Thursday, July 05, 2007

EFL Post Game Coverage June 17

Watertown Daily Times


Red and Black quarterback Todd Kiechle looks for an open receiver during Saturday's preseason game at the Duffy Fairgrounds.

Kiechle learns lesson in Watertown win

PRESEASON FOOTBALL: Red and Black quarterback aims to minimize mistakes, keep ball moving




Sunday, June 17, 2007

Todd Kiechle did what came naturally during the first quarter Saturday when the pocket collapsed and defensive linemen were in his face. He made guys miss, cut sharply and set his sights downfield.

There was just one problem, though. Kiechle dropped the ball.

The turnover proved insignificant as the Watertown Red and Black earned a 16-0 semipro football preseason victory over the Monroe County Sting at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

But the fumble's lesson was as clear as the magnifying glass that will likely examine Kiechle for much of his first season as the starting Watertown quarterback: His legs rarely fail, but it's time to put some trust in the right arm, too.

Kiechle isn't placing too much pressure on himself as he takes over for the departed Doug Black. The new QB knows his role, and he's the first to admit the Red and Black team passing records are safe for now.

"I'm not going to throw for 300 yards," Kiechle said. "Not a lot is asked of me. As a QB I know my No. 1 job is to take care of the ball and keep the guys together. Tonight I didn't take care of the ball as well as I can, and I have to improve on that."

Watertown has the resources to afford Kiechle plenty of time to adjust to the role of a full-time signal-caller. The Red and Black registered five sacks and forced four turnovers, and the offense generated 110 rushing yards. Anthony Noel's 12-yard touchdown run in the first quarter provided the necessary points. Mike Dumaw returned a fumble 18 yards for a score, and Leo Grant connected on a 30-yard, third-quarter field goal.

Kiechle considers himself fortunate to have such support so that he doesn't face the pressure to have to pour on the points or heave a 60-yard strike.

"We're going to hand it off, let the big guys up front do their work, and running backs hit the holes," he said. "Our defense is very strong. We shouldn't have to score a lot of points to win.

"When we have to, we have receivers to make the big plays. I know I'll have to step up and make some throws this year. But it doesn't always have to be a bomb. We can catch a 10-yard pass, and take it 30."

Kiechle finished with 13 yards on five rushes, and he completed five of 13 pass attempts for 142 yards. But that total was helped along by two plays each of 34 and 29 yards. Watertown's first completion didn't happen until the third quarter, but the running attack provided a cushion. When Monroe County threatened to mount an effective drive, Watertown's defensive line turned the Sting away.

"I think we just overpowered them," Watertown defensive lineman Rob Hughes said.

Kiechle said the team will lean on the defense and the running attack more than the quarterback. He prefers it that way. And, by delegating responsibility, he's already showing the traits of a strong leader.

Another one of his responsibilities is to try to minimize Watertown's offensive miscues. The defense can only be counted upon so many times to clean up the potential messes Saturday's two red-zone turnovers could have created.

"I liked everything I saw," Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft said. "Todd's one of those guys who can take off if nothing's there. He'll either turn something into nothing, or get sacked. As long as he doesn't fumble the ball, I can accept it. I think he'll be fine."

Copyright 2007. Watertown Daily Times, Inc., Watertown, NY. All rights reserved.



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