Fair Haven defeated Burr and Burton Academy 57 to 34 in the championship game last year, but both schools have very different squads going into Saturday's game.
BBA Head Coach Jason Thomas said that while Fair Haven did have some experience returning to its roster, they - and Burr and Burton as well - were different teams because they both graduated a good core group of players last year.
When Saturday rolls around, Thomas said there will be a couple of things that the team will have to do effectively in order to put themselves in postion to win.
On the defensive side of the ball, Thomas said they will not only have to stop the rush, but there were other things they would have to do well in order to be successful.
"Really what it is is it's going to be assignment football," said Thomas. "We've got people that are going to be assigned to the quarterback, we've got people that are assigned to the running back and it's about containing and not letting them get to the edges of our defense and breaking those long runs. We've got to be a great tackling team this week. That's one thing. We've had two weeks to prepare so we've taken one week really to work on our fundamentals and tackling. Getting these guys down on the ground on a consistent basis is going to be one of the keys for our defense to slow this offense down a little bit.
On the offensive side of the ball, Thomas said the team needs to strike a better balance between the run and the pass as most teams are aware that BBA is well known for their passing game led by standout quarterback Jake Stalcup.
"We have an excellent quarterback and some pretty good receivers," said Thomas. "I think everybody that scouts us understands that, but we need to be more balanced, which means our offensive line has to do a better job of holding their blocks and opening up holes for our running game because if people are just allowed to pin their ears back and come after our quarterback it just makes us one dimensional and you don't want to be a team that's one dimension."
Stalcup has been having a monster season thus far in the three games that he has played throwing for 1,083 yards with 13 touchdowns - which included an unbelievable performance in a losing effort to Bellows Falls where he went 28 for 54, throwing for 575 yards, six touchdowns and an interception. The Bulldogs did not have a game last week as their scheduled opponent - Springfield High School - cancelled their varsity football program for safety reasons. BBA picked up the win through forfeit.
Going into Saturday's game, Thomas said he was also thinking of different ways to work senior wideout Chris Redding - who transferred to Burr and Burton this year from Mount Anthony Union High School - into the game.
"We'll obviously try to find ways to get Chris Redding involved within our offense because the kid's explosive," said Thomas. "He's one of our dynamic skill players. He's probably one of our more versatile athletes on the team. So, certainly we're looking for ways to get him touches and we'll figure out how to get that done."