Sunday, October 08, 2006

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 8th


Mallers reach title game


Staff reports
First published: Sunday, October 8, 2006

Tri-State Bulldogs kicker Steve Andreola missed a 28-yard field goal attempt with 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter to give the Albany Metro Mallers a 13-11 victory and propel them into the Empire Football League Championship game.

Sylvester Cooperwood scored on a 9-yard run and John Mulinio had a 5-yard reception for a touchdown for Albany.

With the victory, the Mallers (10-1) captured the EFL Southern Division title. The Mallers will travel to face the Northern Division champions, Watertown Red and Black, for the EFL crown Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Watertown defeated the Vermont Ice Storm to advance to the 37th EFL Championship game.

All Times Union materials copyright 1996-2006, Capital Newspapers Division of The Hearst Corporation, Albany, N.Y.



R&B survives Storm

TITLE GAME NEXT UP: Watertown celebrates chance for glory in EFL



Sunday, October 08, 2006

Troy Canada almost made it interesting.

The speedy Vermont kick returner received a kickoff after the Watertown Red and Black took a two-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's Empire Football League Northern Division championship game. He darted through the wedge, beat kicker Leo Grant and had a clear path to the end zone.

But he didn't see Brian Williams, who raced from behind, dove and got enough of his hand on Canada's ankle to make him step out of bounds at the Watertown 21. The Ice Storm couldn't score again, and the Red and Black claimed their second division title since 2003 with a 23-9 result at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Watertown will host the overall EFL title game next week, against either the Albany MetroMallers or Tri-State Bulldogs.

"I really believe to beat us at home, a team is going to need their best game," Watertown head coach George Ashcraft said. "I think our guys have one great one left in them."

It figured that Williams, a safety, came up with a big play, because the defense controlled the pace of the game.

"I just took an angle to try and save the touchdown," Williams said, "and actually caught his ankle."

The final score didn't fully reflect the superiority displayed by Watertown in the game. The Red and Black (9-2) held Vermont (9-3) to 143 total yards. When it had the ball, the Red and Black chewed up 240 yards on the ground, and Doug Black threw for 144 yards and three touchdowns. Lester Cole was on the receiving end of two, and he finished with eight catches for 81 yards.

"They clearly had the advantage in several areas," Vermont coach Doc Perez said.

On the game's opening drive, Anthony Noel (17 carries, 133 yards) broke free for runs of 21 and 22 yards that set up a 28-yard field goal by Grant. A few drives later, Ernie Miller covered 22 yards on a draw to set up Cole's first score. Vermont always seemed a step slow in trying to keep up with Watertown's variety in play-calling.

"(Coaches) gave me more options to change the plays at the line of scrimmage with what the defense is giving us," Black said. "On our first two touchdowns we (audibled), and our guys were wide open.


Watertown Anthony Noel runs for yardage as Vermont's Joe Barnier reaches to make a tackle during Saturday night's game.

"We're one game away. This is my 12th year and you don't get to these championship games too often. This is a big win for us."

Black also connected on a slant pass to Daniel Frazier, who finished it off with 29-yard jaunt to the end zone just before halftime.

The Ice Storm was successful on a few screen passes and a draw to Aaron Pyer that gained 13 yards, but Watertown's defense was never really in trouble. Vermont found the end zone just once — a 2-yard toss to Matt Bombardier.

Cornerback Keith Jones, who broke up three passes and recorded an interception, said he and the rest of Watertown's young defensive backs want to erase the notion that the secondary is the team's weak spot.

With the win, the Red and Black shut down an offense that had gained 2,047 yards through the air this season. "Each week we try to make a statement," Jones said. "People should definitely see now that secondary is not this team's weak link."

"I've got to give the secondary credit," said defensive lineman Dan Robl, who led the team with 11 tackles and a blocked punt. "We didn't get as much pressure up the middle or the sacks we had last time against them."

In 2003, over 3,000 fans watched as the Red and Black dropped the title game 30-6 to visiting Glens Falls. Watertown lost in August to Albany by a touchdown, and defeated the Bulldogs in July. Does Watertown feel confident it can come up with enough plays to win just once more, and claim a trophy that has eluded it since 1980?

"We have to," Robl said. "It's our only choice."


Titans bite the dust...again
Dan Rosenburg

The Chateauguay Titans' Empire Football League finale a week ago last Saturday night at Billings was a case of "déja vu all over again," as Yogi Berra might have phrased it.

"Trailing Lake City Stars 27-22 with under five minutes remaining, we threw an interception on the five-yard line," lamented Titans offensive co-ordinator Jeff Craig, who is also a member of the club's three-man administration committee, along with Pat Element and Nick Sarantinos. "Then Lake City ran out the clock."

After falling behind 8-0, the Titans awoke with Michael Coles connecting on a two-yard touchdown run. The Stars went ahead 14-6 in the second quarter, but the tenacious Titans tied it 14-14 on a four-yard pass from Kevin Wyeth to Geoff Brown and two-point conversion toss to Akked Moore.

After Lake City snapped the stalemate with a converted major, Andrew Blevings crashed over from the two-yard line. Raiders' head coach John Mouland made like a riverboat gambler. He opted for a two-point convert which succeeded in the form of a pass to Brown. The Titans now led 22-21.

"The rest pretty much describes our season," said Craig. "Following another Lake City touchdown, we had the chance to take the lead but came up short again." The Titans thus finished with a lacklustre 3-7 record, their worst ever.

The game marked Craig's last as offensive co-ordinator, "but I will continue to run the team along with the rest of the board of directors," he explained. "Me coaching was a one-year deal. I was only there because no one else wanted the job. It is not easy finding coaches for this level (semi-pro) of football."

Mouland has been invited to return and he has accepted. The onus will be on him to recruit a coaching replacement for Craig, whose wife Janice has just given birth to a baby boy named Hayden Fitzgerald Craig.

"John's top priority as head coach for the 2007 campaign is to find himself a qualified staff," Craig emphasized, "starting with the offensive and defensive co-ordinators." Mouland doubled as defensive co-ordinator this past season "in 2007 he will be head coach only," Craig announced.

"As for the players, we expect the majority to return. With the addition of a few junior graduates, we should be able to bounce back from our 2006 performance and contend next season.," Craig concluded, hopefully.

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