BY GARRETT WOOD Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Young, new talent and experienced veterans will give the Plattsburgh North Stars a shot at winning the Empire Football League (EFL) championship in 2013 under second-year coach Scott Aguglia.
“We’re returning a lot of key players from last season,” Aguglia said. “We got good depth and leadership back from last year. We also have a nice infusion of some younger guys that seem to be very enthusiastic and are in fact very athletic, so I’m thinking that this is going to be a very good season.”
Part of the leadership will come from Harry Rascoe, who won the EFL Offensive MVP award a season ago.
Rascoe led the team in both rushing and passing. He averaged 7.1 yards a carry, finishing with five touchdowns and 409 yards rushing.
Rascoe’s numbers throwing the ball are just as impressive. He ended the season with a 94.3 quarterback rating, compiled 2,391 passing yards and threw 32 touchdowns, while only being picked off 14 times.
“Rascoe is a duel threat, he played one year at running back for us and then transitioned to QB,” Aguglia said. “He had a heck of a year throwing the ball last year. On top of everything else, he is a calming factor in the huddle, guys look to him and he’s a leader and that’s really good for our offense.”
The North Stars top two rushers from last year will be returning as well. Josh Nephew and Elijah Parks combined for 537 yards, six touchdowns and each averaged over five yards per carry. They both shared the workload evenly last year with Nephew totaling 49 carries and Parks right behind him at 42.
Aguglia noted the biggest difference from last year is a whole new receiving corps. The North Stars have lost their top-four receivers from a season ago. Aguglia, however, doesn’t see that as a big problem.
“The receiving crew is new for the team, but they are proven athletes at other levels, so we are dealing with guys that have skill,” Aguglia said.
Plattsburgh will look to newcomers Bret Boyer out of Peru, DJ Barber from Beekmantown, Craig Bujold of Seton Catholic and Saranac’s Ryan St. Clair at tight end.
“Craig Bujold looks really good at receiver, and he’s a heck of an athlete,” Aguglia said. “He has played all over town in all kinds of different leagues, and the fact that he played QB in high school gives us a nice backup for Harry in case of an emergency. But Craig will be playing primarily at wide receiver.”
Aguglia said the defense for the North Stars is in good shape and feels they have a lot of experience in key spots.
“We have lost some guys that were starters, but I feel we have filled those spots with experienced guys, who have moved positions or guys that look really good,” Aguglia said.
BJ Godfrey will torment offenses from his middle linebacker spot, which he has done for years. His athleticism and experience will be a big asset for the team. Godfrey owns the team’s top two spots in the record books for tackles in a single season with 103 in 2008 and 101 in 2009.
Kody Kirlew will line up alongside Godfrey as another linebacker. Last year, Kirlew led the team with 47 tackles with 26 of them being solo. He also had two sacks and an interception on the year.
Greg Archer and Craig Livsey will give the defense a boost with Archer playing defensive end and Livsey holding down the secondary at safety.
“Archer has really stepped his game up at defensive end,” Aguglia said. “He is going to work into that position very well … Craig Livsey looks really good in his first year playing for the Stars, and he is going to really help us at the safety position.”
With all the new players and returning leadership, the North Stars are primed to make a serious run at the league championship. But the league has gone through some changes itself.
Montreal and Albany are out of the league this year, and the Northeast Pennsylvania Miners have stepped in to fill an open spot.
“Northeast Pennsylvania has been very successful in a couple of the leagues they were in, and I think they will step right in as far as being as competitive as Albany was,” Aguglia said.
Since 2007, the Miners have recorded 41 wins with five playoff appearances. Last year, they finished with a 9-3 record.
For Aguglia and the North Stars, it will boil down to just a few things to get the job done this season.
“What I believe matters most is experience and leadership,” Aguglia said. “We got a lot of guys from last year’s team that were in a championship game, and we still have a lot of guys that were on the championship team from three years ago. Those guys are our leaders, and they know how to play the type of football that will get us to the playoffs and championships.”
Last year, the North Stars finished with a 9-3 record and made it all the way to the EFL championship against the Monroe County Sting. Plattsburgh lost the game, 38-22.
“We have the potential to be as good, if not better, than last year,” Aguglia said.
The North Stars will put their preseason workouts to the test when they face the Maine Sabers today in a non-league matchup in Portland, Maine.
“Offensively, Maine is a finesse type team,” Aguglia said. “They have been successful in their league and the competition level is going to be there.”
Aguglia is hoping the competition will help prepare Plattsburgh to take on his former team, the Vermont Ice Storm where he was an offensive coordinator and won national championships in 2007 and 2008.
“The better non-league teams we play, the more prepared we will be when it comes time to play Vermont in our first game of the season, which I certainly want to win,” Aguglia said.
The Sabers and North Stars have never met before and Maine actually reached out to the North Stars for the game.
“They were having a hard time finding a non-league game and so were we, so it worked out for both of us,” Aguglia said. “We would like to get another game in and we have about a 50-50 chance of securing one. However, I’m not going to panic if we don’t.”
The North Stars will start their regular season July 13 at South Burlington High School against the Ice Storm.
North Stars Roster # Name Position Hometown
3 Austin Velie WR Saranac
4 Craig Livsey S Beekmantown
5 Nick Passino S Peru
7 Dexter Geohagan WR/DB Rockaway
9 Ken Karnley RB Staten Island
10 Mitch Ryder K Plattsburgh
11 Jim Carlson RB Port Henry
12 J.C. Guerrero DB Brooklyn
13 Harry Rascoe QB Plattsburgh
14 Kris Ross RB Plattsburgh
15 Nate Giddings CB Ticonderoga
17 Brandon St. John CB Cadyville
18 Dan O'Meara DE Plattsburgh
21 Mackenzie Haskins DB Beekmantown
28 Bryan Staley S Keeseville
31 Taylor Chapple DB Saranac
32 Josh Nephew FB/LB Beekmantown
33 DJ Barber WR Beekmantown
35 Elijah Parks FB Beekmantown
38 Edwin Karnley DE Staten Island
40 Craig Bujold WR Plattsburgh
44 Marcus Pulliam LB Brooklyn
45 Nick Hyde SS Malone
47 Cody Kirlew LB Huntington
51 BJ Godfrey LB Peru
52 Tanner Hooker LB Paducah, Ky.
53 Justin O'Neil DL Saranac
54 Dave Staley DL Saranac
55 Adam Arnold LB Tupper Lake
57 Matt Kotador LB Watervliet
61 Adam Frennier OL Beekmantown
63 Jim Reisdorf OL Beekmantown
66 Todd Collins OL Malone
69 Greg Archer DE Beekmantown
70 Emmett Drollette OL/DL Beekmantown
71 Stephen White OL/DL Mesa, Ariz.
73 Kelsey Lenny DL Malone
74 Howie Frenyea DT Plattsburgh
75 Andrew LaDuke DE Plattsburgh
77 Nick Moore OL Peru
78 Devin Dashnaw OL Surprise, Ariz
80 Alain Pepin WR Malone
84 Ryan St. Clair TE Saranac
88 Bret Boyer WR Peru
90 Mike Thwaits DL Ausable Forks
June 29 @ Maine Sabers (non-league)
July 13 @ Vermont
July 20 Glens Falls
July 27 Syracuse
Aug. 3 Montreal*
Aug. 10 @ Watertown
Aug. 17 Vermont
Aug. 24 @Syracuse
Aug. 31 BYE
Sept. 7 Montreal*
Sept. 14 @ Glens Falls
Sept. 21 Watertown
* The EFL has yet to determine the outcome of already scheduled games that are no longer being played