Sunday, June 26, 2005

Trailblazers post preseason shutout

Trailblazers post preseason shutout
by By Max DelSignore, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, June 19, 2005

POTSDAM - Before kicking off the team's fourth season, head coach Mike Britton gathered the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers into a team huddle and told them to start 2005 on a roll.

The team responded with a 13-0 victory over the Glove Cities (Johnstown) Colonials in a semipro preseason football matchup Saturday at Sandstoner Park.

The Trailblazers defense shut down the overmatched Colonials all night, holding them to just two first downs and forcing three turnovers.

"We knew we had to win with defense," defensive back Jim Compeau said. "We were hitting hard all game. Our defense really came through."

Linebacker Cheyenne Dashnaw led the Trailblazers with seven tackles. Defensive back Eric Saunders each recorded an interception. Saunders also recovered a fumble for St. Lawrence Valley.

"The front four of Joule Robinson, Justin and Norm Martel, and Rob Sunday along with our subs are just what we need," Britton said. "Their job is to contain the holes, and our front line is going to continue to help our secondary."

While the defense stifled the Colonials, the offense countered with the running combination of Ernie Miller and Rob Scott.

Miller rushed 19 times for 205 yards, and Scott had nine carries for 20 yards.

"Because of our other talent, this year we can keep (Ernie) at one position," Britton said. "Our tandem did a nice job."

"The offensive lineman are big, fast and strong," Miller said. "Basically, the holes opened up and they did a great job."

The Trailblazers missed several opportunities to expand the margin, struggling in the red zone throughout the game. Britton said two missed field goals on their first two possessions showcased the team's pregame jitters.

"It was just a lack of concentration inside the 20-yard line," Britton said. "We were great outside it. The guys just got anxious."

St. Lawrence Valley broke the scoreless tie as Jeremy Dunning nailed a 21-yard field goal before halftime.

The Trailblazers, however, broke the game open in the third quarter. Dunning capped a 32-yard drive with an 18-yard field goal with 3 minutes, 50 seconds left in the quarter. On the following Colonials possession, Dashnaw pressured quarterback Nick Shepard and forced the fumble recovered by Saunders deep in Glove Cities territory.

But with fourth down and 20 yards to go, Britton gambled and decided to go for it. The gamble paid off.

Quarterback David Currier's screen pass to Miller on the opposite side of the field caught the Glove Cities defense off-guard and gave the Trailblazers their biggest lead.

"In many games, you run a strong percentage of your plays to a certain side of the field," Britton said. "Once the pressure came on Dave, we knew it'd be the perfect play. So we ran the screen back."

The touchdown ended the quarter and put St. Lawrence Valley in total control.

Glove Cities threatened to score on its final drive, making it to the Trailblazers' 38-yard line. But Saunders's interception ended the drive and completed the shutout.

While the Trailblazers enjoyed their first victory of the new season, Miller expects more to come.

"Coach said it'd be a five-year program," Miller said. "Year four we see a big difference. We expect to win more. We're thinking playoffs because it's our goal."


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