SARANAC LAKE - As the high school football schedule enters its fourth weekend, Saranac Lake looks to remain undefeated while Tupper Lake seeks its first win.
Both teams are on the road for week No. 4 matchups, with Saranac Lake playing at AuSable Valley tonight in a Champlain Valley Athletic Conference game, and Tupper Lake visiting Canton on Saturday in Section X action.
As the only two Class C teams in the CVAC, the Red Storm and Patriots will square off again in the ninth week of the season to determine the Section VII champion. Tonight's contest pits two teams against each other that have gone in opposite directions to start their schedules. The Patriots have yet to win in three games, while the Red Storm have rolled to three convincing victories, outscoring its opponents by a combined 98-19.
Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett has been pleased by the play of his linemen during the team’s 3-0 start. Above, Taylor Pellerin (51), Kyle McGrain (52) and Hajro Cecunjanin (55) explode off the line against Ticonderoga.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"No matter what happens Friday, we know we're going to play AV in week nine for a championship," said Saranac Lake head coach Eric Bennett. "AuSable has had a tough start. They are at a point where they are trying to find out what works for them. It's a key Class C game for us. It's a big game for both our teams.
Just about everything has gone Saranac Lake's way on offense, defense and special teams during its three victories, and Bennett said that's a result of the work put in by the players and coaching staff. Bennett said the offensive and defensive lines have been particularly outstanding so far under the guidance of line coach Wade Montroy.
"We've had a great start," Bennett said. "Hard work pays off and that's where we are at right now. It really doesn't matter who we play. The kids come to work on Monday and hopefully, we've gotten everything right by the weekend."
This marks the second straight game Saranac Lake will play under the lights. The Red Storm surged to a 22-0 lead in the first quarter a week ago while pulling away to a 30-6 win at Ticonderoga. Tonight's matchup will be the first game on a turf field this season for the Red Storm.
"We've got some fast guys, and I'm excited to see what they can do on AuSable's field," Bennett said.
The only blow felt by Saranac Lake to date occurred a week ago when junior Dylan Gunther, a two-way starter, suffered a dislocated elbow. He is expected to be lost for the season.
The Patriots are led by a tough two-way starter Dylan Savage, who is a hard runner at fullback and also heads up their defense at middle linebacker.
Tonight's opening kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Tupper opens road swing
Tupper Lake was a sliver away from notching its first win a week ago, but fell short in a 14-13 setback to Gouverneur. It was the third straight home game for the Lumberjacks, who will play three of their next four matchups on the road starting Saturday.
Tupper Lake head coach Dennis Klossner said injuries have piled up on his team and said they are "pretty banged up" heading into Saturday's showdown of two teams looking for their first win.
Starting Lumberjacks linemen, Zack Boushie and Nick Dukette, and receiver and defensive back Jeremy Sauve will all be out this week with injuries.
Fortunately, key players who had standout performances for Tupper Lake are healthy. Mitch Keniston, who took over at quarterback for Morgan Stevens, had a solid outing leading the Lumberjacks offensively, while senior Tyler Minogue came up big running and receiving. He finished with 166 combined yards on offense, including a 24-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass.
Senior captain Marcus Richer also had a standout game on both sides of the line for Tupper Lake, while senior Elliot Kerst ran for one touchdown and had a solid outing on defense.
Canton is led by junior quarterback Jay Proulx, and Klossner expects to see the Golden Bears try to run the football.
"Canton has that double wing-T formation that goes way back," Klossner said. "We'll just go toe-to-toe on the line with them and hope we can create a pile up with our linebackers filling in.
"So far, we've been a running team, and Mitch has done a great job there, but we don't want to be one dimensional," Klossner added. "We have to find a way to complete 10 to 15 passes to get the ball downfield. Hopefully, we can get our passing game going against Canton."
The opening kickoff in Canton is slated for 1:30 p.m.