Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Battle begins for Red and Black name
When Thomas Shultz filled out the application to join the Northeast Football Alliance on Sunday, he listed the team name as the Watertown Red and Black.
With the NFA approving Shultz's request, it meant two Watertown Red and Black franchises co-exist — on paper anyway — possibly setting up a legal battle for possession of the oldest semiprofessional football team in the country.
Shultz said Monday that a legally binding contract signed last year will allow him to keep the registered name of the Watertown Red and Black in the NFA.
George Ashcraft, head coach of the original Red and Black, said a contract with Shultz was never signed and any talks ended between the two last January. Each side has sought legal representation to resolve the issue.
"I say he's got nothing," Ashcraft said. "It's in an attorney's hands. It's silly to think there are two teams called the Watertown Red and Black. My team is moving forward."
The original Watertown Red and Black began operations in 1896. The team is run by Ashcraft and chairman Robert Freeman. The team initially joined the Empire Football League in 1975. The Red and Black spent 23 years with the EFL before jumping to the New York Amateur Football League for two seasons. The club returned to the EFL and has been a member since 2000.
Shultz, who is the owner of Re-Sale America, said Ashcraft approached him in 2006 about running the Red and Black. At the time, Shultz was a backup tight end with the team and didn't consider the offer. Shultz said he accepted Ashcraft's request the following year and managed the franchise.
"We legally transferred the team to a new corporation, registered it as the Watertown Red and Black, and I ran that operation," Shultz said. "A couple months later, he said that I was out, and he was taking it back over."
Shultz said the franchise spent approximately $12,000 on equipment and machinery for programs, clothing and memorabilia. He said the equipment will now be used for his team.
Shultz's Watertown squad is one of three north country teams that will compete in the NFA's Central Division this year. Former EFL member St. Lawrence Valley and Massena are participating in the 15-team league.
"I'm pretty excited about it," Shultz said. "I definitely believe that it's going to be the big league and prosper. It will take football to the next level, and we expect to be one of the powerhouses in the state."
Ashcraft has coached his Red and Black squad for 17 seasons, and they've advanced to the EFL championship game in the past two years. Watertown won its only EFL title in 1980.
"I'm excited about moving forward with the EFL," Ashcraft said. "The teams that are in this league have been around, it's a strong league, and it's been successful.
"All of this confusion is silly, and it shouldn't have gotten to this point," Ashcraft added.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
SPORTS: Ice Storm fall in USA Bowl
SPORTS: Ice Storm fall in USA Bowl
January 19, 2008
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The Vermont Ice Storm's season came up just short of perfection.
The Colchester-based semiprofessional football team suffered a 22-14 loss to the Detroit Black Ravens on Saturday in the USA Bowl, which served as the AAA national championship game.
The Ice Storm, who won the Empire Football League title in October and were named the American Football Association national champions Friday, finished the year with a 15-1 record.
Saturday, the No.¤1-seeded Black Ravens struck for a pair of long touchdown passes in the first quarter. They were successful with both of their two-point conversions and carried a 16-0 lead into halftime.
The Ice Storm played without starting quarterback Brad Rudderman, who stayed back in Vermont for the delivery of his baby.
Backup quarterback Matt Paul led a spirited second-half rally, connecting on a pair of third-quarter touchdown passes.
He hooked up with Austin Partain for 12-yard touchdown and hit Zack Howe on a 3-yard slant pattern for another score. Evan Hicks nailed both extra-point kicks to cut Detroit's lead to 16-14.
However, the Black Ravens (14-10), a team that included 14 former Division I college players, thwarted Vermont's comeback bid with a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Paul completed 16 of 34 passes for 203 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Partain made four of the receptions for 89 yards.
Corey Belida snagged two interceptions for the Ice Storm.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Semipro football: Ice Storm seek perfect finish
Semipro football: Ice Storm seek perfect finish
By Dan Hausermann
January 16, 2008
While the New England Patriots have garnered front-page headlines for their undefeated season in the NFL, the semiprofessional Vermont Ice Storm have been waiting for their chance at perfection.
Three months after completing an unbeaten run through the Empire Football League, the nationally second-ranked Ice Storm will play for the American Football AAA national championship Saturday in the USA Bowl against the No. 1 Detroit Black Ravens in Hollywood, Fla.
"This has never happened in history," head coach Doug Perez said. "No team from a rural state, or a non-inner city team, has ever even played for a national championship at this level, so we are making history."
The Ice Storm (15-0) will field a squad with all but one player hailing from Vermont when they take on a speedy Black Ravens team that features 14 former Division I players and finished the season 13-1.
While the Ice Storm will be considered the underdogs when they step onto the field for the first time since beating the Watertown Red and Black 9-8 in the EFL title game Oct. 13, five-year veteran quarterback Brad Ruderman said the team is prepared for Detroit.
"They are definitely athletic, faster and stronger than us at many positions, but we think that we bring good team chemistry to the table," Ruderman said. "We are a well-coached, balanced team and at all positions everyone is fundamentally sound. We are ready to play against anybody."
According to Ruderman, the Ice Storm are going to need to light up the scoreboard with their West Coast offense to hang with the aggressive, high-scoring Detroit squad.
Vermont will rely upon Ruderman's experience and the running of speedy back Jason Young to carry a well-balanced offensive attack.
On the other side of the ball, third-year linebacker Kevin Fournier said the Ice Storm's defense has been successful all year and they aren't planning on altering their game plan in the championship.
"This season has just been amazing and it seems like we just can't lose," Fournier said. "We have the tools offensively and defensively, and our linebackers corps is just intense. We've brought it to teams all year and they just don't know what to do about it."
Despite the perfect run throughout the regular season, Perez won't be satisfied unless the Ice Storm return to Vermont victorious.
"It's extraordinary to go undefeated in football, so when we go to Florida we have to ignore the tendency to be too happy with the season as it is," Perez said. "We are a damn good football team and somebody has got to win, so why can't it be us?"
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Ice Storm making final preparations for USA Bowl National Championship
Sunday, January 06, 2008
Chateauguay Titans Blevings in USA Bowl
Blevings in USA Bowl
You're acquainted with the old expression that "all good things come to those who wait"? Well, I would like to alter that to "all good things come to those who deserve it."
Take Andrew Blevings of Chateauguay, for instance. After several years of being the best two-way football player this city has ever produced, Blevings is finally getting his big break. The Chateauguay Titans star has been invited to join the Vermont Ice Storm for their USA Bowl Division I semi-Pro football championship game against the Detroit Warriors slated for the Orange Bowl in Miami on Jan. 19.
"I'm proud of Andrew; he deserves this," said John Mouland, the Titans head coach and Chateauguay Junior Raiders president. The Ice Storm, No. 3-rated club in the Empire Football League, accepted the call to compete in Miami when two higher-rated teams declined the opportunity, presumably mainly due to previous commitments and/or a lack of funds.
"I'm. very excited about this; it'll be fun," Blevings told Le Soleil last Wednesday. "I've been playing against the Ice Storm for a few years now, they're a good bunch of guys and I got to know their coaches."
Blevings is expected to perform as a linebacker and field-goal kicker for the Storm on Jan. 19. He warmed up for the occasion by participating in the 59th annual Garbage Bowl in Montreal West on New Year's Day. Due to the blizzard that blanketed the Royal West Academy field with three to four feet of snow, last Tuesday's contest between the Northern Combines and the Southern Bombers was something less than a classic and ended in a scoreless tie.
Former Titan and Junior Raiders quarterback Sean Hoas was selected as the game's Most Valuable offensive player. The defensive MVP award went to Luc Pelland, a Billings teacher and another Junior Raider alumnus.
Proceeds of the game - close to $5,000 - were split between the Children's Wish Foundation and the Mackay Centre.
Several other Titans and Raiders products also took part in the Garbage Bowl festivities. These included Blevings' nephew Tyler Jutras, Yannick Clement, Denis Houle, Tyrel Hoas, Daryl Snow, Ryan Brewster, Kris Laberge and the Kavanagh cousins - Wayne and Ryan - just to name a few.
Why the increasing influx of Chateauguay athletes for a benefit game that is traditionally played in Montreal West?
"Because, after all these years, they are running short of players and Chateauguay guys want to play football," he replied.
"The two teams must have gained a total of only about 30 yards of offence between us because of all the snow," Blevings related. "It was like running with 30-pound shoes on. You could say that this year the Garbage Bowl lived up to its title," he laughed.
But still the loyal fans turned out in droves to support their heroes. "Despite the weather conditions, it was just as packed as in previous years," Blevings noted.