MAU numbers strong as preseason opens

BENNINGTON — Coming into the 2017 season, the Mount Anthony football team has come to grips with an 0-9 season in 2016 and a drop-down to Division II.

But then, a new challenge.

Coach John Martin left the team officially on Saturday after taking a teaching job in the Queensbury, N.Y., school district, giving the Patriots something else to think about.

"As we tell the guys, you always have to be prepared, you never know what's going to happen," said coach Chad Gordon. "It's the next-man-up type attitude and it's the same with coaches."

Gordon is the interim coach in Martin's absence and is on the Mount Anthony school board's agenda for Wednesday night to be named officially as the next head coach.

"I've run the JV team for the past five years, I'm running the same offense that John ran," Gordon said. "Bill [Hay] is still going to be the defensive coordinator, Jim [Fischer's] going to step up as the offensive coordinator."

On the opening day of preseason practice, the Patriots were about 50 strong, good numbers, but lower than most Division I programs.

"Seeing how they look on Day 1, I'm excited," Gordon said. "We have good numbers and good enthusiasm. Out of 50 [players], 30 have been in the weight room since the end of June. That core looks real solid. There's also a couple of new guys and a couple of surprises, guys I didn't know would be here."

For the first time, Mount Anthony will play a Division II schedule, but Gordon said the schedule is still a tough one.

"It's still quality football and you have to be ready and prepared, the difference isn't that big," Gordon said. "We open with Fair Haven on Sept. 1 and they are tough and it gets no easier after that. We still play Brattleboro and South Burlington, two Division I teams and then the last game of the year against Burr and Burton, which is a huge rivalry and obviously a solid program."

There should be a lot of experience with this year's Patriots, a handful of guys as two or three-year starters in their respective positions.

That includes Will Fischer and offensive linemen Jake Harkins and Blake Carey, all seniors.

"Mickey Bernard will be good out of the backfield, we have some guys like [receiver] Cole Bushee, who's a junior now," Gordon said. "Aaron Mattison has been working his tail off and he's going to surprise a lot of people. Austin Gordon was hurt last year. We have some weapons."

Gordon said he's also pleased to see a lot of freshman trying out for the team as well.

"We have about 20 here," Gordon said. "The success that [middle school coach] Frank [Gaudette] is building at the middle school level is coming up through. We should have a solid JV squad."

The opening game against the Slaters is Friday, Sept. 1 at Spinelli Field.

"I'm already starting the countdown, we have 16 practices from now until Fair Haven," Gordon said. "We're getting ready for Sept. 1."


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