SARANAC LAKE - Since the start of the season, Saranac Lake's football players and coaches have been talking about being a team and working on things that they can control, regardless of who their opponents are.
Six games into the season, the Red Storm have been impressive at accomplishing both goals, and so far, it's paid off with an undefeated record.
On Saturday, Saranac Lake rolled through its sixth straight opponent, defeating Massena 41-0 on senior day at Ken Wilson Field. The win marked the fifth shutout posted by Saranac Lake, which has put 266 points on the board while only allowing eight.
Tim Munn gives Hall of Fame speech during halftime of Saturday's game.
The Red Storm's potent air attack netted three scores and Saranac Lake added three more rushing touchdowns. Big plays were the theme of the day, as four of Saranac Lake's touchdowns came on plays of 42 yards or longer. The biggest gain of the day was a 91-yard scoring run by Red Storm senior Forrest Morgan, who rushed for one touchdown and added four extra-point conversion kicks.
"Our plan since day one has been playing as a team," said Saranac Lake senior tri-captain Sean Ryan. "That's been our overall goal, and I think we have already accomplished that. No matter who our opponent is, we focus on taking care of ourselves."
Saranac Lake scored two first-quarter touchdowns, added two more in the second period and tacked on a touchdown each in the third and fourth quarters to improve to 6-0 in the Northern Football Conference. Again, the Red Storm spread the ball around, which is something first-year head coach Eric Bennett said he likes to see.
Senior Forrest Morgan finds running room along the Saranac Lake sideline on the way to a 91-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of Saturday’s game against Massena.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Saranac Lake lineman Luke Atkinson leaps and just misses blocking a punt by Massena’s Adam Malone.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We had six different kids score today, and we are really pleased about that," Bennett said. "I know this might sound old, but every kid on the team is doing their job and playing hard."
Utilizing its two talented senior signal callers, Saranac Lake picked up its first three touchdowns on passes. Josh Quinn scored on the Red Storm's first possession on a 42-yard reception on a ball thrown by Morgan, who started the game at quarterback. Austin McDonough then got in on the act, hauling in a 42-yard touchdown pass from Michael Phelan on a play where the senior made the reception near the goal line and stretched his arm out while falling backwards to break the plane of the end zone with the ball. Morgan followed with the conversion run, putting the Red Storm up 14-0 with 2:45 remaining in the opening period.
Dalton DeMarco scored Saranac Lake's third touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Phelan on the opening play of the second quarter, and senior Peter Madden added the next touchdown on a 17-yard run 3:25 before halftime. Morgan made good on both conversion kicks in the second quarter, sending Saranac Lake into intermission with a 28-0 lead.
Saranac Lake 41, Massena 0
Red Raiders 0 0 0 0 - 0
Red Storm 14 14 7 6 - 41
SL - Quinn 42 pass from Morgan (kick failed), 3:15
SL - McDonough 43 pass from Phelan (Morgan run), 9:15
SL - DeMarco 25 pass from Phelan (Morgan kick), :11
SL - Madden 17 run (Morgan kick), 8:35
SL - Morgan 91 run (Morgan kick), 8:26
SL - Barge 71 run (kick failed), 9:00
Massena - Coggeshall 11-32, Bush 8-5, Square 17-117, Delosh 1-(-3), Blanchard 4-20, Blair 1-(-5). Totals: 42-166.
Saranac Lake - McDonough 1-8, Morgan 5-107 TD, Quinn 1-8, Madden 3-12 TD, Phelan 2-(-19), Ryan 5-28, Dora 2-8, Curry 1-(-2), Tuthill 1-3, Barge 1-71 TD. Totals: 22-224 3TDs.
Massena - Corcoran 0-2-1-0.
Saranac Lake - Morgan 2-6-0-37 TD, Phelan 7-11-0-109 2TDs, Monty 1-2-0-1. Totals: 10-19-0-147.
Saranac Lake - Quinn 2-37 TD, McDonough 2-44 TD, Morgan 2-28, DeMarco 2-37 TD, Madden 1-0, Darrah 1-1.
Saranac Lake - Madden
Saranac Lake's two longest gains of the day went for touchdowns in the second half. Morgan upped Saranac Lake's lead to 35-0 when he broke free along the Red Storm sideline on a 91-yard touchdown run with 3:34 remaining in the third and then added the conversion kick. And with time winding down, junior backup tailback Ethan Barge rounded out the scoring on a 71-yard run.
While Saranac Lake's offense was displaying its big-play ability again, the Red Storm defense also asserted its will, especially in the opening half, en route to posting a fourth consecutive shutout. The Red Raiders were forced to go three-and-out on their opening six possessions and failed to pick up their initial first down until just under three minutes remained in the first half.
In the third quarter, Saranac Lake almost gave up its first points since the second game of the season, which was a 50-8 victory over Franklin Academy. Starting at their own 39-yard line, the Red Raiders finally broke through the Red Storm defense when running back Johnny Square, the game's leading rusher, ripped off a 45-yard run to give his team a first down at Saranac Lake's 11-yard line. But on the next two plays, Massena was pushed back one yard, and on third down, sophomore quarterback Rory Corcoran was intercepted by Madden on just his second pass attempt of the game.
With a first down and the ball at their own 14, the Red Storm were flagged with a rare illegal motion penalty, pushing the line of scrimmage back to the 9. But on the next play, Morgan was off to the races for a touchdown on his longest run of the season.
"We had a difficult assignment today," said Massena head coach Anthony Diagostino, whose Class A Red Raiders fell to 2-4. "Saranac Lake's football team doesn't make mistakes. They are well coached, the play tough and they are always ready to go."
Ten Saranac Lake backs combined to pile up 224 rushing yards in just 22 attempts, with Morgan leading the way with 107 yards on five runs. Square finished with a game-high 117 rushing yards on 17 attempts for Massena. Phelan's two scoring strikes give him 10 touchdown passes in the last three games.
After breezing through their first six foes, the Red Storm players are now eyeing winning the Class C regular-season championship, which they can make happen with a victory Friday at AuSable Valley. The winner of that game, which will be Saranac Lake's first Friday night under-the-lights encounter, will clinch home field and a bye in the first round of the Class C postseason.
"Our first goal was to get win No. 1, and then No. 2 and so on," Bennett said. "We have been approaching the season one game at a time, one week at a time, and now we are playing for a championship Friday night."
"Every win we've gotten has been a big win," Ryan added. "But now our games get really big. If we beat AuSable, we can play on our field one more time, and it will be for a championship. We really want to play at home again in a few weeks."