Red Storm players gather honors
SARANAC LAKE — At the beginning of the recently completed season, head coach Dermott Morgan said he’d love to see his Saranac Lake boys lacrosse team be more successful when it came to being competitive against the traditional powerhouses in Section X.
Although the Red Storm didn’t take down the Cantons, the Salmon Rivers and the St. Lawrences of the league, they did make the statement that Saranac Lake lacrosse is on the upswing and a bright future may lie ahead.
Five member of this year’s team were recognized for their efforts with Section X all-league honors.
Saranac Lake’s boys went 7-8 during a season that ended with a one-goal loss to Massena in the Class D playoffs. That record was the best posted by the Red Storm in years, and their solid play extended from the goal out. Junior goaltender Ward Walton led the way as Saranac Lake’s only first-team Section X selection.
“Ward Walton was the best athlete on the field for us,” Saranac Lake head coach Dermott Morgan said. “The guy is 6-1, has cat-like reflexes and over a 90 average in school. He’s the whole package both athletically and academically.”
Morgan said that Walton was the only player who was named a first-team pick since the early 2000s. Walton finished the season with 195 saves and a .575 save percentage.
D.J. Morgan was a second-team pick for the Red Storm. Coach Morgan said D.J., his son, was a versatile player at midfield, was Saranac Lake’s top faceoff guy, and led the squad in ground balls. D.J. Morgan finished with 33 goals and 22 assists for 55 points.
“His season starts in late February and and doesn’t end until mid July,” coach Morgan said of his all-league midfielder. “D.J. is a passionate athlete who loves the game and has a strong will to win. He really put a lot of time into his desire to be good.”
JB Chapin was Saranac Lake’s third athlete to be honored for his performance on the field. As one of just two seniors in the lineup, Chapin was an obvious leader on the team and was an honorable mention pick by Section X. A four-year starter, Chapin recorded 15 goals and 29 assists in his final season with the Red Storm.
“JB starts the offense,” Morgan said. “In lacrosse, only one assist is allowed on a goal, but the pass before that one usually came from JB Chapin. He’s been our offensive leader the past two years. He’s really great at drawing the defense, and that has constantly left us with another open man. We’re really going to miss his skills and leadership on the field.”
Although Brian Byrne didn’t see the field a lot during his final season playing lacrosse at Saranac Lake, his presence didn’t go unnoticed. This year, the senior was honored by Section X with the Bob Scott Award, which is handed out annually to the one player in North Country high school lacrosse who displays role model qualities. Byrne was active in the community and recently became an Eagle Scout. Morgan said this was the first time a Saranac Lake lacrosse player received the honor.
Dermott Morgan was also named Section X’s coach of the year. Although he would have dearly loved to pick up a few more wins, Morgan said he was honored to know that teams around the league are realizing that the Red Storm is now fielding teams that can’t be overlooked.
“It was a surprise,” Morgan said of his honor. “I had mixed reactions. We only had four league wins and seven overall, but really, we came close to having 10 or 11 wins this year. I’m proud that the coaches of this league have recognized how far we’ve come as a program.
“It’s been a long road to get here,” Morgan added. “I’ve coached a lot of great kids over the years, but you won’t be successful if the kids don’t play this highly skilled game. This year, we had a nucleus of eight or nine kids who have been playing lacrosse consistently since they started as youngsters in Tri-Lakes (youth lacrosse). And the great thing is we are only losing two seniors. We want to be even better next season.”
Morgan said not only does the credit for his honor go to his dedicated players, but also to the efforts of assistant coaches Cam Moody and Jeff Walton.