SARANAC LAKE - The Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake football teams will look to jump a game above the .500 level when they play their third matchups of the season this weekend.
Both teams enter week 3 with 1-1 records and they will be taking on league opponents in inter-divisional contests. The Lumberjacks travel to face Ogdensburg tonight starting at 7 p.m., and the Red Storm host Ticonderoga Saturday at Ken Wilson Field with the kickoff scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
Tupper Lake is coming off a 47-20 setback to Massena, and the 'Jacks are mainly looking to improve on defense after giving up 75 points in their first two games. The Lumberjacks had some success moving the ball against Massena, finishing with a combined 338 yards on offense, but their defense allowed the Red Raiders to pile up more than 560 yards between the run and pass.
Junior Roger Delair caught four passes for the Lumberjacks for 43 yards in last week’s setback to Massena.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Senior Trent Fitzgerald tucks the ball away while running for positive yardage for the Red Storm’s in their game at Moriah.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"The theme at practice this week has been wrapping up," Tupper Lake head coach Dennis Klossner said. "There were a number of times in last week's game where we were in position to make a tackle but didn't bring their guy down. Every team in this league has at least one good running back who will hurt you if you don't make the tackle."
Trailing early, the Lumberjacks aired it out for most of the game, and Klossner said he was pleased with the play of his quarterback Morgan Stevens. The senior went 19-for-35 for 202 passing yards.
Six receivers caught the ball for the 'Jacks, who were led by senior Mitch Keniston's nine receptions for 128 yards. He caught one touchdown pass on a 22-yard play, which gives him two TD catches on the season.
Jeremy Roussel paced Tupper Lake on the ground with 77 rushing yards on 16 carries.
"We improved quite a bit from our first game," Klossner said. "The things we are doing wrong, they are fixable things. We're looking for that game where we put everything together. Hopefully, it will be against Ogdensburg."
The Blue Devils own a 2-0 record, which includes a season-opening 48-6 win over Canton and a 13-3 victory over Malone a week ago. In that game, the Blue Devils scored the winning points with 2:35 remaining in regulation.
"They are a good team, we are a good team, and I'm expecting a close game," Klossner said. "In order to beat them, we are going to have to score points on any opportunity we get."
Saranac Lake heads into Saturday's game after picking up its first win a week ago, a 20-14 victory at Moriah. In that contest, the Red Storm led twice, lost the lead twice and then rallied in the final quarter to claim the victory.
"The best thing about our win was our kids really had to fight," Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett said. "When their backs were against the wall, they didn't panic. They went out there and executed and won the ball game. We got Lance some room on some big plays, but we had a lot of guys making little plays all over the place throughout the game."
Senior Lance Ackerson scored all three Saranac Lake touchdowns, with two coming on runs of 68 and 52 yards and the other on a 34-yard completion from quarterback Trent Fitzgerald.
The Red Storm will host a 1-1 Ticonderoga team coming off a 53-7 loss to the powerful Peru Indians.
Bennett said with the exception of Peru, most of the teams in Section VII appear to be evenly matched this season. The Class D Sentinels kicked off their season with a 31-21 win over Beekmantown, a Class B team.
"I think there is going to be a lot of good football games this season," Bennett said. "We have a tough one coming up against Ticonderoga. Ti has a really dynamic backfield. They can pound the ball inside and get to the perimeter."
Cameron Wright, who transfered from Moriah, and Jarryn Granger, are the two running backs the Red Storm will have to slow down.
"In order to win this game, we are going to have to play selfless team defense," Bennett said. "We are going to have to fly to the ball and have a lot of red shirts on the ball."
Bennett said with the exception of Torin Smith, Saranac Lake heads into Saturday's contest with a healthy lineup. Smith, a junior starting safety and receiver, was injured during practice earlier in the week and will miss at least one game. He'll be replaced on defense by junior Ty Marmion.