Thursday September 06, 2018
SOUTH BURLINGTON - The opening of the Vermont high school sports season had football fans in South Burlington and Burlington holding their breath.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first half, the Burlington-South Burlington Seawolves scored their first ever touchdown and everyone at Munson Field at South Burlington High School could breathe easy.
Quarterback Duncan MacDonald hit Chance O’Connor in the end zone with an 11-yard touchdown pass with 4:23 remaining in the second quarter to give the Seawolves a 6-0 lead.
The Burlington QB/South Burlington wide receiver connection helped to kickstart the home team’s offense and the Seawolves cruised to a 21-0 win over Essex to earn the program’s first win.
“It’s satisfying,” said running back Manny Dodson. “I thought we could be a good team and we showed it. When it started clicking it felt good.”
Running back Kai Schmidt (Burlington) added the other two TDs for Burlington-South Burlington, scampering for a 7-yard score in the third quarter and running in from 20 yards out in the final stanza.
“They worked hard,” South Burlington-Burlington Coach Joe McDonald said. “The important thing for me is that they are playing as one.”
The win relieved some of the pressure for the cooperative group, who decided to combine last spring after low numbers in both programs had the sport in danger of being cut at both schools.
“If we lost today it would have felt like a letdown, we would have let the crowd down, let the team down” Dodson said. “It’s an experience and you want it to go well. We kind of had to win it.”
The two-team combo — which also features a player from Winooski High School, which cut football after low numbers — had the coaching staff and players facing a lot of questions as the season got underway.
With a win to open the season, a lot of those questions were answered. The Seawolves now know what they are capable of, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
“We’ve got to get better, definitely, but there are a lot of things we can do to do that,” McDonald said. “I can see the athleticism that we have and the fact that they can get better, that makes me feel optimistic.”
The defense had two goal line stands in the first half, keeping the game scoreless and allowing the team’s offense to find their way. The effort was needed as nerves caused a slow start when Burlington/South Burlington had the ball.
“Being the home team here, our routine was different here than at BHS,” Dodson, a Burlington student, said. “But once we worked through that it was cool.”
The team is becoming closer off the field, Dodson said, and changed up the game time routine to make sure everyone was preparing together, which helped as they adjusted to a new game day experience.
“We had a little snack together, just playing music, chilling in the locker room, just getting in the zone,” Dodson said. “After playing and winning, we feel like it’s more normal now.”
Now that the first win is out of the way, the team can shift its focus from the unique makeup of the group and set its sight on improving on the field.
“This is their first win, this is their first victory as Seawolves,” McDonald said. “It’s something special.”
SOURCE: Lauren Read, Correspondent