When “The Game” rolls around every year, no hype is necessary: the Lyndon and St. Johnsbury football teams know local pride and bragging rights are on the line in the century-old battle.
While the Hilltoppers (1-6), mired in a struggling season in Division I, hope to snatch a victory, the Vikings (5-2) are fighting for a D-II playoff spot and dealing with the distractions — good and bad — that come with this historic game.
In a series that began in 1894, St. Johnsbury holds a 58-43-6 all-time edge. Saturday’s game is scheduled for 1 p.m. at St. Johnsbury, the teams’ 108th meeting.
“This game is huge locally, regardless of circumstances. St. Johnsbury is going to be super-hyped because it’s their Super Bowl this year,” Lyndon’s fifth-year coach Dan Nolan said. “I’m blown away by the turnouts, probably the most attended game in the state year in and year out.”
While the Vikings would remain alive for the playoffs if they lose Saturday, Nolan said getting back on the winning side is important. Lyndon followed a 5-0 start with back-to-back defeats.
“We are a little frustrated right now with a young team trying to find its way,” Nolan said. “But I tell the kids, ‘it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems.’ … We haven’t played our best football yet.”
BBA remains in playoff hunt
If there’s a sleeper team in the Division II playoff picture, it resides in Manchester.
The Bulldogs of Burr and Burton, after a 2-3 start that included a forfeit win over Springfield, knocked Lyndon from ranks of unbeaten two weeks ago and put up 60 points in last week’s triumph over Otter Valley.
Although they don’t control their own destiny, if the Bulldogs win their final two regular-season games they stand a good chance of sneaking into the playoffs for the second straight year.
“We are well aware and we’re hoping karma doesn’t come back to bite us,” said coach Jason Thomas, whose Bulldogs needed help to reach last year’s playoffs before making a run to the D-II final. “If we don’t make it this year, we have no one to blame but ourselves.”
Led by quarterback Jake Stalcup (350 passing yards per game) and receiver Chris Redding (20 total touchdowns), the BBA offense hasn’t scored less than 32 points in a contested game this season. Wilson Vickers, Eric Cerra and Seth Wilkins have also factored offensively for BBA, which lacked experience during a start that included three narrow defeats.
“We had a tough schedule at the beginning of the season. We’ve weathered the storm and now we might be dangerous towards the stretch,” Thomas said.
BBA finishes against North Country and U-32.
Montpelier forfeits home game
Citing a lack of healthy players, athletic director Matthew Link said Montpelier plans to forfeit tonight’s home game against Mill River.
This is the second time this season the Solons were forced to forfeit due to injuries. They cancelled a home game vs. Poultney that was scheduled for Sept. 14.
Link said the Solons (0-7) plan to be ready to play their regular-season finale against Oxbow.