CANTON, N.Y. (WWNY) — The 2022 college football season is upon us, and camps are about to open. In Canton, it looks like another solid season for coach Dan Puckhaber’s St. Lawrence Saints as the Saints report 2022 for camp Wednesday.
The Saints are marching into camp on August 10 and players are reaching out.
And for the first time since 2019, Puckhaber is feeling a sense of normalcy that COVID has taken off his schedule for the past two seasons.
“We are capable of doing what we wanted to do in 2019 when we did it. Just from our regular kick-off picnic with all the parents. We can bring everyone together because that’s why we do what we do. Just to get the families and all the kids together and start a fun little experience. That’s what we call college football up here in St. Lawrence,” said coach Dan Puckhaber.
Offensively, the Saints are led by sophomore Danny Lawther, who took over offense in game seven last season after Tyler Grochot went down.
Lawther threw for 893 yards and 9 touchdowns and also ran for 168 yards and a touchdown, a true dual threat quarterback for the Saints.
“His mobility and athleticism really changes offense and what we can do. That’s so much different than what we did with Tyler Grochot, who was a great quarterback, but he was more of a bag guy,” Puckhaber said.
Another key player on offense for Puckhaber will be senior running back Peyton Schimtt.
The governor product as a junior rushed for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns and amassed 181 receiving yards on a touchdown.
“I want to put the ball in his hands and give him bell cow status. It just means if anyone wants to know who the offense is going to run through, they’re going to find out very quickly in the first quarter against Endicott,” Puckhaber said.
Defensively, the Saints are led by Brian Casazza and Reece Gillette, a defense that ranked 2nd in sacks and 3rd in interceptions in the 2021 Liberty League.
Puckhaber says he feels the defense has a chance to be special in 2022.
“Defensive line I think we have 6 guys that can really play, linebackers I think we have 7 guys that have proven themselves and are ready to be college football players. Secondary, same. There are about 8 guys in our program who can really play,” said Puckhaber.
The Saints ended the 2021 season with a 5-5 record, 2-3 overall in a very tough Liberty League.
Puckhaber says again this year the Liberty League will be one of the toughest leagues in the country.
“Just so people understand, there are 250 football schools in Division 3. We have 4 teams in the top 25, so we have 4 teams in the top 10 per cent in this league, so it’s one of those things. For us, I really think we had the opportunity to beat two of these teams last year,” Puckhaber said.
The Saints open their season on Saturday, September 3 when they host Endicott College.
The Watertown Red and Black made their record 5-0 Saturday night at George Ashcraft Field, beating the Plattsburgh Northstars 47-0.
The red-blacks with a balanced attack on offense, defense and special teams.
Over the past two weeks, the Reds and Blacks have surpassed their opponents 78-0, continuing their dominance and maintaining a stronghold of 1st place in the Empire Football League.
“You have the line, it starts at the front, the lines do their job. We have our running backs hitting the right holes and coming onto the field, making plays. You have your receivers dominating their position, finding their open zones and able to get past the 2nd level to make plays on the field. It’s just a blessing to have it,” said quarterback Jason Williams.
“We’re big, fast and physical, you know what I mean. We’ve put the work into the offseason and it shows game after game here,” said linebacker Derrek Dalton.
It was a special night for Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft.
Before the game, Ashcraft was honored for his 50-year commitment to the Red and Black organization and recognized for having the field named after him earlier in the week.
After the game, the Hall of Fame coach received the cue ball after claiming the 250th win of his career.
A tumultuous week that Ashcraft will never forget.
“It is a very great honor. If they name the field after my name this week and then get my 250th win in the same week, it’s surreal. A lot of good people were here to make it all possible. My family, they were a part of it every day of my life. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I can’t say enough to all the coaches, players and the people who support us. We have a great community here and I’m glad to be part of that tradition,” Ashcraft said.
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