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.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

After heat, comes Storm

Stars eager to Face Vt. rivals tonight

By KEITH KANE Staff Writer
Lake City Stars head coach Ed McCallister goes over strategy during practice on Thursday. The Stars get underway tonight with a preseason contest against the Vermont Ice Storm at 7:30 p.m. at Melissa L. Penfield Park.

PLATTSBURGH — After nearly two months of practice to prepare for the 2005 Empire Football League season, the Lake City Stars finally will be able to line up against someone other themselves.

The Stars open with a preseason matchup against the Vermont Ice Storm tonight at Melissa L. Penfield Park with game time scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Tonight’s game is one which Lake City head coach Ed McCallister hardly calls a preseason contest.

"This is not really a preseason game," McCallister said. "This is a good opening league game for us; a game with a lot of intensity with nothing but pride on the line. There will be a lot of emotion on both sides of the ball."

The Ice Storm, who finished 9-1 last season and in second place in the New England Football League AA Division, kicked off their preseason contests last Saturday with a 34-6 win over the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers, who the Stars will see during the E.F.L. season.

Vermont quarterback Brad Ruderman threw a pair of touchdowns — one to former Lake City Star Troy Canada and the other a 50-yard bomb to Rob Joy. Fullback Aaron Pryor and running back Misbah Karim each crossed the goal line for the Ice Storm out of the backfield. A.J. Olden completed the scoring for Vermont with a 104-yard interception return.

"We are looking forward to tonight," McCallister said. "With the temperatures rising the guys are really getting sick of hitting each other.

"The Ice Storm have a key addition in Rob Joy. Joy played with the (Green Mountain) Gladiators the last few years and contemplated joining the Stars. He is a tight end, but is extremely quick — a really good receiver. Teamed with Troy Canada and Scott Aguglia, they have a pretty formidable receiving corps."

The Stars have yet to lose to their Vermont rivals with three victories and one tie. The tie occurred in 2002 after a power outage cut short play.

"We physically have been able to dominate them," McCallister said. "But the games have been close. They are always a good starter game for us.

"They have won a championship in the New England Football League. They are able to boast trophies that we do not have. Due to the close proximity between the two teams a natural rivalry has been formed."

McCallister is looking to see where his team is at with tonight’s game, but is also looking to come away with a victory.

"Being a preseason game, ideally I want to get as many people on the field as I can," McCallister said. "But we already know what we are going to open up with to start the season as far as personnel.

"Obviously, our first goal is coming out of the game healthy. We want to go out and see if we will execute and if we know our schemes defensively and offensively. But we also want to win and improve for the upcoming weeks."

The Ice Storm exhibitions have been tough on the Stars, physically Twice, in the past four years, the Stars lost their starting quarterback to injury — including last year’s meeting when Eddie Castine went down with a knuckle injury after hitting his hand on an opponent’s helmet.

"I am excited to finally get out on the football field," McCallister said. "I got great news that Garvey Hyundai will be sponsoring the game for us, which is a big plus. Good things are happening and hopefully that will continue tonight."

Lake City Stars Roster

No. Name Position
1 Marlowe Boylan QB
2 Matt St. Clair WR/FS
3 Eddie Castine QB
6 James Blocker TE/SE
7 Michael Lawyer LB
8 Matt Chodatt LB
9 Jason Morrow TB
10 Kellen Nolan FS/QB
11 Evan Murphy CB
14 Frank Chamberlain DB
21 Heath Geiser TB
22 Shane Racette WR
23 Rosario Gallo WR
26 Brandon Kelleher LB/FB
29 Duane Godfrey TB/FB
31 Vern Harrison TB
33 Earl Parks CB
35 Benny Kravitz DB
37 Travis Tipton LB
38 Tanner Currier DB
39 David Douglas DB
40 Abraham Ruvcalabo FB
42 Ronnie Foster LB/TB
44 Kyle Nolan FB/LB
46 Jake Maye FB/TE
51 Mike Thwaits DL
53 Nick Lacroix OL
54 Brent Rasco LB
55 Russell Gallo LB
56 Eric Bjornstad LB
57 Billy Ball LB
61 Joe Bushey C
64 Craig Lamoy DL
66 Mike Archer ORT
67 Adam Frennier OL
68 Earl Bousquet DL
70 Joe Licardi DL
73 Keith Bushey OLT
75 Kelsey Lenny ORG
76 Lan Lamondie OL/DL
77 Nick Moore OLG
79 Nick Weaver T
84 Chris Verkey WR
87 Gus Terry K/WR
88 Caleb Park WR
90 Brad Deforge DL
95 Billy Thwaits DL
99 Don Tambini DL

Dragons open season today against Scranton

Press & Sun-Bulletin

The Broome County Dragons will take the field for their inaugural game on Saturday.


The Dragons, a new team in the Empire Football League, are scheduled to take on the Scranton Eagles at 5:30 today at Sidney Central School's Alumni Stadium.

The Dragons took the spot in the EFL left by the Southern Tier Green Machine, which now plays in the North American Football League.

"I think our guys are ready," team owner Karol Cronin said, as she watched her team's practice Thursday at MacArthur Park in Binghamton. "They definitely have become team players. We don't have a lot of egos, they're all team-first guys. They're excited, and they're ready to start."

The Dragons are coached by Tommy Manny, a longtime EFL veteran who has spent the past several seasons with the Albany franchise.

The Dragons are scheduled to open their season at Orange County on Saturday July 9, and their home opener is at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16 against Montreal at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.

"(Our) practices have been getting better," Cronin said. "The guys are looking good. They're learning the new plays, the new verbiage. They're hitting their marks. It's going well."

The Scranton Eagles, who have been to the EFL playoffs each of the past two seasons, are led by first-year coach Mike Woodward. Last year, Scranton was coached by Dan LaMagna, who now coaches the Southern Tier Green Machine.

Tickets are $5, and youths 10-and-under are free.



 In football they call the line of scrimmage “The Trenches”.  A fitting name considering that the combined weight of the athletes that make up the offensive and defensive lines are on average over 3,000 lbs.  Take into account that on every play they line up less than a yard apart and smash their bodies into one another just to get up and do it again for another 60 minutes.  That punishment takes its toll on a player for a game let alone a complete season.  Add to that the playoffs and a possible national tournament invite and you can begin to see this is no easy task for anyone. 

                Sal Iavarone knows those “Trenches” well.  He is far too familiar with the pain and punishment they dole out every Saturday and the dedication it takes just to make it through the season.  See, Sal plays offensive line for the Albany Metro-Mallers.  That title in itself is nothing astonishing given that 10 others lay claim to that job as well.  However, what sets Sal apart is that a few weeks ago on a humid June night in Kingston, Sal began his 26th Season.  The fact that the average pro career is 6 or 7 yrs leaves few words to accurately describe or even give homage to such an unprecedented career. 

                He began his career with the Mallers in 1980 when his high school football coach, who also moonlighted as the Mallers Offensive Coordinator, asked Sal to come out and play with the team after he had graduated from Mechanicville High School.  Sal took him up on the offer and the rest is the stuff of Maller lore.  Over the past 25 yrs Sal has never missed a practice or a game to injury, work, or other commitments.  That’s over 400 games, 1500 practices, and 23,400 minutes of battling in the trenches.  If that isn’t enough to create a legend add to that the fact that for 10 yrs of his career Sal played both offensive and defensive line.

                Sal is the essence of what is good about the game.  He plays not for the financial reward or the notoriety that sports bring.  He has never been paid a dime nor is he known outside the realm of Semi-Pro football for his accomplishments.  But within the Semi-Pro community he is held with such high esteem and regard that the mere mention of his name will bring up old memories of former players and championship teams of years past.  After 25 yrs, 4 league titles, 1 national championship and enough personal accolades to fill up every room in his house, many would wonder why he continues to play.  And when those playing days are over and the inevitable enshrinement into the Semi-Pro Hall of Fame becomes his final reward, Sal will accept that honor with class and humility.  For he never played football for the riches in life but rather for the enrichment of his.        

Monday, June 27, 2005

Metro Mallers: Albany shut out the Mohawk Valley Vikings 22-0

Metro Mallers: Albany shut out the Mohawk Valley Vikings 22-0 in an Empire Football League preseason matchup late Saturday at Bleecker Stadium in Albany.
The defense, led by returning team captain Jeff Turman and linebackers Greg Woodward and Brian Domingo, kept the Vikings at their end of the field for most of the game.
Mallers running backs Jadel Whitfield, Sylvester Cooperwood and Larry Senior each scored a touchdown.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Trailblazers drop exhibition to Ice Storm

Trailblazers drop exhibition to Ice Storm
Times Staff Reports
First published: Sunday, June 26, 2005
COLCHESTER, Vt. - Despite running the ball effectively and becoming more efficient in the passing game, the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers fell to the Vermont Ice Storm 34-6 in a semipro football preseason game Saturday.

Head coach Mike Britton, however, said the Trailblazers' offense wasn't effective when it needed to be.

"The heat took a toll on our players and we weren't paying enough attention," Britton said. "We just didn't focus and froze inside the 20-yard line."

On one Trailblazers possession inside the Ice Storm 10-yard line, starting quarterback David Currier threw an interception into the end zone that was returned 103 yards for a Vermont touchdown.

Currier, however, threw nine completions for 158 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Dan Staton late in the fourth quarter.

After notching 205 yards last week against Glove Cities, Ernie Miller only rushed for 28 yards on eight carries for St. Lawrence. Rob Scott had 11 carries for 60 yards.

Cheyenne Dashnaw and Ricky Delaney led the team with 12 tackles apiece. Dashnaw also had a fumble recovery.

The Ice Storm finished second in the New England Football League Double A Division last season with a 9-1 record. Vermont was the fourth-best team nationally in the division last year.

"We played a good game and ran comfortably," Britton said. "We just broke down when needed to score."

The Trailblazers kickoff the 2005 Empire Football League regular season on July 9 at Amsterdam.

Express rolls to victory vs. Red and Black

Express rolls to victory vs. Red and Black
by John O'Donnell, Times Sports Writer
First published: Sunday, June 19, 2005

A football rivalry dating back to the turn of the 20th century resumed Saturday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds when the Central New York Express of Syracuse defeated the Watertown Red and Black 28-12 in a semipro exhibition game. The Red and Black has played several different semipro teams representing the city of Syracuse over the years.

Billed as a preseason game, the two teams treated it more like a regular-season encounter. The Red and Black wanted to prove it could hang with the 2004 National Football Events national champion. And for a very short time, Watertown did. For 39 seconds, the Red and Black held the lead.

It didn't take long for Express quarterback Chris Bresnahan to show his talents, as he threw for three touchdowns in a 28-12 victory.

"The Express had a couple of big plays for scores on our defense,'' said Red and Black coach George Ashcraft. "I think we learned a lot tonight. We knew coming into the game that the Express had a heck of a passing game.''

Ashcraft was pleased, for the most part, with his team's performance in the exhibition game.

"In the next three weeks before our Empire Football League opener in Ottawa we can change some people around,'' he said. "If everyone comes to practice in the next three weeks I really believe we could do very well this season.''

Vince Williams, who had a successful career at Watertown High School in the late 1990s, put the Red and Black ahead 6-0 with a 7-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The extra-point try failed.

Bresnahan quickly put the visiting Express, a member of the New York Amateur Football League, on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass to wide receiver Ed Perry that covered 51 yards and tied the score at 6-6. The extra-point try failed.

Bresnahan made it 12-6 later in the second quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run. A two-point conversion pass from Bresnahan to wide receiver Rychard Dykes gave the Express a 14-6 lead at halftime.

The teams played a scoreless third quarter that was highlighted by numerous penalties. In the fourth quarter, it was all Bresnahan and the Express offense.

Bresnahan, a former University of New Hampshire quarterback by way of Corcoran High School in Syracuse, threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Dykes. The Express increased its lead to 22-6 on a two-point conversion pass from Bresnahan to Perry.

The Red and Black, having trouble moving the ball on offense after its first touchdown, roared back shortly after the Express score with a pass play from quarterback Doug Black to receiver Brian Beltz that covered 49 yards to the Express 2-yard line. But on the next play from scrimmage, Black's pass into the end zone was intercepted by Mike Grenton.

Bresnahan quickly drove the Express to its final score of the night, a play that was set up with a pass to wide receiver Steve Scott. The play covered 60 yards. Bresnahan culminated the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chico Hale.

Al Countryman, returning to the Red and Black after retiring following the 2003 season, saw action on both offense and defense. The veteran, who scored the Red and Black's final touchdown, late in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard run, wasn't surprised that the teams played a physical game.

"We stayed with them in the first half,'' he said. "We just made a couple of key mistakes on both sides of the football tonight. I am sure we will build on this.''

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."


Saturday, June 25, 2005

(no subject)

Mallers play tonight: The Albany Metro Mallers will play an Empire Football League preseason game tonight at 7:30 against the Mohawk Valley Vikings at Bleecker Stadium.

Admission is $6 for adults and field seating is $10. Children younger than 12 are admitted free of charge. This is the final preseason game for the Mallers, who beat Hudson Valley Saints 16-8 last week.

The Mallers open the season against the Scranton Eagles on Saturday, July 9, at Bleecker.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dragons, Green Machine fight to survive in same market

Dragons, Green Machine fight to survive in same market

Finding enough fans, players to support two teams in Broome a challenge

Press & Sun-Bulletin           

BINGHAMTON -- Two times a week, Binghamton's two semi-pro football teams practice for the coming season.

The Southern Tier Green Machine works out at Otsiningo Park. The Broome County Dragons practice at MacArthur Park. Both teams have been practicing for more than a month, and both begin their seasons in the next few weeks.

Semi-pro football has had a near-constant presence in Broome County since 1970. For a brief time in the 1970s, there were two teams -- the Triple Cities Jets and the Broome-Tioga Bengals.

But that was 30 years ago. The population of the Broome County has decreased by more than 9 percent, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures. The local economy isn't what it used to be. That means there's a limited pool of players, sponsors and fans -- and money. Then there was the acrimonious way the

Green Machine's season ended last year, as the team abruptly withdrew from the playoffs and its league amid rumors of financial woes and discord between players, coaches and management.

So how will two semi-pro football teams co-exist in this market?

"In the long term, I don't think two teams can survive," Green Machine coach Dan LaMagna said. "To get the community support you need, to get the players you need, at some point the community is going to choose one direction or the other."

The Green Machine opens on June 25 with an exhibition game against the CNY Express (the defending National Football Events national champions) at Union-Endicott High. The BC Dragons' first home game is July 16 against Montreal at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.


Finding enough players is the biggest challenge that comes from having two semi-pro teams in the same city.

According to the roster listed on the Green Machine's official Web site, the team has 63 players.

The BC Dragons don't have a set roster yet, but team owner Karol Cronin and coach Tommy Manny both said the team has more than 60 players signed up. Cronin showed off a stack of 61 signed player agreements at recent practice.

Those robust-sounding numbers haven't translated to the practice field for either team.

At the Green Machine's practice on June 7, there were 29 players dressed and working out. Several more, team owner Maurice Battisti said, were hurt and unable to practice.

At the Dragons' workout on June 9, there were 21 players taking part in the two-hour session.

"Usually , we have 30-35 guys," Manny said. "Tonight was one of the worst ones (in terms of turnout)."

Only six players returned to the Green Machine from last year's squad, according to the roster on the Web site. Cronin said that about 15 of her players were on the Green Machine last year -- though without a set roster, those numbers are impossible to verify.

Last season, the Green Machine began with a roster of 58 players. By October, the team dressed less than 30 players for games.

Cronin estimates that nearly half the players who have signed up for her team are from this area. According to the roster on its Web site, the Green Machine has 19 players (a third of the roster) from Broome County and other surrounding counties. The Green Machine draws heavily from the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area, where LaMagna, 28, coached last season.

The players on the Green Machine were drawn to the team by its membership in the North American Football League, which has more than 100 teams nationally and plays its championship and all-star games at the Disney Sports Complex in Florida and has been around since 1999.

The players on the Dragons are drawn to its membership in the Empire Football League, which has been in existence since 1969 and has its commissioner, Dave Burch, based in Endicott. The EFL is a regional league, featuring teams in upstate New York, Northeastern Pennsylvania and Canada, and doesn't participate in a national championship.

Numbers have been a problem for Binghamton teams in the past. The BC Jets, who began play in 1997, folded in 2002 due to a lack of players.

That was when there was just one team in town.

"We have a good nucleus; if we weren't competing with another team, we'd be great," LaMagna said.

Neither coach seemed fazed about his team's numbers.

"I've seen teams with 34 guys win championships," said Manny, an 18-year veteran of the Empire Football League who had been coach and owner of the Albany Maulers for the past several seasons. "So it can be done."


Battisti, 62, an Endicott businessman, formed the Green Machine in 2004. The team joined the Empire Football League after a unanimous vote by team owners in January 2004.

That first vote was about as smooth as things ran for the Green Machine. Battisti initially hoped for crowds of between 5,000-10,000 per game. But the team drew, by Battisti's count, only 2,200 fans per game. Battisti said he lost $100,000 last season. The team finished 8-5 but withdrew from the EFL Playoffs in October. The reason given by the league and the team was a lack of players due to injuries.

At the same time, the team left the EFL. According to minutes of league meetings provided to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, the team was voted out of the league at its Oct. 3 meeting in Johnstown. Battisti has denied this, saying he left the league of his own volition and described the move by saying only: "I've always driven a Cadillac."

In January, the Green Machine accepted a spot in the NAFL.

"Maurice is kind of like a grandfather figure who had really good intentions but didn't have the help he needed," said LaMagna, who replaced Jud Blanchard, the longtime area high school coach who left after one season with the Green Machine. "I think last year, the team's intentions were good but they had some growing pains."

A week later, Cronin -- who worked for the Green Machine last season and whose son, Josh, was a linebacker for the team -- announced the formation of the Dragons in the EFL.

"The biggest thing, and biggest deciding factor, was the fact that I didn't want the players to go through what they went through last year," said Cronin, 44, a Johnson City resident who is retail manager for Sears Optical at the Oakdale Mall.

Neither Cronin nor Battisti would talk specifically about last year's experience.

Battisti spent a good portion of practice interacting with his team, talking and joking with players and coaches as drills went on.

"Last year, those guys wouldn't let me do this," he said. "I mean, I love these guys. I love this so much. It's great."

Cronin said that at the team's first preseason meeting, the players peppered her with questions.

"They wanted to know if there were going to be buses and transportation to all the games," she said. "They asked if we were going to leave them high and dry."

Both Cronin and Battisti are going ahead with plans for the coming season. Despite his financial losses last season, Battisti ordered new uniforms for the team.

"I'm not doing this for ego," Battisti said. "I'm doing this for the community. We need something like this."


With the season starting soon, the work has intensified on and off the field for both teams.

The Green Machine is practicing in full pads and helmets twice a week, ending each session with simulated games between the offense and defense.

"We're just starting to really gel," LaMagna said. "We've seen a handful of good individual performances. We're getting there."

The Dragons started practicing in early May. Players still practice in T-shirts and shorts. At the June 9 practice, players were being measured for equipment.

"We're about on pace," Manny said. "We started a little later, but the offense has picked up the verbiage of our plays."

Both teams are holding fundraisers. Players are busy selling ads for both team's respective programs.

The players, coaches and owners of both teams say they're eager to put the past behind them.

"I don't want to say anything negative," Battisti said, watching 29 of his players run through seven-on-seven drills. "I want this to be a positive thing."

"I wish (Battisti) well and his team well," Cronin said, as her 21 players worked out in position groups. "I hope they have a great season."

(no subject)


Byline:    Max DelSignore
Times Sportswriter

It's been eight months since Bob Cowser's memoir, "Dream Season," chronicling a year with the Watertown Red and Black, was published. Now he's attracted the attention of a major sports publication.
A photographer from Sports Illustrated visited the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers practice on June 7 to take a team photo for an upcoming magazine photo essay centered on athletes who play "for the love of the game," which will be published in the fall.

The magazine did a full-page review of Cowser's book last November and contacted him once the photo-essay project was under way.

"They remembered reviewing my book ..." Cowser said. "They wanted to pick guys driven by sports."

After playing for the Red and Black in 2001, Cowser, now playing for the Trailblazers, wanted the book to bring attention to an overlooked Empire Football League.

"There's some great players and coaches in this league who've been involved with the sport for years," Cowser said. "These guys play practically in obscurity. It's an arduous schedule with a lot of traveling. I wanted to celebrate the commitment of these guys because people across the country don't know about it."

"It's exciting for Bobby and especially for the league," said Trailblazers head coach Mike Britton. "All of these guys play because they love football. It's a complete lift for the league."

Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft agreed that the recognition is a positive.

"It's nice to be recognized by any major publication," Ashcraft said. "Bob's making great leaps with what he's done. It's great for semipro football and the Trailblazers."

Cowser, a Canton resident, said all of the players were excited about the photo opportunity. Each player attending practice took home a Polariod of the team photo.

"We were all on cloud nine," Britton said.

The night of the shoot was important to Cowser in another fashion. Upon taking the photo, he decided that he would play his fifth season in the EFL, the fourth with the Trailblazers, who play a preseason game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday against Glove Cities at Sandstoner Park in Potsdam.

"I wasn't sure at first," Cowser said. "But once I got back into my pads and took the photo with the guys, I wanted to return and play again."

As far as what position he'll play, Cowser doesn't have a preference.

"I played mostly defensive end, but I may play offensive guard," Cowser said. "Who knows though. We'll see where coach (Britton) wants me."

While Cowser doesn't plan on writing another sports book, he is in the early stages of writing his next book.

"It's a true crime piece about a murder and execution that takes place in Tennessee in 1979," said Cowser. "I'm just getting started conducting interviews. It's going to take several years of work to finish."

The paperback edition of "Dream Season" will be released in November.

Sunday, June 05, 2005
Woodward Named Eagles' Head Coach

The Scranton Eagles have a new leader.

It's a familiar face as semipro football veteran Mike Woodward, who has played with the Eagles since 2000, was named head coach on Saturday.
"I'm very optimistic if we get the players I think we can, we will win some games," he said at a tryout session at Riverfront Sports Complex after his hiring was announced.

Although this is his first head coaching job, Woodward feels he has the experience and knowledge needed to return the Eagles to the paths of glory in the Empire Football League. Since joining the club in 2000 he has played linebacker, but in the past has spent time at just about position and also helped coach. Last year he coached the special teams.

"There's just about a month before the season and we have much work to do,'' Woodward said. ''We're going to go with what we have, put the best players in the positions that best suit them. They will be ready."

Woodward, a native Virginian who played at Germania Colllege and had tryouts with the Miami Dolphins in 1990 and 1991, will direct his first practice Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at McDade Park. He hopes to practice there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at McDade during the season.

"There will be some growing pains and we will make a few mistakes, but I'm very happy with what I saw here today," Woodward said.

The Eagles will travel to Albany on July 8 for their EFL opener against the Mallers. The home opener will be against Ottawa July 15 at Scranton Memorial Stadium, where they will play all five of their home games.

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