Local football players chosen for North-South game

BENNINGTON — A group of local high school football seniors will get one more chance to put on the pads when they take part in the 2017 Vermont North-South Senior All-Star football game Saturday at Middlebury College.

The game, in its 17th year, brings together some of the best senior players from across the state to show off the ability that helped them lead their respective teams to success throughout the season.

Mount Anthony Union will have two players representing them in Saturday's contest with Will Fischer and Aaron Mattison being named to the South squad. Fischer played quarterback for the Patriots this season, but his natural position is wide receiver, which he will play in the All-Star game. Mattison moved around on defense for the team throughout the season, logging most of his time at outside linebacker and cornerback.

First-year MAU coach Chad Gordon believes these two deserve every bit of the recognition they receive.

"It shows that their hard work and dedication pays off," Gordon said. "They really dedicated themselves for four years and dedicated themselves in the off-season. I was there at the meeting where they picked the players for the roster and they had a lot of nice things to say about (Will). They recognized that he wasn't playing in his natural position."

Gordon is excited that these two stalwarts for his team over the last four years get a chance to play one more time at the high school level.

"As a senior, you're always worried about that last game," Gordon said. "They got to play in the quarterfinals and unfortunately didn't come out with a win. Knowing that they had this opportunity to play with the elite players in the state and see how they belong on that playing field."

Six players from Burr and Burton Academy made the South team as well. Cameron Hedberg, Bryce Little, Jay McCoy, Rach Robinson, Connor Simonds and Mark Wade all made the squad.

Much like Gordon, BBA coach Jason Thomas could not be more proud of the group, who helped BBA to a 37-4 record over the past four seasons.

"The seniors were the heart and soul of our team," Thomas said. "It's the winningest class in program history. It's a great way for them to go out and get another chance to play together. We've had great leaders over the last four years and it really speaks volumes to them that they're the winningest class in Burr and Burton football."

For many of the Bulldogs like quarterback Jay McCoy, who have been playing football for most of their lives, this game can be viewed as something they had a good chance of making. That expectation comes with years of hard work to be at the top of their game.

For a pair of BBA players, it was never going to be a foregone conclusion that they would receive this honor. Hedberg and Robinson picked up the game at a later age, so them being named All-Stars holds a special significance.

Robinson is an exchange student from Thailand, who is in his second year at the school, and has played for the Bulldogs both years.

"He came in and really did a nice job for us," said Thomas of Robinson. "He controlled the middle of our defense, so it was really neat for him to experience American football for the first time and be selected for the All-Star game."

Hedberg, who is from South Africa, also plays basketball and lacrosse and only picked up the game a few years ago as well.

"Cam has always been a tremendous athlete," Thomas said. "It just speaks to his athleticism and his hard work. I just wish I had him for [all] four years."

Head coaches for the contest are are Lonnie Wade of North Country for the North and Springfield's Rich Saypack of Springfield for the South.

Kickoff is slated for at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Middlebury College. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students, and will be available at the gate starting an hour prior to game time. All proceeds benefit the scholarship and grant programs of the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@benningtonbanner.com and at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.


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