SARANAC LAKE —
Saranac Lake’s balanced, up-tempo offense features a plethora of playmakers. The team has rushed for 2,039 yards and 32 touchdowns, while Phelan and Seth Pickreign have combined for 1,102 yards and 17 end zone appearances on the ground.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Panthers obtain one of the state’s best Class C running backs in Brad Burns. The 5-foot-10-inch, 195-pound bruiser scored more touchdowns individually (31) this season than six Section VII teams during the regular season. Burns, a three-year starter, has rushed for 1,636 yards this season, which is best in a section that features 58 total teams.
“In Class C, they don’t make a better back than him,” Bennett said. “He’s a physical runner that has the wheels, making him the full package. Slowing him down is going to be the game plan. We need to get a lot of helmets on the football, which is our best chance for success.”
The Panthers also own the sections third-best quarterback in terms of passing yardage in Billy Pine. The 5-foot-10-inch, 180-pound senior has thrown for 1,471 yards and 21 touchdowns, while tossing only two interceptions.
Hoosick Falls operates various spread sets, predominately out of the shotgun and pistol formations. Their closest game — a 43-12 win on the road against Schuylerville.
The Panthers defense might be the most ferocious in the Capital District Region, surrendering just 44 points all season, for an average of 4.4 points against per content. Through their first seven games, the perennial Section II power had only yielding a touchdown, field goal, and an extra point.
“They’re a very physical, aggressive run-stopping defense,” Bennett said. “They are sound with their assignments and responsibilities. If you make a mistake, they’re going to exploit it.”
Bennett spoke to his team following last week’s 42-12 rout of Ogdensburg Free Academy. The third-year head coach called the neutral Section VII site at AuSable Valley “a place of opportunity” and dubbed it “the field of dreams.”