North Stars primed for road clash with Mohawk Valley

KAYLA BREEN/STAFF PHOTOPlattsburgh North Stars' Brandon Sawyer (18) finds some running room and rushes upfield during an Empire Football League game against Watertown Saturday, July 13, at Melissa L. Penfield Park in Plattsburgh.

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh North Stars are looking to boost their early-season momentum today.

The North Stars play the Mohawk Valley NightHawks at 7 p.m. at Waterville High School in the NightHawks' Empire Football League opener.

The NightHawks captured a 36-14 win over the Charlotte Colonials in non-league play July 13.

The NightHawks were formerly known as the Utica Yard Dogs and have new ownership.

"We have a little bit of an idea about them," Plattsburgh coach Scott Aguglia said.

"It looks like they are similar to what they were last year. They have a good running back and a couple good receivers. I expect that they will rely pretty heavily on the run."

The North Stars notched a 47-17 victory to open the 2019 campaign against Watertown last week, piling up 385 yards of offense.

While Plattsburgh's offense clicked in its first game of the season, Aguglia acknowledged he was pleased with his sqaud's defensive effort.

"The defense started real strong last week, and we were able to limit Watertown's running game, which is usually their strength," he said.

"We gave up one big play on a tipped ball, but overall, we did a real good job of keeping them out of their game plan. The defense is looking real good early, and hopefully, that continues this week."

Against Mohawk Valley, the North Stars will see some of the same personnel they saw last season against Utica.

Plattsburgh recorded a 23-20 win and a 34-26 loss against the Yard Dogs during the 2018 regular season and a 21-14 EFL semifinal victory.

"It's kind of hard to tell what Mohawk Valley is going to do until they get into league play," Aguglia said. "We are kind of in the same position we were in last week, playing an opponent that has not played a league game yet.

"We will try to account for the guys we know from last season that played on the Utica team, and we will go from there. There is some familiarity there."

In practice this week, the North Stars focused a bit on special teams and made a few tweaks in the running game and defensive attack, according to Aguglia.

With the unknown factor associated with the NightHawks, the North Stars expect to have to make some in-game adjustments and rely on veteran experience.

"We just have to worry about us and play our best game on both sides of the ball," Aguglia said. "We are not exactly sure what they will present to us. We have prepared for a couple different scenarios that they may showcase to us offensively and defensively, and we are just going to have to play our best game and make adjustments as we go."

Harry Rascoe threw four touchdown passes in Plattsburgh's Week 1 victory, connecting with Hunter Nunes-Wales and Tre Bucci twice apiece.

The North Stars' Brandon Sawyer rushed for a game-high 123 yards and found the end zone twice to add to Plattsburgh's offensive attack.

"We were clicking pretty well early offensively, which kind of surprised me, but we have some real good athletes and some veterans," Aguglia said. "I was not shocked or anything, but it was nice to see the offense click early."

After their clash with Mohawk Valley, the North Stars return home for a game against Seaway Valley July 27.

A theme to this season, like many others for Plattsburgh, however, will be to worry about one week at a time.

"As I have said for years and years, we take it week by week," Aguglia said. "Each week presents its own challenges, and if we get caught thinking about what it could be at the end, we are not doing ourselves any justice.

"We will worry about Mohawk Valley this week and then move on to Week 3. It was certainly nice to get a good win early, but we need to keep that train rolling."

Email Joey LaFranca:

Twitter: @JoeyLaFranca

Sports Writer

Sports writer at the Press-Republican. SUNY Plattsburgh '17.

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