By Roger Brown
When Vermont head coach Mike Hatt shows up for the first day of practice in preparation for next year’s Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, he’ll probably be surrounded by several familiar faces.
Although the Vermont roster won’t be announced until next month, Hatt said he expects at least three players who played for him at Springfield High School to be on the team: quarterback Grant White, center Keith Cook and running back Stephen Miller.
White and Cook were Burlington Free Press first team All-State selections. Miller was named to the second team.
"It's kind of like a baseball team being strong up the middle," Hatt said. "Grant is real adept at running our offense, and Cook will be able to handle all the line calls. Being a coach, you look for every edge you can."
Hatt, who guided Springfield to an 11-0 record and the Division III state championship last season, recently sent out invitations to players he hopes will make up Vermont's 36-player roster. Players were asked to make a commitment by Jan. 5. Hatt said White, Cook and Miller were among those invited.
New Hampshire extended its winning streak to eight games when it beat Vermont, 42-0, in the 2008 game. New Hampshire has a 40-13-2 edge in the series.
"I think we'll have some good athletes, and I like the size on our team," Hatt said. "It should be a very athletic group. I like our skill."
White completed 109-of-165 passes for 1,821 yards and 26 touchdowns last season. He also ran the ball 103 times for 466 yards and 16 TDs. He holds the school record for touchdown passes in a career (52).
Cook was a three-year starter on Springfield's offensive line, and was named the team's top defensive player in each of those seasons.
Hatt said he's hoping Hartford running back Mick Wong and Mount Mansfield running back Brian Wilcox will join Miller in the Vermont offensive backfield.
Wong rushed for 1,427 yards last season, when he led Hartford to its second consecutive Division I state championship. Wilcox, a converted lineman, was a four-year starter for Mount Mansfield. He rushed for 1,497 yards and scored 21 touchdowns last season.
"We do have some terrific skill kids, but you win the game at the line of scrimmage," Hatt said. "You gotta stop New Hampshire when it runs if you want to win the game."
Franklin's Greg Husband will serve as New Hampshire's coach for the 2009 game, which will be played Aug. 1 at Windsor High School. Husband guided Franklin to an 11-1 record and the Division VI state championship last season.
The New Hampshire roster will also be announced in February.
"We haven't been very successful," Hatt said. "You want to make it enjoyable and as good an experience as you can. We'll show up and we'll have a plan to win."
Baseball: Mount Mansfield’s Slayton Retires
Bob Slayton, who has coached baseball at Mount Mansfield for the last 34 years, recently announced his retirement from coaching.
The Cougars won four state championships during Slayton’s tenure. His 1998 team was the first Vermont team to finish 20-0 in Division I
“I have a lot of fond memories,” Slayton told the Burlington Free Press. “The best memories are the state championships. That’s what you’re playing for.”
Slayton, 61, has 356 career victories at the varsity level — fifth most among Vermont high school baseball coaches.
Mount Mansfield went 17-1-1 and captured its first state title in 1980. The Cougars also won the state title in 1995, 1998 and 2000.
Slayton also coached Vermont in the annual Twin State series with New Hampshire twice. Vermont won two out of three games against New Hampshire each year.