Champions! Dominate Bulldogs score D-II title in record fashion
RUTLAND — After two seasons of disappointing endings, the Burr and Burton football team finally got its storybook finish.
Behind a potent offensive attack and locked-in defensive effort, BBA cruised to a 63-14 win against Fair Haven in the Division II state championship game Saturday to win its first crown since 2015.
The title is the Bulldogs' second in the last four seasons, as BBA set a Vermont state record with its point output, breaking U-32's mark of 62 in a D-IV title game in 2006. At one point in the third quarter, they led 63-0.
BBA was determined to finish this season on its own terms and write the ending they missed out on in the last two years.
"I told the guys that if we are able to finish the way we are capable of it's going to be the best feeling they'll ever have," said Bulldogs coach Jason Thomas. "This one feels really good. Fair Haven has always been a huge milestone for us. We came here to play. There's no let up. The kids didn't come in here over-confident and just went to work."
Joey McCoy was the star on the offensive side for the Bulldogs combining for seven touchdowns through the air and on the ground. McCoy, a dual-threat signal caller, threw four touchdown passes and for 289 yards, while picking up three scores and 123 yards in the rushing game.
"It feels amazing. I know the last couple of years have been disappointments," McCoy said. "To come out and win it for our fans and the players, it means the world."
BBA wasted little time taking control of Saturday's final. After a three-and-out on the Slaters' first drive. BBA marched down the field 75 yards on seven plays. Jake Baker finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Following a Fair Haven fumble on a play where Logan Morgan got back to strip Aubrey Ramey after a long catch, the Bulldogs proceeded to do the same exact thing and Baker ran in another from two yards. The senior back went on to rack up three touchdowns on the day, with the final one coming on a McCoy touchdown pass.
BBA's next three scores came on McCoy touchdown runs of 23, 23 and one yard, respectively. A touchdown pass from McCoy to John Morgantini put the bow on a 43-0 lead that BBA took into the half. Morgantini caught two more touchdowns in the second half. His longest grab of the day came in the third quarter when McCoy threw a beautiful floating pass that landed perfectly in Morgantini's arms and went for a score.
While the BBA offense produced time after time, the Bulldogs' defense went to work keeping the potent Slaters offense in check.
An obvious goal for BBA heading into the title game Saturday was slowing down Fair Haven quarterback Cam Coloutti, who has been shredding defenses all season long to the tune of more than 3,300 yards.
While Coloutti did throw for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns late, the Bulldogs pressured him all game long and forced him into mistakes, especially in the first half.
The pressure from the BBA defense caused him to make some tough throws and the Bulldogs secondary took advantage, picking off a pair of his passes. Patrick Forstmann intercepted a pass on the Slaters' first drive of the second half and Morgantini picked off Coloutti on the second drive.
"We knew what we had to do and stop Coloutti and his pass game," McCoy said. "That was our key to success to win this game."
Coloutti completed 13-of-38 throwing with the two scores but also the two interceptions.
The Bulldogs were locked in on all three phases - offense, defense and special teams - and it showed in a big way.
"Defense, offense and special teams, we knew how important it was to worry about ourselves and not them," Baker said. "We came out flying around. Everybody was around the ball all the time and it was awesome."
The stands were filled all game long with Bulldog pride. As their team dominated on the field, it seemed like the whole town of Manchester could be heard at Rutland High School Saturday.
Thomas saw where this program was when he took over in 2008 and to see where it is now, he could not be more proud of his team and their town.
"When I first got to BBA, nobody knew anything about football. They had nine consecutive losing seasons after starting the program in 1999," Thomas said. "[Manchester] has embraced our program and embraced our kids. I would like to that we're kind of turning a corner and getting a lot more people's support in what we're doing and I really appreciate that."
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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