MAU, Brattleboro play for Elwell Trophy Friday
In each of the last four matchups against Mount Anthony, it's been the Colonels heading over the mountain, trophy still in hand.
Friday night at Spinelli Field, the Patriots will be focused on bringing the trophy back to Bennington as their rival comes to town for the annual matchup.
The game against the Colonels is always circled on the schedule for Mount Anthony.
"It doesn't take much to get motivated for Brattleboro. Regardless of records, the games are always close," said Patriots coach Chad Gordon. "It's always a big game, especially playing for a trophy. You can be undefeated or never win a game and you still get a chance to leave your season with a trophy."
The two Marble Valley League schools know each other all to well. No matter the sport, the familiarity factor only heightens the stakes when the schools meet.
"These guys have been playing each other every year," Gordon said. "They get to know some of their guys, playing other sports, so they know them from basketball and baseball. It's always a lot of fun."
Mount Anthony comes into the rivalry matchup at 2-4 in Division II, while Brattleboro is 0-6.
But the Colonels are better than what their record shows, as their schedule has been one of the most difficult in Division I. They have losses to D-I powerhouses like Rutland (5-1) and Mount Mansfield (5-1), who are first and second in the Vermont Interscholastic Football League QPR rankings after Week 6. Their loss to the Cougars was by just one touchdown in a 50-43 game.
They also have a eight-point loss to No. 7 Colchester (4-2).
"They've had one of the toughest schedules in the state, if not the toughest," Gordon said. "If you look at their schedule, their record is not indicative of how good of a team they are. They've played all the big ones and in some of those games they've held a lead. They are clearly a very good football team."
Brattleboro has a strong offense that the Patriots will have to contend with. Besides low-scoring efforts against Rutland and Burlington-South Burlington, the Colonels have scored 19 or more points in their four other games.
They are led at quarterback by Tyler Millerick, a junior, who provides Brattleboro with a strong arm and a speed threat under center. In the Colonels' loss to Mount Mansfield, he had three rushing scores and two passing scores, which is a perfect example of that dual-threat nature.
"He's a heck of an athlete and a three-sport athlete. I saw him his freshman year on the junior varsity level and by the end of the year, he was playing some reps on varsity," Gordon said. "Last year, as a sophomore, he lit us up and they won that game (28-14). He's a great quarterback. He can hurt you running and throwing. He's someone we need to contain."
Some of his options at receiver are Adam Newton and Calvin Gould, who both caught touchdown passes in Brattleboro's loss to St. Johnsbury.
In the running game, Chris Frost is the main running back. Against the Hilltoppers, he rushed for 122 yards and a score.
MAU comes in with some confidence after pulling out a 21-14 win last week against Otter Valley.
The Patriots were especially strong in the second half, scoring all of their points after the halftime break.
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Hay had success through the air, throwing for 173 yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target was sophomore Gavin Johnson, who used his height to his advantage with seven catches and 127 yards, while reeling in a pair of touchdown passes. Chris Nolan caught the other touchdown.
Running backs Jack Ware and Brody Bossong are MAU's top threats on the ground. Ware had 57 yards rushing last week and Bossong ran for 81 yards the week before against Lyndon.
Gordon is hoping his team can bring the momentum of a victory into Friday's clash.
"We're a young team and we've struggled in a couple games, believing in ourselves and believing in our ability," Gordon said. "Last week in that second half, some of these guys flipped a switch and they started believing in themselves. We can play with anyone once we believe. We just need to keep that momentum. We've got a lot of talent and we can win some football games if we execute."
Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at Spinelli Field.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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