Red Storm host Hornets in season-opener

Ben Munn receives a handoff from quarterback Rhett Darrah during Saranac Lake’s 2018 playoff game against AuSable Valley. The two return as seniors and second-year starters to lead the Red Storm into action today against Plattsburgh in the first game of the season for both teams. Also pictured in the back field is Braden Ryan, another senior back on the varsity squad.

SARANAC LAKE — Last fall, Saranac Lake’s football players faced their share of struggles through out a disappointing one-win season.

With more than a dozen players back from that team, the Red Storm hopes lessons learned from a year ago will yield a successful run this time around. Saranac Lake faces its first test today when it hosts Plattsburgh in the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference season-opener at Wilson Raymond Field.

With a roster of 21 players, Saranac Lake certainly doesn’t have the luxury of depth, but the Red Storm has plenty of experience, and that’s one of the big things they lacked in 2018. The Red Storm heads into today’s matchup against the Hornets with 14 returning seniors, and that number includes at least seven players who are returning starters on either side of the ball.

A year ago, Saranac Lake also started the season against Plattsburgh, and lost to the Hornets 32-0 on the road with what was essentially a team with little varsity experience. Red Storm head coach Eric Bennett said that shouldn’t be the scenario when they meet up again today.

“I’m excited to have some veterans this year,” Bennett said. “We took our hard knocks; we didn’t have very much fun last year, but we are miles ahead of where were then. Our strength might just be having a majority of our kids back on the team and bringing their fundamental knowledge of what we are trying to do. I expect that they are going to come out and play like a veteran team, and like they’ve already been through the fire last year.”

Just like a season ago, Rhett Darrah and Dylan Stewart are Saranac Lake’s quarterbacks, with Darrah starting for the second straight year and Stewart taking on the back-up role. Bennett said he is confident in the abilities of both players. Ben Munn led the Red Storm in rushing in 2018 and returns as the team’s top runner as a senior. Munn will also handle kick-off duties and senior Logan Brown will kick on extra points, as well as run the football.

Seniors Patrick Alberga and Sean Sanford are expected to play key roles on the offensive line and at the defensive end spots.

Plattsburgh has a new head coach this season as Mike Bordeau returns to the position he last held with the team in 2008. The Hornets have a roster of 25 and are led by Ian DeTulleo, a senior tri-captain who started at quarterback a season ago and is expected to be an impact player at wide receiver and in the defensive backfield. Big senior linemen Alex Brown and Andy Brown are Plattsburgh’s other two linemen.

“They have a few talented players returning, and with a new coach, I’m sure those kids are going to have a lot of energy,” Bennett said.

Saranac Lake kicked its season off at Wilson Raymond Field a week ago in a scrimmage against Massena, and the Red Storm will be on home turf again next week to host Saranac Central.

Bennett said he’s excited to see how the Red Storm’s off-season training and preseason practices translate when they take on the Hornets.

“We had at least 12 kids who were committed to working out all summer,” Bennett said. “We’re really pumped that we have a nice schedule playing on our field to start the season. If we can play smart, control the ball and not turn it over, I think we’re going to be alright.”

The opening kickoff for today’s game is slated for 1:30 p.m.

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