SARANAC LAKE — Nick Damiani’s first reaction after Saturday’s Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football game was: “Ugly. That was horrible.”
And he was the winning coach.
High School Sports Magazine
The game was the first of the season for both teams, and it showed, but Peru outplayed Saranac Lake for a 33-7 victory at Ken Wilson Field.
Damiani said the Indians talked all week about limiting mistakes, but that didn’t happen early on. Peru had consecutive drives with three penalties each in the first quarter and a touchdown that was called back in the second quarter. The miscues started to add up.
“First quarter, they kind of steamrolled, mistake after mistake,” Damiani said. “As the game went on, the mistakes got fewer and fewer, which is what I expected.
“We did play good, physical football. Offensively, we moved the ball when we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot. I saw a lot of good things, but absolutely we’ve got things that need to be fixed.”
Peru did score on its first possession. After Saranac Lake fumbled, Jozua Cote needed two carries to get to the end zone. Peru made it 12-0 early in the second quarter on a 15-yard pass from Blake Altizer to Anthony Gallo.
Late in the second, Peru’s Rivelino Hendricks took a handoff, looked to be tied up and then broke free and raced to the end zone for a 43-yard score.
Saranac Lake got on the board in the final minute when Torin Smith went up for the ball in the corner of the end zone and took it away from a defender. But Peru added another touchdown before the half. Altizer threw a 33-yard pass with the clock winding down, and Gallo and a defensive back both came down with the ball. Gallo held on, and the Indians led 26-7 at the break.
Gallo, a junior making his first varsity start, had eight catches for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
“Gallo’s a great receiver. Runs great routes; has great hands,” Damiani said. “He’s an athlete. I knew he would be, and I was looking at him to probably be able to have a decent day.”
Peru tacked on one more score, a nine-yard reception by Zane Bazzano early in the fourth.
Altizer went 17-for-24 for 205 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw two interceptions. Bazzano had 53 receiving yards on four catches, and Jordan Guay grabbed three passes for 29 yards.
Cote led Peru’s running backs with 67 yards on 14 carries.
Saranac Lake’s ground game was ineffective — the Red Storm totaled 34 rushing yards. Dylan Kilner ran for 27 of those.
“I think that was the team we were playing against. That was a very dominant, physical team,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “I expect them to have an outstanding season.
“You know, it is what it is. We just couldn’t compete up front.”
The Indians have three veteran linemen — Luke McKee, Jordan Robinson and Tyler Clement — and Damiani said converted defensive end Logan Abel also played very well in his first start.
“My D-line’s tough,” Damiani said. “They’re off the ball quickly, and they’re low.”
Trent Fitzgerald, a senior, started at quarterback for Saranac Lake and completed 4-of-14 passes for two yards. Sophomore Tristan Fitzgerald also took some snaps and was 5-for-9 for 63 yards and a touchdown. Bennett said both will continue to play until one definitively claims the job.
Dylan Gunther grabbed two passes for 32 yards to lead the Saranac Lake receivers.
Peru 33, Saranac Lake 7
Peru 6 21 0 6 — 33
Saranac Lake 0 7 0 0 — 7
P- Cote 1 run (kick blocked), 1:26.
P- Gallo 15 pass from Altizer (kick missed), 0:07.
P- Hendricks 43 run (Abel pass from Altizer), 8:48.
SL- Smith 20 pass from Tri. Fitzgerald (Tri. Fitzgerald), 11:07.
P- Gallo 33 pass from Altizer (kick blocked), 12:00.
P- Bazzano 9 pass from Altizer (kick missed), 0:06.
P- Cote 14-67, TD; Hendricks 2-44, TD; Wyckoff 4-32; Landon 3-10; Altizer 5-(-12). Totals: 25-141, 2 TD.
SL-Kilner 2-27; Gunther 4-11; Tre. Fitzgerald 6-2; Tri. Fitzgerald 1-2; Ryan 5-(-3); Ackerson 6-(-5). Totals
P- Altizer 17-24-2-205, 3TD.
SL- Tri. Fitzgerald 5-9-0-63, TD; Tre. Fitzgerald 4-14-0-2. Totals: 9-25-0-65, TD.
P- Gallo 8-95, 2 TD; Bazzano 4-53, TD; Guay 3-29; Henricks 1-26; Cote 1-2.
SL- Gunther 2-32; Smith 2-15, TD; Bevilacqua 2-14; Fischer 1-14; Clark 1-1; Stack 1-(-3).
SL- Bevilacqua, Fischer.
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