Monday, October 15, 2007

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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