Once again, the sports department has scoured the state looking for its finest high school football players, contacting coaches and media from one end of Vermont to the other to craft what we hope is a fair and balanced squad. The task never gets any easier — hard decisions are inevitable — and at the end of the day it remains a subjective process, but one we undertake with great pride and care.
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BURR AND BURTON
6-foot-1, 185 pounds
•The player: Accounting for over 60 percent of the Bulldogs’ total yards from scrimmage, Stalcup directed a dangerous spread offense that averaged 46.7 points a game. The dual-threat quarterback completed 64.8 percent of passes for 2,562 yards and 36 touchdowns against eight interceptions. He also led BBA, the undefeated D-II champion, in rushing yards (475) and scores (11). “He was a better decision-maker, he battled and was a heck of a competitive for us,” coach Jason Thomas said. “There’s nothing I could toss at him that he couldn’t absorb, and that’s big in our offense.”
5-foot-11, 205 pounds
•The player: When the Colonels needed a yard for a first down? They turned to Diakite. When the Colonels needed something more? Again, they handed off to Diakite. The imposing back could squeeze out the necessary yards or could truck along for a big gainer. “He’s built like a running back, he’s just a big dude,” coach Chad Pacheco said. “I was impressed with his dedication in the weight room, he wanted to improve himself as a player.” Diakite rushed for 1,272 yards and 17 touchdowns on 86 carries, and was held to under 100 yards in just two games.
6-foot-2, 220 pounds
•The player: Although he made a seamless transition to quarterback this fall, Vermont’s Gatorade player of the year is a perfect fit in the backfield as a running back for this team. After a memorable 400-yard-plus, five-touchdown performance in the Division III finals win, Leary finished 2015 with 2,484 rushing yards, 988 through the air and 53 total scores, 39 via the ground. Leary, who only threw four interceptions, also racked up 15 sacks as a defensive end. “I guess what surprised us was his ability to take on a new role and just thrived in that,” coach Jim Hill said. “He was a great leader.”
5-foot-11, 170 pounds
•The player: Rutland’s read-option offense was at its best when White found space to move — he totaled 1,305 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground for the Division I champions. With a modest, but hard-working approach, White produced his best season for the Raiders with a combination of shiftiness and power. “He had as good a year as anybody. He could had been a superstar but he was more of a lunch-box type of guy,” coach Mike Norman said. “When you tried to tackle him, he made sure you knew he was there — he ran hard every play.”
6-foot, 185 pounds
•The player: A three-time first-team selection — at returner, then receiver — Czarnecki followed up a 1,000-yard-plus receiving effort and 19 touchdowns as a junior with comparable numbers in two less games in 2015 and while facing double-teams. Czarnecki improved his route running and posted 61 catches for 993 yards and 13 scores this fall. “I haven’t found anybody who could cover him yet. He’s a very dynamic player,” coach Brian Grady said. “(He) stepped up and took a leadership role…” Czarnecki finished his career with 14 returns for touchdowns.
6-foot-4, 190 pounds
•The player: With his frame and athleticism, Slade was a big target offensively in Rutland’s high-scoring offense and a fearsome pass rusher on the defensive end. But Slade’s work as a receiver/tight end stands out for this team — he hauled in 45 balls for 968 yards and seven touchdowns, production that included 7-149-1 in the Division I finals win. “He was a matchup problem for a lot of teams because he was tall and he could jump,” coach Mike Norman said. “He came into his own, he was a leader for us.” He also had 43 tackles and 10 assists on defense.
5-foot-11, 230 pounds
•The player: Allen won the starting center position early in his freshman season to solidify an important piece in the Otters’ offense for multiple seasons. With a high football IQ, quick to make on-field adjustments and fundamentally sound with his technique, Allen was the complete package as the Otters averaged more than 52 points a game this season. “I don’t ever remember him making a bad snap in his four years,” coach Jim Hill said. “He’s smart, another coach on the field and he was our most seasoned player.”
6-foot-1, 210 pounds
•The player: A two-year starter on both sides of the ball, Ell’s work on the offensive line at left tackle helped keep Andy Kenosh upright in the pocket and create holes in the running game. A strength for Ell was his ability to absorb concepts and utilize them during games. “He was our most versatile lineman. I went back to coaching linemen this year and guys like him made my job easier,” coach Mike Norman said. “He was capable, mentally, to understand what we were trying to do and then do it physically.”
Burr and Burton
6-foot-2, 240 pounds
•The player: After an injury stunted his development as a junior, LoMuscio rededicated himself in the weight room and turned into one of the Bulldogs’ top two-way linemen. LoMuscio helped BBA to 4,805 yards of offense, including 1,936 on the ground, while limiting opponent sacks to 14. “He just worked out like a mad man in the offseason. He enjoys playing the game, likes the physicality,” coach Jason Thomas said. “He was a really consistent blocker, he finished his blocks and was a great pulling guard for us.” On defense, LoMuscio registered one sack, one forced fumble and 13 tackles.
6-foot-2, 305 pounds
•The player: A rare four-year starter for the Hornets, Picard overcame a knee injury as a sophomore and continued to progress and perform in his final two seasons. With power and speed, Picard brought a unique combination that helped the Hornets rush for 2,839 yards in their Wing-T offense. “He’s a big guy and he comes down with a lot of force, but he’s really athletic,” coach Charlie Burnett said. “He got a lot better at reach blocking and helping us get outside. He’s the whole package, a model student-athlete we are pretty proud of.”
6-foot, 255 pounds
•The player: A two-year player, Potter put in extra work in the offseason and turned himself into Hartford’s “biggest and strongest” lineman, according to coach Matt Trombly. Potter played with power, the anchor of an offensive line that plowed open holes for an array of backs in Hartford’s Wing-T offense that produced two players with over 900 yards apiece. “When he arrived in August, he was a tank,” Trombly said. “He was a real good base blocker. He was the kid we wanted to run behind for sure.” Potter also made an impact as a starter on the defensive line.
6-foot, 180 pounds
•The player: The multi-faceted Morgan served many roles for Minutemen, who reached the Division III semifinals. He was the signal-caller who passed for 1,663 yards, ran for 463 yards and totaled 20 touchdowns. He was also a standout linebacker (96 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries). But Morgan makes the squad as the kicker, launching 11 touchbacks on 51 kickoffs, hitting a 34-yard field goal and converting four successful onside kicks. “He’s just a great athlete all the way around,” coach Jon Wallett said. “It’s pretty hard in Vermont to have that many touchbacks.”
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Ryan Alexander, Fair Haven, Senior, Quarterback
Colby Brochu, U-32, Senior, Running Back
Jahyde Bullard, Bellows Falls, Junior, Running Back
Kevin Garrison, Burlington, Sophomore, Running Back
Connor Plante, Burlington, Senior, Receiver
Dylan Shelvey, Mill River, Senior, Tight End
Matt Mullin, Mount Abraham, Senior, Lineman
Nick Markowski, Rutland, Senior, Lineman
Kienan Kittredge, Champlain Valley, Senior, Lineman
Will Baker, Burr and Burton, Senior, Lineman
MJ Denis, Otter Valley, Senior, Lineman
Chris Doucet, Bellows Falls, Senior, Kicker
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Quarterbacks: Pete LaBracio, Burlington junior; Collin Urie, St. Johnsbury, junior
Backs: Zach Allen, Mill River senior; Brad Bombard, Milton senior; Brandon Bigelow, Winooski, senior; Matt Hesford, Colchester junior; Brett MacLaren, Hartford junior
Receivers: Damon Burgess, Mount Anthony senior; Aaron Morrison, St. Johnsbury senior; Will Ross, Otter Valley junior;
Linemen: Sam Belisle, Champlain Valley senior; Keough Darling, U-32 senior; Brady Illingworth, Bellows Falls junior; David Legris, BFA-Fairfax senior; DJ Snide, Bellows Falls junior; Bruce Wright, Middlebury senior;
Kicker/punter: Pat Powers, Mount Anthony, Senior