Saturday, August 05, 2006
EFL Pre Game Press Coverage August 5th
Colonials, Zephyrs looking to regroup at home
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald
The shadows are growing long on the playoff chances for both local semi-professional football teams.
Both the Glove Cities Colonials (0-4) of the New York Amateur Football League and Amsterdam Zephyrs (1-3) of the Empire Football League are in dire need of a win this week in front of home fans to keep hope alive. Coaches Frank Van Skiver of the Colonials and Dom Ruggeri of the Zephyrs have addressed their team’s apparent weaknesses in an attempt to put together 60 minutes of solid football tonight.
The Colonials defense has been reliable when rested, but spotty play by the offensive line and shortened drives have meant more turf time for the defense as games wear on. A string of key injuries has also been an issue.
A win this week for either team would provide the necessary momentum for the mid-season run both teams need. It would also make motivating the players infinitely easier for the two head coaches as the season moves forward.
A lopsided 38-6 loss at
Four turnovers on offense and four touchdowns through the air propelled
“We played way below our level down there in
This week against
To pull off the win, the Zephyrs will have to clip the Dragons’ wings. The
But Ruggeri has told his young players that it is time to grow up.
“Our secondary is young, they’re learning each game and they really need to step it up this game and grow up in a hurry,” Ruggeri said. “We cannot afford to give up any big pass plays this week. The defense has been working too hard and I think leading the league against the rush. We just can’t seem to stop the pass and that’s our Achilles’ Heel right now.”
The Dragons do have a ground threat in tailback Jemall Johnson, who averages 6.3 yards per carry. Ruggeri touts him as one of the top backs in the league, but expects his defense to handle the run as well as they have all season.
The key, much as it is with the Colonials, will be to finish off offensive drives. But with the team backed into a corner in the standings, Ruggeri expects to see the Zephyrs come out swinging this week and put more points up on the board.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” Ruggeri said. “When we get inside the 20, we have to put points on the board. We’ve had three or four missed field goals in the last couple weeks and we’ve turned the ball over when we’ve got a potential touchdown, or we score a touchdown and there’s a flag that calls it back. We’ve got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot right now.”
Struggling Zephyrs in a must-win situation
By MIKE COLLAR
Recorder Sports Staff
A must win.
How many times have you heard those words?
That's where the Amsterdam Zephyrs are in the Empire Football League Southern Division standings.
The struggling Zephyrs, 1-3, will host the Broome County Dragons (2-1) at 7:30 tonight at
The Albany Mallers lead the South with a 3-0 record followed by the Tri-State Bulldogs 3-1,
Zephyrs head coach Dom Ruggeri delivered a simple message.
"We have to beat them (
The Zephyrs have lost two in a row and hope the friendly confines of Lynch and fans will help turn things around.
Last week, the Zephyrs fell to
"We play down to the level of competition. We were a much better team than
Eric Johnson will again start at quarterback. He's completed 25 of 87 passes for 342 yards, four touchdowns but six interceptions.
"Offensively, Eric's doing a great job. The running game is starting to jell a little bit now. We made a big switch in the backfield last week which paid some dividends. We have to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. We got inside their (
Unfortunately, the Zephyrs top runner, Tim Stewart is sidelined for about three weeks with a strained knee suffered against
Newcomer Ken Hudson, who played at
"He (Thomas) runs about a 4.6 40 so he's well-equipped to play that position. He showed it last week right around the end of the third quarter. He broke about an 80 yard run for our score," said Ruggeri.
Jeremiah Newborn didn't play a week ago because of a hamstring injury and should be on the playing field this time around.
"The offensive line right now is doing a nice job, pass protection. There are some holes on the run game but they have to get that consistency. You can't go 60 yards down the field and come away with no points," said Ruggeri.
While the offensive unit is finding ways to improve, Ruggeri is making some adjustments to the defense.
"Defensively, we got the top rush defense in the league, nobody can run on us. Our problem is they throw the ball on us. We had to make some changes and made some moves in the secondary, coach (Rick) Sager and I got together and went over some stuff. It's going to be a different defensive formation out there," said Ruggeri.
Rich Johnson moves from safety to corner and the defensive front is playing very well and that includes ends Rick Hulett and Alex McKinsey while Bob Oddy, Brian Thompson, Aaron Robinson and Michael Castrello rotate at tackle. Hulett leads with three sacks.
His favorite targets are Johnathan Beachy (14 catches, 231 yards) and George Graham (seven catches, 147 yards) and three touchdowns. He also throws to Matt Willis and Sam Whitney.
"The key for us is ball control. We use seven running backs a game so fatigue is not a factor. Our quarterback has a baseball background. He showed up for a tryout last year and now look. He keeps cool under fire and that's what you want back there," said
Defensively, Pasquale Iacono leads the way with 10 solo and 15 assisted tackles with Jamie Hoover right behind at 11 solo and 12 assisted tackles.
"Our offense is a little deeper than our defense. We're coming off a bye week and I'm a little concerned. On defense, we're definitely a unit, you can underline that. They all have great speed and we don't have a lot of size," said Manny.
Ruggeri hopes the Zephyrs can put together their first solid game on both sides of the ball.
"I can't play for them. All I can do is put them in a position to win. The coaching staff has done that. The captains had a meeting with the team Monday night on their own and told them we need to be 2-3 to be back in the thick of the playoff hunt. We'll need a lot of help if we fall 1-4," said Ruggeri.
Saturday August 5, 2006 SPORTS
Following agonizing loss, Dragons look to rebound
From staff reports
Just 2 more yards and the Broome County Dragons, fresh from a bye week, might still be undefeated.
However, Ty Fish's potential game-tying pass against the division leading Albany Metro Mallers was incomplete giving the Dragons their first loss of the season on July 22.
"I hope they're still mad," coach Thomas Manny said. "I know I still am."
The Dragons (2-1) will look to rebound at 7:30 tonight against the Amsterdam Zephyrs (1-3) at
"We know if we stop the running game, we stop them," Manny said.
"Anytime you lose two starters, it's difficult," Manny said. "But it's not crippling."
Jemall Johnson will be forced to carry a heavier load with his running mate Gilmore out. His 182 rushing yards leads the team as well as his average of 6.2 yards per carry.
"I've always hated bye weeks because it usually makes a team flat," Manny said. "I wish we would've played last week."
Following tonight's game, the Dragons return home a week from tonight to play the Tri-State Bulldogs.
Stars-Ice Storm rivalry intensifies
Teams meet tonight in
By: KEITH KANE
August 05, 2006
The Stars have captured four victories during that time.
The Ice Storm, however, grabbed their lone victory in five tries just a season ago with a 26-6 decision.
That changes this season, as the Ice Storm have entered the Empire Football League and lurk just behind the Stars in the Northern Division standings.
Tonight, first place will be on the line at
"We've played them each of the past five years now,"
"There will probably be a little less emotion this year and more of a football game as both teams have a greater goal on their mind instead of just knocking each other out."
The Stars had another impressive showing on both sides of the ball last weekend as the offense received scores from both the passing and running games and the defense kept the Ottawa Deacon Demons out of the end zone in a 21-0 victory.
Heath Geiser led the ground attack with 76 yards on eight carries, including a 55-yard touchdown scamper in the third quarter to close out the scoring. Brandon Keleher added 70 yards on 10 carries, with a two-yard touchdown to open scoring.
Quarterback Kellen Nolan completed 7-of-14 passes for 96 yards and hit Matt St. Clair for the second score of the game with a 30-yard pass.
The Stars' kicking game also received a shot in the arm last week with the return of kicker Ryan DeCamp, who was a perfect 3-for-3 in point after attempts.
On defense, Mike Lawyer, Don Tambini and
The Ice Storm, who have an identical 3-1 record on the season but have given up 106 points compared to the Stars' 40, are also coming off an impressive victory in a 29-21 win over the Chateauguay Titans.
Quarterback Brad Ruderman completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns, but was also intercepted twice.
John Fahey, who last season was in the running back mix for
"Playing over there (in
"No disrespecting their running game, but if they are going to beat us, it's going to be on the ground because I want to take away their throwing game."
In last season's battle between the Ice Storm and Stars,
"We have run the ball well so far this year and we have been able to add the pass a little bit more," McCallister said. "It was an extremely physical game against
"As much as we are going to have our hands full with their passing game, they are going to have the same problem with our running game.
"We have a lot of young guys on defense and we have done a pretty good job of keeping teams out of the end zone. In the last two games, teams threw the ball well and made advances, but we were able to make adjustments at halftime and pretty much shut them down in the second half."
Despite being a regular season EFL game, it has started to become a bit more because of the small distance between the two teams in both locality and in the standings.
"This game has sort of taken on its own persona from the get go," McCallister said. "Because our teams are so close, there is bound to be talking. I may have been instrumental in that as well as I was defending our team.
"The bottom line is they have brought their play to where it isn't just talk. They beat us last year. It took five years, but they came in here and they earned it.
"I have six or seven guys that hail from
"This is not just a once a year match-up anymore. There is going to be some emotion, but that should create for a real good game."
Eagles looking to keep momentum
On Saturday, the unbeaten and Southern Division-leading Albany Metro Mallers visit Scranton Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. in an Empire Football League game.
The Eagles are 1-2-1 after beating
“We’re not the same team that lost to the Bulldogs by 70 points three weeks ago,” Woodard said. “If we play against
Quarterback John Kennedy, who missed the Tri-State game with an injury, returned against
Two of his favorite targets, Louis Verdetto and Thad Witek, are ranked among the EFL’s top 10 receivers this week. Verdetto is third with 17 catches for 277 yards and two TDs, while Witek is ninth with 13 snares for 165 yards and two TDs.
A former Old Forge standout, Verdetto has 277 yards receiving that ranks him third for most receiving yardage, just behind Collis Martin of Tri-State with 20 catches for 325 yards and Culture Branch of Albany with 301 yards on 18 receptions.
Another new weapon in the Eagle arsenal is kicker John Vitovsky who accounted for six of the points chalked up against
The Scranton Eagles face a major hurdle on the comeback trail when the unbeaten and Southern Division-leading Albany Metro Mallers, conquerors of a team that beat the locals 70-0, roll into Memorial Stadium Saturday night.
The defending Empire Football League champions are 3-0 after knocking the Tri-State Bulldogs from the unbeaten ranks, 17-13, in a game at
The Eagles are 1-2-1 after beating
"We're not the same team that lost to the Bulldogs by 70 points three weeks ago," he said. "If we play against
Quarterback John Kennedy, whose absence with an injury was one of the reasons for the Bulldog debacle, returned with a vengeance against
Two of his favorite targets, Louis Verdetto and Thad Witek, are ranked among the EFL's top 10 receivers this week. Verdetto is third with 17 catches for 277 yards and two TDs, while Witek is ninth with 13 snares for 165 yards and two TDs.
Verdetto's 277 yards also rank him third for most receiving yardage, just behind Collis Martin of the Bulldogs with 20 catches for 325 yards and Culture Branch of Albany with 301 yards on 18 receptions, setting up a Verdetto-Branch showdown Saturday night.
Another new weapon in the Eagle arsenal is kicker John Vitovsky whose boots accounted for six of the points chalked up against
Woodard made the surprise discovery one day during the off-season when the Eagles were working out at The Sports Dome in Jessup, where Vitovsky was doing the same, only on the soccer field.
"I heard this boom, boom, boom," Woodard said. "It was the sound of him kicking the ball. I asked if he ever kicked a football. He said never seriously, so I told him if he wanted to play semipro football, I'd teach him to kick a football. Never mind his field goal and extra-points," Woodard added, "Did you see his kickoffs? Every one was either in the endzone or inside the five."
Kennedy, too, had words of praise for Vitovsky. "John finally got his confidence. He's going to be great."
Vitovsky, who also punts, is eighth among the leagues top 10 punters with five for 178 yards, an average of 35.6 yards.
Another standout, kickoff return specialist Nelson Rasheed, racked up 91 yards in three times and set up Eagle scoring drives.
Woodard said he once again will be counting heavily on his defense, anchored by veteran linebacker George Romiti, currently leading the league in tackles with 55.
"Our secondary also a great job against
Champi and DeJoseph stole two passes each, killing
In that game, the Bulldogs made a run for it in the waning minutes, but were stopped on a forced fumble by
On the ground,
Some Phone Contacts:
Coach Woodard 894-3230 or 894-1342
John Kennedy 499-1728 or home 341-0174
George Romiti 313-7892 or home 969-4064
Louis Verdetto 793-9730
John Vitovsky 488-6803
Saturday, August 5, 2006
Ice Storm play at home: At Colchester, the Vermont Ice Storm will pit their 2-1 record in the Empire Football League against the
The Storm are tied for first place in the Northern Division.
"Not a bad start," said Ice Storm head coach Doc Perez in a news release.
"If we keep working hard and can limit mistakes on game day, this team could have a very successful first season in the Empire Football League," offensive coordinator Scott Aguglia said in the release.
The Ice Storm have scored 77 points, most in the division.
PREVIEW: EMPIRE FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Saturday, August 05, 2006
When, where: 7:30 p.m., today, Torne Valley Sports Complex, Ramapo.
Last meeting: Tri-State won 25-7, Oct. 15, 2005 (EFL playoffs).
NOTES: The Red and Black has won its past two games, after an opening week loss to
When, where: 7:30 p.m., today;
Records: St. Lawrence Valley (0-4); Chateaugay (1-2).
Head coaches: St. Lawrence Valley, Mike Britton; Chateaugay, John Mouland.
Last meeting: Chateaugay (then
NOTES: The Titans dropped a 29-21 decision to