Thursday, June 29, 2006

EFL Press Coverage

Dragons will be the only gridiron game in town

Sunday May 21, 2006                         SPECIAL NEWS

By Mike Mangan
Press & Sun-Bulletin

This year, Broome County will be host to just one semiprofessional football team.

The Broome County Dragons return for their second season in the Empire Football League. And they're returning in style by announcing the team will play indoors at the new Greater Binghamton Sports Complex on Airport Road in the Town of Union.

Meanwhile, the Southern Tier Green Machine won't be returning for a third season. After spending 2004 as a member of the Empire Football League and last season as a member of the North American Football League, the team has ceased operations.

The Green Machine played its games last season at Binghamton Alumni Stadium.

The Dragons will play five home games. The Dragons open July 8 at Scranton, with their home opener against the Chateauguay Titans (located near Montreal) on July 15. The other teams on the Dragons' home schedule are Albany, Tri State, Scranton and Amsterdam.

The Dragons will play a 10-game schedule. The EFL playoffs begin Sept. 30 with the EFL Championship to be played Oct. 14.

Last year wasn't the first time that semipro football teams have co-existed in Broome County. Roughly 30 years ago, there were the Triple Cities Jets and the Broome-Tioga Bengals.

The Green Machine had a 6-4 record last season, finishing third in the NAFL's Empire Division. The Green Machine lost to Hudson Valley, 12-6, in the second round of the NAFL playoffs.

The Green Machine were coached by Dan LaMagna last season. In the team's debut season in 2004, Jud Blanchard coached the team.

The Dragons, owned by Karol Cronin of Johnson City, is one of 11 teams in the EFL. They will be coached once again by Thomas Manny, who formerly played for, coached and later owned the EFL's Albany Metro Mallers. Last season, the Dragons went 6-4 and lost to the Lake City Stars, 28-26, in the first round of the EFL playoffs.

The Dragons are the fourth EFL team to call Greater Binghamton home. The Triple Cities Jets won four league titles before dropping out of the EFL in 1988 after 17 seasons. The team was resurrected as the B.C. Jets from 1997 until 2002, when it folded because of a lack of players.

The B.C. Jets were EFL champs in 1997.


For Immediate Release
The home confines of Kingston’s Dietz Stadium did little to protect the Hudson Valley Saints from the onslaught of the Albany Metro Mallers rushing game as the visiting Empire Football League defending champion pounded the Saints defense on their way to  30 – 22 road victory earlier Saturday night. The offensive line opened holes, and the EFL’s 2005 Offensive Player of the Year Sylvester Cooperwood punished the Knights on 13 carries for 122 yards, while paving the way for Metro Maller Rookie Julius Irving’s breakout performance. The Albany High product ran for 109 yards on 9 carries and scored 3 touchdowns to lead all scorers. Veteran QB Scott Lawson in limited action tossed a 13 yard scoring pass to Culture Branch, while All Star Wide Receiver Macio Clinton hauled in 4 catches for 51 yards.

On the Defensive side,  DT Anthony DeChairo shed off double teams from the Kingston line to nail down 6 tackles, while Lawan Cancer turned the momentum around and put points on the board with a safety to open the third quarter.
Making their 2006 debuts, EFL Defensive Player of the Year Linebacker Greg Woodward and All-American defensive back Faarid Baaklini returned with hard hitting play as Woodward tallied 9 tackles and 2 sacks on the evening, while Baaklini started his 2006 campaign by hauling in 2 Saints passes for interceptions. 

The Metro Mallers break into the plus side of the record for the first time this season as the team now stands in at 2 –1.

The home opener is next on the schedule coming up on July 8th as the Mallers host the Rockland County Bruins of the Garden State Football League at Union College in Schenectady. Kick off  will be at 7:30 pm.

Hudson Valley back eyes career rushing record

KINGSTON - One of the most prolific rushers in minor league football, Donnie Jackson-Bey, began his assault on the all-time rushing record in his first game as a member of the Hudson Valley Saints Saturday at Dietz Stadium.

Jackson-Bey, who is no stranger to Dietz and many of the Saints players and coaches, needs 1,671 yards to become the leading career rusher in the semi-pro ranks.

"The record is definitely on my mind, but my main reason for being here is to help this team win a national championship," said Jackson-Bey before the Saints' 30-22 exhibition loss to the Albany Metro Maulers.

"I played against them three times last season (for the Southern Tier Green Machine) and I was impressed by their defense and their passing game.

'I wanted to keep playing and this team seemed like the right fit."

Saints' officials had hoped to add Jackson-Bey to their postseason roster last year, but were unable to due so according to North American Football League rules.

Those initial overtures laid the groundwork for Jackson-Bey's agreement to play as a Saint this season.

"Donnie really wanted to join us and it wasn't like when we had the Panthers in the Empire Football League," said Saints coach Jeff DeLisio. "You could move guys onto your roster if their team was done, but you can't do that in the NAFL.

"I definitely think the interest we showed helped get him here."

Jackson-Bey, 29, is entering his ninth season of minor league football. He played college football for Division I-AA Delaware State.

The native of Bridgeton, N.J. began his career in 1997 with the Scranton Eagles of the EFL where he played for five years. After a year of playing indoor football, he returned to play for the Northern Tier Bruins in Pennsylvania and last season was the featured back for the Green Machine.

"A lot of guys think I've been in the league longer and I just tell them I was running by them when I was a teenager," Jackson-Bey said. "I'm not ready for my career to be over just yet."

In eight seasons, Jackson-Bey has amassed 13,631 yards, an average of just over 1,700 yards per season. In 1999, he had his best single-season effort of 2,433 yards for Scranton.

Ironically, the all-time rushing leader that Jackson-Bey is chasing is former Scranton player Frank Yanik who has 15,301.

"I am looking at breaking the record this season," Jackson-Bey said. "We've got a huge offensive line, some great quarterbacks, wide receivers that are very fast and running backs that are talented. Everyone understands why I'm here and knows that I won't put myself in front of what's best for the team.

"I've been welcomed here with open arms by (Saints owner) Mark (English), Jeff and everyone associated with the team."

DeLisio sees the dividends that Jackson-Bey will pay as an integral part of the offense.

"He's going to relieve the pressure on our receivers and make us a more potent offense," he said. "The other backs know he's featured and they'll get their opportunities to contribute. The kind of back he is will help us play more ball control than we have in the past and sustain some longer drives.

"It's a winning situation for everyone."


Dragon to battle today at Memorial Stadium

by Chris gill

CORNING | Break out the 20-sided die.

In something out of a fantasy role playing game, two teams of Dragons will throw down at Memorial Stadium today.

The Crystal City Dragons will try to rebound from their season-opening 33-12 loss to Albany last week at Memorial Stadium, welcoming the second-year Broome County Dragons at 7 p.m. in a nonleague semi-pro football game. The Binghamton-based team will be playing its season-opening game today, strengthened by the demise of Broome County's other semi-pro franchise, the Southern Tier Green Machine.

The B.C. Dragons signed almost 10 of the ex-Green Machine players, but are still playing their first game of the season.

“I think that will work to our advantage,” said Crystal City coach Dave Belknap.

First, Corning's Dragons have to get their offensive line together.

Last week against defending Eastern League champion Albany, Corning managed 174 yards of total offense, and of that only 54 yard were gained in the second half while down by two touchdowns. Quarterback Danny Giannone was sacked four times and seven different runners mustered just 85 rushing yards.

“We worked on a lot of those areas that killed us,” Belknap said. “The O-line in the first half was better in the first half than in the second half (last week). We've got a couple new guys that came in, one just showed up at practice. Starting off (today's) game, I'm going to stick with the same schemes and see how it works. We did a lot of work with the O-line this week.”

The kicking game cost Crystal City, too.

A blocked punt was recovered for a touchdown by Albany to put the Mallers up by three touchdowns, another punt was muffed, the opening kickoff went out of bounds and one extra point was shanked. Belknap said Friday he would put veterans Mike Mawhir and Roy Webb on the special teams line to help protect kicker Fred Cosier.

Belknap said he has offered more practice time this week for a defensive backfield that was torched by Albany's passing game to the tune of 246 yards and two touchdowns.

The Dragons do have some things to build on after their opener.

In the first half, Crystal City's new offensive playcalling showed some signs of expressiveness. On a first-and-10 play late in the first quarter, and the Mallers' secondary stacking the line, Giannone threw a perfectly-placed 61-yard bomb to Hausani Sessions for a score and tight end Ryan Stroman made crucial first-down grabs, catching passes for 28 and 18 yards underneath. Additionally, the Dragons' kick returners, led by Eddie Winfield, consistently brought the ball to the 40-yard line or beyond.

Now the Dragons in the west hope to have a crowd like last week's reported 484 spectators, and give them something to get excited about.

“It was down a little bit on Tuesday, but it picked up and they're ready to go,” Belknap said. “We really need to win one of these nonleague games before going into league play.”

NOTES | The Crystal City Dragons will admit Little League baseball players free to today's game, if they bear a shirt or hat from their uniforms. Parents of the players will be admitted for $4 and there will be a halftime ceremony for the kids. ... Fullback Jeff Rodriguez was Crystal City's most efficient runner last week, picking up 34 yards on six carries. ... Brad Hyranko sat out last week's game and his status for today is unknown.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Same issues hound Dragons in loss


CORNING | At least some Dragons won at Memorial Stadium Saturday.

The Broome County Dragons took advantage of every mis-step by the Crystal City Dragons to take a 37-19 out of Corning in the Binghamton-based team's season opener. The loss was Crystal City's 20th in Corning and fourth straight dating back to last season.

Corning's Dragons, which have one victory at Memorial Stadium in three seasons, marginally improved in the areas that killed them in the season opener one week ago, but not enough to account the their flaws.

“We made good improvements and the kick return, the kicking game is still the same,” said Crystal City head coach Dave Belknap. “Defensively I think we looked really good. I don't, we've got a lot of work to do and two weeks to do it.”

For a second straight week, the opposition's defense pitched tents in Crystal City's backfield with a blitz-heavy package that forced four sacks, two interceptions, a dozen hurries and an anemic 2.8 yards per carry. When Broome Country's defense played more conservatively, Corning's Dragons hit them in the mouth.

Down by 15 points with 3:10 minutes left in the half, Broome County played prevent and payed for it when Crystal City quarterback Dan Giannone went 4-for-4 for 37 yards, hitting Ryan Stroman three times in an 84-yard drive that was aided by two key Broome penalties. A pass interference call put Crystal City on the 3-yard line and a game clock snafu set up Giannone's one-yard plunge to bring Corning's team within a touchdown and two-conversion of a tie at the break.

Then Broome came out of the half and went up by two scores again when Ty Fish hit a wide-open Jon Bechy for a 19-yard score, and late in the third quarter Broome went up 23-7 when Crystal City botched a punt attempt that went into the end zone for a safety.

The Corning Dragons did finally get a home run threat to break out when Eddie Winfield ran back punt returns of 85 and 92 yards in the fourth quarter to twice cut the lead to 10, but Broome answered with scoring plays of 52 yards (pass) and 81 yards (interception return).

The game was delayed by a half hour when Crystal City lineman Gerald Bennett was taken off the field on a stretcher. He returned to the stadium after a hospital visit.

Stroman finished with seven catches for 61 yards, while Giannone led the team in passing with 94 yards and rushing with 34 - all but one of those coming on desperate scrambles.

After a bye week, Crystal City will visit Buffalo on July 8 before hosting West Philadelphia on July 15.



Radio Station WVAA announces it will be the play-by-play home of the Vermont Ice Storm.


WVAA 1390 announced today it will be the broadcast home of the Vermont Ice Storm of the AAA rated Empire Football League. The Ice Storm have been in existence since 2001 as a member of the New England Football League; this year will be the team’s first in the highest division of semi-professional football.


General Manager Richard Delancey says this is an exciting opportunity for a station that traditionally has been a Progressive talk station. Delancey said the opportunity allows the station to expand and provide local sports to an area that enjoys and loves playing, participating in, and listening to local coverage.


The play-by-play voice of the Ice Storm is Larry Richards, a Pennsylvania native who has called both college and professional games in his native Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey.


Doing the color for the Ice Storm is the Sports Director for sister stations ESPN 1070 and ESPN 1490, Chris Fells. This will be the first football color assignment for the Minnesota native who is the current host of “Sox Talk with Chris Fells” on ESPN 1490, WFAD in Middlebury. Fells also does the local Sportscenter and weather updates on both stations.


Contact information: Chris Fells—802-318-1012

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