BRATTLEBORO -- The Tom Osborne of high school football is looking to ride his option attack through a rough Division 1 schedule and into the playoffs.
But before going toe-to-toe with Burlington, South Burlington, Hartford, St. Johnsbury, Rutland, Colchester, and rival MAU, you'd think second-year coach John Callahan and the Colonels might take the Nebraska approach and start off with a cupcake.
Brattleboro will open up at Bellows Falls on Saturday at 1 p.m., exactly one year after holding on for a 14-8 victory over the Division 2 Terriers on Natowich Field.
"This will be a difficult opener for us. We know that Bellows Falls has an experienced team and excellent running backs and line," noted Callahan. "This will be a difficult opening game for a young team. We have great respect for the team they will put on the field this year."
The Terriers, who have historically kept the ball on the ground much like Wisconsin, now have the tools to do whatever they want.
"We're going to be good for a couple of years," said Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby to the media following the 2013 season opener on Natowich Field.
He wasn't kidding.
His Terriers went on to claim the No. 3 seed in the Division 2 Tournament and have the talent to go even further this season. Quarterback Ethan Illingworth is back, along with dangerous weapons Brian McAnuff (end), Bandera Swastano (end) and ball carrier Carson Fullam.
And when Bellows Falls goes to the air on Saturday, things could get interesting.
"The defensive secondary may be one of the most experienced parts of the team this year," commented Callahan.
That unit will consist of returning starters Tanner Freeman and Aleks Harrison, and corner Taylor King. And the Colonels should get plenty of pass rush from veteran defensive tackle Ian Cebek. Ends Eli Kapral and Dillon Green, tackle Brandon Niemczek, and linebackers Tyler McKenney, Nick Hiner, Evan Perkins and Andy Gadowski will also start on Brattleboro's 4-4 defense.
Illingworth struggled against the "Purple Haze" in 2013, completing just 2 of 14 passes and throwing a pair of interceptions. Fullam rushed for 49 yards in that contest.
As for the Bellows Falls defense, this will be its second look at the dive-pitch-or-keep attack.
"We will run our option style offense again this year," stated Callahan, adding that Jack Ochukpue had plenty of experience in the backfield last season and that Tanner Freeman was the leading receiver a year ago.
Senior Andy Gadowski will start at guard on a line that will also consist of tackles Eli Kapral and Korie Cliche, guard Conor Hiner, and center Evan Perkins. The skill people will be: tight end Dillon Green, split end Tanner Freeman, and backfield mates Chieck Diakite, Taylor King and Ochukpue.
"We have two quarterbacks competing for the starting position -- junior Tyler McKenney and sophomore Tony Martinez," said Callahan, who lost 2013 starting quarterback Kyle Patno to graduation.
Maybe one of them will turn into the next Tommie Frazier, who led the Cornhuskers to back-to-back national championships in 1994 and 1995.
Head Coach -- John Callahan. Seniors -- Nick Hiner, Iziah Cliche, Tanner Freeman, Cooper Turner-Renaud, Andy Gadowski, Alex Rosewarne, Ian Cebek. Juniors -- Dylan DeJordy, Tyler McKenney, Taylor King, Aleks Harrison, Josh Simeon, Jack Ochukpue, Brandon Niemczek, Troy Wood, Jordan Wright, Evan Perkins, Eli Kapral, Nick Perusse, Ty Grannon, Austin Gilbeau, Dillon Green. Sophomores -- Matt Gaboriault, Tony Martinez, Griffin Lynde, Chieck Diakite, Zeb Lesure, Jack Gagnon, Deshaii Ward, Kolton Ravenna, Dylan Bailey, Conor Hiner, Korie Cliche, Chris Hall, Seth Rhodes, Jahvon Parker, Sam Barrows, John Grady, Emmanuel Vargas, Kyle Dean, Tyler Godin.
Bellows Falls Terriers
Head Coach -- Bob Lockerby. Seniors -- Ethan Illingworth, Bandera Swastano, Brian McAnuff, Austin Stack, Carson Fullam, Cody Kerr, Jacob Mead, Kyle Record, Brendon Kelly, Khol Hitchcock, Hayden Riendeau, Preston Li, Chris Armstrong. Juniors -- Tyson Taylor, Austin Covillion, Devon Hogan, Christian Terry, Rhys Bednor, Khris Shrettee, Bradley Tallent, Zack Streeter, Chris McKeen, Dakota Derby, Nathan Fairbrother. Sophomores -- Jahyd Bullard, Caleb Lisai, Jacob Streeter, Brody Burke, Bryce Smith, Jake Lober, Sawyer Reis, Brendon Kendall, Liam Hackett, Jared Neathawk, D.J. Snide, Brady Illingworth, Nick Tuttle, Antonio Torres, Brian Green, Devin Hardy, Cory Noyes.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.
Week 1 in Vermont
Friday, Aug. 29
Middlebury at Essex, 7
S. Burlington at Burlington, 7
Milton at N. Country, 7
Mt. Abraham at U-32, 7
Oxbow at Winooski, 7
MAU at Hartford, 7
Otter Valley at Fair Haven, 7
Poultney at Woodstock, 7
Saturday, Aug. 30
Brattleboro at Bellows Falls, 1
St. Albans at Mt. Mansfield, 1
Rutland at St. Johnsbury, 1
Colchester at CVU, 1
Burr & Burton at Lyndon, 1
Spaulding at Rice, 1
MSJ at Fairfax, 1
Windsor at Mill River, 1