The Saranac Lake Red Storm had a strong Champlain Valley Athletic Conference football season, running the table for a perfect year in the conference.
Saranac Lake was rewarded for its efforts with 15 First-Team All-Star selections, including the Offensive Player of the Year, the Defensive Player of the Year and the Coach of the Year.
The Red Storm were also selected as the Ray Holmes Sporstmanship Award recipient for the 2012 season.
Peru, which won the Section VII Class B title, had five players selected to the First Team. Beekmantown, the Class B runner up, and AuSable Valley each had two players selected to the First Team. Ticonderoga and Moriah each had one representative.
The All-Stars are selected by the CVAC coaches.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Matt Phelan (Saranac Lake)- The dual-threat quarterback beat opposing defenses with his arm and legs. Phelan was also picked as the First-Team quarterback. The senior signal-caller completed 118-of-158 passes for 1,841 yards and 24 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Phelan also ran the ball 72 times for 627 yards and 15 touchdowns.
In the Red Storm’s sectional championship game, he threw six touchdown passes on 10 attempts for 181 yards. The following week, Phelan tossed three scores and a season-high 256 yards as the Red Storm rolled past Ogdensburg Free Academy 42-12 in regional play. Phelan ended his varsity career with 44 touchdown passes and 3,282 passing yards.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Michael Burpoe (Saranac Lake)- Burpoe was also selected as a First-Team outside linebacker for his play on the edges. “Michael’s a selfless player who came in and played one of our toughest defensive positions,” Saranac Lake coach Eric Bennett said. “He took on pull after pull and kick-out after kick-out and made plays on the outside.”
Burpoe also made an offensive impact and was chosen as a First-Team receiver. The senior had 41 receptions for 506 yards and four touchdowns this season. Against Saranac in Week 7, Burpoe hauled in three touchdown catches and 76 yards. Against Hoosick Falls in the state quarterfinals, he accounted for 11 receptions and 100 yards. Burpoe finished his two-year career with 14 touchdown grabs and 1,008 yards
COACH OF THE YEAR
Eric Bennett (Saranac Lake)- Bennett led the Red Storm to a third straight sectional title, a regional playoff win and a 10-1 final record. This year’s squad scored 421 points, second-most in program history, while surrendering 106 points to opponents.
Bennett gave credit to the entire coaching staff. “This is a program award,” Bennett said. “I’m flattered to have gotten it, but this award goes to all the coaches.” Bennett’s overall record improved to 29-4 since becoming head coach in 2010.
Kevin Morgan (Saranac Lake)- Dangerous on both sides of the ball, Morgan was chosen as a First-Team receiver and cornerback. On the offensive side, Morgan caught 39 passes for 904 yards and 16 touchdowns. The senior averaged nearly 25 yards per catch. Morgan had at least one touchdown in every game except in the Red Storm’s season-ending loss to Hoosick Falls. On the defensive side, Morgan had three interceptions. “He understands the game,” Bennett said. “He’s real rangy, and that allowed him to cover the field and go up for passes.”
Taylor Pellerin (Saranac Lake)- Pellerin picked up one of two tackle selections for the Red Storm. Pellerin helped anchor a line that created a safe pocket for Phelan to complete passes. The Saranac Lake offensive line helped pave the way for 2,135 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns. Defensively, Pellerin had a work ethic that snuffed out opposing offenses. “Taylor was solid on both sides of the ball,” Bennett said. “He was super-focused on football all year, and he worked his tail off all season.”
Kellen Munn (Saranac Lake)- Munn joins his teammate Pellerin as an offensive line All-Star. The senior offensive tackle was another integral part of a powerful Red Storm front that muscled its way through opposing linemen.
Rufus Guerin (Beekmantown)- The senior guard anchored a physical front for an offense that totaled 1,389 rushing yards and 665 passing yards on the year. “(Guerin) made every single weight session during the off-season,” Beekmantown head coach Jamie Lozier said. “He really progressed, never gave up, and listened to the things we’d suggest.”
Guerin, who was also named Second-Team defensive end, was a physical presence, helping keep opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards in four of nine games played.
Grant Strack (Saranac Lake)- Strack was named both the First-Team Offense and First-Team Defense. As a guard, he was part of an offensive line that blocked for over 6,000 yards of total offense. He was also a plug at defensive tackle for Saranac Lake, which allowed just over 1,400 yards rushing on the entire season.
Alex Barrett (Peru)- Nearly any offensive line’s success starts with its center, and Barrett was a standout. The senior snapper manned an offensive line that helped rack up 434 points and 3,856 total yards. “He was a two-year starter who immediately took over the position and made an impact,” Peru coach Nick Damiani said. “He picks up what the defense does and calls any adjustments. Our offense operates from there.”
Tim Remillard (Peru)- The First-Team tight end caught just as effectively as he rushed. The senior had 24 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns while also running 74 times for 812 yards giving him 1,226 total offensive yards. As a receiver, Remillard’s breakout game came in the sectional championship against Beekmantown, when he caught three passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. Against Saranac in Week 5, Remillard rushed for 200 yards and three scores. Also a First-Team defensive end, Remillard helped the Indians create pressure on the opposing offensive line. “Tim was one of our defensive players that an offense would have to game plan around, “Damiani said. “He’s someone who could excel anywhere on defense.”
Lance Ackerson (Saranac Lake)- When Ackerson wasn’t clearing running lanes, he was rushing through them. Used in many short-yardage situations, he had 66 carries for 343 yards and 11 touchdowns. The junior was second on the team in rushing touchdowns and had a string of four straight games with at least one score, including a three-touchdown day in Week 2. Ackerson also dashed into the end zone twice against Ogdensburg Free Academy.
Miles Austin (Ticonderoga)- The senior running back finished this season with 129 carries for 805 yards and nine touchdowns. After being held under 100 yards in the first two games, Austin reeled off four-straight 100-yard games, including a 181-yard, three-touchdown performance in Week 4 against Moriah. Austin accounted for nearly half the total carries on a Sentinel offense that routinely used five or more rushers a game. During his three-year career, Austin rushed for 1,749 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was also selected as a Second-Team outside linebacker.
Dillon Savage (AuSable Valley)- Savage led the Patriots’ offense with 125 rushes for 615 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry. His best performance came in Week 6, when he ran 17 times for 155 yards and two scores against Moriah. Savage was also recognized as a Second-Team inside linebacker.
Austin Porter (Peru)- The defensive tackle plugged a lot of space on the defensive line, Damiani said. The Peru defense allowed 110 points this season, and opponents score more than 20 points just twice. “Austin’s a big body who is also fast and has an aggressive mentality,” Damiani said. “He’s almost unblockable.” Porter helped a defensive front that attacked opposing quarterbacks by allowing just 583 passing yards all season.
Kyle McGrain (Saranac Lake)- McGrain spent time in the weight room and it showed, Bennett said. Coming in the season at 252 pounds, the senior defensive lineman stifled opposing rushers and burst through to the backfield. “Kyle was one of our hardest-working kids,” Bennett said. “He was always in the weight room building himself up.”
Zane Bazzano (Peru)- The First-Team safety pulled in five interceptions, including two picks against Beekmantown in Week 4. In that game, Bazzano returned an interception for a touchdown then caught a pass for another score. “Zane was our captain of the secondary,” Damiani said. “He’s someone who could move around and play corner or safety and make a play. He makes the secondary adjustments if they need to happen.”
Also a Second-Team Offense selection, Bazzano rushed 33 times for 226 yards and caught 25 passes for 439 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a receiver, he had back-to-back three-touchdown games while picking up a combined 211 yards.
Dustin Pickering (Beekmantown)- The senior was picked as a First-Team outside linebacker. “He is a tough all-around player,” Lozier said. “He’s always in the right position and has that winning edge.” Pickering was also named Second-Team fullback after leading Beekmantown with 458 yards on 93 carries and a pair of touchdown rushes. He had back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season, which included a 128-yard effort in the season-opener against Ticonderoga.
Craig Leahy (Saranac Lake)- Leahy was recognized at inside linebacker. When opposing rushers were able to get through the first wave of Red Storm lineman, Leahy was there to make sure no more yardage was gained. “Craig’s a great leader who understood what us coaches wanted on any given defensive play,” Bennett said.
Hunter Bruno (Peru)- For a defensive corps that relied on its smarts as well as its physicality, Bruno was the focal point. The leader of the defense, Bruno was responsible for the play calls, adjustments and set coverages while playing linebacker. “Hunter just knew what needed to happen out there,” Damiani said. “We were on the same page on almost every defensive play call. A lot of times, he didn’t even need to look to the sidelines because he already knew the play.”
Seth Pickreign (Saranac Lake)- The First-Team linebacker made plays in the secondary. He led the Red Storm with five interceptions, including a two-pick effort against Plattsburgh. Pickreign also intercepted a pass against Hoosick Falls in regionals.
The senior also churned out 566 yards on 52 carries with four touchdowns to earn Second-Team running back honors. A runner who ate up a lot of midfield yards, Pickreign broke out against AuSable Valley in the Class C sectional final with nine carries for 163 yards.
Kodie Simpson (AuSable Valley)- Simpson was selected to the First Team as a punter. He helped dig a very young Patriots team out of many holes with his superb punting ability. Also the starting quarterback, Simpson was always a threat to either take off on a run or throw a pass on a fake punt.
Jessup Calkins (Moriah)- The First-Team kick returner ran back a kickoff for a touchdown in the first game of the season and then returned a punt for a score the next week. Calkins was also named Second-Team cornerback. “Jessup was our best cover man. We felt comfortable putting him against the opposing team’s best receiver,” Moriah coach Don Tesar said.
Haydin Fountain (Beekmantown)- The Eagles’ go-to receiver pulled in 18 catches for 255 yards and eight touchdowns. Against Saranac in Week 8, Fountain had just three catches, but two of them were touchdown grabs. He also caught two scores in the Eagles’ season-opener. Fountain was also made the Second Team at cornerback.
Cody Henthorn (Ticonderoga)- Henthorn played a pivotal role on both sides of the football for Ticonderoga, nabbing Second-Team honors at offensive and defensive tackle. “He is a good kid and a great leader on the offense up front,” Ticonderoga coach Bob Sutphen said. “He’s a physical player who often had his helmet on the football.”
Jordan Robinson (Peru)- Robinson was this year’s starting right tackle on a Peru offensive line that was responsible for blocking on 338 run plays and 31 rushing touchdowns. Peru had five rushers with more than 100 yards this season, a testament to the effective line play, Damiani said. “One of our biggest strengths this season was our offensive and defensive line,” Damiani said. “Jordan’s a second-year starter who solidified right tackle for us. He’s a good leader who works well with our other lineman.” Robinson was also chosen as the Second-Team nose guard.
Tyler Clement (Peru)- At 5 feet, 8 inches, Clement was not the usual offensive lineman one would expect to see, Damiani said. “Tyler prepared his body to play line all through the offseason,” Damiani said. “He’s small in stature, but he was constantly moving guys bigger than him. Along with some of our other players, Tyler went to a summer training camp and was fending off the biggest guys at the camp.”
Austin McKieran (Moriah)- The Vikings relied heavily on the run game, and McKieran was vital to the team’s blocking as a guard. “Austin was one of our best blockers who we ran behind a lot,” Tesar said. “He knew his assignments and helped out other linemen if they needed it.”
Brennan Pelkey (Beekmantown)- Pelkey was selected to the Second Team as a guard. “He did a lot of work during the off-season to get very strong,” Lozier said. “He’s big in stature, but has great footwork and an unbelievable work ethic. He’s a smart kid, and we expect big things from him for his senior season.”
Dereck Brassard (Moriah)-The senior center was the leader of an offensive line that saw 501 run plays for 1,701 yards. Moriah had just 50 pass attempts all season and relied heavily on its line to make holes for its ground game. “Dereck anchored our offensive line,” Tesar said. “He recognized who was where and called out our blocking schemes.”
Anthony DuShane (Ticonderoga)- For a team that ran the ball twice as much as it passed, DuShane made the most of his opportunities at tight end. The junior reeled in three touchdowns on only five catches for 119 yards. Two of his touchdowns came against AuSable Valley, when he also had 63 yards. A blocker as well, DuShane helped clear paths for rushers who chewed up 1,350 yards and 15 scores on the ground. “(DuShane) has great size, good athleticism, and makes great plays to the ball,” Sutphen said.
Cameron Wright (Moriah)- Wright, a junior, was the Vikings’ primary runner, accounting for 327 carries, 1,325 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wright was responsible for more than half of his team’s total offensive yards. He averaged 29 carries a game, and had a season-high 42 rushes against Ticonderoga, when he raced for 262 yards and one score. “A lot of Cameron’s yards came after the initial contact,” Tesar said. “He’d get hit at the line and power through for three or four more yards.”
Blake Altizer (Peru)- After winning the starting quarterback job as a sophomore, Altizer picked up a Second-Team selection by leading the Indians with 1,563 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes. In 139 attempts, he threw just six interceptions. In Week 7 against Moriah, Altizer completed 13-of-19 passes for 267 yards and five touchdowns. In the sectional championship game, he threw for 208 yards and two scores.
Nick Daniels (Saranac)- At defensive end, Daniels caused problem for opposing offenses, head coach Mark Burrell said. “He was tough to block and always seemed to make big plays when it was needed.” The Chiefs’ defense struggled throughout the season, but Daniels played hard through the tough spots. “No doubt Nick was our best team leader,” Burrell added.
Cory Daly (Moriah)- Daly was one of the defensive leaders for a Vikings team that stepped up toward the season’s end. In the sectional championship and first regional game, Moriah allowed a combined 13 points. Daly, a tackle, left a positive impression. “Cory was a player that opposing offenses had to double-team on blocks,” Tesar said. “He’s big and powerful and can get into the backfield fast.”
Ty Denno (Ticonderoga)- Denno proved to be Mr. Everything for the Sentinels in 2012. The Second-Team safety picked off two passes, and he also kicked 11 extra points and scoring a touchdown against Saranac Lake on offense. “(Denno) is a smart kid with athletic skills,” Sutphen said. “He was a nice asset to have in the secondary.”
Bret Boyer (Peru)- Primarily a free safety in 2011, Boyer was moved to linebacker. “His work ethic was unmatched this season,” Damiani said. A former soccer player, Boyer had one interception this season. Boyer and the Peru defense held opponents to under 100 yards and rushing for four of the final five games of the season.
Tanner Wright (Ticonderoga)- Wright was honored as an inside linebacker.“He is a physical player who’s not scared to get his head in there,” Sutphen said. “He’s got unbelievable speed to the football and obtains athleticism.” Wright graduates from a Sentinels defense that intercepted 12 passes on the year.
Ethan Goslin (Saranac)- Goslin excelled as a cornerback. “Ethan has a good nose for the ball,” Burrell said. “Whether at safety or corner, he played smart football.” Injured for the latter part of the season, Goslin still made an impact on defense for the Chiefs. In addition to defensive back, he also threw for three touchdowns under center.
Zachary Myers (Beekmantown)- Myers was selected as a Second-Team outside linebacker. His three interceptions tied for the lead for Beekmantown. He was also the starting quarterback for the Eagles.
2012 CVAC Football All-Stars
Wide receiver- Kevin Morgan (Saranac Lake), Michael Burpoe (Saranac Lake).
Tackle- Taylor Pellerin (Saranac Lake), Kellen Munn (Saranac Lake).
Guard- Rufus Guerin (Beekmantown), Grant Strack (Saranac Lake).
Center- Alex Barrett (Peru).
Tight end- Tim Remillard (Peru).
Fullback- Lance Ackerson (Saranac Lake).
Running back- Miles Austin (Ticonderoga), Dillon Savage (AuSable Valley).
Quarterback- Matt Phelan (Saranac Lake).
Defensive end- Taylor Pellerin (Saranac Lake), Tim Remillard (Peru).
Defensive tackle- Austin Porter (Peru), Grant Strack (Saranac Lake).
Nose guard- Kyle McGrain (Saranac Lake).
Safety- Zane Bazzano (Peru).
Outside linebacker- Michael Burpoe (Saranac Lake), Dustin Pickering (Beekmantown).
Inside linebacker- Craig Leahy (Saranac Lake), Hunter Bruno (Peru).
Cornerback- Kevin Morgan (Saranac Lake), Seth Pickreign (Saranac Lake).
Punter- Kodie Simpson (AuSable Valley).
Place kicker- Seth Pickreign (Saranac Lake).
Kick returner- Jessup Calkins (Moriah).
Wide receiver- Haydin Fountain (Beekmantown), Zane Bazzano (Peru).
Tackle- Cody Henthorn (Ticonderoga), Jordan Robinson (Peru).
Guard- Tyler Clement (Peru), Austin McKieran (Moriah), Brennan Pelkey (Beekmantown).
Center- Dereck Brassard (Moriah).
Tight end- Anthony DuShane (Ticonderoga).
Fullback- Dustin Pickering (Beekmantown).
Running back- Seth Pickreign (Saranac Lake), Cameron Wright (Moriah).
Quarterback- Blake Altizer (Peru).
Defensive end- Rufus Guerin (Beekmantown), Nick Daniels (Saranac).
Defensive tackle- Cody Henthorn (Ticonderoga), Cory Daly (Moriah).
Nose guard- Jordan Robinson (Peru).
Safety- Ty Denno (Ticonderoga).
Outside linebacker- Bret Boyer (Peru), Miles Austin (Ticonderoga), Alex Barrett (Peru), Zachary Myers (Beekmantown).
Inside linebacker- Tanner Wright (Ticonderoga), Dillon Savage (AuSable Valley).
Cornerback- Haydin Fountain (Beekmantown), Jessup Calkins (Moriah), Ethan Goslin (Saranac).
Michael Thompson (AuSable Valley), Quenton Barber (Beekmantown), Taylor Whalen (Moriah), Anthony Costello (Ticonderoga), Shawn Shea (Plattsburgh), Noah Philips (Peru), John Maye (Saranac), T.J. Monroe (Saranac Lake).