SARANAC — The Saranac football team’s passing attack, led by quarterback Ben Weightman, put up fantasy numbers at times last season.
The Chiefs, who open their season today at AuSable Valley, will throw the ball again this year, but their offense will now be centered around bruising senior running back Matt McCasland.
“Our mindset was pass-first last year,” coach Mark Burrell said. “We will be making a shift this year.”
“We hope to run the football well. McCasland is a 210-pound back who will be key to our success. We also have a 240-pound fullback in Kevin Jordan to lead the way and a good back in John Maye, who is up from the junior varsity.”
McCasland rushed 62 times for 597 yards, good for a 9.6 average and six touchdowns as a junior. He also caught three passes for 51 yards.
The rest of last year’s statistical leaders have graduated, giving both returners and newcomers a chance to step up.
Saranac finished with a 6-3 overall record a year ago, and its season came to an end with a loss to Beekmantown in the sectionals.
“We had a disappointing end to last season, but we had a good year,” said Burrell. “We lost a lot of talent off that team and certainly some key players. But we’ve got to move on.
“I feel very good about this team, however, and about who we have on the team. Plus, we have a number of players up from last year’s 8-0 junior varsity team who are expected to contribute.”
One of those players up from the JV is Ethan Goslin, who is battling for the starting quarterback position along with senior Zach Lareau. Replacing Weightman won’t be an easy task.
“As of now, I really don’t know who the starter will be,” Burrell said earlier this week. “They could both see action at quarterback in our first game. I do know that whoever isn’t starting at quarterback will be at safety on defense.”
Burrell expects the Chiefs to be strong at the skill positions.
“In addition to our backfield, we have Tanner Rascoe, Mitch Pellerin and Levi Wright leading the way for us at receiver,” said Burrell.
There are some concerns, however.
“We lost some size on our offensive and defensive lines, and I’m concerned about our depth there,” Burrell said. “And even though we have a good roster of 34 players, we want to put our best players on the field. We will have a number of players going both ways, and they need to stay healthy.”
The Chiefs are solid on the left side of the line with the return of Nick Daniels and Tony Bushey. Daniels is a senior leader, while Bushey is probably the strongest player on the team.
Burrell expects the linebacker position to be a team strength, with McCasland, Jordan and Maye switching over from offense.
Rascoe, Goslin and Lareau will be in the mix in the secondary.
“We have pretty good team quickness and we will be rotating players in and out,” Burrell said. “We have a good mix of seniors and juniors and only have one sophomore on the roster.”
Saranac Coach: Mark Burrell No. Name Position Year 1 Ethan Goslin QB-DB Jr. 2 Mitch Pellerin WR/DB Jr. 3 Tanner Rascoe WR/DB Jr. 8 Lance Hackett WR/DB Jr. 10 Zach Lareau QB/DB Sr. 13 Anthony Carrow WR/DB Sr. 16 Kyle Staley WR/DB Jr. 17 Zac O'Neill WR/DB Jr. 21 Matt McCasland RB/LB Sr. 22 Michael Bernardi WR/DB Jr. 24 Mark Lapointe LB Sr. 26 John Maye RB-LB Jr. 33 Tyler Lautenschuetz WR/DB Jr. 35 Dustin Durgan WR/DB Jr. 44 Kevin Jordan FB/LB Sr. 51 Tyler Humiston OL/DL Jr. 52 Justin O'Neill OL/DL Sr. 56 Damion Cox OL/DL Sr. 59 Brennan Everleth OL/DL Jr. 65 Nick Daniels OL/DL Sr. 66 Austin Staley OL/DL Jr. 68 Adrian Carte OL/DL Sr. 69 Michael Charland OL/DL So. 72 Dylan Charland OL/DL Sr. 74 Matt Smith OL/DL Jr. 75 Tony Bushey OL/DL r. 76 James Black OL/DL Jr. 77 Chase Delisle OL/DL Sr. 78 Andrew Bouyea OL/DL Sr. 80 Chad Moulton TE/DE Jr. 81 Dillon Barry WR/DB Jr. 88 Levi Wright WR/DB Sr. 89 Wesley Boyd WR/DB Jr. Ryan Kneussle WR/DB Jr.