Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ruggeri leaves Zephyrs after breakout season

Ruggeri leaves Zephyrs after breakout season
Recorder Sports Staff
Football season may be over for teams in Amsterdam, but that does not mean there isn't a buzz about the sport going on. The city's resident semi-pro football team, the Amsterdam Zephyrs announced the resignation of their head coach Dom Ruggeri.

Ruggeri and team owner Tony Marotta both say the resignation was due to personal reasons.
"There was a combination of things, but 90 percent of it was my family," said Ruggeri. "In February we start recruiting and meeting players. Going from February to November makes it very difficult to commit 110 percent like I have the last two years and give the organization my best. I did not want to slight them or the players. The other 10 percent pertains to my job. It has nothing to do with the management of the Zephyrs or the organization. It was a difficult decision but it is something that had to be done."

"I think he just wanted to be home more," said Marotta. "I think he thought it was too much for him. He left on good terms. It was all his call."

The Zephyrs have shown consistent improvement in their on-field performance since their inception in 2005. In their inaugural season, with Marotta as head coach, the Zephyrs went 1-9. Ruggeri was hired in 2006 and brought the team to 2-8. This past season Amsterdam made to the Empire Football League playoffs but lost in the first round. They finished 5-5 overall.

"The team is going in the right direction," said Ruggeri. "I encourage anyone interested to get involved or play for the Zephyrs organization. I think they're a class organization that is doing a lot for the city. I do, however, think that the city government needs to do more to support the Zephyrs, and not just the [Amsterdam] Mohawks [collegiate baseball team]."

"We had improvement over the years," said Marotta. "There has been a greater influx of players. We went from 28 players in 2005 to nearly 50 in 2007. It's a growing entity that is starting to catch on, and we're doing a lot for Amsterdam," said Marotta.

Marotta would not say what candidates he is considering for the job but said it would be a decision made by the front office and the coaching staff. Marotta said general manager/assistant coach Joe Hall, offensive coordinator Mike Finocchi, defensive coordinator Jim Schurr and others would be involved in the process.

Marotta also spoke of what qualities he is looking for in his new head coach.
"We want to get to the next level. We want a coach who has more experience in semi-pro football. We made it to the playoffs but now we want to win the championship,"Marotta said. "We want more of a controlled team that is regimented and focused on football. We aren't going to let players skip practice or take days off."

As for Ruggeri, his retirement was short-lived. Two days after resigning from the Zephyrs, Ruggeri accepted the job as the Albany Metro Mallers' assistant head coach for their post-season run.

Albany has traditionally been Amsterdam's biggest rival until the Mallers left the EFL prior to the 2006 season. Albany left the EFL for the North American Football League, a national semi-pro organization.

The Mallers play in the NAFL Eastern Conference's North Atlantic Region in the Empire Division. The Mallers made it all the way to the NAFL championship game called the Harvest Bowl at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando last season. The team won their division again in 2007 and has picked up Ruggeri for the post-season run in hopes of returning to Orlando.

Albany fired its head coach and defensive coordinator prior to the national tournament.
Ruggeri stresses that the offer came after Mallers management found out about his resignation.
"I was retired all of two days and I was approached and accepted an offer from the Mallers to coach the team for the Harvest Bowl run," Ruggeri said. "It is just for the Harvest Bowl run. They approached me after I resigned. The key word is after. I did not leave Amsterdam to go to Albany."

Ruggeri spoke about his new position with the Mallers and his future.
"Anytime two coaches are let go and someone comes in, it can be chaotic," said Ruggeri. "I would consider a full-time position with the Mallers if they were interested but at this point, it's not even being discussed. I'm not busy at this time of the year but after the first of the year, it changes. They were our rival. It's hard for me to go from here to there."

Ruggeri is a Broadalbin resident and played for Bishop Scully High School in his teen years. His first game as Albany's assistant head coach will be this weekend against the Monroe County Sting.

The Zephyrs are expected to make an announcement on their new head coach in the coming weeks.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Supporters brave rain to raise money

Up on the Roof

Supporters brave rain to raise money

By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald

Published on Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Leader-Herald/Richard Nilsen

Rich Sager of the Amsterdam Zephyrs football team prepares to lower a bucket to collect a donation for the Little Giants Football Team from the top of Riverfront Center in Amsterdam Saturday.

View additional photos and order prints online at

It started with a challenge from Tony Centi of the Crystal Ristorante.

The group on the roof of Riverfront Center in Amsterdam had brought tents to stay as long as needed to raise the $1,500 they had set as a goal to help support Little Giants Football in Amsterdam.

"Centi challenged Joe Isabel to do a fundraiser from the roof top," Joe Altieri said. "Centi said he'd pay $5 for every call he got for his Saturday morning 'Swap Shop' show on WCSS radio."

Altieri said his production coordinator, Rebecca Persico "took it from there."

"It just snowballed," Persico said.

The rain was falling Saturday, but spirits didn't seem dampened on the roof as Rich Sager of the Zephyrs semi-pro football team lowered a bucket for donations from below.

"I'm psyched," Persico said. "I'm ready to do it again."

With the volunteers for the fundraiser were "Chives" Marino, 10 and Dominick Altieri, 11, also known as "Chives Fabozzi and Jonny Q" for their Sunday evening sports show broadcast on WCSS. Marino is a player on the team.

Little Giants president Tony Marotta said the money would be used for field expenses at Lynch Middle School.

"It's for kids from 7 to 12 years of age," Marotta said.

"We've gone well beyond our goal," Altieri said.

Persico said it was a great experience in spite of the rain.

"We had to pick the one day all week it rained," Altieri said.

Persico said she didn't care.

"I'm ready to turn around and do it all over again for someone else," she said.

Richard Nilsen is a general assignment reporter and can be reached at

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Semi-pro Football HQ Scoreboard 10/20/2007 thru 10/21/2007

+ Semi-pro Football HQ Scoreboard
+ 10/20/2007 thru 10/21/2007
+ Please submit corrections and omissions to

*** Big East Football Federation ***
New York State Broncos 16, Jersey (NJ) Cynder 6
New York Venom 18, New Jersey Longhorns 6

*** LaBelle Community Football League ***
Bakersfield (CA) Panthers 38, Southern California Apaches 6
California Longhorns 12, Soboba (CA) Warriors 7
Compton (CA) Jaguars 33, West Coast (CA) Sharks 14
Desert Valley (CA) Spartans 14, Valley (CA) Trojans 7
Foothills (CA) Firehawks 23, Southern California Steelers 0
Inglewood (CA) Blackhawks 26, Barstow (CA) Riffians 12
Long Beach (CA) Lions 21, San Luis Obispo (CA) Panthers 6
Moreno Valley (CA) Mercury 19, California Dolphins 12
North County (CA) Cobras 28, Westside (CA) Warriors 12
Tri-County (CA) Titans 26, Los Angeles (CA) Scorpions 20 (OT)

*** Mid-States Football League ***
Chicago (IL) Thunder 36, Bolingbrook (IL) Buccaneers 7

*** Midwest Football League ***
Adams County (IN) Patriots 32, Indianapolis (IN) Dragons 7

*** New England Football League ***
Kennebec Valley (ME) Tigers 20, Monadnock (NH) Marauders 17
Leominster (MA) Razorbacks 18, Mid Coast (ME) Chaos 13
Lowell (MA) Nor'easter 13, New England (MA) Hawks 10
Mass State Warriors 13, Bay State (MA) Renegades 12
Middleboro (MA) Cobras 42, Southern Maine Raging Bulls 14
Mill City (MA) Maulers 38, Middlesex (MA) Mayhem 19
North Shore (MA) Generals 33, Manchester (NH) Devils 0
Whaling City (MA) Clippers 36, Woonsocket (RI) Sentinels 0

*** New York Amateur Football League ***
Central New York Express 52, Lyndonville (NY) Tigers 0
Monroe County (NY) Sting 26, Buffalo (NY) Gladiators 22

*** NFE Mid-States Football Tournament ***
Racine (WI) Threat 20, Burlington (WI) Blue Devils 17

*** North American Football League ***
Alabama Lightning 31, Nashville (TN) Storm 24
Asheville (NC) Grizzlies 34, Georgia Ragin' Bulls 7
Central Penn Piranha 13, South Jersey Lynx 7
Dallas (TX) Diesel 24, Bay Area Pearland (TX) Gamblers 20
Kane County (IL) Eagles 44, Pittsburgh (PA) Colts 21
New England (CT) Knights 23, Charlestown (MA) Townies 20
New Jersey Terminators 22, Rochester (NY) Redhawks 8
Western Mass Blitzin' Bears 26, Brockton (MA) Buccaneers 21

*** North American Football League 2 ***
Beaufort (SC) Broncos 7, Upstate (SC) Vikings 0
Panhandle (FL) Tigers 12, Pensacola (FL) Wolfpack 2

*** Northeast Independent Football League ***
Exeter (NH) Gamblers 36, Central Maine Warriors 0
Mass Fury 22, UMaine Black Bears 6
Vermont Ravens 10, UVermont Catamounts 7

*** Regional Atlantic Football League ***
New York Predators 12, Brooklyn (NY) Jazz 0
Prince William (VA) Monarchs 34, Metro (DC) Nemesis 6

*** Southeastern American Football League ***
Atlanta (GA) Prime 7, Carolina (SC) Express 3

*** Southern American Football League ***
Lake Charles (LA) Riverkats 36, Southwest Louisiana Spartans 6

*** Southwest Football League ***
Central Coast (CA) Grizzlies 10, San Diego (CA) Thunder 7 (OT)

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Semiprofessional sports hall of fame in Watertown?

Semiprofessional sports hall of fame in Watertown?
Updated: 10/20/2007 12:51:01 PM
By: Brian Dwyer

With every touchdown run, Watertown's semi-professional football team, the Red & Black, makes history. It's the oldest semi-pro team in the nation, having started all the way back in 1896.

But it's not just football. Semi-pro baseball in Watertown has been dated back to 1874.

And now, the city is hoping to honor those teams and every other semi-pro team in the nation since, with something this country doesn't have... A semi-professional sports hall of fame.

"Growing up here, I've always been a big fan of the Red & Black and followed them." Watertown City Councilman Tim LaBouf said. "I think it's time that we really honor them and showcase all of their talent and achievements."

"To let people that come downtown be able to step in out of the weather or whatever and be able to see really everything, I think it's awesome." Red & Black Head Coach George Ashcraft said.

But this isn't just about semi-pro teams. The hall would also include local teams like the Watertown Wizards College Baseball Team, other local college teams, and even area high schools.

"I've taken a look at other cities around New York State that have high school hall of fames." Watertown Wizards President Paul Simmons said. "I think it's time to showcase what our kids have done."

"I just really believe this is not only going to help honor and showcase the talent we have in our community, and have had had over the years, but it's also going to create a destination." LaBouf added.

As for where it'll go? Well if it's about history, why not one of the most historic places in the city, here at the Paddock Arcade.

The arcade's owner, Don Coon, has already agreed to donate space for the hall.

LaBouf hopes to have the hall finished by next year. There's plans for a grand opening ceremony, with national representatives once the building is complete.

More Information
Semi-professional Sports Hall of Fame

No tradition is bigger than that of Watertown's semi-pro football team, the Red & Black. That team is the oldest of its kind in the country dating back to 1896.

Copyright © 2007 TWEAN d.b.a. News 10 Now

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Vermont Ice Storm head to nationals

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Storm head to nationals

By Bill O'Connor
Free Press Staff Writer

October 19, 2007
The Vermont Ice Storm are advancing to the national semiprofessional football playoffs, accepting an invitation to the Harvest Bowl.

The Colchester-based team is the No. 5-ranked semipro team in the nation and completed its regular season with a 15-0 record. The Ice Storm defeated the Watertown (N.Y.) Red & Black 9-8 on Saturday in the Empire Football League championship game.

Head coach Doc Perez said that the team's decision to continue its season at the national level was unanimous.

"We gave the players the whole hard work and sacrifice speech," he said. "They all wanted to keep going, though."

Perez said that going to the nationals could mean additional expenses and lots of travelling for the players.

The Harvest Bowl kicks off Nov. 3 and the Ice Storm will most likely play host to a first-round game at Colchester High School, depending on the team's seeding.

The Ice Storm have enjoyed success all season long, and as a result, 20 Vermont players have been selected to the EFL Eastern Division All-Stars.

Winning first-team honors on offense are: quarterback Brad Ruderman, who was also named the Eastern Division Offensive MVP for the second year in a row; wide receiver Rob Joy; offensive tackle Nate Furlong; offensive guard Jon Dubuc; and center Jeff Miller. Wideout Troy Canada also made the first-team as a kick-return specialist.

Making the first team on defense were linebackers Kevin Fournier and Donny Lafleur, defensive backs Kyle Bombardier and Scott Dennis, defensive tackle Lloyd White and defensive end Del Randall. Dennis also received the Eastern Division Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Second-team honors went to halfback Jason Young, fullback Jedediah Randall, offensive tackle Steve Rugar, wideout Austin Partain, defensive back Drew Gordon, linebackers Aaron Pyer and Chris Coppins, and place kicker Evan Hicks.

Perez was also honored as the Eastern Division Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Empire Football League Announces Vermont Ice Storm as 2007 EFL Champions

(PRWEB) October 17, 2007 -- The Empire Football League is proud to announce the Vermont Ice Storm as its 2007 EFL Champions. Vermont won their Empire Football League title Saturday over the Watertown Red & Black in one the the most exciting EFL Championship Games in recent years.

The Ice Storm defeated the Watertown Red & Black by the unusual score of 9-8 to complete a 15-0 season and secure the Empire Football League Championship. The Ice Storm led 3-0 until a fumbled punt return led to a Watertown score that made it 8-3 with four minutes left. The team drove 66 yards downfield and scored the game-winning touchdown with four seconds left on a 4-yard Brad Ruderman pass to Rob Joy.

EFL Playoffs & Championship Game Video
(click here):

The EFL is also proud to announce their All Star Selections for 2007
(click here):

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Empire Football League Announces Vermont Ice Storm as 2007 EFL Champions

I thought the following story would be of interest to you.

Empire Football League Announces Vermont Ice Storm as 2007 EFL Champions

To read the entire story, visit


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Monday, October 15, 2007

Sports hall of fame proposed for Paddock Arcade

Watertown Daily Times
Sports hall of fame proposed for Paddock Arcade

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Watertown sports aficionados plan to create a hall of fame anchored around the nation's oldest semiprofessional football team in the oldest continually operating mall.

Members of the city sports community and the owners of the Paddock Arcade want to create a gallery for sports memorabilia dedicated to Watertown's past and present semiprofessional teams, said city Councilman Timothy R. LaBouf.

The mayoral contender announced the plan at a meeting Wednesday originally scheduled as a public appearance for his campaign.

Two or three storefronts on the second floor of the 157-year-old building will be earmarked for the hall, said Donald G.M. Coon III, managing partner of 200 Washington Street Associates, which owns the building.

"I can provide the bricks and mortar, but you need to get the nuts and bolts together," Mr. Coon said.

Red and Black coach George Ashcraft and Wizards president Paul A. Simmons both attended the Wednesday meeting with Mr. LaBouf. They agreed there's plenty of sports history in Watertown to fill the donated space.

"We could make this whatever we want it to be," Mr. Ashcraft said. "I'm telling you, people will come to see it."

The two chunky gold rings on the coach's left hand are small pieces of memorabilia the team has collected since its inception in 1896. A majority of the plaques, pictures and trophies owned by the Red and Black are kept in a locked office at Salmon Run Mall. Other pieces are being stored piecemeal in homes throughout the area.

Mr. Ashcraft said that if the hall comes to fruition, it would bring all Red and Black memorabilia together and could be expanded to include other semiprofessional football teams throughout the country.

"Some of these teams have their own hall of fames," he said. "But I don't want to have a hall of fame in Sarasota; I want it to be here in Watertown, New York."

The American Football Association holds an annual hall of fame induction dinner in Sarasota, Fla.

Included in the hall also would be the former Watertown Indians and Pirates semi-pro baseball teams and current Watertown Wizards collegiate baseball team.

Mr. Simmons said he could try to get a group of former players to the gallery for public appearances.

"There's been a huge following of sports in Watertown for a long time," he said. "It's nuts what the sports teams have been doing here."

Mr. LaBouf said he'll pass the idea around the community to gather support. The councilman said the project will be pursued throughout and after the Nov. 6 elections.

"Maybe I can't be the one who knows how to do this, but I can bring the people together who know the answers," he said.

Other sports-based business would follow once the gallery built a base, Mr. Ashcraft said.

"If I'm selling sports cards, I know I'm moving next door to where the hall of fame is," he said.

Richard G. Warner, of Warner Construction, said he will donate time and materials. The group will meet in a week to further discuss the project.

Mr. Warner, who is a Red and Black Hall of Fame inductee, said he'll discuss the idea with other members to boost support.


City Councilman Timothy R. LaBouf, left, talks Wednesday with Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft, right, Richard G. Warner of Warner Construction and Paul A. Simmons, Watertown Wizards president, at Flower Memorial Library in Watertown

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

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EFL Press Coverage: Perfect Storm

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Perfect Storm

October 15, 2007
Bill O'Connor
Free Press Staff Writer


It's an ideal every team strives for, but a select few attain.

In football, think perfection and the 1972 Miami Dolphins quickly come to mind.

And now the Vermont Ice Storm can, too.

On Saturday night the Ice Storm, the Colchester-based semi-professional football team, defeated the Watertown Red & Black by the unusual score of 9-8 to complete a 15-0 season and secure the Empire Football League Championship.

The Ice Storm led 3-0 until a fumbled punt return led to a Watertown score that made it 8-3 with four minutes left.

Steadfastly, the team drove 66 yards downfield and scored the game-winning touchdown with four seconds left on a 4-yard Brad Ruderman pass to Rob Joy.

"When you're sixty years old you won't remember beating St. Lawrence by 35 points, (but) you'll remember this night, you'll remember this game," Ice Storm head coach Doc Perez said. "You may remember patterns you ran in this game. Ruderman may remember each pass and the guys that caught them; the routes they ran and how they cradled the ball in."

In only its seventh season of existence and second in the EFL, the Ice Storm are currently the fifth-ranked semipro football team in the nation.

The Storm have been to league championship games at both the double A (in the New England Football League) and triple A (the EFL) levels.

Saturday's win adds an undefeated season to their already impressive resume.

The Miriam Webster dictionary defines "perfect" as being entirely without fault or defect, satisfying all requirements and corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept.

ICE STORM: Vermont
invited to national playoff 5B

The Ice Storm's 2007 season meets all aspects of the definition.

Though Perez can point out many of the Ice Storm's game-plan flaws or individual mistakes, the team's record is clearly without fault or defect.

A exuberant Joy put it best when he said: "This is just totally unbelievable, I can't even describe how this feels. Our entire team, our entire season, our fans, everybody has just been amazing."

The Ice Storm players satisfied all requirements laid out for them by their coaching staff.

Perez said that the Storm consistently had full or close to full attendance at practices and meetings, something he said many teams in the league struggle with because of the long season.

And finally, the players consistently tried to live up to an ideal standard, a standard of courage and determination as exemplified by Joy's fourth quarter championship-game performance.

After an 11-yard reception on the game-winning drive's opening play, Joy sustained a massive hit and his knee popped out of place. Joy collapsed to the ground in pain, and after five or six minutes walked to the sidelines under his own power.

Perez said he told Joy that there was no way he was going back into the game, but despite Perez's warnings Joy returned to catch the game-winning touchdown.

"They tried to tell me I had to go over and see the ambulance, but there was no way," Joy said. "I was going back out on that field no matter what."

The Ice Storm have been invited to participate in the North American Football Association's Harvest Bowl, the first round of the national playoffs. Perez said the team would sit down next week and make a decision on whether or not to accept and attempt to build on their undefeated season.

Perez said that accepting would mean more expenses and a hefty amount of traveling, so the team may opt to remain content with all that they have already achieved.

With that decision a week or so away, Perez said the team will just spend some time relaxing and celebrating its season.

Its perfect season, that is.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 14th

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Ice Storm strike late to capture league title

October 14, 2007
COLCHESTER -- The Vermont Ice Storm won the Empire Football League championship Saturday night and did so in dramatic fashion.

Brad Ruderman hit Rob Joy for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 4 seconds left in regulation and the Colchester-based semiprofessional team snatched a 9-8 victory over the Watertown Red & Black in front of their home fans.

The touchdown came moments after Vermont watched Watertown seize an 8-3 lead and bumped the Storm's record to 15-0.

Watertown took its first lead with 4:03 remaining in the game when it pounced on Troy Canada's fumbled punt return, setting up George Eason's 8-yard touchdown run.

The Ice Storm marched down the field on its ensuing possession. On the pulsating drive, Ruderman converted a 9-yard pass to Canada on fourth-and-2 with 2:41 left. The veteran quarterback followed it up with a 14-yard strike to Austin Partain on another fourth-down situation with 41 seconds on the clock.

Evan Hicks drilled a 30-yard field goal with 2:12 into the second quarter to provide the Ice Storm a 3-0 lead, which carried into the fourth quarter.

With 2:26 left in the first half Leo Grant's 29-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right for Watertown.

Scott Dennis snared an interception for the Ice Storm with 2:15 left in the first quarter. Drew Gordon also had an interception for the Vermont in the fourth quarter.



Watertown Daily Times


Red & Black denied once more

EFL CHAMPIONSHIP: Vermont's late fourth-quarter touchdown drive sends Watertown to one-point loss in title game


Watertown's Alfredo Moore, left, and Ernie Miller meet for a prayer prior to the start of Saturday night's EFL championship game against Vermont. The Red and Black lost in the final for the second straight year.




Sunday, October 14, 2007

COLCHESTER, Vt. — When it comes to championship games, the Watertown Red and Black has witnessed a lot.

It was blown out last year, and on Saturday its kicker completed a prayer of a pass for a two-point conversion.

But Watertown is still waiting for another championship.

The Vermont Ice Storm engineered a 14-play, 65-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to hand the Red and Black a disheartening defeat — 9-8 — for the team's second loss in the Empire Football League final in as many years. The team last won a title in 1980.

Vermont's Brad Ruderman found Rob Joy on a fourth-down play from the four with 4.4 seconds remaining on the clock. Twenty-seven years had come down to four yards for the Red and Black, and its defense couldn't come up with just one more stop. Instead the Ice Storm, which had given the Red and Black its only other loss this season — also by one point — celebrated its first league crown with a victory at Colchester High School.

Vermont's final series was impressive as it was improbable. The Ice Storm (12-0) converted three fourth downs in the final 3:58. Plus, Watertown's defense had thawed its opponent's usually powerful offense as Ruderman completed only three passes prior to leading the game-winning drive. He finished 10-for-24, but solved the league's stingiest defense when it mattered most.

"We're not one to get scored on very often," linebacker Kyle Roshia said. "But 3-for-3 on fourth down? You can't have that and expect to win."

"This one took a lot of wind out of me," head coach George Ashcraft said. "Anytime you go 12-3, you can't cry too much. We had a great year. But this one hurts a lot right now."

Just minutes before Joy snagged the title-saving reception, Watertown (10-2 EFL) had its first lead of the game.

George Eason scored from seven yards out after the Red and Black's Rod Gleisner recovered a fumbled punt return at the Vermont 7-yard line.

But Watertown botched the snap on the extra-point attempt. Kicker Leo Grant picked up the ball, and heaved a pass that Dan Robl somehow reeled in for a two-point conversion. Those on the Red and Black sideline had good reason to celebrate. Its defense had controlled the game until that point. The Ice Storm knew it, too.

"We were down in the dumps then," said Ice Storm coach Doug Perez. "You're not exactly sure if you believe it or not, but we were trying to rally everybody, saying 'we're going to go right down the field and score.'"

The muddy field and steady rain didn't allow for very much consistent offensive play from either team. Watertown quarterback Todd Kiechle did, however, find success running the option in the third quarter as he gained 36 yards on his second second-half series.

But the Red and Black came up empty on the drive as Anthony Noel was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 from the Vermont 5.

"We just didn't put points on the board when we had to," Ashcraft said. "We have to have more of a dimension on offense than to say we are going to run the ball 85 percent of the time."

Vermont kicker Evan Hicks opened the scoring with a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter, and Watertown responded by driving to the Ice Storm's 11-yard line. But Leo Grant's field goal attempt sailed wide left.

It marked the second time this season Watertown left Vermont with a 1-point loss.

"To watch them walk down the field like that tears your heart out. We expected to win," said Ernie Miller, who rushed for 57 yards in the opening half.

Kiechle finished with 72 yards on the ground, but it was the defense that could have used a few fresh sets of legs down the stretch.

"You can't really take anything away from them," defensive back Brian Williams said. "We were right there, but they made plays. That's what football's about. We should be upset about the outcome, but not the way we played."


A different result might have happened had the Red and Black stuck with what worked in the first half.

Miller, who carried the ball on the team's first six plays, didn't get at a touch after halftime. He averaged 4.07 yards, but was left out of the game plan for the rest of the night.

"I don't know what I did to deserve to not play in the second half," he said.

None of the 18 running plays called after the break involved the team's top rusher. No explanation was offered as to why.

"I didn't know he didn't play in the second half," Ashcraft said. "I don't think there were a lot of touches to get. We just passed the ball a lot more."


Watertown's Brian Beltz tries to shake free of Vermont's Aaron Pyer during Saturday night's Empire Football League Championship in Colchester, Vt.

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




Kevin Wyeth(Photo Dan Rosenburg)

Le Soleil du samedi - Édition du 13 octobre 2007

Wyeth-less Titans eliminated in Vermont

Dan Rosenburg

The Chateauguay Titans' Empire Football League playoff run has ended. The team, without quarterback Kevin Wyeth, was eliminated 31-19 by the Vermont Ice Storm in last weekend's opening round. The Ice Storm clash with Watertown Red and Black in today's championship game.

A six-yard pass from Wyeth's successor Zan Symonds to Sean Kennedy; a one-yard plunge by Andrew Blevings and a Symonds aerial to Treldon James accounted for the three Chateauguay touchdowns.

Wyeth, who left the team prior to the previous week's regular-season finale, told Le Soleil that he left because of "a beef with offensive co-ordinator Victor Oatis. He threw me off the field in practice once because I defended one of my teammates and I tried to give him (Oatis) advice. But he can't take advice or accept criticism. He also threw (long-time veteran) Geoff Brown off the field.

"From then on, Victor had a grudge against me, even though statistically I'm the No. 1 quarterback in the league. That's why he benched me for the most important game of the season (the season finale against Ottawa Deacon Demons). He only told me 10 minutes before the game that I wasn't starting."

Wyeth said he was shocked to see head coach John Mouland, after the Titans knocked off the Amsterdam Zephyrs in their playoff opener, call Oatis "the star of the game" because, in Wyeth's words, "Victor is the big problem on this team." Wyeth said he met with Mouland and co-owner Jeff Craig to discuss his case and marvelled later at how "their point of view had all changed in the space of one week."

Wyeth said he had nothing to do with the fact that a few other players also quit the team.

"In fact, (wide receivers) Zawdie Parahoo and Marvin Joseph left the team before I did, right after the Ottawa game," he recalled. "When Jeremy Dow and Lorne Isaacs quit, it wasn't my doing. Lorne left because he wasn't being played. Jeremy left three weeks earlier because he wasn't getting any playing time either. A lineman named Camille left weeks before I did. So it simply isn't true to say that I took some teammates with me.

"In warm-ups, Victor stood beside me, throwing the ball with another player, and ignored me completely. He even refused to give me a ball. He acted like a child and I became a ghost. I didn't want to end the season on such a sour note."

Wyeth says he is "confused" because Oatis was brought back by one of the team owners "after he was fired at the beginning of the season. I had no problem with Jeff or John, but now it seems as if they are turning their backs on me and the whole story is being twisted around."

Wyeth also accused the club of breaking its own the rules when it came to their treatment of Symonds. "I have nothing against Zan, but he hadn't practised at quarterback all season. They threw him into an important game nonetheless. Before the Ottawa contest he was a no-show at practice and arrived at the field only 30 minutes before the start of the game. But they played him just the same."

Wyeth, who is scheduled to marry Shelley Bevan next May 17, plans to become a full-time minor football coach next season. This season he has been lending a hand to head coach Tony Lalla of the peewee Raiders when time permits. The peewees ended their regular campaign with a 9-1 mark.




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Saturday, October 13, 2007

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 13th

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Weekend forecast:Storm warning

By Bill O'Connor
Free Press Staff Writer

October 11, 2007
Unbeaten and nationally ranked, the Vermont Ice Storm will be play for the Empire Football League Championship on Saturday night at Colchester High School.

The Ice Storm will square off against Watertown, N.Y., Red & Black for the semi-pro football league's title at 7:30 p.m.

Vermont (14-0), No. 5 in the nation, earned its title shot last weekend by beating the Chateauguay (Quebec) Titans 31-19 and claiming the EFL Eastern Division crown.

Vermont handed the Red & Black a 17-16 loss in the teams' only regular-season meeting. Ice Storm head coach Doc Perez said that Saturday's game should be more of the same.

"They have a spotless record other than that one point they lost to us by, so it couldn't be more evenly matched," Perez said. "It should be a very exciting game."

Watertown is the only team in the EFL to score more points (317) and allow opponents fewer points (79) than Vermont. Perez said his team has been studying film from its regular-season game to prepare for Saturday's showdown.

"When you've played each other before you look at all the films and you prepare to do what you did that worked," he said. "But you know that they're probably doing the same thing."

The Red & Black is the oldest semi-professional football team in the country; established in 1896 the team is even honored with a plaque in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Last season, the Ice Storm's first in the EFL and the AAA level, the Red & Black beat Vermont in the league semifinals.

If the Ice Storm win Saturday they will cement a spot in the first round of the national playoffs.

BENJAMIN D. BLOOM,for the Free PressJohn Fahey (32) and the Vermont Ice Storm take aim at the Empire Football League title Saturday in Colchester.







Watertown Daily Times

Red & Black has line on EFL title

MAKING PROGRESS: Watertown's offensive linemen inspire rest of team with improved play




Saturday, October 13, 2007

It takes a lot more than mere presence these days to be an offensive lineman for the Watertown Red and Black.

Being big helps, but even that isn't enough anymore.

The unit, typically unnoticed by the casual fan, has undergone a transformation over the past two seasons. And the results have been only positive.

Watertown put together the EFL's best running game this year, and qualified for their second consecutive championship game. Kickoff for tonight's title game against the Vermont Ice Storm at Colchester High School is set for 7:30 p.m.

Veteran Aaron Brown remembers the days when being a Watertown blocker was simply a position. There was little talk about the finer points of being a lineman. But all it took to change that was a coaching adjustment.

"Justin Rich really made us focus on working hard. Up until last season, we didn't have an offensive line coach," Brown said. "It was just us showing up, and scrimmaging."

Rich, who left the team at midseason to be an assistant coach at Ithaca College, implemented a new offensive line program when the 2006 season began.

The new drills focused on technique and conditioning. But more than anything, the work seemed to lead to a tighter bond between linemen than any shared by any other group of position players.

The guys don't get much of a break from each other. They spend the first hour of practice drilling as a group, and then immediately join the rest of the Red and Black for walk-throughs or scrimmages. But not one of them seems to have a problem with going nonstop for two hours.

"We realized there was a lot of standing around out here, and we decided to change that as far as our own group," lineman Ambrose Souza said. "The only ones we can control is ourselves."

"It's allowed us to work more as a unit, instead of five of us doing our own thing," Mark Bowman added.

Watertown's rushing attack and win-loss record has reaped the benefits.

The Red and Black tallied a league-best 2,033 rushing yards, many of which were hammered out between the tackles. The team's longest single run covered 38 yards, and the line also opened up enough holes for 20 running touchdowns.

If line of scrimmage dominance wasn't enough to motivate Watertown's offensive linemen, their potential replacements were. The Red and Black, according to head coach George Ashcraft, have about nine guys capable of playing a starting role.

"At one time you could count on seeing linemen standing back or sitting on the sideline drinking water. Just taking for granted that 'I'm the starter, and that's all there is to it,'" Ashcraft said. "Nobody in this group does that."

As the season progressed, the group's closeness began to rub off on the rest of the team. They always hold postgame and post-practice meetings on the field, and each time, the number of heads in the huddle has increased.

"It was interesting to see how big the O-line circle could get," said center Matt Greene. "Now we have quarterbacks, fullbacks, tight ends in there."

The rest of the team's interest in the line's efforts, Brown said, is what leads to the desire to throw one more block, or run one more set of drills.

"We get a lot of thank yous every game," Brown said. "That's appreciation you usually don't get as offensive linemen. That's probably why we work so hard — we actually get a lot of respect on this team."



The Red and Black offensive line works during practice Thursday night. The line has helped lead Watertown to the title game.



The Red and Black gathers for a pep talk at the end of practice Thursday. The team was scheduled to leave this morning for tonight's final.

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

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 7th

Watertown Daily Times

Watertown to play for crown

EFL PLAYOFFS: R&B takes down Ottawa in West Division final




Sunday, October 07, 2007

The final score of Saturday night's Empire Football League playoff game between the Watertown Red and Black and Ottawa Deacon Demons was a bit deceiving.

The gap on the scoreboard was much narrower than the one between the two teams on the field.

Watertown wrapped up its second consecutive division title with a 16-10 victory in the West Division final at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

With it comes a berth in next week's EFL title game at Vermont, which beat Chateauguay 31-19 for the East title.

The Red and Black (10-1) will have a chance to avenge its only loss and win the team's first league crown since 1980, thanks mostly to its line-of-scrimmage dominance of Ottawa (4-7). Such an effort has come to be expected against the Deacon Demons.

"I think we could have scored more points," head coach George Ashcraft said. "I believe we're the best-coached team in the league. It will take 11 guys doing everything right at the same time, but I think we're capable of scoring 40 points against anybody."

Watertown again displayed its rushing prowess by tallying 191 yards on 38 carries. The Red and Black did most of its damage on the first possession of the second half.

Leo Grant booted a 24-yard field goal to give Watertown a 16-3 advantage with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The 14-play, 62-yard drive ate up over 11 minutes. In three meetings, the Deacon Demons never challenged Watertown up front.

"You come in ready to play, and we know we can get underneath and move them," center Matt Greene said. "Once we get the lead, we're playing against the clock, not the other team. It tires out their defense and shortens the game when we keep that clock running."

But for the first time in a long time, and even though it was only three points, Watertown was forced to play while facing a deficit.

Doug Watters finished off Ottawa's initial series with a 23-yard field goal, but the Deacon Demons stalled until quarterback Davin Corbett raced 16 yards for a touchdown at the end of the game. Ottawa, which recorded just six first downs in the game, played without its top runner, T.J. Williams. He just didn't show up, according to coach Jeff Pinck, but it would have been difficult for him to make a difference from the sideline with Watertown controlling possession.

"Watertown has a hell of a fullback and tailbacks," Pinck said. "We struggle to stop them."

Anthony Noel and Matt Quay each notched first-half touchdown runs in the second quarter for Watertown, which sacked Watters six times.

"We can man-up against any team in the league and do well," Ashcraft said. "I don't care who we play."

Watertown's Todd Kiechle attempted only six passes, and completed three. He said the playoff win was sweet, even though it didn't feature a high-scoring attack.

"We'll take the W," he said. "We knew they'd take away the big plays, but if they want us to run 5 yards at a time, our offensive line loves that. We have a bunch of running backs who do, too."

Kiechle, who left briefly with a sore back, said the memory of last year's disastrous showing in the EFL final still lingers, and there is only one way to make it go away.

"We're bound and determined not to let that happen again," he said. "We will be ready to play."


The Red and Black's Matt Quay, front, celebrates after a touchdown during Saturday's Empire Football League playoff game.



Watertown's Lamont Lane returns a kick while trying to avoid Ottawa's Peter Kassotis during Saturday's EFL playoff game.

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



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Ice Storm advance to league championship game

October 7, 2007
COLCHESTER -- Brad Ruderman threw for three touchdowns as the Vermont Ice Storm claimed a 31-19 Empire Football League semifinal victory over the Chateauguay Titans at Colchester High School on Saturday night.

With the win, the Ice Storm earned the Eastern Division title and will play for the league championship next weekend.

The Ice Storm (14-0) jumped out to a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter when Ruderman hooked up with Matt Bombardier on the 33-yard pass.

Chateauguay responded with 9:18 left in the second quarter when Andrew Bledings slammed in from the 1-yard line. With the extra point the score was 7-all.

On the final play of the first half, former Essex standout Drew Gordon tipped a pass by Chateauguay quarterback Zan Symonds and Kyle Bombardier grabbed it, racing 40 yards to the end zone for a 14-7 Vermont lead.

The Titans closed to 14-13 when Sean Kennedy caught a 6-yard TD pass from Symonds with 7:20 left in the third. Then Ruderman -- who passed for 86 yards -- hit Matt Bombardier on a 12-yard TD pass with 1:25 left in the third for a 21-13 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, Ruderman connected with Troy Canada with a 14-yard TD pass for a commanding 28-13 advantage.

Evan Hicks, who hit four extra points, kicked a 28- yard field goal for Vermont.

James Treldon caught a TD pass from Symonds for the Titans' final score.

Vermont's defense held Chateauguay to 52 rushing yards for the game.

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