BY RICKY ST. CLAIR Press-Republican
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh North Stars have reached the Empire Football League (EFL) championship game in three of the past four years.
If they’re going to make a bid for a fourth appearance in a half-decade, they’ll have to get past the Glens Falls Greenjackets.
The North Stars (8-2) play host to the Greenjackets (4-6) in an EFL semifinal matchup at the Plattsburgh High School Athletic Complex for 7 p.m. tonight.
“It’s been a long journey with some ups and downs,” Plattsburgh coach Scott Agulia said. “We’re in a good position right now, and I’m pretty confident heading into the game (tonight).”
The North Stars have played a home-and-home against Glens Falls during their 10-game schedule, which included two forfeit wins over Montreal.
Plattsburgh picked up a 64-7 win at home July 20 before defeating the Greenjackets in the second of two contests Sept. 14, 26-24.
“I do think that both teams are familiar with each other,” Aguglia said. “There won’t be too much they will show us that we haven’t seen before and vice versa. I think whoever can establish early momentum will probably be able to control the game.”
In the final month of the regular season, the North Stars have averaged 28 points per game on offense. Plattsburgh has scored 294 total points in eight games played this season.
Offensively, the North Stars are led by quarterback Harry Rascoe. The Seton Catholic graduate has completed 111-of-197 pass attempts for 1,701 yards and 29 touchdowns.
A dual-threat player under center, Rascoe has also run for 182 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Rascoe’s primary target is Dexter Geohagan. Geohagan has logged 550 yards and 12 touchdowns on 31 catches.
DJ Barber has also played a pivotal role at wideout. Barber has registered 20 receptions, good for 348 yards and four touchdowns.
Josh Nephew and Elijah Parks have combined for 457 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
Plattsburgh has accumulated 369 plays from scrimmage in 2013. With Aguglia’s customary balanced attack, the North Stars have thrown the ball 54 percent of the time.
“Balance is absolutely the key,” Aguglia said. “The 54-46 split is exactly the way I want it to be as a play caller. You never know when the pass is coming, and we’re in better shape that way. If it’s 70-30 in one way or another, there is an element of predictability.”
The North Stars’ defense has held their opponents to 16 points or less in five of eight games played, surrendering 150 points all season.
The Plattsburgh defense is anchored by former Peru standout Jason Remillard. Remillard has 63 total tackles and three interceptions.
Cody Kirlew commands the linebacker corps, picking up 51 tackles on the year, while Craig Livsey (33 tackles), Greg Archer (20 tackles) and Dave Staley (20 tackles) have stood strong on the defensive front.
Like Remillard, Brandon St. John has been a force in the secondary with four interceptions.
In the second of two semifinals games, the North East Pennsylvania (NEPA) Miners and the Syracuse Shock will face off for the third time at Scranton Memorial Stadium in Pennsylvania for 7 p.m.
The Miners picked up a monumental come-from-behind win, outlasting the Shock in Scranton Aug. 3, 22-20. Syracuse, however, evened the score in a hard-fought 28-20 win in Onondaga County Sept. 14, 28-20.
The EFL championship game will be hosted by the highest remaining seed Oct. 12.
The league announced this week that the EFL champion will challenge the New England Football League (NEFL) title holder in Glens Falls at East Field Nov. 2.
“The bottom line is — we just have to play together as a team with as much discipline as we can muster,” Aguglia said. “We have to be very physical, too.
“We’d like to reach the championship and eventually meet the NEFL representative. It’s the first time they’ve done something like that. It’s a good opportunity to showcase the EFL, get outside the league and see some different competition.”