Monday, January 09, 2006

Ruggeri to coach Zephyrs

Ruggeri to coach Zephyrs

The Amsterdam Recorder

Date January 08, 2006


Last year, Tony Marotta made a tough decision to disband the Amsterdam Zephyrs semi-pro football team just before the Empire Football League season was to begin.

A lack of players prompted Marotta to take that route but he vowed

Last year, Tony Marotta made a tough decision to disband the Amsterdam Zephyrs semi-pro football team just before the Empire Football League season was to begin.

A lack of players prompted Marotta to take that route but he vowed to work in the offseason of putting a competitive team on the field.

This week he announced that Dom Ruggeri would be the new head coach and his assistants include Joe Hall (offensive coordinator), Mike Finocchi (quarterback and receivers coach), Alex McKinsey (defensive backs), Dave Nicosia (offensive and defensive line coach), Wayne Marotta (conditioning coach), Rick Sager (specialty teams and league advisor) and Ray Cetnar (fundraising advisor). Ruggeri will handle the defense.

"With all these great additions to the Zephyrs football organization, I am sure we have a winning combination, " said team president Marotta.

But, Marotta a veteran of the semi-pro circuit, knows it takes more than just a coaching staff to be successful.

A competitive team has to be assembled to compete in a tough league.

The Zephyrs will be playing all its home games on the new artificial surface at Lynch and that should help attract crowds.

"The players from the previous seasons can not wait to get back onto the field. Right now, we are planning to be in the gym the first week of February with the quarterbacks, receivers, and running backs, " said Marotta.

The Zephyrs have their first pre-season game scheduled for June 3 in Massachusetts with the Blitzen Bears football team.

One sign up has already produced good numbers and another is scheduled for Thursday (Jan. 12) at Crystal Ristorante at 6:30 p.m.

Ruggeri is no stranger to Amsterdam and football. He graduated from Bishop Scully High School in 1985 and made first team all state on defense and second team offense playing for Jim Martuscello.

He also was recognized for first team on both sides of the ball in Section II. Then Ruggeri went to Southern Vermont College on a baseball offer for two years and transferred to Marist College to play football.

His coaching career began in 1990 at Broadalbin-Perth High School learning under Dan Krawczeski and Bob Munn. Ruggeri was an assistant on the varsity and coached the junior varsity team.

"They (Krawczeski and Munn) taught me a lot and you couldn't learn from two better people, " said Ruggeri.

At this time, Ruggeri played for the Glove Cities Colonials (based in Johnstown) but had to call it quits after three seasons due to concussions. He took a break until 1998 when he played one more season with the Colonials. Ruggeri has scouted for some of the area high schools and got involved with the Little Giants football program in 2000 working with youths at the 11-13 age group.

He guided teams to one Super Bowl title and had a run of three straight seasons in the championship.

"But most of all was all the kids I got to coach have gone on to become excellent players for coach (Pat) Liverio and coach (Bob) Noto at Amsterdam. That is the reward I get out of coaching that I could pass on my knowledge of the game to those kids, " said Ruggeri.

So why coach a semi-pro football team?

"I took the job because I knew it would be a challenge and I wanted to be part of an organization that I felt had unlimited opportunities to grow and be a competitive force in the EFL. As well as have the support of the community and school district, " said Ruggeri.

Ruggeri wants to put a competitive team on the field week in and week out and most of all be in the playoffs. He considers anything less to be a disappointment.

"I have already started talking to players I know and hope word of mouth gets out. I've also made phone calls to everyone on the roster and the response has been great. With a combination of new talent and old, I feel this team could do very well, " said Ruggeri.

For many years, Marotta and company played semi-pro football for the Colonials and now want to bring a winning tradition to Amsterdam. They know it will take a lot of hard work to bring that product here...all they ask is a chance.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ice Storm Move to Empire Football League

Ice Storm move to Empire Football League

Published: Wednesday, December 7, 2005
By Mike Donoghue
Free Press Staff Writer

The Green Mountain Gladiators semi-professional football team has sold its spot in the Empire Football League to the Vermont Ice Storm.

The sale means the Ice Storm, who had played in the New England Football League, will move up from Double A to Triple A for the 2006 season.

Sean Sulikowski, chairman of the Gladiators board, said Tuesday the Green Mountain team has not been sold. He said the franchise still exists but does not expect to field a team in 2006. The Gladiators took a leave of absence from the EFL this summer due to a lack of players.

EFL deputy commissioner Gary Shaver said the Gladiators would be free to apply for reentry to the league or could find another semiprofessional football league.

Shaver said the Empire league is expected to have at least 11 teams in the summer. He said were a couple of other communities express- ing interest, but no decisions will be made until the annual league meeting in late January in Ottawa. Each team plays a 10-game schedule on Saturday nights.

Ice Storm spokesman Scot Aguglia said the team is excited about making the move to a different league.

"We are five years old and we have a good relationship with the Empire Football League," he said. A large number of the Vermont players and coaches were once affiliated with EFL teams, primarily the Lake City Stars in Plattsburgh, N.Y.

The Ice Storm have one year remaining on their deal with the Colchester School District to play home games at the town high school, Aguglia said.

Contact Mike Donoghue at 660-1845 or
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