BRATTLEBORO -- The John Callahan era began on Friday night at Natowich Field, and the Brattleboro Union High School varsity football team held on for a 14-8 victory over Bellows Falls.
"I thought our defense played very well. They did a great job. The defense is ahead of our offense, by the way they execute," said Callahan after his first game as the head coach of the Colonels.
Using an option attack, Brattleboro went 74 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead with 8:22 left in the first quarter. Senior tailback Jake Gaboriault did much of the damage, as he gained 13 yards on a pitch from quarterback Kyle Patno, later scored on a 21-yard sweep and also kicked the extra point.
But the offense used by the great Oklahoma and Nebraska teams in years past wouldn’t run so smoothly the rest of the way. Jordan Roberts recorded a sack, Ian McKeen and Jacob Lober made some vicious hits, and David Dunbar picked off a pass as the visitors held Callahan and company scoreless for the remainder of the first half.
However, the Terriers couldn’t even move the chains. With constant pressure coming from linebackers Chris McAuliffe and Kyle Shippee, Bellows Falls had to punt three times, turned it over on downs, and had a pass intercepted by Max Bostwick before Brattleboro took a 7-0 lead to the intermission.
When the second half began, the Bellows Falls offensive line started blowing open holes for running back Kyle O’Rourke, who had early gains up the gut of seven, 13 and 13 yards. But Brattleboro’s stingy defense would eventually force punts, stop fake punts, hold their foes on fourth down, or force a turnover.
"I thought we were starting to wear them down," said Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby. "We wanted to play power football, but that meant powering it with linemen that were giving up 75 to 100 pounds."
Or more in the case of Cheickna Doucoure -- a 345-pound road block in the trenches, who teamed up with BUHS defensive linemen Alex Rosewarne and Ian Cebek inside.
The Colonels would strike again midway through the fourth quarter on a 77-yard bomb from Patno to Kassidi Ramirez. Gaboriault’s PAT made it 14-0 with 6:34 to go.
A big kick return by Brian McAnuff moments later had the visiting crowd into it. Bellows Falls signal-caller Ethan Illingworth would eventually reach paydirt from 16 yards out and then hooked up with David Dunbar for the deuce to make it 14-8.
After an unsuccessful onsides kick by the visitors, the Colonels were able to run the clock out by continually pounding it inside with rugged fullback Colby McGinn.
Ramirez ran for 69 yards and also caught the 77-yard TD pass to lead the winners offensively. Gaboriault had nine carries for 64 yards, Patno completed two passes for 107, and Tanner Freeman chipped in with a 30-yard reception.
Illingworth, a junior, was 2-of-14 passing for 13 yards and was picked off by Bostwick and Michael Rooney. Kyle O’Rourke (54 yards) and Carson Fullam (49 yards) were the leading rushers for Bellows Falls.
"We’re going to be good for a couple of years," noted Lockerby, who appears to have a slew of dangerous weapons on the outside including junior ends Bandera Swastano and Brian McAnuff.
Brattleboro (1-0) will play at Burlington in a Division 1 showdown on Friday at 7 p.m. and the 0-1 Terriers will host Milton in a Division 2 clash on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Brattleboro roster: Coaches -- John Callahan, Eric Libardoni, Chad Pacheco, Nick Rose, Carl Anderson, Luke Cruxton, Peter Speckman. Players -- Kyle Shippee, Kassidi Ramirez, Josh Doucette, Colby McGinn, Iziah Cliche, Tyler McKenney, Nick Hiner, Max Bostwick, Michael Rooney, Kyle Patno, Gene Buckley, Cooper Turner-Renaud, Adam McPhail, Jake Gaboriault, Daniel Revis, Tanner Freeman, Teagan Day, Aleks Harrison, Jake Lyon, Jack Ochukpue, Taylor King, Evan Perkins, Josh Simeon, Brandon Niemczyk, Adison Clark, Chris McAuliffe, Troy Wood, Ryan McAuliffe, John Lonardo, Andy Gadowski, Eli Kapral, Drew Wood, Mark Dixon, Alex Rosewarne, Ian Cebek, Ty Grannum, Matt Forrett, Lukas Wallace, Cheickna Doucoure, Nick Perusse, Ryan Fontaine, Ryan Duford, Austin Gilbeau, Kevin Tao, James Carroll.
Bellows Falls roster: Coaches -- Bob Lockerby, Mike Bennett, Ryan Stoodley, Donald Laurendeau, Mike Empey, Matt Tomberg, Stan Budzik. Players -- Ethan Illingworth, Bandera Swastano, Zak Streeter, Jordan Roberts, Colby Howe, Ian McKeen, Austin Stack, David Dunbar, Brian McAnuff, Alex Groenewold, Carson Fullam, Cody Kerr, Kyle Record, Dakota Derby, Kendrick Mills, Jakob Mead, Kyle O’Rourke, Chris McKeen, Nathan Fairbrother, Joe White, Jacob Lober, Brendan Kelly, Shane Brown, Khol Hitchcock, Cameron Parker, Hayden Riendeau, Tyson Taylor, Austin Covillion, Jeramiah Dunbar, Justin Vieu, Matt Conkey, Nate Milliken, Christian Terry, Devin Hogan, Chris Sherrette, Chris Armstrong.
Shane Covey can be reached at scovey @reformer.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.