TUPPER LAKE - Last season, Tupper Lake running back Jordan Garrow filled in admirably for starting running back Josh Facteau, who was injured early in the season.
Now Garrow, a senior, will begin the season as a starter in the backfield along with sophomore Tim Ropas, who is up from junior varsity.
In his first game replacing Facteau last year, Garrow provided the Lumberjacks with some spark, rushing for three touchdowns and 182 yards in a 21-6 win over Canton.
Tupper Lake football coach Dennis Klossner talks to his players during a preseason practice.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
That performance came in game four and Garrow wound up providing Tupper Lake with a strong presence in the backfield for the remainder of the season.
This year, the Lumberjacks are hoping that Garrow can continue that success and be the main cog to in the running game.
"Jordan will be our go-to back," said coach Dennis Klossner. "He'll carry the load. He had a real good year last year, and I was real happy with him at our scrimmage. And he's been working hard at practices."
Pierson St. Pierre
Adam St. Pierre
Garrow will be complemented in the backfield by sophomore Tim Ropas, who is up from junior varsity. Ropas is expected to see some time at the halfback spot and also as a receiver. Klossner is impressed with Ropas' ball-catching ability.
When the Lumberjacks go to a formation that requires a fullback, Stone Keniston will fill that role. While Garrow and Ropas are outside runners with speed, Keniston is a ground-and-pound runner who will handle the majority of the runs between the tackles.
For the second consecutive year, the quarterback duties will be handled by Morgan Stevens. Just a sophomore, Klossner said Stevens has matured from last year, and he is hoping the young quarterback will be able to provide his squad with a strong passing game.
"He grew up a lot and his understanding of the defenses (has improved)," Klossner said.
One of the big adjustments Stevens has made is finding his second receiver, something he struggled with at times last season.
Stevens' main receiving targets will be Adam St. Pierre, Mitch Keniston and Ropas.
To supplement their offense, the Lumberjacks are hoping to get big performances from Garrow and Ropas on kickoffs and punt returns. Last year, Garrow had several big returns and often put Tupper Lake in good field position to start their possession.
The offensive line will consist of guards Damon Cole and Rick Lalonde, in addition to tackles Tim Larkin and Marcus Richer. Pierson St. Pierre will take the snaps behind center.
"We're decent. We're not big," Klossner said. "We have some guys that have height but weight-wise we don't have any of those real big linemen. We're just hoping to use any little bit of speed they might have and strength that they have throughout the summer in minicamps."
On defense, the Lumberjacks are returning all four linebackers, which should provide an anchor on that side of the ball. Stone Keniston and Elliot Kerst will play in the middle while Nick Boushie and Garrow will be on the outsides.
Larkin and Cole will be the starting defensive tackles, while Garret Planty and Ropas will be defensive ends.
One bonus that Klossner sees with this year's team is that the numbers are pretty high for Tupper Lake. There are 25 guys out for the team, which will allow Klossner to rotate players in and out. He named that as being one of the team's strength.
"We're basically even with our speed, strength. We're not exceptionally fast or exceptionally strong. We're right down the middle with both," Klossner said. "So our strength will be the depth that we have we both."