Saturday Sports: Saints football looks forward to upcoming 2021 season

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 8:41 PM EDT
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CANTON, New York (WWNY) - In a few short weeks, the St. Lawrence Saints football team will hit the practice field for the first time in almost 2 years thanks to COVID-19.

Sportscaster Rob Krone had a chance to catch up with Saints coach Dan Puckhaber Friday to talk about the upcoming 2021 season.

The Saints finished 2019 with a 5-5 record, winning their final 2 games and didn’t play a game in 2020 due to COVID-19.

But Puckhaber, who is entering his 6th season at the helm of the Saints program, is optimistic about the players he has coming back and coming in this year.

”This is a sport that will be judged by your wins and losses. And for us, I think that we have a really talented team that should be extremely competitive and possibly a championship level team this year. I would have said that going into last year’s team, and we have a good amount of those same guys that were gonna be that level for us last year,” said Puckhaber.

Leading the way for the Saints is quarterback Tyler Grochot, who enters his 3rd season with the program.

In 2019, Grochot set single season records for pass attempts, pass completions, passing yards and passing yards a game.

Puckhaber expects more of the same from the Ottawa, Ontario native in 2021.

”He’s a guy who, 2 years into his college career, he’s been one of the most productive quarterbacks this school has ever seen. I always think that to really see how good quarterbacks can be, wait until they’re about 21-22 years old when they get that maturity and that confidence in them and for him, we’re just hitting that point where his body is fully matured and he’s fully matured mentally as well. We’re really looking forward to seeing what he can do here. I know this. It makes my job a lot easier with him coming back,” said Puckhaber.

The Saints play their non-conference schedule in the month of September and open Liberty League play on the road at Union on October 9th, a league Puckhaber feels is one of the top leagues in the country in Division 3.

”Last year, we had 3 teams in our league that were receiving votes in the top 25. I mean that’s- There’s 250 Division 3 football playing schools, and our league alone 3 were in the top 10% at some point or the top 11 or 12%. Highly competitive. You look at- Union is the team to beat because they’re the defending champion. Then you got the teams like Ithaca, Hobart and RPI and all those schools that are continually that championship level or have won a championship or been close to the championship the last couple of years,” said Puckhaber.

The Saints look to add their name to that list and be in the mix for a Liberty League title this season.

The 2021 Can-Am fast pitch shootout in the Thousand Islands continued Saturday at a number of sites around the area, with games taking part in all 6 age divisions.

The event is in it’s 15th year, and this year brings 86 teams from around New York State to the area which not only brings benefits on the field but off the field as well.

While some teams from across the border in Canada aren’t taking part this year due to border restrictions, tournament organizer Mike Lennox says the three day long event is still an economic boost to the area.

”Yeah, we have a lot of teams coming in, rooms are booked. They’ve been using the same places for the last 15 years. We get a lot of teams that stay at the same place and they go dine at the same place. We’ve had a group 2 years ago, 30 were dining in one restaurant in Cape Vincent that they did every year. Same here in Watertown and Sackets and all over, so the Thousand Islands region is a great place to visit, especially this time of the year and it’s an untapped area that most people don’t know about,” said Lennox.

The 36 hole match play final in the championship flite of the 2021 Watertown Men’s City Golf Tournament is set for Sunday morning at 8:30 AM at the Watertown Golf Club with Brandon Mothersell squaring off against Matthew Barton.

The final was postponed last Sunday after heavy rains made the course unplayable and left many areas under water.

Barton reached the championship by beating former city champ Adam Brown 1 up.

While Mothersell took down Jake Hess 2 and 1 to reach the final.

Mel Busler will be on the course Sunday to get a complete wrap of action.

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