Middlebury is who we thought they were, so the Tigers open as the front runner in the 2019 Rutland Herald / Barre Times Argus football power rankings.
There were signs last year, when the Tigers re-tooled and finished strong after a 1-3 start. They suffered an uncharacteristically lopsided loss against Rutland but the following week they ventured to Manchester and handed then-Division II power Burr and Burton Academy the only defeat of its championship season.
Now they are back with a starting lineup full of veterans and an offense that has scored 34 and 49 points.
But there are plenty of heavies lining up behind them as the pecking order takes shape in the top 10.
1. Middlebury (2-0). It’s not just the offense, but a defense that is very fast and swarms to the ball.
2. St. Johnsbury (2-0). The Hilltoppers were impressive in rallying from two touchdowns back to beat Rutland at Alumni Field on Friday.
3. Burr and Burton (2-0). The Bulldogs are making themselves right at home in D-I with 35 points against Burlington/South Burlington and another 48 against Hartford.
4. Rutland (1-1). With a rookie backfield behind a veteran line, this is a team that is only going to get better.
5. Colchester (2-0). The Lakers get a big test when BBA comes to visit Friday.
6. Hartford (1-1). Too good a program to not be right in the mix at season’s end.
7. Essex (1-1). The Hornets bounced back from a loss to St. Jay by romping over Rice.
8. BFA-St. Albans (1-1). The Bobwhites visit Essex on Friday in a game that should shuffle next week’s rankings.
9. Brattleboro (2-0). Haven’t seen this name in the rankings in awhile but the Colonels are starting to look like the new heavy in D-II, with an offense that racked up 49 points against Bellows Falls and 61 against Windsor.
10. CVU (1-1). The rebuilding Redhawks are starting to get their feet beneath them after a lopsided loss against Rutland.
Top five, Division II
1. Brattleboro (see above).
2. U-32 (2-0). The Raiders offense is rolling with 109 points in two games.
3. Fair Haven (1-1). The new-look Slaters pounded the Lyndon team that pounded Woodstock.
4. Bellows Falls (1-1). Which BF defense will show up at Fair Haven on Friday, the one that gave up 14 against Mount Anthony or the one that gave up 49 to Bratt?
5. Mount Anthony (1-1). Early on it’s looking like there’s a lot less power in the division after the first four teams.
Top five, Division III
1. BFA-Fairfax (2-0). Same old tough-running Bullets, who also played a great defense to shut out Poultney on its home turf last Saturday.
2. Springfield (2-0). I could just as easily have put the Cosmos at No. 1 but BFA beat them in last year’s playoffs. They host BFA on Sept. 27 and there should be a huge crowd at Brown Field.
3. Poultney (1-1). The Blue Devils won’t be down for long.
4. Otter Valley (1-1). Hung pretty tough in a loss against Poultney. This could develop into the surprise team in D-III.
5. Mill River (0-2). The young Minutemen have a beast of a schedule in the first three weeks, against U-32, Springfield and Poultney.