PLATTSBURGH — With three games remaining on its schedule and first place in sight, the Plattsburgh North Stars’ rematch with the Syracuse Shock has added significance tonight.
The North Stars (5-1), who are a half-game behind the North East Pennsylvania Miners in the Empire Football League (EFL) standings, travel down I-87 to the D. Donald Distin Athletic Complex in Syracuse for 7 p.m.
Plattsburgh defeated the Shock (3-2) at the Plattsburgh High Athletic Complex July 27, 38-18.
“Every game we play is important,” North Stars coach Scott Aguglia said. “It would be nice to beat Syracuse on its home turf. We’re hopeful for the top seed in the Eastern Division.
“I expect the same thing from Syracuse that we saw a month ago. It’s very important for us to match the intensity we had in the previous go-around. They’ll be extremely fired up, and they’ll want to avenge their loss that happened up here.”
Plattsburgh is led on offense by quarterback Harry Rascoe.
The signal-caller has completed 63-of-110 pass attempts for 1,050 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Rascoe’s primary target is Dexter Geohagan, who leads the EFL in receiving yards (386) and touchdown receptions (eight). Geohagan also poses a threat on special teams, taking two punt returns to the end zone this season.
Andrew Price (170 yards, three touchdowns) and Craig Bujold (147 yards, three touchdowns) have also made key contributions at wideout.
Josh Nephew has headlined the ground game, totaling 204 yards and one touchdown.
Surrendering an average of 12 points per game in five contests, Cody Kirlew leads the defense in total tackles with 30. Matt Kodador and Dave Staley have totaled three sacks each.
Former Peru standout Jason Remillard leads the secondary in interceptions with three.
“What we’ve been doing has worked well us for us on both sides of the ball,” Aguglia said. “Our game plan will be similar to the first time we played them. The guys just need to be focused and ready to play.”
In its last away game, Plattsburgh faltered against the Watertown Red and Black Aug. 10, 28-13. The loss took the North Stars out of sole possession of first place.
Aguglia doesn’t consider tonight’s game as the most difficult road test of the season.
“It’s certainly the farthest to travel,” Aguglia said. “I don’t put any additional importance on any particular game, though. On a week-to-week basis, we need to take care of business and win.”
Plattsburgh is fresh off a 47-7 defeat of the Vermont Ice Storm.
The North Stars jumped out to a 33-0 halftime lead and held the Ice Storm to 97 yards of total offense.
“It was nice to have a comfortable win last Saturday night,” Aguglia said. “I think that we got our running game back and our defense played well. Syracuse is much more talented and deeper team than Vermont is.”
After the game tonight, Plattsburgh doesn’t return to the gridiron until Sept. 14.
The North Stars will take Labor Day weekend off before capturing a forfeit win over Montreal Sept. 7.
Aguglia hopes the team can finish strong.
“It’s important for us to win them all. It doesn’t matter where they are on the calendar. Every Saturday night that there’s football, we need to win from here on out.”