SARANAC LAKE — The third part of this trilogy might be hotter than any movie ticket in town.
Saranac Lake and Hoosick Falls meet in a highly-anticipated matchup this afternoon at 1 p.m. for the third consecutive season at AuSable Valley in the NYSPHSAA ‘C’ quarterfinals and the stakes remain the same — a trip to Dietz Stadium for a semifinal opportunity is on the line.
The Red Storm (10-0) were able to overcome an early 12-0 deficit and knock off the Panthers (10-0) 15-12 in overtime at AuSable Valley in 2010. However, Eric Bennett’s inexperienced 2011 squad were unable generate any offense in last year’s regional bout and suffered a 47-13 defeat.
“(Hoosick Falls) is an incredibly well-coached, disciplined team that comes out of a great football tradition,” Bennett said. “We recognize what we’re up against and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Each of the two teams play with similar philosophies and have comparable numbers throughout the 2012 season. Both Saranac Lake and Hoosick Falls were able to fight through their sections undefeated and generated over 3,785 and 3,910 yards of offense, respectively.
The Red Storm are led by quarterback Matt Phelan. The senior signal-caller, who currently holds the top spot for passing yardage in Section VII, has thrown for 1,635 yards and 24 touchdowns, while totaling an eye-popping 246.46 passer rating on the year.
Phelan’s primary targets include Kevin Morgan (32 receptions, 801 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Mike Burpoe (30 receptions, 406 yards, four touchdowns). Morgan’s older brother Forrest Morgan kicked the game-winning 34-yard field goal in the 2010 contest at AuSable Valley, while quarterbacking the Red Storm to their second semifinal appearance during a three-year span.
“For (Phelan and Morgan) to be apart of that (2010) team, it gave them a chance to see how we do our business in the postseason and conduct practices,” Bennett said. “It’s a different year, but the names have been cycled through. The familiarities between the two squads are now getting down to the families as well.”