Saturday, October 07, 2006

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 7th

The fresh new look of historic Bleecker Stadium on Saturday Night,  becomes the backdrop for what has become a regular occurrence as, the Albany Metro Mallers host an Empire Football League Playoff Game against the Bulldogs for the third straight season. As was the case in 2004, tomorrow's contest is for bragging rights in the EFL’s Southern Division and a berth in this years Empire Football League Championship Game next Saturday at either Watertown, NY or Colchester, VT. EFL teams from those towns are also battling it out on Saturday night, for the Northern Division crown. Last Season the Mallers and Bulldogs met at Bleecker Stadium in the EFL Championship, which was won by the Mallers to cap their undefeated regular and league campaign at 15-0.
This season the visiting Bulldogs,  formerly of Orange County have moved about fifteen minutes south of their old Monroe NY home to new high tech digs at Torne Valley, and adopted a new moniker, the Tri-State Bulldogs, have played an EFL only regular season earning second place in the 5 team south, finishing with a 7-3 record, which they followed up with a first round playoff win last week over Broome County to earn the trip to Albany.
    The defending champion Albany comes in at 9-1 in league play and 12-2 overall and a remarkable 3 season mark of 39-4 (.907) with solid performances on the offensive side of the ball as the Maller attack features: the league leader in rushing and scoring, by running back Sylvester Cooperwood with 1082 yards on 159 carries, 15 touchdowns and 100 points; along side Cooperwood,  Quarterback Scott Lawson, who continues to raise the bar for EFL Quarterbacks, with the top rating for QB’s for the second straight season at 125.9 in league play. Add to the totals Lawson's’ aerial mark of 2227 total yards  and 18 scoring strikes. In just his second season, Culture Branch ran away with the 2006 receiving marks leading the league with 48 catches for 1007 yards and 10 touchdowns.    
    Defensively, the Mallers are a solid unit behind veteran All-Americans Greg Woodward of Colonie and Anthony DeChairo of Albany. Safety Jeff Turman leads the league with 7 interceptions on the season but team defense, not individualism is the key to  the Maller Game plan behind Albany stalwarts Lawan Cancer, Brian Northern, Farid Baaklini, Brian “Nitro” Domingo, Terry “Father Time” Cumberbatch,  and Ray Russell. Meanwhile, Maller’s defensive depth of Carson Johnson, James Mitchell, Sean Singleton of Rotterdam, & Albany Conquest standout Agean Robinson interject their own quick hard hitting style in to the mix.
Albany’s Defense gave up just 101 points over the 10 game EFL season, a figure that came in just a touch above Tri State who only allowed 96.

Game time at Bleecker Stadium Saturday evening is 7:30 PM


Saturday, October 7, 2006                              

Vermont notebook
Published: Saturday, October 7, 2006
The Vermont Ice Storm continue their quest for the Empire Football League championship when they take on the Watertown Red and Black in the second round of the playoffs tonight in Watertown, N.Y.

Vermont (9-2) advanced to the Northern Division championship with a 34-14 win over the Lake City Stars last weekend in Colchester. Quarterback Brad Ruderman led the Ice Storm to their third win of the year over Lake City with four touchdown passes, taking his 2006 total against the Stars to 10.

Ruderman will have to continue his success in the air against a Watertown team that tied Vermont for the Northern Division regular-season title with an 8-2 record. In their previous meeting, a 29-14 Red and Black win Aug. 12, Ruderman threw an interception in Watertown's end zone and the Ice Storm were stopped on the goal line.

Watertown received a first-round bye in the EFL playoffs by virtue of their victory over Vermont. Today's winner will play either the Albany Metro Mallers or the TriCity Bulldogs for the EFL championship Oct. 14.


Ashcraft wants offense to carry Red and Black



Saturday, October 07, 2006

Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft is still waiting. He believes the team's offensive unit is capable of so much more than it has already displayed to this point in the season.

That might be a compliment, or it may be a challenge for the group, which scores 25.9 points per game. But the veteran coach knows Watertown's offense must put together a better showing tonight than it did during a victory over the Vermont Ice Storm on Aug. 12. Watertown won the game 29-14, but the defense accounted for 16 points.

As temperatures dropped Thursday night, the Red and Black offense worked to enhance its efficiency, and the team prepared for tonight's Empire Football League Northern Division championship game against the Ice Storm. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

"I don't think our offense has peaked yet," Ashcraft said Thursday. "We've had one 40-point game all year. Now's the time to do it."

Moving the ball wasn't the problem in the first game between the teams — Watertown finished with 397 total yards. Finishing off drives proved to be the challenge, as two series stalled near Vermont's goal line. The Ice Storm has averaged 27.6 points per game since. Watertown's offense is well aware it must contribute more on the scoreboard.

"We've got to be more aggressive. If not, it just won't work. We're in the playoffs now," running back Anthony Noel said. "People are shooting for us. They expect a lot out of us, and we should expect a lot out of ourselves. This is a championship team we have here."

In each of the past two seasons, Watertown has been just a step away from the EFL final. And in 2003, the Red and Black lost at the fairgrounds in the championship game to Glens Falls. While Watertown teams of the past few seasons were full of veterans, the 2006 version is more youth-oriented. Rookie receiver Lester Cole has made a significant impact. Noel is one of the league's top runners. On defense, first-year players Keith Jones, Anthony Okonji and Jamar Cherry give Watertown a dominant secondary. Ashcraft believes the influx of new faces provided for a refreshing atmosphere when the season began, even if he was unsure about pending success.


Watertown Red and Black players practice Thursday night at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds. Watertown hosts Vermont tonight for a chance to advance to the EFL championship game.

"There are so many new people, it's like they want to prove something every play," Ashcraft said. "Back in May, I wasn't sure how many games this team would win. I knew we'd win more than we lost.

"On this team, nobody lashes out, there's no bickering, and we haven't had any bitterness. I think that's hurt us in the past," he said. "It just has."

The bye week allowed Watertown to rest up for its latest title run. Several players nursed injuries, including Noel, who suffered several broken ribs in August.

"I'm definitely ready to go," Noel said. "I'm just going to run — look for my holes, and hit them."

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