacob Schwab (Fairport, N.Y.), also a wide receiver from Norwich University, and defensive back Nate Stewart (Easton, Mass.) from Middlebury College were named Vermont Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame inductees, representing the state’s three collegiate football programs. The day before the dinner Schwab graduated from Norwich and was commissioned as an officer while Stewart was one of seven Panthers recently named to the prestigious NFF Hampshire Honor Society
Jason Aldrich of Barre, a director of the Barre Youth Sports Association’s youth football program was the winner of the Vermont Youth Football Leadership Award for his efforts with football in Central Vermont.
The 2022 Vermont Coach of the Year Award, named by the state’s coaches, went to outgoing Essex head coach Marty Richards for the leading the Hornets to the 2021 Division I crown. Richards also won the award in 2020 after leading Mount Mansfield to its first-ever state title in 2019. The other divisional coaches of the year were Bob Lockerby of Bellows Falls in Division II and Greg Balch of Windsor in Division III, both 2021 state champions in their respective divisions.
Longtime Norwich University director of athletics Anthony ‘Tony’ Mariano of Northfield was selected as the winner of the Contribution to Amateur Athletics Award for close to five decades of service to athletics in the state.
A St. Lawrence alumnus, he spent 14 years as a coach in men’s soccer and men’s hockey before leading the school’s athletic department as AD for the last 30 years. Mariano was a driving force in the start of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) in 2009, the football conference that once featured Norwich and where Castleton has been an original member. He also was instrumental in Norwich’s current football conference, the NEWMAC, adding the sport in 2017.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) of Middlesex was given the evening’s final award, the Vermont Chapter’s Distinguished American Award. A native of Montpelier where he grew up near the statehouse, Leahy was the Chittenden County State’s Attorney before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 1974.
In his six-decade tenure representing the Green Mountain State in the Senate, he has been a longtime proponent of education, human rights and law enforcement as well as one of the top environmental and conservation legislators. He also has been a strong supporter of athletics in Vermont, at all levels.
The NFF and College Hall of Fame was founded in 1947 as a non-profit educational organization to run programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. For more information, visit www.footballfoundation.org.