Saturday, August 20, 2005

Coach shakes up Scranton Eagles lineup

BY DAVE LAURIHA staff writer
Scranton Eagles coach Mike Woodard is a rookie on the sidelines, but he has gone to an old trick to jump-start his offense.
When the Eagles visit Plattsburgh, N.Y., to face the Lake City Stars in an Empire Football League game tonight, Woodard will be sending in Mike Arcure to take the first plays at quarterback, in place of veteran John Kennedy.

“We’re going to shake things up,’’ Woodard said. “John’s going to be on the sideline, calling plays.”

The coach refused to call it a demotion.

The quarterback who led the Eagles to 10 EFL championships during the franchise’s glory years said he isn’t taking it as one, added that he’s going to “get my snaps.”

Really, Woodard’s plan is to take advantage of Kennedy’s experience in a different way. A defensive lineman during his playing days, Woodard admits he is still trying to learn the offensive terminology. So he turned to Kennedy, essentially an offensive coordinator in shoulder pads, for help.

“In this league, it’s hard to formulate much of a pre-game game plan because you just don’t know who will be showing up, or what the defense will look like,” Kennedy said.

Looking to the person with the most experience of all the Eagles, Woodard is hoping Kennedy’s expertise in dissecting a game will pay off with a better offensive effort.

Or, at least, a more consistent one.

In blowout losses to Albany, Montreal and Orange County, the Eagles struggled to move the football.

So far, Woodard and Kennedy are in agreement about what has been working best for the Eagles.

“We’re a running team, and it all starts up front,” Woodard said. “We have to run the ball to be effective. Play-action is our game, and you have to be able to run the football. We’ll see what happens. If we don’t, we’ll lose.”

Woodard can send out plenty of options for Kennedy to use, and the veteran quarterback figures he’ll be call all of their numbers quite a bit.

The Eagles’ strength, Kennedy said, lies in their running backs: Gary Visnofsky, Nick Parlanti, Bill Sandly and Andre Chollette.

“If we use Parlanti and Sandly together,” Kennedy said, “we’ll have two of the biggest backs in the league going.”

Arcure and the rest of the passing game is coming along a little slower. Woodard is hoping Kennedy’s play-calling also will help Arcure be a little more effective.

Perhaps effective enough for the Eagles to pick up their second on-field victory of the season. Because Amsterdam and Green Mountain packed up their bags for the season, the Eagles got EFL wins in back-to-back weeks before losing last week to Orange County, 36-0.

“This team (Lake City) doesn’t have the dominant players like an Albany or Orange County,” Kennedy said. “They’re a scrappy team like us. This is a winnable game, but we’re going to have to play hard.”

Playing hard hasn’t been the problem for the Eagles.

Playing well? That’s another story.

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©The Times-Tribune 2005

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