In football: NC Falcons fall to Bulldogs

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Sophomore Hunter Stanley finds daylight as he scrambles in a play late in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game with Burr and Burton. He took over as quarterback for North Country after starter Ryan O’Donnell left the game with an injury. Photo by Joseph Gresser

by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle 9-14-2013

NEWPORT — If hardship builds character, several members of the North Country Falcons football team have gained much in the way of depth and wisdom.  The Falcons fell Friday night to the Bulldogs of Burr and Burton Academy by a 47-0.

Fortunately for North Country, the team is young.  Even in midst of the hammering it took from the Bulldogs a number of Falcon players showed flashes of talent suggesting that, with some seasoning, a bright future awaits.

As assistant Falcons coach Lonnie Wade noted after the game, North Country is only fielding nine seniors this year and many of those who played Burr and Burton were sophomores.

Among their number was Hunter Stanley, who took over for senior quarterback Ryan O’Donnell after he left the game late in the fourth quarter with a hurt leg.

After throwing a pass that was intercepted by Burr and Burton and a play that resulted in the sixth Bulldog touchdown, Stanley could have been forgiven for being rattled.  Instead, he focused and threw some good passes and scrambled for serious yardage.

By that time, however, the clock was the Falcons’ mortal enemy.

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North Country quarterback Ryan O’Donnell gets tackled while running the ball in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against Burr and Burton. O’Donnell left the game with a hurt leg. Photo by Joseph Gresser

Before being taken out of the game after a high and low tackle, O’Donnell also ran a stylish game, ably mixing running and passing plays.

Wyatt Prue, Jared Hussey and Joe Carron also played well despite the loss.

The damage began less than three minutes into the game on a Burr and Burton pass that looked good for a touchdown until wide receiver Sean Apps slipped on grass that was still wet from a long day of rain.

Another pass from Bulldog quarterback Griffin Stalcup sealed the deal and, given the success of the Burr and Burton defense, would by itself have been good for the victory.

The damp weather appeared to make the ball hard to handle, and turnovers abounded.  Unfortunately, they tended to favor the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs scored twice more in the first quarter, which, with the extra points, left the score 21-0 at the beginning of the second half.

Any hope that facing the other way might improve matters when Burr and Burton put up its fourth touchdown.

Despite O’Donnell moving his team up the field on a couple of possessions with repeated first downs, the Falcons were stymied at the goal line repeatedly.

The Bulldogs scored another touchdown in the third quarter and converted the extra point, leaving the score 35-0 going into the last 12 minutes.

A minute and a half in, though, Burr and Burton were in the end zone again, although the kick went wide.  They scored for the last time two minutes later.

Head Coach Tim Simoneau said he believes the Falcons’ offensive and defensive schemes are sound, but they need to be executed better.

“We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do,” he said.

Mr. Wade said that as leaders step forward on the team the level of play and player confidence will rise.

Burr and Burton Coach Jason Thomas said his team spent a lot of time preparing for the game.  He said North Country has good players and with more experience he expects to see the team win some games.

The Falcons will need to step it up for their next game against a strong team from Bellows Falls.

“We have the most brutal September of any team in the state,” Mr. Wade said ruefully.  “October is better.”

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