Vermont will wrap up its high school football regular season this weekend. Among the big games: a Division I matchup between Essex and South Burlington that will earn the winner a playoff berth.
Essex (4-2) and South Burlington (4-3) will enter the weekend third and fourth respectively in the Division I standings. The winner will secure the No. 3 seed, but the loser will drop to the fifth spot. Four teams qualify for the playoffs in each of Vermont’s three divisions.
“It’s pretty complicated to figure out because we don’t all play the same number of league games, but I think there’s a scenario where Rutland can finish in the third spot,” South Burlington coach Joe McDonald said.
“We’re running the same offensive system (as Essex) and pretty much the same defense too. Both teams have good passing attacks and we’re playing at home on turf, so weather is not an issue. Who’s favored? I suppose that depends on who you ask. It should be interesting. It should be a good game.”
Rutland will conclude the regular season with a game against Division II Mount Mansfield. Because it’s not a league game, the outcome of that contest will not factor into Rutland’s Quality Point Rating, the formula Vermont uses to determine playoff teams.
Both Essex and South Burlington are coming off losses. Essex, which won last year’s Division I championship, dropped a 35-14 decision to Rutland last weekend. South Burlington lost to BFA-St. Albans 26-14.
BFA-St. Albans (8-0) and Hartford (5-1) have already clinched Division I playoff berths.
Middlebury (6-0), Champlain Valley Union (6-1) and Rice (5-1) have earned Division II playoff berths, but four teams will enter the weekend with a chance to finish as the No. 4 seed. Fair Haven, Milton, Colchester and North Country are all 3-3. One of the four will complete the Division II playoff field.
Bellows Falls (5-1), Windsor (7-1) and BFA-Fairfax (5-1) have clinched postseason berths in Division III. Woodstock (5-2) can extend its season by beating Windsor on Friday night. A Woodstock loss would open the door for Oxbow (4-2).
BOYS SOCCER: U-32 REACHES HIGH GOAL
Offense wasn’t a problem for top-seeded U-32 in the first round of the Division II boys' soccer tournament.
U-32 received four goals and an assist from Jack Shea and three goals from Carter Austin-Bradley in an 8-0 victory over 16th-seeded Fair Haven on Tuesday.
Elsewhere Tuesday, Ricky Carroll collected three goals and Keegan McDonnell contributed two goals and an assist to help top-seeded Proctor defeat Craftsbury 6-0 in the Division IV tournament.
Top-seeded Champlain Valley (Division I) and top-seeded Leland & Gray (Division III) each earned a bye and will begin postseason play on Friday. Here are Friday’s playoff pairings by Division:
Division I: No. 1 CVU vs. No. 8 Harwood; No. 4 Rutland vs. No. 5 South Burlington/No. 12 Mount Mansfield winner; No. 2 Brattleboro vs. No. 7 Colchester; and No. 3 Burlington vs. No. 6 Essex.
Division II: No. 1 U-32 vs. No. 9 Hartford; No. 4 Springfield vs. No. 5 Green Mountain Valley; No. 2 Mississquoi vs. No. 7 Woodstock; and No. 3 Milton vs. No. 6 Rice.
Division III: No. 1 Leland & Gray vs. No. 8 Enosburg; No. 4 Thetford vs. No. 5 Stowe; No. 2 Peoples vs. No. 7 Northfield; and No. 3 Winooski vs. No. 6 BFA-Fairfax.
Division IV: No. 1 Proctor vs. No. 9 Rochester; No. 4 Rivendell vs. No. 5 Long Trail; No. 15 Black River vs. No. 10 Danville and No. 3 Sharon vs. No. 6 South Royalton.
GIRLS SOCCER: VIEW FROM THE TOP
CVU (Division I), Montpelier (Division II), Mill River (Division III) and Rivendell (Division IV) are the top-seeded teams for the girls soccer tournament, which begins Wednesday.
CVU, which has won nine games in a row and outscored its opposition 37-2 during that span, drew a first-round bye, and will meet either No. 8 Spaulding or No. 9 Burlington on Saturday.
Montpelier, which is unscored upon in its last seven victories, also earned a first-round bye and will face either No. 8 Lamoille or No. 9 Woodstock on Saturday.
Mill River and Rivendell will each play first-round games Wednesday. Mill River will meet No. 16 Winooski, and Rivendell will face No. 16 Craftsbury.
FIELD HOCKEY: PERFECT ENDING?
South Burlington (14-0-0) and Hartford (13-0-0) are the only field hockey teams that finished the regular season unbeaten. The teams could meet in the Division I tournament’s championship game.
South Burlington is the tournament’s top seed. Hartford is seeded No. 2.
Harwood (Division II) and Missisquoi (Division III) are the other top-seeded field hockey teams. All three will begin tournament play with quarterfinal-round games this weekend.
South Burlington, which had a first-round bye, will face either No. 8 Mount Mansfield or No. 9 Mount Anthony on Saturday. Harwood, which also had a first-round bye, will meet either No. 8 Spaulding or No. 9 Mount Abraham on Saturday, and Missisquoi will play No. 8 Bellows Falls on Friday.
Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.