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New England Roundup: Vermont

It’s been a long time since a Vermont football team beat New Hampshire in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, and Champlain Valley Union coach Jim Provost is hoping that drought will end this summer.

VermontProvost has been named Vermont’s head coach for the 2011 Shrine Game, which will be played Aug. 6 at Macleay-Royce Field in Windsor, Vt. New Hampshire stretched its winning streak to 10 games by posting a 34-20 victory last summer.

“The timing has a lot to do with it staff-wise,” Provost said when asked why he applied for the coaching position. “My staff will all be CVU coaches. Plus sometimes you just get the itch.”

Provost served as the head coach at Rice Memorial for 14 seasons, and recently completed his third season at CVU. His Redhawks lost in the 2009 Division II championship game, and reached the Division II semifinals last fall.

Provost also served as Vermont’s head coach for the 1990 Shrine Game. New Hampshire posted a 35-0 victory that year.

Lebanon coach Chris Childs was named New Hampshire’s head coach for next year’s game. Childs guided Lebanon to an unbeaten season and the Division IV state championship last fall.

New Hampshire leads the series 42-13-2.

“New Hampshire is going to have a physical advantage,” Provost said. “I know a lot of people think Vermont has to chuck the ball 60 times a game and hope for the best, but every year is a new year. That’s the approach we have to take.

“How we pick this team will have a lot to do with talent, of course, but also how dedicated each player is to the game. Are they willing to pay the price with workouts and getting in shape.”

The head coaches from the high schools in each state nominate players for the game, and a screening committee from each state selects the 36-player rosters. The Shrine Game head coaches are part of the screening committee.

“Putting the team together will be our focus for the next couple weeks,” Provost said. “We don’t want to waste a single pick. We want 36 players who can contribute and help us win this game.”

MCCORMICK NAMED TOP PLAYER

Rice quarterback Christian McCormick may be among those playing for Provost in the Shrine Game. McCormick, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior, was selected as Vermont’s Gatorade Player of the Year for football.

McCormack guided the Green Knights to a 10-1 record and the Division II state title. He completed 159 of 262 pass attempts for 2,619 yards and 37 touchdowns. He was intercepted seven times. He also rushed for 357 yards and three touchdowns.

Essex quarterback Max Librizzi (2009), Hartford running back Mick Wong (2008) and Spaulding wide receiver James Durham (2007) are among the other Vermont players who have won the award.

ON THE RUN

The CVU girls cross country team placed 21st in the Nike Cross Country Nationals, which were held Dec. 4 in Portland, Ore.

Taylor Spillane was CVU’s top finisher. She completed the 3.1-mile course in 20 minutes, 32.1 seconds. She placed 88th out of 199 runners.

Summer Spillane (21:12.0, 143rd), Aleksey Jordick (21:12.2, 146th), Adrienne Devita (21:15.3, 149th), Julienne Devita (21:18.5, 151st), Sophie Hess (22:13.3, 186th) and Claire Trotter (22:54.5, 197th) also represented CVU, which is the only Vermont team to qualify for the Nike Cross Country Nationals in the event’s six-year history.

Twenty-two teams competed in this year’s race.

GROWTH AT THE TOP

The CVU, Colchester, Mount Mansfield and Middlebury football programs will move from Division II to Division I next season. Division I will have 14 teams and will expand its playoff format from four to eight teams.

Each Division I team will play an eight-game schedule to determine the playoff field. The six teams that do not qualify for the playoffs will meet in Week 9, when the

Division I quarterfinals will also be played.

Divisions II and III will each have 10 teams, four of which will advance to the postseason.

Bellows Falls and Springfield will also change divisions next season. Each program will move from Division III to Division II.

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.