Hartford (Vt.) crowned People's Champion

The fans have voted and Hartford (Vt.) is their selection as the People's Champion - the top football team in the country for 2012. Hartford received more than 43 percent of the votes in the final round, with Maine Endwell (Endwell, N.Y.) coming in second, Archbishop Moeller (Cincinnati) in third and Jordan (Sandy, Utah) in fourth.

The Hurricanes went 11-0 this season to win their third consecutive Division I title, and fifth in the last six years. 

"When you look at the numbers, you had to do well enough to get to the next round and once that happened, everyone’s imaginations started taking off," Hartford athletic director Joe James said. "I was sending out regular email updates to folks and trying to rally the troops. The comments on the website were from all over the country. We’re such a small town and a close-knit community. There's a tremendous amount of pride."

The competition began Jan. 7 with 64 schools vying for a $500 prize and the chance to be named the top high school football team – as chosen by fans – of 2012. Sixteen teams advanced to the second round, which ended Monday, Jan. 14. The three-day finals ended at 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 18 with Hartford taking the title.

Hartford's high school enrollment (9-12) is 600 students, and the area's population is 10,000. Yet Hartford managed to get 158,537 votes in just three days of the final round.

"There was a lot of buzz all over the community," James said. "We live on the border between Vermont and New Hampshire, and really, in this whole Upper Valley, there was buzz about this."

Each state, plus Washington D.C., had a representative in the competition. The highest-ranked champ in each state, as determined by the Massey computer rankings, automatically qualified for the contest. In addition, the USA TODAY High School Sports editorial staff chose 13 at-large teams.