MANCHESTER - This year's football season ended last Saturday when the Bulldogs lost their semi-final playoff game to number one Rice Memorial 36-14. Now that the season has reached its conclusion, head coach Jason Thomas said he will be looking toward the future.

"I want to try to build a consistent competitive program," said Thomas. "My hope is that with them we can develop a system where footbal becomes ... an important part of our community. We've got some athletes at this school and we've got to make them into football players."

Thomas said BBA has a great feeder program in the Equinox Valley Football Club, which handles everything below the varsity level.

While the Thomas is graduating nine seniors this year, only four of them - quarterback Jake Stalcup, receiver Chris Redding, running back/lineback Nelson Pike and offensive and defensive lineman Jimmy Stannard - played significant minutes for the team.

As for the season, Thomas said it unfolded almost as he anticipated it would.

"The season kind of played out how I thought it would play out except for the finish," said Thomas. "I expected to compete for a championship. We weren't satisfied with just being in we were there to win it and we just came up short."

On Saturday, BBA tied the game late in the third quarter, but top-seeded Rice pulled away in the fourth quarter to avoid Burr and Burton Academy's upset bid in the Division II football playoffs.

BBA (6-4) led 14-6 at halftime after scoring on its first two possessions.

Redding had a 12-yard scoring run and Eric Cerra caught a seven-yard screen pass from Stalcup for the other score.

The Bulldogs were unable to capitalize on three Rice (10-0) turnovers in the first half.

Stalcup was limited to 162 yards on 13-of-28 passing. The Green Knights poured on 30 unanswered points after halftime behind the strong running of Casey Tipson (134 yards) and Billy O'Brien (121 yards).

Rice, the 2010 state champion, advances to the D-II final this Saturday against second-seeded Bellows Falls.

The Bennington Banner contributed to this report.