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Vermont Chapter of National Football Foundation Honors Best of 2016 Season
Chapter's 24th annual awards dinner took place May 7 at Castleton University.
Published: 5/7/2017 11:00:00 AM

(Photo by Addison Independent)

CASTLETON, Vt. -- The best of last fall's football season were honored Sunday, May 7, 2017 at the 24th annual National Football Foundation Vermont Chapter Awards Dinner held at Glenbrook Gymnasium on the Castleton University campus.

Matt Lucke
, a captain and linebacker for Hartford High who helped lead the Hurricanes to the Vermont Division I state title and a 10-1 record last fall was named the PRIDE of Vermont Award presented to the state's premier football player. The 11th annual award is sponsored by the Dolphin Foundation of South Burlington with PRIDE being an acronym for 'Personal Responsibility for Individual Daily Effort'.  Other premier divisional finalists for the award were D.J. Snide, a two-way all-state lineman for Division II champ Bellows Falls, and Dan Robinson, an all-state running back and safety for Division III Woodstock.

Shane Alercio,
a three-sport junior student-athlete at St. Johnsbury Academy, and David Roy of Champlain Valley Union High shared the 2016 Most Courageous Athlete Award and Scholarship, presented by Fred Peet, Attorney at Law.  A member of the Hilltoppers football, ski and baseball teams who played on St. J’s 2016 baseball Division I State Champions, Alercio battles a rare neurological disorder, Idiopathic Dandy’s Syndrome, yet continues to be a leader on his teams and at the Academy. Roy is challenged by hearing loss since age two yet became a valued and inspirational member of the Redhawks football and wrestling teams. Also this spring he was a member of CVU’s ‘Chef Hawks’, that won a prize at a state cooking contest.

Colby McKay
, a senior captain and two-way starter at D-III runner-up Otter Valley last fall, is the winner of the Robert Stafford High School Athlete Community Service Award, also sponsored by Fred Peet, Attorney at Law.  An honor society student who also is a baseball starter, McKay is an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America who led area efforts in building a new area for the local humane society and organized a Red Cross Blood Drive among his many off field community service efforts.

Six high school seniors, Liam Coulter of Essex; Conor Hiner of Brattleboro; Jack Ligon of Rutland; Griffin Stalcup of Burr & Burton, Collin Urie of St. Johnsbury and Lucke made up the 2016 Vermont High School Football Scholar-Athlete Inductees and each received a $500 scholarship from the NFF.

The six were chosen from finalists around the state. The other finalists were: Manny Boardman, South Burlington; John Bose, Champlain Valley; Jahyde Bullard, Bellows Falls and Vermont Academy; Spencer Carpenter, Middlebury; Alexander Cate, Burlington; Dylan Ellis, Fair Haven; Jack Fitzgerald, Rice Memorial; Hunter Laroe, BFA St. Albans; Nicholas Marchessault, Missisquoi Valley; Michael Morgan, Mill River; Hunter Patenaude, Windsor; Quintin Pelzel, Union 32; Charles Powell, Colchester; Trenton Rogers, Poultney/Mount St. Joseph; and Ray Wilson, Mount Mansfield.

Collegiate seniors Soren Pelz-Walsh (Dummerston, Vt.), a wide receiver from Castleton, James Burke (West Barnstable, Mass.), another wide receiver from Middlebury College, outside linebacker Derek Lotito (Swanzey, N.H.) of Norwich and Jake Ermolovich (Colchester, Vt.) also a linebacker for the UVM Club program were named Vermont Collegiate Scholar-Athlete Hall of Fame inductees, representing the state's four collegiate football programs.  

John Guebara
of Lowell was the winner of the Vermont Youth Football Achievement Award for his efforts as a coach and administrator of the Northern Vermont Youth Football League based in Newport.

Former Middlebury Union head coach Peter Brakeley was selected as the winner of the Contribution to Amateur Athletics Award for his 40-plus years in football. A standout at Middlebury Union and Middlebury College in the 70s, Brakeley was a longtime assistant to the legendary Hubie Wagner at MUHS before becoming the head coach for 15-plus seasons. An illness forced him to step down as the varsity head coach in 2009 but since then he has coached the Tigers JV and freshman squads as well as involvement in the county youth football program. A very popular teacher at Middlebury Union Middle School, he was named Vermont Teacher of the Year in 2013.

The state's high school coaches presented its 2016 Vermont Coach of the Year Award to longtime Bellows Falls Union head coach Bob Lockerby for the leading the Terriers to the Division II state title. Lockerby will have a busy summer in 2017 heading up the Vermont Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl team as well as being a coach on the Vermont Twin State Baseball team. The other divisional coached of the year were of Hartford’s Matt Trombly in Division I and Gregg Balch of Windsor in D-III.

The Vermont Football Officials Association gave its season-long team sportsmanship awards, the Stan Amadon Trophy for the North to Bellows Free Academy of Saint Albans, coached by Geoff Murray and for the second straight year, the James Howard Trophy for the South to Bellows Falls Union High School, led by Lockerby. Also the VFOA recognized longtime official and administrator Kristi Morris of Springfield, Vt. as its top official for 2016.

Two others were recognized for their service to the gridiron in the Green Mountain State. Rene LaBerge, the president and coach of the South Burlington Dolphins youth football program, was praised for celebrating his 50th year in youth football in 2017 in South Burlington and the state. Howard Vandersea of the National Football Foundation also recognized the efforts of Mickey Heinecken, the former Middlebury College head coach who heads up the Vermont chapter and the state’s North South Senior All-Star game held for the last 16 falls.

The final award was the Vermont Chapter's Distinguished American Award and it was given to the Burke Family of Rutland and Wallingford, accepted by Lenny Burke. Burke suffered a traumatic brain injury (T.B.I.) while playing basketball for MSJ in 1979. His mother, Emmie, founded the ‘Lenny Burke Farm’ on Route 7 in Wallingford to assist with people and their families affected by T.B.I.  It has helped the recovery of hundreds of people since it opened in 1987.

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