Sunday, July 08, 2007
EFL Press Coverage July 8, 2007
Storm stop Ravens
By Steven Frank
Free Press Staff Writer
July 8, 2007
COLCHESTER -- The Vermont Ice Storm used speed and experience to dominate the Vermont Ravens 41-0 in preseason semi-professional football action Saturday at an unseasonably cool and damp Colchester High School.
The Ice Storm's defense allowed negative yards from scrimmage and one Ravens' first down. They didn't punt until 5:38 left in the game, and that resulted in a Ravens fumble. The Ice Storm recovered, leading to a 7-yard scamper by Warren Bombardier for their seventh and final touchdown.
South Burlington's Jason Young got the Ice Storm on the board with 3:43 left in the first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown run. Kevin Fournier of Essex set up the score with a 20-yard fumble recovery on the Ravens' second possession of the game.
"We got speed and we were able to take off," Ice Storm coach Doug Perez said. "In a game like this, you just want to get the win and get out of here."
Milton's John Fahey ran 21 yards for the Ice Storm's second touchdown. Quarterback Brad Ruderman threw five first-down passes on an 88-yard, second-quarter drive that culminated with Essex Junction's Jedediah Randall's 1-yard touchdown run.
Ruderman's 14-yard touchdown pass to Austin Partain (Essex) and Brian Therrien 5-yard touchdown run rounded-out the Ice Storm's offensive explosion.
The Ravens, a new Class-A squad in the Northeast Independent Football League (NIFL), came into the game after just 11 practices and one scrimmage. Their regular season starts Sept. 1 against the Massachusetts Fury at Applejack Field in Manchester.
"The guys played well; they were aggressive. I'm proud of the way they reacted to adversity. They came in against a well-oiled machine," Ravens coach Mike Salmon said.
The Ice Storm, in their seventh season, are a Class-AAA team competing in the Empire Football League. They complete a 3-0 preseason and go on the road for their opening league game Saturday against the Chateauguay (Quebec) Titans.
WATERTOWN RED & BLACK
Head coach: George Ashcraft (17th season).
Assistant coaches: Offense, Justin Rich, Dan Carr, Kenny Anderson; Defense, Ernie Miller, Jon Fisher; Special teams, Eric Waters.
2006 record: 9-3, 8-2.
July 14: at Scranton; July 21: vs. St. Lawrence Valley; July 28: vs. Ottawa; Aug. 4: at Vermont; Aug. 11: at Lake City (Plattsburgh); Aug. 18: at Ottawa; Aug. 25: at St. Lawrence Valley; Sept. 8: vs. Chateauguay; Sept. 15: vs. Scranton; Sept. 22: vs. Amsterdam; Sept. 29: playoffs, first round; Oct. 6: playoffs, second round; Oct. 13: EFL championship.
ST. LAWRENCE VALLEY TRAILBLAZERS
Head coaches: Offense, Mike Britton (6th year); Defense and special teams, Jim Compeau (1st year).
Assistant coach: Offensive line, Ray Holz.
2006 record: 0-10.
July 14: vs. Ottawa; July 21: at Watertown; July 28: at Scranton; Aug. 4: vs. Amsterdam; Aug. 11: at Chateauguay; Aug. 18: vs. Scranton; Aug. 25: vs. Watertown; Sept. 8: at Lake City; Sept. 15: at Ottawa; Sept. 22: vs. Vermont.
POTSDAM — When Jim Compeau and Mike Britton were voted co-head coaches of the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers in January, they were eager for the opportunity to guide the franchise together in hopes of ushering in a new era.
After serving as the team's offensive coordinator for the past two seasons, Compeau couldn't wait to introduce a fresh defensive scheme and blitz package as the team's head defense and special teams coach.
Britton was relieved about being able to share the responsibilities after the Trailblazers stumbled to another winless campaign in 2006. Now, he can concentrate solely on his specialty — generating touchdowns and scoring points — as the team's head offensive coach.
The two football enthusiasts want to see St. Lawrence Valley succeed in the Empire Football League. Following five years of frustration, Compeau aimed to immediately change the program's course beginning in the preseason. He introduced a military workout similar to the training he received as a sergeant in the Army's 82nd Airbone Division in Fort Bragg, N.C. The regimen was centered around building speed, agility and stretching muscles the players didn't know existed.
"The players were starting to struggle a little bit at the end of games," Compeau said. "We needed to pick that intensity up.
"They were groaning and moaning. But they came up to me and actually thanked me. Some said it's the best shape they've been in in years."
Since the active roster currently has just over 30 players, several of the team's best athletes will play both ways. Veteran Joe Hutchinson is one of the Trailblazers' top two-way players and could see the results of the rigorous training in their preseason victory over Glove Cities on June 30.
"The more the game went on, the more prepared and rested I felt," Hutchinson said. "I was definitely less tired than I was last year, and we need to get as much as we can out of everyone."
Hutchinson is just one of a group of core players that's kept St. Lawrence Valley afloat in the EFL. Compeau's son, James, told his father that he wanted to participate in as many plays as possible this year. Everyone has matched James's motivation from the opening jog to the final sprints in practice.
But the most enjoyable sight is that all the negative banter from last year has ceased.
"It's a total switch," Jim Compeau said. "You don't hear the grumbling and mumbling. You don't hear the pessimistic attitude. Somewhere you have to draw a line in the sand. If you don't, then it's just a mess."
Not only is the team more relaxed, but Britton is as well. He said he went through a pensive period following the death of his mother, Rose, just before Christmas and his aunt, Anna Marie, five weeks later. He was able to figure out his purpose for directing this team.
"This game belongs to the players," Britton said. "We're not going after a championship. We want to make this a fun game."
Britton responded to his own analogy by decreasing the number of plays in his intimidating offensive playbook, which seemed to weigh as much as a cinder block.
"I've gone from a Manhattan phone book to St. Lawrence County," Britton said. "It's gone down from 500 some-odd pages to about 120, 150 at the most."
But don't be fooled by Britton's slightly relented stance. He still said the only way the Trailblazers will receive proper recognition is with victories. But he said the team has become a "brotherhood," and every player believes that wins are within their reach.
With Compeau and Britton leading the charge, perhaps this can be St. Lawrence Valley's year.
"They are a lot closer than they were in the past," Compeau said. "The new guys coming in are bringing fuel to the team. It's all gelling very nicely, and I think they'll grow closer as the season goes on."
CRYSTAL CITY 22, ST. LAWRENCE VALLEY 12
Eddie Winfield's 101-yard punt return for a touchdown allowed the Crystal City Dragons to hold off the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers in a preseason matchup Saturday at Sandstoner Park in Potsdam.
The Dragons also received 1-yard rushing touchdowns from Bob Morse and Rasheed Snow to build a 14-6 halftime lead. Crystal City's defense forced six turnovers, which included three interceptions against Trailblazers quarterback Dave Currier.
Currier threw for 258 yards a pair of touchdowns to guide the St. Lawrence Valley offense. He connected with Mike Montalvo for a 21-yard score in the first quarter, and tossed a 22-yard touchdown to James Compeau in the third. Eric LaValley hauled in five passes for 68 yards.
The Trailblazers stifled Crystal City's offense in the second half and registered three turnovers. Cheyenne Dashnaw and Ricky Delaney led the way with nine tackles apiece. Compeau and Norm Martel each added eight tackles.
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