LYNDON CENTER -- It's the earliest it's ever been played over the last seven years.
Still, it will feel like late-September weather nonetheless, say the weather reports, when Division II Lyndon Institute and North Country Union renew the eighth annual Barrel Bowl game Saturday at Robert K. Lewis Field.
The Vikings lead the series 4-3 and are the clear favorites in this year's edition, in which the winning club hoists a keg-shaped maple barrel over its head after the game.
It was originally scheduled as the fourth game of the season, Vikings coach Dan Nolan said, but a scheduling issue with Rice Memorial along with a couple of other related hiccups caused it to be bumped up. It also resulted in the game being played at Lyndon for the second straight year, and Rice as well will play here as it did in 2012.
All this is far from what the Vikings are thinking about as they take their 1-0 record into the game. Complacency is another non-factor; it's their home opener, and LI was also where the Falcons are now just two short years ago. Motivation won't be hard to come by.
The Falcons were the class of D-II two years ago, going undefeated in the regular season and steamrolling the Vikes 62-22 in the 2011 Bowl game. NCU had a senior-laden team; that's now the case with the Vikings roster, while second-year Falcons coach Tim Simoneau brings a young team (just seven seniors) into Saturday's game. The Falcons' last win came in the final regular season game of that 2011 season.
So memories are still fresh of how quickly things can change in this game. Nobody knows that better than the Falcons, who haven't won since that 2011 season, which ended in a shocking 37-26 semifinal playoff loss to Burr & Burton.