Saturday, August 25, 2007

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage August 25th

Stars' future can still include playoffs

Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH -- The young Lake City Stars were thrust into another change last Saturday as Kellen Nolan made the switch from defensive back to quarterback, replacing the departed Matt Bezio.
The Stars weren't able to find the end-zone, but showed glimpses that fortunes could be turning the corner in a 10-0 defeat to the undefeated Vermont Ice Storm.
Brandon Keleher rushed for 70 yards on 15 carries to lead the way as Lake City wnet over 100 yards rushing in the contest with 133 and nearly five yards per carry.
Nolan, who guided the Stars at quarterback last season, was hesitant in his first stint under center, but completed 7-of-22 passes for 80 yards and an interception. Matt St. Clair hauled in five passes for 70 yards.
The Stars' defense again was strong in defeat, limiting a powerful Ice Storm offense to just 10 points in the game.
Lake City still has a lot of work to do to make it into the Empire Football League playoffs, but a small step could be taken tonight as the Stars face off against the Chateauguay Titans (3-3), out of Quebec, who currently reside just ahead of them in the standings.
Tonight's game gets underway at 7:30 p.m. in Chateauguay.
The Titans fell to Amsterdam a week ago, 35-28, after holding a 28-21 lead late in the fourth quarter.
The Zephyrs' Elijah White scored a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining to tie the game. On the ensuing kickoff, however, Chateauguay fumbled the ball giving Amsterdam a short field, and White won the game with a 13-yard tochdown scamper.
The Titans' Kevin Wyeth was 19-of-28 throwing the ball for 187 yards and a three touchdowns. Zan Symonds added 84 yards on four completions and a touchdown.
Sean Kennedy (6-for-78), James Treldon (4-for-77) and Akked Moore (6-for-66) hauled in a total of 16 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns.
The EFL is off next week for Labor Day weekend. With a win tonight, Lake City could move within just a half game of Chateauguay and the Titans still hold contests against Watertown, Vermont and Ottawa -- all on the road.
The Stars, after tonight's game, will finish their season with home games against St. Lawrence Valley and Amsterdam, followed by a road contest against Scranton.
Despite such a poor start in the victory department, Lake City's road to the playoffs still looks favorable, but will definitely need a win tonight and a little help.
Last Week
Vermont Ice Storm 10, Lake City Stars 0
Amsterdam Zephyrs 35, Chateauguay Titans 28
Watertown Red & Black 20, Ottawa Deacon Demons 14
Scranton Eagles 25, St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers 19

This Week
Amsterdam at Vermont Ice Storm
Lake City Stars at Chateauguay Titans
Ottawa Deacon Demons at Scranton Eagles
Watertown Red & Black at St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers


Watertown Daily Times

 Trailblazers try to hang tough

EMPIRE FOOTBALL LEAGUE: St. Lawrence Valley gets most out of dwindling number of players




Saturday, August 25, 2007

POTSDAM — The head coaches of the Empire Football League should strongly consider looking at one team when deciding on this year's Ironman Award.

Any of the remaining players on the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers could be in line for the recognition. The squad is once again facing the unfortunate circumstance of filling in the holes left by injured or departed players. As a result, the best athletes participate on almost every snap.

The Ironman Award, which is one of several awards presented in October following the conclusion of the EFL season, can be explained or defined in a plethora of ways. Trailblazers offensive coach Mike Britton describes an "ironman" as someone who "does an outstanding job in all levels of the game."

Britton and defensive coach Jim Compeau can check off several viable candidates on this year's team.

"It's been a tough adjustment, but the guys want to do it," Compeau said. "They actually are coming to us and asking to play those positions. And the ones that want to do it are natural athletes."

The latest example is veteran lineman Norm Martel. Not only is he currently ranked third on the team in tackles, but he volunteered to play center for the first time two weeks ago at Chateauguay. Starting center Gordie Leonard suffered a knee injury, and his return to the field this season is questionable.

"It's worked out well, but the injuries are taking a toll at this point," Compeau said. "So, now we have more players going both ways than we had before."

Compeau's son, James, is the epitome of an "ironman" player for St. Lawrence Valley. He plays every down except for punts. He's the team's top running back and defensive back, and even earns time at safety. He's also recorded the most interceptions (four) and logged the most yards on kickoff returns.

But for the first time, Jim said his son is beaten up, and James wishes they had more help.

"Every practice we have is critical," James said. "To see someone come once a week or not at all, it's not going to help us at all. We need those guys that want to play and be here to play in the positions we need."

St. Lawrence Valley had approximately 25 players in uniform in last week's slim defeat to Scranton. Quarterback Christopher Tom orchestrated two touchdown drives and nearly notched a third to almost complete a late-game comeback. Tom stepped in as the team's primary signal-caller three weeks ago after providing admirable performances at wide receiver and defensive back.

You also can't forget starting wideout Danny Staton, who volunteered to return to his natural position as a defensive back against Chateauguay.

"I first converted from defensive back to a wide receiver mostly because of my speed, and my hands developed after a while," Staton said. "(The adjustment) hasn't really been hard. I've been waiting four years to play defensive back."

Granted, the coaches would never nominate the Trailblazers for the Ironman Award as a team since they're forced into this scenario every season. But Martel, Compeau, Tom, Staton and others deserve mention for grinding it out on every snap.

More importantly, it's those core players who are keeping the franchise afloat, hoping that victories will soon follow.

"That's why everyone keeps coming back," Compeau said. "It's these guys that know we have a chance that keep coming back."


James Compeau passes the ball during the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers' practice Tuesday in Potsdam.

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



Zephyrs hit the road looking to avenge loss

By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald

Published on Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Leader-Herald/Bill Cain
Amsterdam quarterback Ken Shaffer (12) gets the pass away as Tarquan Pearman (15) blocks Chateauguay's Sabastien Archambault (5) and Amsterdam's Mike Philo (5) and Jay Garvey (73) protect him on his left in an Empire Football League game at Lynch Middle School in Amsterdam August 18.

COLCHESTER, Vt. — The Amsterdam Zephyrs have had only two hiccups this season.

They avenged the second last week when they beat the Chateauguay Titans 35-28. They'll get a chance to pull themselves within a game of first place if they can manage a win against the first-place Vermont Ice Storm, which enters today's game with a 6-0 record.

"It's going to be very difficult," Amsterdam coach Dominic Ruggeri said. "The guys know they play very good football. They're sound and very disciplined. We have to play mistake-free. We can't afford a big mistake or we're going to be in trouble."

The Ice Storm beat the Zephyrs 26-14 at Lynch Middle School during the second week of the season after some sloppy play cost Amsterdam 14 points and the victory. After the game ended, Ruggeri said his team gave the win away.

"We've been waiting for this one," Ruggeri said. "We knew that if you take them away, we had them beat at home. We're really looking forward to this one."

Brad Ruderman did most of Vermont's damage through the air the last time the two teams met up, completing 18 of 30 passes for 268 yards with a touchdown. He hit Rob Joy six times for 105 yards and threw a touchdown to Troy Canada.

The rushing game wasn't effective, as the Zephyrs allowed only 43 total yards on the ground, 18 to Jason Young and 15 to Akeem Williams.

"We're going to make some changes defensively to match up to their passing game," Ruggeri said. "They weren't able to run on us the first game. We have to play much better in the secondary."

The Zephyrs are looking to patch up a defense that allowed 287 yards in the air as the Chateauguay Titans exploited the Zephyrs' secondary.

"We had some blown coverages and guys weren't dropping in their areas," Ruggeri said. "They did tightening up when they needed to, but they were giving up too much in the meantime."

Special teams nearly undid the Zephyrs last week as the kickoff return squad let two possessions go back over to the Titans.

"I [focused Thursday] on special teams," Ruggeri said. "We're going to really work on that. The focus is special teams and cutting down on mistakes."

Ken Shaffer was just as effective through the air, completing 20-of-41 for two touchdowns. Cedrick Pearman hauled in 10 of those passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and eight passes for 85 yards to Evan DeGeorgio.

Offensively, Amsterdam has some new weapons to bring to bear against the Ice Storm. Last week, the Zephyrs added Elliot Swint, who contributed a long kickoff return, and Bo Geaudreu, who caught two passes for 29 yards and saw some time at defensive tackle.

The Zephyrs also added Chucky Dukes, who Ruggeri expects to help shore up the running game.

"I think Chucky's going to be a big asset," Ruggeri said. "He's a top-notch tailback. He's been out of the game about five years, but he's going to be ready to go. I would anticipate about 10 to 12 plays out of Chucky this week."

The offense got itself going against the Titans last Saturday as Shaffer completed 15 of 24 passes for 175 yards, completing five each to Cedrick Pearman and Eric Johnson, who Ruggeri said could be a big key in tonight's game.

"They're going to be so concentrated on other guys that Eric can have a big game," he said. "He made some big catches for us last week. He's one of the guys that knows where the sticks are."

Tonight's game will have serious implications on the Empire Football League playoffs, as Ruggeri said if the Zephyrs win by 12 points, they'll have home-field advantage over the Ice Storm if both teams have identical records at the end of the season.

"The guys are really focused and we've been waiting for this one," Ruggeri said. "We're going into the lion's den and we really have to come out fighting."

Zephyrs facing key game


Recorder Sports Staff

Amsterdam Zephyrs head coach Dom Ruggeri is describing tonight's road game against the Vermont Ice Storm as "huge" for the team's playoff standing.

With a record of 4-2, Amsterdam has a strong hold on an Empire Football League playoff spot. More importantly, the Zephyrs are in contention for the East Division championship, which would include a first-round bye. Vermont is currently 6-0, and an Amsterdam loss would make its chances of catching the Ice Storm difficult at best. Vermont defeated Amsterdam 26-14 at Lynch Middle School on July 21.

Ruggeri says the key to the early season loss to Vermont were two critical errors.

"We made bad mistakes that were really uncharacteristic of this football team. We made mistakes on our part and they capitalized,"Ruggeri said. "They are a disciplined, good football team that plays well at home. It's like going into the lion's den. It's going to be tough."

In the teams' first meeting, Vermont scored a touchdown on a hook and ladder reception with no time left on the clock in the first half. Amsterdam also botched a punt that allowed Vermont to score another touchdown. "Take away those two scores in that time period of a minute and a half and we beat them," said Ruggeri.

Despite being on the road and the early season loss, Ruggeri says his team is ready for the big game.

"They are really focused this week. We are stressing special teams going into this game. We can't make any mistakes on the road. My guys are going to go up and fight to the end. They know it's a huge game," said Ruggeri.

Last week Amsterdam moved fullback Elijah White over to tailback. The move worked out, as White rushed for three touchdowns in the 35-28 win over the Chateauguay Titans to move Amsterdam into second place in the EFL East.

"Elijah is coming into his own. He is a powerful guy who is gaining confidence with every game. He is going to get even better as he gets stronger and more confident," Ruggeri said.

Amsterdam could get a big boost this week with the announcement of the acquisition of Chuckie Dukes from Colonie. Dukes helped Colonie High School win the only Section 2 championship in the program's history back in 1988. Dukes went on to have a successful career at Boston College and then played for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Ruggeri says Dukes, who now in his mid-30s and has not played football in six years, is in shape and ready to play.

"Chuck Dukes will play at tailback this week. Chuck is in phenomenal shape and he is healthy. He looks like he has not lost a step at all. He is eager to get going and help us make a push. He is going to be an asset and help Elijah come along," said Ruggeri.

Despite last week's win, Amsterdam let Chateauguay hang around. Ruggeri has made some defensive alignments in preparation for Vermont in hopes reducing the opponent's score, something that has been more difficult to do since the injury to defensive end Rick Hulett. Ruggeri calls Hulett the most dominant defensive player in the EFL.

"We lost Hulett, which is a big hole to fill. We moved around guys' positions to try to counter balance Vermont's quick and skilled receivers. We have to make sure we don't give them the easy score and let them go the distance of the field," said Ruggeri.



Ice Storm sit 10th nationally

August 25, 2007
The Vermont Ice Storm has cracked the top 10 in the national coaches poll published by nationalfootball-

The Ice Storm secured the No. 10 position.

"The ranking is a tremendous accomplishment for the entire organization," said head coach Doc Perez in a news release. "We have been putting the pieces together for seven years and are beginning to see the hard work pay off.

"We can't celebrate too much. An extremely talented football team is coming to town (tonight) and we need to be ready to play.

Vermont is 6-0 in the Empire Football League and 9-0 overall. The Ice Storm is scheduled to play the Amsterdam Zephyrs at Colchester High School at 7:30 p.m. today. Amsterdam is second in the league with a 4-2 record.

Central Piranha (7-0) of Pennsylvania is the top-ranked team in the coaches poll, followed in order by the 10-0 King County (Wash.) Jaguars, the 7-0 Dallas Diesel, the 9-0 Pittsburgh Colts, the 8-0 Boston Panthers, the 6-0 Detroit Seminoles, the 6-0 Virginia Ravens, the 8-0-1 South Jersey Lynx and the 7-0 Prince William (Va.) Monarchs.







Eagles battling financial woes


The Scranton Eagles are fighting for their life.

As the Eagles prepare for tonight's 7:30 game against the Ottawa Demon Deacons, the team has fallen into desperate financial straits. So bad, in fact, there is a distinct possibility they may not finish the 2007 season.

According to General Manager Ben Simmons, the combination of a decline of sponsorship revenue and poor drawing at the box office have brought the Eagles to this point.

"Right now, it's the crowds that are the big thing. It's the thought that we've had big crowds over the years," Simmons said. "We are just not getting the crowd size that a sponsor needs."

Another factor in the decline in attendance is the constant struggle for the area's entertainment dollar.

"I think the real decline started when the Red Barons came to town (in 1989)," Eagles vice-president and head coach Mike Arcure said. "Now, you have the Penguins, movie theaters, concerts. There is just so much more now to do in this area."

The term "semi-pro" is a misnomer. The Eagles' players do not draw a salary. Monies derived from the team's revenue streams help defray the cost of team expenses, including stadium rental, referee's fees, uniforms, medical tape for players and travel costs. While the team furnishes jerseys and game pants, a player is responsible for the remainder of his equipment.

Despite the off-field problems, the Eagles bolstered their kicking game this week when they signed former kicker Scott Perry. Perry, an Abington Heights and Moravian College product, first played with the Eagles in 1989. Perry holds the team record with a 54-yard field goal set in 1996.

The Eagles (2-4), sit just a half-game behind second-place Ottawa in the EFL Western Division. The top three teams in the division will make the league playoffs.

"On the field, this team is good enough to make the playoffs and possibly win the championship," Scranton Eagles team president and linebacker George Romiti said. "Off the field, it's been tough to pay the bills. Every week, we scrimp and scrape to pay them."

Ottawa (2-3-1) defeated the Eagles 49-0 at home in week two. Since that game, however, the Eagles have gone 2-2, with the two losses coming by a combined four points.

"Since the last time that we played them, we've moved some players into different positions," Arcure said. " Phil Ross has seen more time at tailback and Cory Champi has played some wide receiver."

Last week, Ross ran for 61 yards on eight carries while Champi grabbed a pair of passes for 63 yards in the victory over St. Lawrence.
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