The Saugerties High School varsity football team lost 16 players to graduation after last season, including a pair of offensive record breakers in quarterback Matt Bucci and receiver Sean Costello. But if September 7’s season opening 26-13 win against visiting Class A opponent FDR is any indication, the Sawyers are in for another solid season.
While the 2018 team got it done through the air, this season’s Sawyers are more likely to keep the ball on the ground, with Graeme Knisell stepping into the quarterback role after lining up behind Bucci last year. Knisell did the bulk of his damage on Saturday without his arm, running for 139 yards on 10 carries, including a pair of touchdowns. Complementing Knisell was Caleb Edwards, who amassed 150 ground yards on nine rushes, running the ball into the end zone twice.
The defense was also unafraid of mixing it up, with defensive end Craig Laurey (9 tackles, sack), and linebackers Anthony Obermeyer (7 tackles) and Isaiah Snyder (4 tackles, sack, recovered fumble) leading the charge.
The 2019 Sawyers, again under Coach Drew Carpino, are hoping to build on the successes of last season’s squad, which went 5-5 overall, including a four-game win streak. Crucially, Saugerties went 3-1 in league play, placing second in the division. Their season ended in the Section IX quarterfinals with an overtime loss to Minisink Valley.
While the 2018 Sawyers had aerial finesse on their side, this season is more about brute strength and ground speed. Knisell and Edwards have the advantage of an experienced offensive line led by Laurey, Alfredo Martinez and Shea Wickham clearing the path for them. The offense will look to the rush to make up for the loss of 2,185 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes missing with the graduation of Bucci, and the 1,336 receiving yards, including 311 in a single game, which left with Costello. Both players set school and sectional records in their senior seasons.
The Sawyers are on the road for three straight games, beginning with a non-league visit to Rondout Valley on Saturday, September 14. They’re close to home two weeks later when they play against Kingston at Dietz Stadium on Friday, September 27. The Sawyers will host New Paltz on Saturday, October 5, followed one week later by a visit from Wallkill, which is the annual Mum Bowl Homecoming game.