The Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake football teams are coming off strong games that saw each squad pick up a victory.
The Lumberjacks got a much-needed first win of the season, while the undefeated Red Storm rolled to their fourth straight.
Both teams will try to continue to build off that momentum Saturday as they line up at 1:30 p.m. The Red Storm will host Plattsburgh in its homecoming game and the Lumberjacks travel to Malone to take on Franklin Academy.
A host of Tupper Lake defensive players combine to bring down a Canton runner during last week’s game in Canton. The Lumberjacks will have to play another physical game this week in Malone.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
"We're treating it as any other game," Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. "We're playing a CVAC opponent. The idea that it's homecoming is great for the kids and is fun, but when it comes to Saturday at 1:30 p.m., homecoming really doesn't mean much. Playing well and getting our fifth win, that's what we're focused on."
Last week, the Red Storm scored touchdowns on all six of their first half possessions and beat AuSable Valley 56-20. Saranac Lake had a 49-0 lead before the Patriots put up some points on the Red Storm backups.
Bennett was happy with the performance, but he'd like to see his players draw fewer flags. Last week, his squad was hit with four personal fouls. Bennett called the flags "unacceptable for Saranac Lake football" and something that his team has concentrated on during this week's practices.
"We need to get off to a quick start and play disciplined football," Bennett said. "That's something that we got a little bit away from last week. Our kids are focused on their assignments and playing with pride, playing with the whistle and not having any extracurriculars."
Leading the way for the Red Storm last week was quarterback Matt Phelan. The senior ran for two touchdowns and threw two more scoring strikes on a night where he completed all five of his pass attempts for 167 yards.
The Red Storm have also been playing great defense, holding the Patriots scoreless in the first half last week. A key part of that has been the play of their senior outside linebackers.
"T.J. Monroe and Michael Burpoe are playing some great outside linebacker for us that the average fan wouldn't see, but if not for them, we're not making the tackles we need to," Bennett said. "They've just had a tremendous season so far, learning new positions and learning new techniques and it's nice to watch."
Plattsburgh has struggled this season and owns a 1-3 record. Last week, the Hornets fell to Saranac 25-13. Still, Bennett doesn't want to take them too lightly.
"Plattsburgh, from the beginning of the season until now, has improved tremendously," he said. "It's very clear their coaches are working hard. Their kids seem to know their schemes and we expect them to come right at us and play hard. So we have to stay focused and not take anything for granted and be ready to go from the first kickoff. "
Tupper Lake goes for two
Heading into this season Lumberjacks coach Dennis Klossner knew his team would take their lumps early on. The majority of players on the team were inexperienced prior to this season.
In the first couple games, that lack of game-time action showed as the Lumberjacks let a pair of teams roll over them, giving up a lot of points in the process.
But in the last two weeks, Tupper Lake (1-3) has shown improvement. In the Lumberjacks' homecoming game two weeks ago, they lost a 14-13 game to an unbeaten Gouverneur team. That game could have gone either way.
Then last week, the Lumberjacks stepped up and pounded Canton 41-14.
Against Canton, senior running back Tyler Minogue rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries.
"We're real happy with the way Tyler runs," Klossner said. "He doesn't have the real quickness to the hole, but he's got good breakaway speed once he gets going. He's reading his blocks well. He's hanging onto the ball."
Two senior tight ends, Nick Bourbeau and Brandon Duchaine, grabbed their first receptions of the season, which both went for touchdowns, junior running back Jeremy Roussel ran for one score and place kicker Ian Gillis went 5-for-6 on conversion kicks.
The game also saw Mitch Keniston get his first win at quarterback. The former receiver took over for Morgan Stevens, who went down with an injury early in the season. Keniston tossed two touchdown passes and ran for two more.
"We played well. I thought we played well throughout the whole game," Klossner said. "Offensively, defensively and our special teams did a real good job, too; played the complete game. I was real proud of the kids."
This week, Franklin Academy will present a bigger challenge for Tupper Lake than Canton did. The Huskies are 3-1 and have speed at the skill positions on offense.
"It's going to be a challenge," Klossner said. "They are a bigger team, but I feel we're probably more physical than they are. They are a quick team, but the way we've been playing I feel that we are a more physical team and that if we can get some bodies on them, that should slow them down a little bit."