Saturday, October 13, 2007

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 13th

return to

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.

See what's new at and Make AOL Your Homepage.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Web Site Counter
Free Website Counter