SARANAC LAKE - It's the second week of the high school football season and Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake are both at home to face squads that posted big wins a week ago to kick off their schedules.
The Lumberjacks play their second game at Frank Tice Field tonight and will look to even their record at 1-1 when they host Potsdam, a 41-0 winner over St. Lawrence Central. On Saturday, the Red Storm will step onto Ken Wilson Field for their home opener to face the Moriah Vikings, who are coming off a 39-12 triumph over Plattsburgh.
A young Tupper Lake team only trailed 20-13 at halftime against Massena, but was unable to slow down a Red Raiders rushing attack that ground out 576 yards. Lumberjacks head coach Dennis Klossner thought a big reason his defense allowed that yardage was inexperience. Klossner said that tackling has been a focus at practice this week.
Saranac Lake quarterback Matt Phelan and head coach Eric Bennett on the sideline during a time out against Peru. Phelan ran for pair of touchdowns and threw of scoring passes in the game.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Tupper Lake junior quarterback Morgan Stevens drops back to pass during the Lumberjacks season-opening game against Massena.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We just weren't wrapping up and finishing our tackles," Klossner said. "We were in position. Game experience is what we are lacking, but our kids showed a lot of promise last week. Our special teams and offense I was proud of all game long. We got a kickoff return for a touchdown, and we recovered an onside kick."
In his starting debut a week ago, senior running back Tyler Minogue had a solid outing for the 'Jacks, rushing for one touchdown and returning a kickoff 72 yards for another score. He finished the game with 62 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Junior Jeremy Roussel also picked up 40 yards on the ground on nine carries. Klosser said Roussel should be used again tonight but is dealing with a sore back.
Junior quarterback Morgan Stevens completed 7 of 17 passing attempts for 92 yards and one touchdown, which was a 7-yard toss to tight end Brock Tarbox.
Klossner watched Potsdam and St. Lawrence game and said it was closer than the final score indicated.
"St. Lawrence stuck with them for a while," Klossner said. "Endurance and strength favored Potsdam, like it usually does. They are big and they are physical. The key for us is sticking with them for four quarters."
The Sandstoners are led on offense by junior quarterback Will Coleman.
The opening kickoff for tonight's Section X contest is 7 p.m.
Two football programs with winning traditions will collide on Saturday when Saranac Lake and Moriah each look to move to 2-0 in Champlain Valley Athletic Conference action.
The Vikings struggled a year ago, but Red Storm head coach Eric Bennett said that isn't the case this time around.
"Moriah has improved significantly," Bennett said.?"We're preparing to play against a hard-nosed, typical Moriah football team. They have a nice quarterback and good running backs, and we're hoping to play some gap-control defense and plug some holes."
The Red Storm got their season off to a rousing start, defeating Peru 27-7 on the road, and Bennett said his team was impressive on both sides of the ball.
"I couldn't have been happier with our start last week," Bennett said.?"Our defense played exceptionally well, and our offense was clicking.?Don't let that score fool you. We played a tough Peru team, and they'll give any opponents a tough time this season.
"It was good for us to begin against a strong team, and we'll be going up against another one Saturday," Bennett said.?"We're excited to have Moriah for our home opener."
Saturday marks the first of two meetings between the Red Storm and Vikings this season. In week eight, they will clash again, also at Ken Wilson Field.
The Vikings rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns a week ago in a game that saw them surge out to a 32-0 halftime lead. Cameron Wright paced Moriah's run attack with two touchdowns and 126 yards on 15 carries.
Senior quarterback Matt Phelan had a big day against Peru, rushing for two scores and throwing two touchdown passes to senior wide out Kevin Morgan. Saranac Lake didn't turn the ball over once against the Indians, while the Red Storm defense recovered one fumble and also picked off two passes.
The opening kickoff for Saturday's game is at 1:30 p.m.