Saturday, August 19, 2006

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage August 19th

Saturday August 19, 2006                               SPORTS                                                                                           


B.C. Dragons set for Empire League rematch with Scranton

From staff reports

With their top rusher on the sidelines and a playoff berth in sight, the Broome County Dragons host the Scranton Eagles in a rematch of the Empire Football League season opener at 7:30 tonight at Binghamton's Alumni Stadium.

Andre Gilmore, who leads the Dragons (3-2-0) with four rushing touchdowns, will miss his third straight game after suffering an ankle injury July 22 against Albany. Jemall Johnson has managed just 35 yards rushing in his absence.

"We've got to get our run game back in operation," Dragons' head coach Thomas Manny said. "We've got to get Jemall back in gear."

The Dragons, who won 28-21 at Scranton in the first meeting between the two teams, are in second place in the league's Southern Division, two games behind unbeaten Albany with five games to play.

Tri-State, which lost to the Dragons 15-14 last Saturday, is in third place, a half game behind. The top three teams in the division make the playoffs.

The Eagles (1-3-1) lost to Tri-State 70-0 and Albany 45-9 after losing their season opener.

The Dragons, who snapped a two-game losing streak with the win over Tri-State, have allowed one offensive touchdown in the past two games


Rested Eagles seek road victory



The Scranton Eagles hope a week off and an energized aerial attack powered by two of the Empire Football League’s top receivers will help post a victory tonight against the Broome County Dragons at Binghamton Alumni Field.

Eagles quarterback John Kennedy will rely heavily on an aerial attack with Louis Verdetto and Thad Witek, the league’s No. 7 and No. 9 receivers, as his primary targets. Verdetto has 18 catches for 279 yards and two TDs, while Witek has 17 for 213 yards and two TDs.

Among passers, Kennedy ranks fifth in the league, completing 46 of 87 for 733 yards and nine TDs. He’s been intercepted five times.

Defensively, veteran linebacker George Romiti is the league’s leading tackler with 66 stops, including 28 solo.

For B.C, quarterback Ty Fish is enjoying a strong season, going 72-for-139 for 1,037 yards and four TDs and just three interceptions.

The leading rushers for B.C. are Jemal Johnson, ranked eighth in the league with 224 yards on 43 carries,and Sam Ragsdale, who is ninth with 215 yards in 32 carries.

Andre Chollette leads the Eagles with 141 yards in 45 carries.

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The Scranton Eagles hope a week off and a energized aerial attack, powered by two of the Empire Football League's top receivers, will help them Saturday night do something they fell short of in the season inaugural last month, beat the Broome County Dragons.

Binghamton Alumni Field, the former North High School Field, just off Interstate 81, will host the return match between the longtime rivals. B.C. won the first game in July at Scranton Memorial Stadium, but the Eagles were within 30 yards of scoring a TD to tie, or possibly win, when the clock expired.

Since then, the Dragons have moved onward and upward to a 3-2 record and second place behind the unbeaten Albany Metro Mallers, 5-0, in the EFL Southern Division, including a 15-14 victory last week over the powerful Tri-State Bulldogs.

Scranton, meanwhile, has had little to cheer about except a win over the last-place Amsterdam Zephyrs and a good first half two weeks ago against Albany, before a freaky TD return of the second-half kickoff and a handful of critical fumbles by the Eagles caused the roof to collapse.

Most of the troubles started weeks before on the road, in the second game, when the Eagles managed a 19-19 tie with the Ottawa Demon Deacons, but lost a number of offensive linemen to injuries, including guard Matt O'Brien and All-EFL center Jeremy Schaffer. Schaffer has since returned, but O'Brien is finished for the season.

Another veteran, Carlo Ciotoli, was absent from the Albany game due to a family commitment, but will be back for B.C. He and Shaffer will be joined up front by Chuck Chulada, who retired a few years ago after helping the Eagles capture national championships in the 1980s and 1990s, but made a comeback a week ago, playing tackle.

He will be switched to guard for the B.C. game, said quarterback and offensive coordinator
John Kennedy. Running back Gary Visnofsky also is called upon regularly to do double-duty along the offensive line.

Kennedy said he will rely heavily this week on an aerial attack with Louis Verdetto and Thad Witek, the league's No. 7 and No. 9 receivers, his primary targets. Verdetto has 18 catches for 279 yards and two TDs, while Witek has 17 for 213 yards and two TDs.

Among passers, Kennedy ranks fifth, completing 46 of 87 for 733 yards and nine TDs. He's been intercepted five times.

Defensively, veteran linebacker George Romiti is the league's leading tackler with 66, 28 solo, nine ahead of Watertown's Mike Dumau with 57.

For B.C, quarterback Ty Fish is a major weapon. He ranks third with 72 completions for 1,037 yards and four TDs. He's thrown the ball 139 times and was picked off three times.

The leading rushers for B.C. are Jemal Johnson, ranked No. 8, with 224 yards in 43 carries for a 5.2-yard average and Sam Ragsdale, No. 9, with 215 yards in 32 carries, a 6.7-yard average.
Andre Chollette leads Scranton's runners with 141 yards in 45 carries.

Another EFL leader for the Eagles is running back Rasheed Nelson who is ranked fourth in kickoff returns, 11 for 217 yards, an average of 19.7 yards per return. His longest covered 40 yards.

Next Saturday night Scranton will be home at Memorial Stadium against the third-place Bulldogs, 70-0 winners in their first meeting, but recently losers in three straight road games, including last week to B.C., 15-14.

"A lot of their guys don't make the road trips," Kennedy explained Tri-State's woes of late. "But you can bet they'll all come here. They're only about an hour away."

In the Bulldogs loss to B.C., Dragon linebacker Brandon Franklin blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt with 1:01 remaining to seal the victory.

"I told everybody before the snap, I was blocking this kick," Franklin said of the kick by the Bulldogs' Victor Ebert. "Brandon Franklin is the leader of this defense," Broome County coach
Thomas Manny said. "There is no doubt about it."

Colonials, Zephyrs take to the road today

By ERIC FONTES, The Leader-Herald

Amsterdam Zephyrs

With the calendar turning to Week 7, the season outlook is getting a little clearer for the two local semi-professional football teams. Unfortunately, not everyone likes what they are seeing.

With four games remaining in their respective 10-game seasons, both the Amsterdam Zephyrs (2-4) of the Empire Football League and the Glove Cities Colonials (0-6) of the New York Amateur Football League are looking up from the bottom of the standings.

Amsterdam coach Dom Ruggeri said the Zephyrs can still grab a playoff spot by winning two of their last four games. Meanwhile, Glove Cities coach Frank Van Skiver just wants to score a touchdown, let alone win a game.

It’s trying times for the two local teams, Ruggeri said. And with it being Week 7 already, time is running out.

“We can tell at this point [what needs to be done],” Ruggeri said. “We know basically what our strengths are and what are weaknesses our. So we’re trying to play to our strengths.”

Amsterdam Zephyrs (2-4) at Tri-State Bulldogs (3-3), 7:30 p.m.

The second time is always better than the first.

That’s what Ruggeri believes when it comes to facing the Tri-State Bulldogs for the second time after suffering a 37-7 loss July 8 in Amsterdam’s season opener.

“It helps us a lot because we know what they do,” Ruggeri said. “The first game we were going in blind. We didn’t have any game film and didn’t know what [plays] they liked to run.”

Now Amsterdam knows it will have to prepare for Tri-State quarterback Jay Hawes, who threw for 178 yards and four touchdowns in the first meeting. While Tri-State also rushed for 116 yards that day, Amsterdam was held without a first down for the first three quarters. So Ruggeri knows the offense will have to change some things in order to mount a few drives and keep its defense off the field.

Though the defense has been dominating at times, the offensive struggles have burdened them with staying on the field for long periods of time, Ruggeri said.

That was the case in last Saturday’s 41-7 loss to the unbeaten Albany Metro Mallers, he said, in which the offense’s turnovers gave the Metro Mallers excellent field position and the defense only gave up 14 points on its own accord.

What’s more, the Zephyrs have been ravaged by a string of injuries recently. In addition to some other players on the shelf, tailbacks Tim Stewart and Penta Thomas are sidelined. Ruggeri also said quarterback Eric Johnson is “playing on about one leg. His ankle is real bad.”

A couple weeks off following today’s game should help the Zephyrs, who are battling with Scranton and Broome County for the third and final playoff spot in their EFL division. With both those squads still on the schedule, the Zephyrs still control their own destiny.

Now it’s just a matter of fixing the problems that have plagued them the first six weeks and eliminating their inconsistencies.

“It is frustrating because this [Amsterdam] team does have a lot of talent,” Ruggeri said. “When they play to their capabilities, they are a very tough team to beat. Sometimes that youth and inexperience creeps in, it takes a while to get going, and it leads to the inconsistencies.”

Injury-ridden Zephyrs face tough task


Recorder Sports Staff

To say the Amsterdam Zephyrs semi-pro football team has a tough task ahead with the host Tri-State Bulldogs is an understatement.

With only four regular season games left, the injury-ridden Zephyrs are fighting for a playoff spot in the Empire Football League. Game time is 7:30 tonight.

These teams met in the first game of the season and Tri-State prevailed, 37-7.

In that game, Collis Martin had a big day with six catches, 90 yards and two touchdowns while Paul Reed hauled in five receptions, 69 yards and one score.

The Albany Metro Mallers lead the Southern Division with a 5-0 record followed by Broome County at 3-2, Tri-State Bulldogs 3-3, Scranton 1-3-1 and the Zephyrs 2-4.

A week ago, the Zephyrs took a double setback losing to Albany, 41-7, and then Broome County surprised Tri-State, 15-14.

The Zephyrs are hampered with so many injuries that head coach Dom Ruggeri will be suiting up preparing to play defensive tackle if necessary.

"We're banged up pretty bad. We're going to try and go down and steal one (victory). They're (Tri-State) tough at home. We have to win this game," said Ruggeri.

Of course, Tri-State has experienced its share of problems with a three-game losing streak falling to the Mallers, 17-13, Watertown, 44-31, and Broome County. Tri-State head coach Norm Mann faced his first two-game losing streak in 15 years and never lost three in a row until now.

"Our starting quarterback (Jay Hawes) had a pulled hamstring and missed a few games. He'll be fine Saturday and that is certainly good news. We're hungry for a win. We're taking it one game at a time," said Mann.

Reed is Tri-State's top receiver with 19 catches and 355 yards and four touchdowns and Martin has 22 receptions for 343 yards.

"I don't know how well Jay (Hawes) will play. It should be a very interesting game. I know the morale of our team is a whole lot better now," said Mann.

One of the bright spots for Amsterdam is former Maller Gabe Young who had two kickoff returns for 115 yards and caught two passes for 50 yards plus an outstanding performance on defense.

Penta Thomas is Amsterdam's leading rusher with 34 carries and 178 yards but is nursing a knee injury, and his status won't be known until game time.

Defensively, Rick Hulett is continuing his fine play at end with 5 1/2 sacks.

Ruggeri is hoping the Zephyrs can bring home a victory and then take care of the injuries with two weeks off. Amsterdam has a bye on Saturday, Aug. 26 and the league bye week is Saturday, Sept. 2.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

Watertown Red and Black at Albany Metro Mallers

When, where: 7:30 p.m., today, corner of Ontario Street and Clinton Avenue, Albany.

Records: Watertown (4-1); Albany (5-0).

Head coaches: Watertown, George Ashcraft; Albany, Luke Posniewski

Last meeting: Albany won 39-0, July 30, 2005.

NOTES: Heading into this battle of division leaders, the Metro Mallers are the league's only unbeaten team. ... Sylvester Cooperwood is the EFL's top rusher with 593 yards,while Scott Lawson is No. 2 in passing yards (1,113). ... With 127 yards against Vermont, Anthony Noel is now the league's third leading rusher (382). ... The Red and Black has been led by the defense as of late. Mike Dumaw is second in the EFL with 57 tackles, while Ben Pritchard, who has been deployed to Iraq, is the league-leader in sacks with eight.

Vermont Ice Storm at St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers

When, Where: 7:30 p.m., today; Sandstoner Park, Potsdam.

Records: Vermont (4-2); St. Lawrence Valley (0-6).

Head coaches: Vermont, Doug Perez; St. Lawrence Valley, Mike Britton.

Last meeting: Vermont won 40-0 on July 8.

NOTES: The Ice Storm lost its grip on the EFL Northern Division lead after falling to Watertown, 29-14, last week. ... Even without quarterback Dave Currier, the Trailblazers' defense anchored the load in a heartbreaking 7-2 loss to Ottawa last Saturday. ... St. Lawrence Valley surrendered its second-highest point total to Vermont in the EFL opener. ... Brad Ruderman tossed two touchdowns passes in Vermont's victory over the Trailblazers, and he leads the EFL in passing yards (1,181) and touchdowns (12).


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