NEWPORT–At 8:00 on Thursday morning former North Country football standouts Cody Collins and Adam Fortin will be on the campus of Dartmouth College.
That is when the two former Falcons and the rest of their Vermont teammates, led by coach Mike Norman of Rutland, will begin training for the 2012 Maple Shrine Bowl scheduled for Saturday August, 4th.
In anticipation of the final of game of these two linemen's high school career, I caught up with them to get their reaction to the upcoming game as well as talk a little bit about the 2011 football season.
Both guys looked to be in game shape, and both were very honored to be representing their school and their community in this game.
Mike Olmstead: Thanks for coming gentlemen, first off, how does it feel to be selected to represent North Country at this year's Shrine Bowl?
Cody Collins: This is definitely one of the biggest honors a high school football player can receive. Not only do you get to represent your school, but it is a great way to give back to the kids. It is the best thing that has happened to me in football so far.
Adam Fortin: It's a pretty big accomplishment. A lot of in-season and off-season hard work paid off. It is kind of a heavy weight because a lot of other guys from the team could have gone, so I am playing for them and playing for my school and my community. Coach Davis and coach Wade put in a lot of good words for us and I just wanted to thank them.
MO: What is it like to follow in the foot -steps of other great Falcon football players who have played in this game?
AF: I remember seeing the players go before me and thinking they were gods in the football world and now I am in that position and it is pretty cool.
CC: I have been going to the Shrine game since 2004 when Ben Bouffard played. Houston Judd was a role model for me and I remember seeing him in the game and he said to me 'Four years from now I want you to be in the same shoes I am by your senior year' and four years later here I am.
MO: What have you guys been doing to get ready for the game?
CC: I have been working out constantly, whether it is at IROC or at home. I have my college football plan so I have been eating healthy, lifting heavy weights and I have even taken out the pads a couple of times so I will be ready for all the hitting.
AF: It has been hard to keep up with the same guys I have been training with throughout my career, but I have been getting off to the gym a little bit. Mostly I have been paving with my fathers paving business so that has been keeping me in shape, shoveling the old asphalt around, getting ready for the heat and whatnot.
MO: What are your plans now that you are finished with your high school career?
CC: I will be playing football for Tusculum College. It is a Division Two program in Tennessee and I will be majoring in marketing and hope to get into pre-law and maybe become a sports agent.
AF: I am just kind of sticking to my roots, staying in the country and hopefully getting into the family paving business. I am very passionate about where I come from, and people can call us rednecks, but go ahead, I love every minute of it.
MO: You guys were both part of coach Davis' final team. How special was it to be a part of that group?
AF: It is so special. I'm just glad to have been there to say that I was on his last team, and when he thinks of that last team he will think of us. I know how much effort he put into being able to close it out with a bang and it was awesome to go out there and do that (go undefeated) for him.
CC: Coach Davis... I couldn't have asked for a better coach to play for. He was always around, and he really cared about each and every player. He knew a lot about us and we showed him a lot of respect.
MO: Talk a little bit about last year's season.
AF: The season was awesome. While growing up we had been beat by these teams and then in our senior year, after we had been playing together for a long time, we went out there and beat them, showing that North Country could get things done
CC: We have a great program up here and regardless of how the play-off game went, you can't be disappointed with an undefeated season.
MO: You guys lost in the play-offs and lost in the North/South game. How important is it to you to go out and get a win in your final high school football game?
AF: Speaking for myself and some of the other guys that aren't going on to college, we want to close out our football career with a bang. New Hampshire has won several years in a row and it's time we go and put them in their place.
CC: I have been talking to a lot of our Northern teammates from Milton, Colchester and BFA St. Albans and they are all fired up. They can't wait to put on some helmets and shoulder pads and start busting some heads. We can't wait until the big game and show those New Hampshire boys how the 802 rolls. I got my number 55 and it should be fun.
MO: Thank you guys for your time and I wish you the best of luck in the big game.
CC, AF: Thank you.
The 59th Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl between Vermont and New Hampshire will take place at Memorial Field on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH on August 4th. The parade starts at noon and the game kicks off at 2:30 PM.
We at the Express wish Cody and Adam luck in the game and hope for Vermont to pick up the win and end New Hampshire's winning streak