Players, Fathers, Grandfathers: Essex High Celebrates 50 years of Football


It’s a golden year for Essex football. This season marks half a century on the gridiron. A season inspired by warriors of years past.
Essex coach Charlie Burnett explains, “It’s tough to play football, and I think it helps them to realize that people have done it before them, and they’re gonna make it through too, and feel a sense of pride that they’re part of a bigger fraternity of Essex Alums”

Golden helmets this year serve as a reminder of the great fraternity, although not everyone needs it.  Matt and James Emery’s family tree spans three generations.  Tom, the father of James, was joined by his brothers in the second decade of Essex football. *Their father, the late Hollis Emery.  A former principal at the school.

“The last night that (Hollis) was with us, my son James stayed home from a game that was here at this field,” Tom remembers, “Dad was interested right up from then on, the importance of the game and who was where in the playoffs”

This passion for football can only be found in a handful of Vermont communities.  And while the game here is important, the culture is so much more.

Charlie Burnett says, “While we’re trying to learn football and have the best football product that we can have, the objective is to build better men.”
 “The coaches have always thought that the way we do things is better,” explains Tom’s son James Emery, “They may beat us on a play, on a game, on a series, but the way we do it’s better.”

That’s what keeps the crowd coming back.  Each Friday, it’s a a packed house.

 Another Emery, Matt, tells us, “Essex is a tight knit-community and that football is something that holds this community together and it’s something that we can see and celebrate together.”
 James says, “Jump up, hit the sign, ‘fear the swarm’, crowd’s yelling, it’s the best feeling in the world.

Wins, losses, and titles will come and go.  But the memories at Essex will live for years.  As this season winds near it’s end, we look forward to 50 more.

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