Tupper Lake The Moriah Vikings are the three-time defending Section VII/Class D champions, and on Oct. 28, they proved that the only way to be the champ is to beat them.
The Vikings set up another finals clash with rival Ticonderoga as Tom Ida opened the game with an 81-yard kickoff return and Jessup Calkins had a 67-yard kickoff return and a pair of touchdowns to lead their team past the second-seeded Tupper Lake Lumberjacks, 28-20.
Special teams were key in the game, as the Ida kick return and a 50-yard punt return that deflected off a Moriah player and into the hands of Lumberjack Garrett Planty were the only scores of the first half.
The Lumberjacks also missed on two of three two-point conversion attempts, including on following a 30-yard score by Tim Ropas (12 carries, 81 yards) late in the fourth quarter. Ropas got the ball on the conversion attempt but was stopped short of the goal line, leaving the score at 21-20 in favor of the Vikings.
The Lumberjacks then attempted an onside kick, which deflected off a Tupper Lake player before going 10 yards, giving the ball to Moriah. Ida then scored on a 33-yard run to give the Vikings a 28-20 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Vikings capped the game with a sack and forced fumble by Justin Cutting (who also recovered a fumble as the halftime horn sounded), and tackles for losses on pass plays by Trevor Cheney (14-yard loss) and Skyler Graham (two-yard loss).
“I wasn’t surprised how physical they were tonight — I was probably more surprised the first time we played the, with some of the things that we were able to do then,” Lumberjacks head coach Dennis Klossner said. “I felt that we got everything that we could out of our kids tonight. It’s tough to come back like they had to every time, especially after you give up a kickoff return. They kept their heads up and kept playing.”