CASTLETON -- With the 61st annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl just days away, the Vermont and New Hampshire teams have finally dealt with the task of implementing the playbook for both sides of the ball and now move on to the tough challenge of refining everything in time for game day.
The game will be played on Saturday on Dartmouth College’s Memorial Field with kickoff slated for 5:30 p.m.
New Hampshire is looking to keep offense at the forefront again in 2014 and is hoping its spread offense will accomplish that goal. Head coach David Jackson is pleased at what he has seen thus far and will rely on Trevor Knight of Nashua South. The University of New Hampshire recruit has worked out of the spread in each of his last three seasons at the helm of Nashua South and Jackson is confident in his signal caller’s ability.
Jackson is also excited about what he has seen on the defensive side of the ball.
"The competition has been ferocious," he said. "They’re hawks out there, they’re flying around, they’re having fun and are ready to get after it."
Vermont coach Mike Williams said he will have his players running the flex bone triple option, something that a few teams in the state already implement, giving many of his players a familiarity. Thus far, both James Shufelt III of Lyndon Institute and Mill River’s Mark Goyette have seen a number of snaps behind center and Williams doesn’t anticipate that changing.
Defensively, Williams is pleased by what he has seen.
"We’ve got real great competitions going on," he said. "To us, right now, it is a matter of practicing tempo as we expect New Hampshire to push the pace and test us."
With the intense competitions all around and the high quality of play from everyone, both coaches still say a lot is up in the air in terms of starters.
The two teams will wind things up at Castleton State College on Friday morning and then bus to Hanover for final workouts on Memorial Field in the afternoon.
New Hampshire won last year’s game, 43-0, and has a commanding 45-13-2 record against Vermont.
Shrine Bowl Day in Hanover will also offer a spectacular parade at noon. In addition to Shrine units from Shrine Centers in the Northeast, the parade will feature a 100-member All-Star High School Band, which will also perform at half time during the game.
Tickets are now on sale from outlets throughout New Hampshire and Vermont and online at shrinemaplesugarbowl.com/2014 game. Information regarding tickets can also be obtained by calling the Shrine Football office in Lebanon, N.H. at 603-448-1042.