Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl Kicks Off At 5:30 Saturday Night
This weekend, 72 of the finest high school football players from New Hampshire and Vermont will begin practice for the 61st annual Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl. It will be a week when strong legs run so that some day weak legs may walk.
The summer classic will be played on Saturday, August 2nd on Dartmouth’s Memorial Field.
On Game Day, there will be a spectacular parade starting at noon featuring units from eight Shrine Centers from throughout New England and Eastern Canada, as well an all star high school band made up of over 110 musicians from high schools in both state. Kickoff for the Shrine Bowl is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., a first ever evening game, for the Shrine Bowl. Between the parade and football game, the town of Hanover will come alive with entertainment and games. It will be a day for the entire family.
The Bowl Game is sponsored by the Shrine Centers in New Hampshire and Vermont, Bektash of Concord, New Hampshire; Mt. Sinai of Montpelier and Cairo of Rutland.
General admission tickets for the bowl game are on sale at outlets throughout New Hampshire and Vermont for $12.
On game day, tickets will be priced at $15.
By David Miles
Playing in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl game is a dream come true for many northern New England high school football players. The game, which annually pits the best of Vermont against the best of New Hampshire, rewards those seniors whose hard work and dedication brought them to the pinnacle of their sport.
Many of those players have other dreams as well as they move from their high school years into the world of a young adult. Careers, college and military service are often at the forefront of those visions of their future.
Four Woodstock Union High School graduates of the class of 2014 had one of those dreams come into focus when they were selected to represent the Green Mountain State in the game scheduled for this Saturday at Dartmouth College. However, one player’s dream ran head-on into another.
As a result, Zach Cole will miss the opportunity to play in the Shrine game. Instead he left to join the United States Marine Corps — another longtime dream of his — this past Sunday.
“Zach had two goals and he worked his tail off to achieve them,” said WUHS football coach Ramsey Worrell. “He wanted to play in this game very badly. He didn’t know how the timing would work. “To come that close is hard. He only missed it by a week. It’s a tough situation to be put in at that age. Heck, it’s a tough situation no matter how old you are.” Although Cole moved to tight end midway through his senior season — another example of the kind of sacrifice he was willing to make — he essentially played in the backfield for most of his WUHS football career. The co-captain was joined as a nominee for the team by three fellow backfield mates — his twin brother Sam Cole, Oliver Kaija and Tom Baumann. “To have four kids from the same backfield named to the team is pretty exciting,” said Worrell. “It’s exciting to have one, but to have four says a lot about this group and about this program. It’s rare to see four players from any Division III school selected for the team.”
Sam Cole will probably see the majority of his time in the defensive secondary. He is the one true free safety on the Vermont squad, a position he played so well as Woodstock captured its third consecutive D-III state title last season.
“Sam and Zach were certainly selected for their defensive play,” said Worrell. Both backs could and did carry the ball well, but it was on the defensive side of the field that they truly dominated play. Worrell credits their versatility and high football IQ to their ability to disrupt whatever the opponent tried to do on offense.
Kaija, on the other hand, might play offense or defense in the contest. He is a strong fullback as well as a terror as an outside linebacker. He might see action on both sides of the ball.
“Oliver is one of the top football players in the entire state,” Worrell said. “It doesn’t matter that he comes from a small school, he is up there with the very best. I hear that from the other coaches too.”
Baumann could be a key to the Vermont offense. Worrell anticipates that Vermont head coach Mike Williams, who coaches at fellow D-III school BFA-Fairfax, will run some version of an option offense.
“He’ll need backs with speed that can run fast and get to the outside,” said Worrell.
Baumann, of course, can do that as well as anybody, as he showed repeatedly in gaining over 1,000 yards on the ground last season. (Kaija did likewise.) “Tom is also a good route runner and he has the hands to catch the ball,” said Worrell. “That will be important in this offense too.”
The players are spending the week at Castleton State College, practicing for the game. They will bus over to Hanover on Friday. Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.