The Pride of Vermont Award has become a highlight of the NFF affair. When Rene LaBerge and Tom Tavares present the Pride of Vermont award each year at the Vermont Chapter of the National Football Foundation's banquet it is one of the most stirring parts of the program.
The award honors a player in each of Vermont's three high school divisions and then an overall winner is announced as The Pride of Vermont. Discovering which of the three deserving players receives the overall accolade is one of the most eagerly antcipated part of the evening which begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, with a social hour at Castleton State College's Glenbrook Gym. The formal program kicks off at 5:30 p.m.
This year's recipients are: Hartford's Michael Dulac in Division I, Burr and Burton Academy's Jake Stalcup in Division II and Mount St. Joseph Academy's Leonard Bartenstein in Division III.
One of these players will become The Pride of Vermont following the other outstanding young men who have received this accolade in what is now a seven-year tradition.
This year's three players hoping to be called the Pride of Vermont and follow in the tradition of success of Long and the others after high school: Jake Stalcup: He completed the season with 2,600 passing yards and 33 touchdowns, a glistening resume that he now takes to the Middlebury College program. He set a state record with 575 yards and six touchdowns in a single game.
"He is one of the best student athletes I have ever been around," Burr and Burton coach Jason Thomas said."He is tough, smart and one of the best examples of leadership a young athlete could emulate."
Michael Dulac: Hartford coach Mike Stone calls Dulac "the most complete offensive lineman we have ever had at HartfordHigh School." That is saying something at a school with as much football tradition as Hartford and is the reason coaches at Bryant Universiy are excited as Dulac makes the jump to the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) level.
His work ethic off the field carries over to his preparation off the field.
"Mike is the true example of our program as he is what we want a Hartford football player to represent: high academic standards and moral character with great work ethic," Stone said.
Leonard Bartenstein: MSJ football is beginning a resurgence and Bartenstein was a key component of the beginning of that as the lineman played every snap on offense.
He was also a volunteer coach for the Green Knights, a padded football team comprised of sixth and eighth graders. During the off-season he volunteers his time with the Vermont Adapative Ski Program.
He participates in the theater program at MSJ and is No. 1 in his class.
"He is very active in the community and is a leader on and off the field," MSJ coach Jeff Cassarino said.
A panel of college coaches reviewed game films and performances in selecting the overall winner from the three divisional winners.
Previous recipients of the award were Burlington's Andrew Plumley, South Burlington's Taylor DeVarney, Hartford's Mick Wong, CVU's Matt Long, Rice's Christian McCormick and Middlebury's Marshall Hastings.