— Saranac football coach Mark Burrell acknowledged that the 2012 season was “disappointing,” noting that the Chiefs were plagued by injuries that contributed to their 2-6 record.
This season, a number of those injured players are back, and with 36 on the roster, Burrell is excited about the team’s depth.
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“Having that amount of kids certainly makes things easier as a coach when you can put in any group of kids who can play multiple positions really with little drop-off,” Burrell said. “So I think that will help a lot.”
The Chiefs kick off the 2013 campaign today when they host AuSable Valley — a fellow Class C school. The Chiefs had been competing in Class B, but shifted down a class. Burrell said the change won’t really affect the regular season because they’ll still play all the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference teams, and every game will still count toward playoff seeding.
Two key players whose seasons were shortened by injury last year are quarterback Ethan Goslin and running back John Maye. Goslin, now a senior, completed 17-of-38 passes for 257 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions before being injured in the fifth game last season.
Goslin is good on his feet as well as with his arm.
“He’s a solid runner and he throws a good ball, so I think he can certainly be a dual threat if we need him to be,” Burrell said. “Obviously, I want to be sure I protect him as much as possible, but I’ve got to let the athletes make plays if they’re capable.
“I think he’s certainly progressed from last year to this year. I think he’s ready to play. He’s excited and ready to lead our offense, and he’ll see a lot of time as a safety as well.”
Goslin will likely be connecting often with Lance Hackett, a senior who led the Chiefs last year with 11 receptions for 129 yards.
“He’s just worked extremely hard throughout the offseason,” Burrell said of Hackett. “I think he’s going to be a good player for us. He’s certainly our top receiver. But we’ve got a host of guys who I feel very strongly can catch the ball.”
They include returning receivers Tanner Rascoe and Chad Moulton as well as newcomers Caiden Goodman, Dylan Christopherson and Morgan Earp.
While Saranac lost its top rusher from 2012, Matt McCasland, it has a strong returning running back in Maye, a senior. Despite being hampered by an injury, Maye ran for 201 yards last year — second on the team.
“He’s definitely a leader on our team,” Burrell said. “He’s going to be, I think, a big player for us this year. He’ll be a big contributor on both sides of the ball.”
Michael Bernardi ran for 124 yards last year, and Burrell said he’s seen good things so far from newcomer Hunter Church.
Rascoe, another player who battled injury, grabbed four interceptions last year and will help lead the secondary this season along with Goslin and Hackett. Maye is slotted at linebacker, and Goodman, Church and Michael Charland are also expected to be significant contributors on defense.
Burrell said the defense was impressive during a scrimmage last weekend, but he added that there are things to improve on both sides of the ball.
“Definitely some things to work on after seeing the scrimmage,” Burrell said. “But overall I feel we’ve got a good group of hardworking kids that are going to do whatever it takes to be successful this year. And that’s important.
“They’ve put in a tremendous amount of work and seem really dedicated.”
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