Sunday, July 03, 2005

EFL Press Coverage July 3rd


Wide receivers key Dragons' exhibition romp

By Staff Reports

SIDNEY -- The Broome County Dragons romped past the Scranton Eagles for a 42-6 exhibition football victory Saturday.


Though no statistics were made available, Dragons coach Tom Manny cited the play of wideouts Brian Mister and Rob Stokstad -- both of whom made scoring receptions -- and tight end Joe Hashey as the backbone of an effective passing game.

Defensively, among the standouts, Manny said, was nose guard Keith Harendza.

"We came out and we did what we wanted to do," Manny said. "The boys executed to the best of their ability. I was pleased with what I saw, not satisfied, but pleased."

The Dragons open their Empire Football League season Saturday at Orange County

Storm put Stars on ice

By KEITH KANE Staff Writer
Lake City Stars player Earl Parks (33) blocks John Beaulieu’s (right) point after attempt during Saturday’s preseason football game at Melissa L. Penfield Park. The Stars suffered a 26-6 loss at the hands of the Vermont Ice Storm.

PLATTSBURGH — The fifth time is apparently the charm for the Vermont Ice Storm.

The Lake City Stars dropped a 26-6 preseason contest to the Ice Storm, its first loss in five games against Vermont, at Melissa L. Penfield Park Saturday night.

The Ice Storm jumped on Lake City early after the Stars went three-and-out in their first possession of the game. Vermont took over on its own 48 after the punt and proceeded to make three consecutive first down runs to move themselves to the Stars 14-yard line.

After two runs for eight yards and an incomplete pass by quarterback Brad Ruderman, the Ice Storm decided to go for it on fourth down from the six. Austin Partain, who finished with 100 yards rushing, dove up the middle for two yards to keep the drive alive and, three plays later, Aaron Pyer stormed in for a three-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

The Stars battled back on their next possession as they drove to Vermont’s 23, but a fumble by Vern Harrison cut the drive short as the Ice Storm recovered the ball.

Lake City again held Vermont to a quick three-and-out and the offense drove from their own 14 to the Ice Storm’s 10 on nine plays, a 23-yard pass play from Eddie Castine to Chris Verkey being the key.

Castine took the snap on third down and dropped back to pass, but wasn’t able to find an open receiver. The quarterback tucked the ball and took off for the end zone for the tying score, but a Verkey clipping penalty negated the points and the Stars turned the ball over on downs two plays later.

"Against good teams mistakes are going to come back and hurt you," Lake City head coach Ed McCallister said. "And they did tonight. I like aggressiveness, but the clipping penalty on the touchdown really hurt."

The Stars came out in the second half and drove 58 yards on their first possession, capped by a three-yard touchdown run by fullback Jake Maye, which evened the score at six.

On the kickoff, however, former Star Troy Canada hauled in the kick at his own 17 and raced 55 yards down the sideline to the Stars’ 28. Six players later, the Ice Storm took the lead for good on Pyer’s second three-yard touchdown run.

Vermont tallied two more scores in the fourth quarter on touchdown passes by Ruderman to Canada (18 yards) and Rob Joy (8 yards). Ruderman finished with 103 yards through the air and two scores.

"We have played (Vermont) for five years," McCallister said. "This was the best team they have ever had with no disrespect to their former teams. They were big, strong and extremely fast.

"The main goal for this game was to come out with no injuries and that wasn’t able to happen. We actually have some serious injuries including Don Tambini who may be lost for the season with a torn bicep muscle."

Castine finished with 55 yards passing and one interception. Marlowe Boylan completed one pass for 30 yards to James Blocker. Verkey hauled in two passes for 40 yards.

Heath Geiser and Harrison made the most of their running attempts as Geiser picked up 97 yards on 16 carries and Harrison 36 on five.

"Hopefully, better days are to come," McCallister said. "We didn’t want to start like this, but thankfully this was just a preseason game — we got beat by a better team.

"We are not throwing in the towel, however, we are still 0-0."

Trailblazers build trust, confidence
by By Max DelSignore, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, July 3, 2005

It's more than a motto that signifies the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers' ultimate goal. It's a pact to which all of the players on the roster have agreed, a shared belief that's the key ingredient for a recipe of success.

The team has adopted the theme "Hold the rope" for the 2005 Empire Football League season. With hard work, support for each other as teammates and commitment to the program, they hope to fulfill expectations in their fourth year of existence.

Head coach Mike Britton is the one responsible for bringing the analogy to the team's attention.

"As the saying goes, you're only as strong as your weakest link," center John Sneed said. "If a guy is on a cliff and loses the handle on the rope, that second, third and fourth guy will be there to pull him up. You always have to be there for your next man. That's what it's about."

"Each player has to do their job and work together as a team," Britton said. "If someone is unable to hold on, a teammate will be there to pick them up."

"It's a family, our fans and team are a lot closer," defensive back Eric Saunders said. "We can trust ourselves as teammates. If I know (teammates) are doing their jobs, then I can do mine."

After splitting two preseason games, Britton and his team realize there's still work to be done, but are optimistic about the potential achievements.

"We keep improving each year, and we have the talent to be consistently competitive," Britton said. "These guys know they need to be ready to perform. Everyone is committed and staying positive."

Forget about the 4-26 overall record. Dismiss the fact that the Trailblazers have been outscored by area EFL rival, the Watertown Red and Black, by a combined score of 272-58 in three seasons. The consensus is that the players are ready to make a name for the St. Lawrence Valley franchise.

"The days of getting blown out are over," linebacker Cheyenne Dashnaw said.

"Teams thought we were jokers," Saunders said. "But I want to make plays. I want to win. These guys want to win."

Britton declared that building the team into perennial contenders would take five years. While the final scores may indicate otherwise, the Trailblazers remained close in several games last season.

Sneed, Saunders and Dashnaw are just three integral players that help make the team uncharacteristically deep.

"We'll be able to make adjustments this year," Britton said. "The game takes such a wear and tear on the body. We couldn't physically do it in some games. But we've got subs who will play. A lot of kids will see plenty of action, whether they start or relieve. This is a young team that won't back down."

For instance, Sneed said the offensive line is gelling better than ever, which will make things easier for the outstanding backfield tandem of Ernie Miller and Rob Scott. In two preseason games, the running backs combined for 313 yards rushing.

Dashnaw was the EFL's leading tackler last season and will play his third year with seasoned veteran linebackers Ricky Delaney and Mike Ashley.

A second-year player, Saunders had an interception and a fumble recovery in the Trailblazers' first preseason game against Glove Cities. He followed up that performance with seven tackles in another preseason matchup against Vermont.

"Our linebacking crew is very good," Saunders said. "Teams threw a lot on our secondary last year. This year won't be so easy. We're good and our expectations are high."

Several talented newcomers also carry considerable responsibilities. The most important addition comes at quarterback as Massena native Dave Currier replaces former starter Ben Gallo. Despite practicing just twice a week, Currier is taking all the adjustments in stride.

"I know it's going to take a while," Currier said. "We're playing pretty well on offense. The passing is the same as high school. I'm just getting to know everyone, getting to know the team."

Instead of playing teams in the Northern Division twice this year, St. Lawrence Valley will play nearly every EFL team once. Only six spots are available to ensure a playoff bid. The Trailblazers missed the playoffs by two games last year and only one game the year before.

"We're going to make the playoffs," Saunders said. "That's a guarantee. I don't like losing, plain and simple."

"On the field, we're like brothers," Currier added. "We've got a lot of talent, and we should be good."

"If we don't win five to seven games, I'll be shocked," Sneed said.

The players and coaches know this is the year to capture a playoff berth. With a "Hold the rope" mentality, the Trailblazers hope to make it a reality.

Preview: 2005 St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers
Times Staff Reports
First published: Sunday, July 3, 2005

Head coach: Mike Britton (4th season).

Assistant coaches: Ernie Miller (defensive coordinator), Ray Holz (offensive line).

2004 record: 2-8 overall.

2005 schedule

June 18: vs. Glove Cities, won 13-0; June 25: vs. Vermont, lost 34-6; July 9: at Amsterdam, won (forfeit); July 16: vs. Albany, 7:30 p.m.; July 23: at Orange County, 7:30 p.m.; July 30: vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 6: at Broome County, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 13: vs. Green Mountain (Vermont), 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 20: bye; Aug 27: vs. Lake City, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 3: bye; Sept. 10: vs. Watertown Red and Black, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 17: at Scranton, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 24: at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.

Playoffs Oct. 1: First round, #1, #2 bye; #6 at #3; #5 at #4; Oct. 8: semifinals; Oct. 15: EFL Championship.

Returning EFL all-stars: Ernie Miller, RB/DB, 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year (110 rushes, 381 yds., 6 TD/10 rec., 127 yds., TD/4 INT); Joe Hutchinson, WR/KR (27 rec., 532 yds., 7 TD/27 ret., 493 yds.); Rob Scott, FB (93 rushes, 336 yds.); Ken Chase, G; Norm Martel, DE (48 tackles, 10 solo); Rob Sunday, DT (23 tackles, sack, forced fumble); Cheyenne Dashnaw, LB (152 tackles, 62 solo, 4 forced fumbles, TD).

Notes: The Trailblazers start the season with a 1-0 record after the Amsterdam Zephyrs decided not to participate in the 2005 EFL season, giving them a forfeit win. ... A soccer background has given Colton-Pierrepont senior Jeremy Dunning the opportunity to start as the team's place-kicker. ... Starting center John Sneed suffered a broken fibula against Glove Cities in the preseason opener on June 18. He's recovering ahead of schedule and may return sooner than expected. ... Massena native James Compeau had a stellar preseason at defensive back, recording two interceptions in two games.

Coaches give experience, toughness to Red/Black
by Matt Cordova, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, July 3, 2005

Much of David Parker's life revolves around defense.

In real life, as an Army Infantry squad leader for Bravo Company, 4th Battalion 31st Infantry, aka Polar Bears, Parker protects and defends the United States.

As a second-year assistant coach for the Watertown Red and Black, the man known as "Coach Wolf" is entrusted to coordinate a defense worthy of leading Watertown to an Empire Football League championship.

Parker returned to Fort Drum just prior to the team's June 18 preseason game against the Syracuse Express. It was his third tour of duty in Iraq since 1991 and his second six-month stay in the Middle East since March 2003.

So what did Coach Wolf do, other than staying in touch with family and friends, to clear his mind and "get away" from the war being waged? He composed the Red and Black's defensive playbook for 2005.

"There was a lot of letters and e-mails I wrote and of course I did the family thing," Parker said, "but when I really wanted to clear my mind there was football. Football is a part of me. I can't help it."

For a number of years, Fort Drum has provided the Red and Black with athletes who have been instrumental in the success of the team. This season, that influence will also be felt on the sideline as all four of Watertown's assistant coaches are members of the 10th Mountain Division.

Dave Connell and Sam Kleinbeck are both in their first season with the Red and Black and, in addition, each has been stationed here for less than a year. Veteran defensive back Jon Fisher has been coaching the secondary since preseason practice began and hopes to return to the field in time for his team's season opener July 9 at Ottawa.

Parker said that military life and football go hand in hand.

"They are very, very similar," Parker said, "you have a team, you have a leader and you have to train hard."

Training started somewhat early this season - the first week of April - for the Red and Black with one goal in mind, an EFL championship.

Head coach George Ashcraft is in his 15th year as head coach and he said that this year's coaching staff has already set itself apart from its predecessors.

"They are just all awesome dudes," Ashcraft said, "they know football and respect one another."

Ashcraft also said that he and his assistants will put in the extra work needed to fulfill the season's ultimate purpose. The coaches will hold an extra meeting during the week to discuss game plans, practices or any other team issues.

"Everybody is open-minded to it and it's my job as head coach to keep everything together," said Ashcraft.

Coupled with the discipline of a military life comes the extensive football background each assistant has to share with the Red and Black.

Connell, Parker and Kleinbeck each played college football. Kleinbeck, now a CH-47 helicopter pilot, was a member of the 1995 Northwestern football team that played in the Rose Bowl, and he also played with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts before suffering a career-ending knee injury.

Kleinbeck seemed impressed, so far, with what he has to work with in Watertown.

"We have three sets of great running backs, a veteran quarterback and the line is always wanting to block," Kleinbeck said. "I've got good receivers and when you have depth anyone can step in and get it done."

Kleinbeck's responsibilities will lie on the offensive side of the ball, while Connell will help Parker with the defense.

Before joining the Red and Black, Parker coached several other semipro teams around the country, including the Lake Charles (Louisiana) Crocodiles, Utah Sharks and Wasatch (Salt Lake City) Wildcats.

According to running back Vince Williams, the knowledgeable staff is already paying dividends.

"It just gives us another weapon," Williams said. "Their knowledge has helped the players to be a little more insightful and they are great guys."

Williams also said that Parker's return to the sideline is crucial for the Red and Black. "He is very vocal and expects a lot out of you. Its great because we need it," said Williams, who emerged as a superior running back during the second half of last season. "He throws a lot at us in practice to get ready for games. Him coming back is just another helping hand."

Preview: 2005 Watertown Red and Black
Times Staff Reports
First published: Sunday, July 3, 2005

Head coach: George Ashcraft (15th season).

Assistant coaches: David Parker, Dave Connell (defense), Sam Kleinbeck (offense).

2004 record: 9-4 overall, 8-2 league.

2005 schedule

June 18: vs. Syracuse Express, lost 28-12; July 9: at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m.; July 16: bye; July 23: Amsterdam forfeit; July 30: vs. Albany, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 6: at Orange County, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 13: vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.; Aug. 20: at Broome County (Binghamton), 7:30 p.m.: Aug. 27: vs. Vermont, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 3: bye; Sept.: 10: at St. Lawrence Valley, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 17: vs. Plattsburgh, 7:30 p.m.; Sept. 24: vs. Scranton, 7:30 p.m.

Playoffs: Oct. 1: First round, #1, #2 bye; #6 at #3; #5 at #4; Oct. 8: semifinals; Oct. 15: EFL Championship.

Returning EFL all-stars: Doug Black, QB, 2004 EFL co-offensive MVP (124-267, 2,092 yds., 24 TD, 16 INT); Earnest Wash, WR (32 rec., 633 yds., 10 TD, 19.8 yds. per catch); Aaron Brown, OL; Vince Williams, RB (45 rushes, 283 yds., 6.3 yds. per carry); Lamont Lane, DB/KR (11 returns, 206 yds., 18.7 per return/18 tackles, 6 INT); Kyle Roshia LB/DB (49 tackles, 27 solo); Jon Fisher, DB (25 tackles, 4 INT); Kenny Anderson, TE; Mark Bowman, OL; Lynn Patrick, LB (37 tackles, 2 INT); Todd Kiechle, WR/DB (19 rec., 395 yds., 6 TD, 20.8 yds. per catch/7 rushes, 93 yds.).

Notes: The Red and Black lost to the Glens Falls Greenjackets 26-20 in the EFL Northern Division championship game last season. ... Key veterans John Check and Al Countryman return for 2005 after missing last year. ... Watertown scored 31 points per game in 2004 and possesses some of the most dangerous offensive players in the league, particularly in the offensive backfield. ... 2005 brings many changes to the EFL landscape: Glens Falls has departed for the North American Football League, as has the Southern Tier Green Machine. The EFL will operate in a one-division, 10-team format as the Amsterdam Zephyrs have folded.

Le Soleil de Châteauguay - Édition du 2 juillet 2005

Titans receivers are champing at the bit in anticipation of coming Empire Football League campaign. Back row, left to right, Tyrel Hoas, Sean Kennedy, Geoff Brown and Neville Johnson. Front row, left to right, Marvin Johnson and Zawdie Parahoo.(Photo Dan Rosenburg)

New Titans place-kicker Dave Miller-Johnson demonstrates his field goal form.(Photo Dan Rosenburg)

Starting quarterback Sean Hoas, right, and linemen Gary Rusyn, Marc-André Guay and Darryl Snow, left to right, study play sketched by Titans head coach John Mouland.(Photo Dan Rosenburg)

Titans gear for next Saturday's football opener

Dan Rosenburg

Believe it or not, the Montreal Titans' 2005 football opener is only a week away. It will be a season of firsts for the Titans, who have shifted leagues to the Empire Football League and have changed their home field to Billings where new lights have been installed and a brand new grandstand is on the way.

The Titans will open against Plattsburgh's Lake City Stars next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. At press time, head coach John Mouland had not yet settled on his starting lineup, but one thing is sure : After a one-year layoff, Sean Hoas is his first-string quarterback.

Not only that, but the former Concordia Stingers field general has brought former teammate Dave Miller-Johnson with him to handle all the place-kicking chores, freeing up middle linebacker Andrew Blevings to concentrate on his other duties.

Hoas will be backed by strong-armed Michael Hyatt, who inherited the job last season when Kevin Wyeth succumbed to injuries. The latter is said to be still suffering from a bad back and has been unable to practise.

One of Hoas' favourite receivers will undoubtedly be his brother, sticky-fingered Tyler Hoas. Other receivers in camp include veteran Geoff Brown, Treldon James, Zawdie Parahoo, Neville Johnson, Marvin Joseph, Sean Kennedy and newcomer Dwight Henry. Another ex-Stinger, Dave Spence, has been a no-show thus far.

The Titans' Achilles heel once again appears to be the offensive line, where only Darryl Snow, John Moraitakis and Gary Rusyn hold forth. Marc-André Guay, usually a defensive linebacker, will likely have to see some double duty. Slyde St. Charles and Andrew Farmer anchor the defensive line.

Erstwhile receiver Steve Crompton has switched to defensive back this season where he will team up with veteran Stuart Wolfe and should rank near the top of the league in pass interceptions.The Isaacs brothers, Corvell and Lorne, also figure prominently here.

Running back J. P. Davilmar will miss the opener with a torn hamstring suffered in track. Whendy Menard and new arrival Ricardo Moreau will attempt to fill the void and keep the ground game alive.

Although the Titans have 42 players on their roster, Mouland has seldom seen more than 25-28 at a time out to practices. "I don't have the bodies I thought I'd have," he admitted, "but we're looking forward to a productive season all the same."

The Titans have added some lovely females to their family this season. These include assistant manager Linda Moore, who will aid g.m. Paulo Silva in his duties; one-time Chateauguay Junior Raiders trainer Caroline Blais, and Lisa McCormack, who will sing the national anthem before home games.

During the past three years the Titans have donated the lion's share of their proceeds - $15,000 - to the Montreal Children's Hospital, a fact of which directors Pat Element, Jeff Craig, Scott Murray and Barry Keller are immensely proud.

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