Nov. 7—CLINTONVILLE — Saranac wasted little time in developing a lead that would never be in jeopardy on their way to the Class C Section VII football title with a convincing 43-12 win over Route 3 rival Saranac Lake.
The Spartans jumped out to an early lead when Zander Daniels raced around the left end untouched for a 25-yard touchdown just 2:14 into the game. The short drive was set up when Alex Clancy forced a Saranac Lake fumble and Matt Rugar recovered it on the Red Storm 30 yard line.
"Coming right off the start of the game, huge stops on defense and our offense took right over," Saranac's Dylan Everleth said. "Just getting right down the field and scoring gave us the spark we needed.
"I think we took the that momentum and rolled with it the rest of the game."
The Spartans increased their lead when Nate Hamel bulled in from the seven-yard line for a score with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Clancy hit Bryce DeAngelo with a pass for the two-point conversion to make it 15-0 Saranac.
The Spartans scored their third touchdown of the opening stanza when Hamel ran in from 18 yards behind some excellent blocking for an easy score.
Clancy said while the team usually has started slow, but the hot start changed things.
"We usually start a game slow but it was great to get going so fast," he said. "We knew if we got to scoring early we could put this game out of reach."
Saranac scored twice more in the second quarter to take a 36-0 halftime lead.
Zack Lucia threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Caswell McCoy, and Clancy ran one in from eight yards out.
Hamel made all five extra point kicks he attempted on the day.
The Spartans got their final score of the day when Lucia ran in from the six-yard line on a run-pass option.
Clancy said Saranac is dangerous with weapons they have. Hamel, Cayden Bouvia, himself and others.
"It creates a lot of problems for the other team," he said. "Usually you may have to gameplan for one or two kids.
"Against us, there's six or seven that can do damage. With that kind of firepower, holes open up and touchdowns happen."
The Red Storm rallied with a score of their own late in the third quarter when Willette threw a 14-yard strike in the end zone to Cedar Rivers.
Willette then ran one in from 13 yards for Saranac Lake's final score with just under four minutes remaining in the game.
While the Spartans offense was humming along putting points up on the board, the defense was stout, stuffing Saranac Lake repeatedly.
The Red Storm were forced to punt six times on the day and turned it over twice on fumbles.
With the win, the Spartans are now 8-1 on the season, setting the school records for wins, while having the best season in school history.
"It's just a special group," Everleth said. "They've done everything we've asked of them and have worked hard for it.
"They're just strong minded and a physical group of kids. Everything they've done this year has been well deserved. I'm super proud of them."
Saranac's lone loss came at the end of the season when Moriah defeated them 16-14.
Clancy called it a reality check.
"Towards the end of the season a lot of people were talking about us going undefeated," he said. "We kind of let that get the best of us and got a little lazy.
"Moriah came to play football and they beat us. The whole team realized, especially that Monday practice after, that we can't take anybody lightly. We've got to come with our best game of football every game, no matter what. "
The Spartans move on to the regional semifinals of the NYSPHSAA Class C football playoffs.
They will face Section X's Gouverneur that stands with a 7-1 overall record. Their lone loss came in a 23-19 loss to Beekmantown on Oct. 20.
"I know they really wanted the undefeated season," Everleth said. The kids have stepped up huge and looked at the benefit of that game (against Moriah).
"It's really something I preach to them, all the good stuff we had done up to that point to not forget that. We're still the same team that needs to show up in the playoffs and play our game."
Kickoff for the contest against Gouverneur is slated for 7 p.m., Friday at Plattsburgh High School.
Saranac 43, Saranac Lake 12
SCS 22 14 7 0 — 43
SLCS 0 0 6 6 — 12
S- Daniels run (Hamel kick), 9:47.
S- Hamel 2 run (DeAngelo pass from Clancy), 3:55.
S- Hamel 18 run (Hamel kick), 1:12.
S- McCoy 10 pass from Lucia (Hamel kick), 7:21.
S- Clancy 8 run (Hamel kick), 3:44.
S- Lucia 6 run (Hamel kick), 7:35.
SL- Rivers 14 pass from Willette (run failed), 1:20.
SL- Willette 13 run (pass failed), 3:49.
SL- Muncil 12-74; Willette 11-17, TD; Coventry 1-(-4); Goetz 6-(-12); Montroy 3-(-5); Moffatt 2-18. Totals: 35-88, TD.
S- Hamel 7-41, 2TD; Daniels 5-57, TD; Lucia 3-57, TD; Clancy 2-19, TD; Bouvia 8-46; Poulin 1-5; Duffield 2-8. Totals: 28-233, 5TD.
SL- Goetz 0-5-0-0; Willette 1-2-0-14, TD. Totals: 1-7-0-14, TD.
S- Lucia 7-8-1-179, TD.
SL- Rivers 1-14, TD.
S- Clancy 4-76; DeAngelo 2-93; McCoy 1-10, TD.