SLU Football getting ready for the season ahead


CANTON, New York (WWNY) – The 2022 college football season is just around the corner, with camps getting set to open. In Canton, it looks like another solid season ahead for Coach Dan Puckhaber’s St. Lawrence Saints as the 2022 Saints report for camp Wednesday.

The Saints come marching into camp on August 10th with players reporting.

And for the first time since 2019, Puckhaber feels a sense of normalcy that COVID took away from his program the past 2 seasons.

“We’re able to do what we were kind of looking to do when we did it in 2019. Just from having our normal kick off picnic with all the parents. We can get everybody together cause that’s kind of why we do what we do. Just to get the families and all the kids together and start a fun little experience. What we call college football up here at St. Lawrence,” said Coach Dan Puckhaber.

Offensively, the Saints will be led under center by sophomore Danny Lawther, who took over the offense in the 7th game 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 his athleticism really changes the 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 your pocket guy,” said Puckhaber.

Another key piece on the offense for Puckhaber will be senior running back Peyton Schimtt.

The Gouverneur product as a junior rushed for 624 yards and 4 touchdowns and racked up 181 receiving yards with a touchdown.

“I want to put the ball in his hands and I want to give him that bell cow status. It just means if anybody wants to know who the offense is gonna run through, they’re gonna figure it out real quick in the first quarter against Endicott,” said Puckhaber.

Defensively, the Saints will be led by Brian Casazza and Reece Gillette, a defense that in 2021 ranked 2nd in the Liberty League in sacks and 3rd in interceptions.

Puckhaber says he feels the defense has a chance to be special in 2022.

“Defensive line, I think we got 6 guys that can really play, linebackers I think we got 7 guys that are proven, ready to be college football players. Secondary, same thing. There’s like 8 guys in our program that can really play,” said Puckhaber.

The Saints finished the 2021 season with a 5-5 record, 2-3 overall in a very tough Liberty League.

Puckhaber says once again this year, the Liberty League will be one of the toughest leagues in the country.

“Just for people to understand, there’s 250 football playing schools in Division 3. We have 4 teams ranked in the top 25, so we have 4 teams in the top 10 percent in that league, so it’s one of those things. For us, I really do believe that we had an opportunity to beat 2 of those teams last year,” said Puckhaber.

The Saints open their season Saturday, September 3rd as they host Endicott College.

The Watertown Red and Black ran their record to 5-0 Saturday night at George Ashcraft Field, beating the Plattsburgh Northstars 47-0.

The Red and Black with a balanced attack on offense, defense and special teams.

Over the past 2 weeks, the Red and Black have outscored their opponents 78-0, continuing their dominance and maintaining a stronghold on 1st place in the Empire Football League.

“You got the line, it starts up front, the lines are doing their job. We have our running backs that are hitting the right holes and getting up the field, making plays. You have your receivers who are dominant at their position, finding their open zones, able to get past the 2nd level to make plays down the field. It’s just a blessing to have,” said Quarterback Jason Williams.

“We’re big, fast and physical, you know what I mean. We put the work in in the off season and it’s showing out here game after game,” 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 years of involvement with the Red and Black organization and recognized for the field being named after him earlier in the week.

After the game, the Hall of Fame coach received the game ball after picking up the 250th win of his career.

A whirlwind week that Ashcraft will never forget.

“It’s a very big honour. When they name the field in my name this week and then to get my 250th win in the same week, it’s surreal. A lot of good people have been here to make it all happen. My family, they’ve been a part of it every day of my life. I’ve been doing this for 50 years. Can’t say enough to all the coaches, players, the people that support us. We’ve got a great community here and I’m just glad I’ve been a part of this tradition,” said Ashcraft.

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