Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fundraiser for Red and Black

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Fundraiser for Red and Black

Updated: 07/27/2008 04:23 PM

By: Web Staff

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- The Watertown Red and Black semi-pro football team continued its fund raising efforts Sunday. The team is currently on a bye week and trying to raise money to help pay for their everyday needs, including gas for road trips.

On Sunday, the team joined forces with Jean's Beans in Watertown for its second annual chicken barbecue lunch. The guys say the community has been amazingly willing to help out.

"It means everything for our existence," said head coach George Ashcraft. "Maybe we'll have to do one less thing that maybe wouldn't make as much, as far as a profit goes type thing. But we've had to do more this year than in the past."

The Red and Black's next home game is Saturday night against Vermont. It's military appreciation night and a Fort Drum helicopter is scheduled to land on the field to present the game ball.

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EFL Post Game Press Coverage July 27


Kellan Nolan completed four touchdown passes as the North Stars hammered the Silver and Black Raiders in an Empire Football League matchup in Plattsburgh.

Nolan tossed three of his touchdown passes to Matt St. Clair in the first half. St. Clair hauled in scores of 48, 36 and 29 yards. Brandon Keleher recorded three touchdowns for Plattsburgh (3-0).

Lamont Lane produced a 25-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Massena (0-3). James Compeau collected a team-high 12 tackles and added 63 kickoff-return yards.

Storm halts Zephyrs' home opener

By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

POSTED: July 27, 2008

Photos by Bill Cain, The Leader-Herald
Amsterdam wide receiver Cedrick Pearman (1) tries to escape the tackle of Ottawa's Ryan Lorette during Saturday's Empire Football League game in Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM - The Amsterdam Zephyrs were on track to win their first Empire Football League game of the season, but strong thunderstorms stopped the game in the third quarter.

There will be a report on the game sent to the office of the league commissioner, who will decide whether the game should count, be resumed or reserved for a tiebreaker. Amsterdam coach Tom Manny said he believes the game will be pushed back and played if needed as a tiebreaker.

With 9:29 left in the third, Ottawa's Shaun Harkes scored on a 2-yard run to bring the Deacon Demons within seven points, 26-19. Harkes had 73 yards on 17 carries and was part of the rushing game giving Manny a headache.

"We're talking about staying strong, as in the mental aspect of the game," Manny said. "The guys have to learn to play four quarters, not play one and then step back. Teams in the league will come back on you in a heartbeat."

Amsterdam's Elijah White had run for 46 yards on five carries with a 20-yard touchdown and Tarquan Pearman ran for 29 yards on three carries.

Quarterback Ken Schaefer ran for 32 yards on five carries and threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns on an 8-for-12 night. Schaefer carried for 20 yards on Amsterdam's last scoring drive.

On a 1st-and-10 play, Schaefer faked the screen to wide receiver Cedrick Pearman, then handed off to White, who was stood up in the backfield. White pitched the ball back to Schaefer and he toted it upfield for 20 yards.

"I put that play in right before the game," Manny said a few minutes later. "And if you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you."

Schaefer said he and White both had the same idea at the same time.

"That's all instinct," he said. "I was yelling for Elijah to throw it to me and he said he didn't even hear me. He just used his instincts, saw me and pitched it to me. The play went in our favor, but sometimes those plays don't work out that way."

In the first half, Amsterdam outgained Ottawa 224-108. The Zephyrs were about to receive for their first possession of the second half when nearby lightning caused the game to be delayed. Amsterdam's Cedrick Pearman caught four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown, while Issmal Green caught three for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Manny said the offense has been dependable and is eating clock the way he wants, but the defense has to learn from this game.

"The offense is not a worry or concern of mine," Manny said. "On defense, we have moments of brilliance followed by moments of shut-down. The defense has to step forward for us to be successful."

One of those moments of brilliance was Eugene Maye's interception of a Davin Corbett pass, which he returned 45 yards for a touchdown with 14:03 left in the first half. With 3:33 left in the second quarter, Amsterdam's Jim Sweeney intercepted another Corbett pass, this one in the end zone.

Corbett was 3-for-8 with two picks for 32 yards. He was replaced by Francois Azzi in the second half.

The Zephyrs (0-1) will travel to Montreal next week, while Ottawa (1-1) will host Plattsburgh and Watertown will play Vermont.

"It's getting interesting," Manny said. "Everyone's squaring off pretty early."

Amsterdam 26, Ottawa 19, susp.

Ottawa 7 6 6 x - 19

Amsterdam 12 14 0 x - 26

First quarter

A - White 20 run (kick blocked), 7:11

O - Wakeman 24 run (Farah kick), 3:08

A - C. Pearman 42 pass from Schaefer (kick blocked), 0:25.0

Second quarter

A - Maye 45 interception return (Barrett kick), 14:03

O - Harkes 10 run (run failed), 9:33

A - Green 30 pass from Schaefer (Barrett kick), 1:51

Third quarter

O - Harkes 2 run (kick blocked), 9:29

Zephyrs, Deacon Demons suspended


Recorder Sports Staff

The Amsterdam Zephyrs may have earned their first win of the Empire Football League season over the Ottawa Deacon Demons.

The game was delayed due to constant lightning with Amsterdam holding a 26-19 lead with 9:29 remaining in the third quarter. League rules state that a game must be delayed 15 minutes for each burst of lightning.

After about 90 minutes and an ominous weather report, the game was suspended. Amsterdam will have an official win if the game has no bearing on playoff standings or home field advantage at the end of the season. If however the game does have an effect on playoff standings, Ottawa will have to come back to Amsterdam to finish the contest.

"Offensively we picked it up a notch," Zephyrs Vice President Rick Sager said. "We got Elijah White back which helps the running game. Defensively, we started kind of slow but came on in the second half."

Two long touchdown passes from quarterback Ken Schaefer, combined with two key interceptions helped Amsterdam get ahead.

Fullback Elijah White got Amsterdam on the board first with a 20-yard touchdown scamper with 7:11 remaining in the first quarter. It was the stamp on a six play, 55-yard drive for the Zephyrs. The extra point was blocked and Amsterdam led 6-0.

Ottawa struck back on their next possession. Chris Wakeman had a 23-yard touchdown rush for Ottawa with 3:08 left in the first quarter. The score came on a fourth-and-4 situation from the 23-yard line. It capped off a seven play, 42-yard drive for Ottawa. Nick Farah's extra point was good and Ottawa took a 7-6 lead.

With 25 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Schaefer hit Cedrick Pearman with a 42-yard touchdown. Brian Barrett's extra point attempt failed and Amsterdam led 12-7.

On Ottawa's next possession, Eugene Maye picked off Davin Corbett's pass and rushed in a 34-yard return for a touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed. Amsterdam now led 19-7 after Barrett's kick.

"Those two interceptions are huge," Sager said. "It's the first time we've had a performance like that in our existence over four years."

Ottawa responded with a seven play, 50-yard drive that was capped off with a 10-yard touchdown rush from Shaun Harkes. The PAT failed. Amsterdam led 19-13

Tim Sweeney picked off Corbett on Ottawa's next possession. That set up a 30-yard touchdown pass from Schaefer to Issmal Green with 1:51 in the half. It completes a four play, 80-yard drive. Schaefer contributed a 20-yard rush while Tarquan Pearman had a 25-yard run during that drive. Barrett's kick was good and Amsterdam led 26-13.

Ottawa opened the second half with a seven play, 68-yard drive. Harkes had a 2-yard rush to complete it. The failed extra point attempt would be the last play of the contest before the suspension.

Published July 27, 2008 12:30 am - Plattsburgh sets team scoring record in victory over Massena.

Stars ablaze in EFL rout

Staff Writer

Plattsburgh North Stars- Ken Ruwett (32) looks for running room after picking off a Massena pass in Empire Football League action Saturday night at Melissa Penfield Park. B.J. Godfrey (51) is also shown. North Stars won 56-7 to improve to 3-0. See story, Page B5. P-R Photo/Kelli Catana /

PLATTSBURGH -- The Plattsburgh North Stars set a team record for most points scored in a game Saturday night, passing the previous record of 49 with its 56-7 win over the Massena Silver and Black.

But head coach Pat Keleher was never aware of the feat until after the fact -- nor was it much of a concern.

"That was never in my mind," he said. "I didn't score for that reason, and I didn't even know until they announced it."

Record or no record, all that seemed to matter to Plattsburgh was getting on the board early and often to ensure momentum.

"I wanted to get out of the gate early," Keleher said. "Play hard and play focused."

Once Kellen Nolan and Trevor St. Clair connected on a 48-yard touchdown pass on the Stars' very first offensive play Saturday night, it became pretty clear fans would be in for a one-sided affair.

The avalanche began one play before, when Ken Ruwett picked off Massena quarterback Lamont Lane's pass -- the play that started the nightmare for Massena.

"You can't let a team like that into the game early," Keleher said. "Because if you do, they gain confidence and start believing in themselves, and then you're in trouble."

Keleher knew at that time that his players had the ability to get an extra step on Massena players on both sides of the ball.

"It showed that we had a lot more team speed than they did," he said. "So I kind of knew from there we would be able to go deep on them and do some things with the passing game, which we did."

Nolan reached the end zone three more times, hitting Matt St. Clair twice again for the second week in a row, and another to Brandon Keleher.

Keleher was no stranger to the end zone either, reaching it twice more on the ground.

"I thought we executed well," (Pat) Keleher said. "There were some mistakes, but overall we controlled the line of scrimmage and threw the ball well."

Nolan finished the game with 184 yards passing, going nine for 13 while hitting six different receivers.

Defensively, Plattsburgh broke down Massena's offensive line every time the Silver and Black had the ball, allowing Kyle Babbie to race around the outside and harass Lane.

Babbie added to his sack total again for the third week in a row.

The only breakdowns in the defense seemed to be the same issue that plagued the Stars against Watertown and Amsterdam -- preventing opposing quarterbacks from taking off on their feet.

"I thought we did well defensively," Keleher said. "The only thing that concerns me is that we let an athletic quarterback get away at times. That's something we've got to get better at with our middle linebackers and inside tackles. But overall, we played well."

The excess in scoring allowed backup running backs Cody Tromblee and James Currier to take some handoffs, and both showed the ability to break open decent gains.

The two combined for 80 yards in the second half.

"Tromblee and Currier are great athletes," Keleher said. "They've been working hard on both sides of the ball, and got their chance to perform."

Currier scored the team's last touchdown of the game, and Jordan Keleher connected with Emmett Drollette on the two point conversion after an interception by Matt Cooney.

Kyle Nolan also added a touchdown run, and kicker Thomas Monanaro made four extra points on seven attempts.

The Stars travel to Ottawa next weekend to take on the Deacon Demons, and return home the following week to host the Quebec Titans.


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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Zephyrs host Ottawa tonight in home opener

Zephyrs host Ottawa tonight in home opener

By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald
POSTED: July 26, 2008

AMSTERDAM - After a one-point loss on the road in Plattsburgh last week, the Amsterdam Zephyrs open their home schedule in the Empire Football League tonight against Ottawa.

The Zephyrs lost 25-24 to Plattsburgh, thanks in no small part to a few long plays that put the North Stars in the end zone.

"They did not run the ball well against us and did not have a sustained drive against us," Amsterdam coach Tom Manny said. "They scored on long plays that they nailed us on."

Plattsburgh scored on a 53-yard pass and an 80-yard kick return in the third quarter. There was no scoring in the fourth.

The Zephyrs (0-1) have been working this week in practice on shoring up the secondary and improving the play of the special teams unit.

The offense moved the ball well against Plattsburgh, Manny said, except for during the fourth quarter, when the skies opened up and soaked the field.

That was unavoidable, Manny said, but he changed up the plan of attack and his team kept fighting.

"They never quit. They always fight," he said. "We had a chance right until the end and winning on the road is a big deal in this league."

Amsterdam received a bye through the first week and traveled for its Week 2 match-up. Tonight's game against Ottawa will be the team's first game in front of its home crowd.

Ottawa (1-1) has quite a hike to get to Amsterdam. They bring a strong running game and mobile quarterback, Manny said.

The defensive ends will play a key role in slowing the scrambling signal-caller and forcing him to throw. After that, Manny will see how much his secondary has improved from last week.

"He's a mobile individual and can throw accurately while running," he said. "Once again, the job of keeping them contained in our pass rush will fall on our ends. We have to stop their ground game, which I believe our front four can do, and we want to force them to pass."

Amsterdam's Cedric Pearson scored twice on passes from Nick Schaefer. Schaefer connected once with Josh Newborn and Tarquan Pearman scored the game's first points on an 8-yard run.

Elijah White is the big fullback for the Zephyrs. Manny said with White's ability on the ground, he wants to run first, pass second.

"We are more than certain we will be able to pound the ball at them with our offensive line slides and Elijah being there," Manny said. "We picked up on some tendencies they do. I think we'll be able to stretch them with Cedric once the ground game gets going."

He said he expects his team to put up another 25-30 points and move the ball over 300 yards.

That would be about what the Zephyrs have done so far in the preseason and early season. Manny said he believes the home field advantage at Lynch Middle School will give his team an added advantage.

"This is our first home league game and having the people there will really help," he said. "I'll tell you this, if Plattsburgh comes to our back yard, they won't win 25-24. I can tell you that."

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EFL Pre-Game Press Coverage July 25

Red and Black to hold weekend festivities


The Watertown Red and Black is hosting a family fun day at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds at 1 p.m. today.

The event includes rides, face painting for kids and a punt, pass and kick competition. Entry fee is $5, and concessions will be provided.

The team will also host a chicken barbecue at 11 a.m. Sunday at Jean's Beans on Eastern Boulevard. The cost is $8 for a whole chicken and $4 for a half.

Zephyrs play host to Ottawa


Recorder Sports Staff

Football season has finally arrived in the Mohawk Valley as the Amsterdam Zephyrs take on the Ottawa Deacon Demons, 7 p.m. at Lynch Middle School tonight.

The Zephyrs are coming off a 25-24 loss on the road to the Plattsburgh North Stars. A 53-yard touchdown reception and a 80-yard kickoff return for Plattsburgh in the third quarter was the difference in the game.

Quarterback Ken Schaefer threw four touchdown passes in that contest for Amsterdam despite the loss.

"Schaefer is one of the top quarterbacks in the league, if not the top quarterback in the league," Zephyrs head coach Tom Manny said. "He has great leadership qualities and can read defenses well."

Behind Schaefer, fullback Elijah White and running back Tarquan Pearman will be getting a lot of carries this season.

"We need to get Elijah going this week," Manny said. "It will be key this week and throughout the season. Jason Newborn can also run the tail so we have a lot of versatility."

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive tackle Ralphie Nicosia will be a key returner.

"He (Nicosia) will solidify that defensive line," Manny said. "We're also looking forward to seeing linebacker Brian Domingo. I have concerns about the defense and getting guys in so they can gel. I saw a lot of positives last week against Plattsburgh. It was two plays that broke our backs. Hopefully this week will be a coming out party for Ralphie and the boys."

Defensive backs Eugene Maye and Jeremiah Newborn were also cited as key defensive players for the Zephyrs.

General numbers seem to be better for the Zephyrs this season. Over 40 players made the trip to Plattsburgh last weekend. Having a large bench is a big advantage in the Empire Football League, especially when the health of the players are already a concern.

Tarquan Pearman and Cedrick Pearman are already banged up, but Manny expects them to play against Ottawa.

"They aren't debilitating injuries but we aren't going to push them in practice," Manny said. "It would be a disaster if we lost them to injury."

Manny, in his first year as Zephyrs head coach, expects a lot of the same from Ottawa this season.

"They will try to power us up the middle but they will stretch us in the secondary as well. Their quarterback can go deep," Manny said. "Our offense needs to get on track with the ground game. We've done well running but not well enough. Our passing attack is there."

Manny continued about the importance of the running game against Ottawa.

"If we get the running game going, I'll be happy. We'll eat up more clock and have less defensive time. We could walk out with a one or two point win."

Manny discussed the keys to the game.

"A major key will be stop shooting ourselves in the foot," Manny said. "We've gotten leads but made key mistakes with turnovers, long touchdowns and mental breakdowns. It's the mental aspect. They need to be mentally strong this week."

Published July 26, 2008 12:45 am - Plattsburgh aiming for third victory in Empire Football League play.

North Stars host Massena

PLATTSBURGH -- The schedule gets a little friendlier this week for the Plattsburgh North Stars.

Following two tough games against Watertown and Amsterdam to open the regular season, the newly-formed Massena Silver and Black comes to town tonight to take on the Stars at 7:30 at Melissa Penfield Park.

Plattsburgh stands atop the EFL standings with Quebec at 2-0.

Massena has been less fortunate at 0-2, having been outscored by a margin of 124-6 in the team's first two games.

Getting a third win moving on to Ottawa next week will be important since two unbeaten teams, Vermont and Quebec, face one another tonight.

The Stars offense, which collectively recorded six touchdowns in the two regular season games, has been efficient so far.

Quarterback Kellen Nolan is currently completing 67.7 percent of his passes, throwing for 3 touchdowns and almost 400 yards in the two games.

Wideout Matt St. Clair is certainly a big part of those statistics, recording over 200 yards receiving so far on just 8 catches.

He reached the end zone twice last week, and has without a doubt established himself as a deep-threat option for Nolan.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

EFL Post Game Coverage July 20, 2008


Only 20 players suited up for the Silver and Black's trip to face Empire Football League foe Ottawa. Several players planning to play in the game were turned away at the Canadian border.

The fatigue and lack of usable athletes were factors in the loss to the Deacon Demons.

It was the second straight week in which Massena gave up 62 points. The lone score for the Raiders came on a 62-yard passing play from Mark Wiltshire to Rob James. Wiltshire added 68 rushing yards on six attempts.

Massena dropped to 0-2, while Ottawa improved to 1-1.


The Titans handed the Red and Black its second loss of the Empire Football League season in Quebec.

Quebec (2-0) defeated Ottawa in its season opener on July 12 by the same 35-14 score. No further details from Saturday's game were provided.

North Stars win home opener
Staff Writer

Plattsburgh North Stars' Matt St. Clair (2) makes nice over-the-shoulder catch for a big gain in Saturday's Empire Football League game with Amsterdam at Melissa Penfield Park. Stars improved to 2-0 in Empire Football League with 25-24 victory. Bonus photos will be available at at midday.
Staff Photo/Rob Fountain /

PLATTSBURGH -- For the second week in a row, the Plattsburgh North Stars kept fans on their feet until the final seconds in yet another game that had head coach Pat Keleher doing anything but sitting still.

And like last week, the game ended with quarterback Kellen Nolan taking a knee, and Plattsburgh players exiting the field with a victory.

But this time, the Stars did it at home.

"It was similar to last week in some ways," Keleher said. "We were getting beat at times, but we kind of settled down at the end and held on."

The Stars were able to walk away with a 25-24 victory, with a special teams' thanks to a 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kelly Gordon midway through the third quarter, putting the team up by one.

Gordon had been picking up momentum on his returns throughout the game, typically getting tied up just before breaking open on his own.

However, a perfect wedge from his blockers which allowed Gordon to run in what was practically a straight line was just what the Stars needed in a seesaw of scoring up until that point.

"That was a great kick return," Keleher said. "Special teams are getting better."

Amsterdam came out firing early and often, led by quarterback Ken Schaeffer, who threw the ball 27 times in the game and connected with receiver Cedrick Pearman in the end zone twice, and again with Josh Newborn.

"That guy can just stay back there and make things happen," Keleher said. "He's a good quarterback."

Nolan put the ball in the air just eleven times, connecting on eight.

Half of those completions went to Matt St. Clair, who shared two touchdowns with Nolan, and tallied 135 of Nolan's 194 yards.

Brandon Keleher's 32 yards on the ground led the team in rushing in the game.

Three of those yards went for a touchdown near the end of the second half, following one of the two times Nolan and St. Clair connected for passes of 50+ yards.

"They were great throws," Keleher said. "Good timing; Matt ran a good route and Kellen put the ball out there. Those were huge."

Keleher said that though the win wasn't pretty, it was a good way to end a tough two-game opener against a couple of the top Empire football league teams.

"Whenever you can win a game like this against a quality opponent, just like last week, it's big," he said. "Now we own the tiebreaker against those two teams, and that's very big."

Zephyrs lose opener on the road

Staff report

PLATTSBURGH —Football season is finally here in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam Zephyrs dropped their Empire Football League opener on the road, 25-24, to the Plattsburgh North Stars.

"It was a real good game," Zephyrs Vice President Rick Sager said. "It was back and forth with both teams having opportunities."

Two big plays from Plattsburgh in the third quarter was the difference.

Things started right for Amsterdam as Tarquan Pearman scored on eight-yard rush. The point after attempt failed. Amsterdam led 6-0 after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, the North Stars scored on a 13-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick was the only successful attempt of the night for either team.

Ken Schaefer then connected with Cedrick Pearman for a three-yard touchdown pass.

Plattsburgh responded with a two-yard run.

Amsterdam closed out the first half with another Schaefer-to-Cedrick Pearman score. This time from 13 yards out. Amsterdam led 18-13.

In the third quarter, Matt Stover had a 53-yard touchdown reception for Plattsburgh putting the North Stars up by a point, 19-18.

Schaefer then responded with a two-yard touchdown pass to Josh Newborn to put Amsterdam up 24-19 but it would not last long.

Plattsburgh returned the kickoff 80-yards and set up the 25-24 final score.


A rain storm came in during the fourth quarter forcing both teams to the running game. Neither team could score under the conditions.

"We only had eight penalties for 40 yards so that was a decent performance," Sager said. "We've only had one preseason game and then a bye in week one. We're getting rid of the rust. We'll learn and move on."

Amsterdam's home opener is Saturday, 7:30 p.m. against the Ottawa Titans.


© 2008 All rights reserved. WM J Kline and Sons.
1 Venner Rd Amsterdam, NY 518-843-


North Stars nip Zephyrs, 25-24

PLATTSBURGH - Plattsburgh's 80-yard kick return in the third quarter lifted the North Stars to a 25-24 win over the Amsterdam Zephyrs in Saturday's Empire Football League game.

Amsterdam (0-1) opened the scoring with an 8-yard run by Tarquan Pearman in the first quarter.

The two teams traded touchdowns throughout the game. Amsterdam led 18-13 at the half.

The Zephyrs got two touchdown receptions from Cedric Pearman from Ken Schaefer, one for three yards and another for 13 yards. Schaefer also connected with Josh Newborn for a 2-yard score.

Newborn's reception gave Amsterdam its last lead, 24-19 in the third quarter. Plattsburgh (2-0) took the lead back on the next play.

Jeremiah Newborn had a 35-yard interception return for the Zephyrs, while Jorge Rodriguez added four solo tackles and two assists.

The Zephyrs will play their home opener Saturday against Ottawa

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Monday, July 14, 2008


Hey Fellas,

I'm a former EFL player and recently when reading a book I saw that the author, Bruce Feldman - SENIOR WRITER FOR ESPN THE MAGAZINE AND ESPN.COM is also a EFL alumnus (see below).  I read his column all the time and thought it was interesting to find out that a successful college football writer was a former player in the league.

Feldman's prior experience includes writing for Maxim, Basketball America, the Palm Beach Post, the Miami Herald, and the St. Petersburg Times. In addition, he was previously an associate editor of College & Pro Football Newsweekly. He also played semi-professional football in the Empire Football League as a wide receiver for the Hudson Valley Vikings. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book ¢Cane Mutiny: How the Miami Hurricanes Overturned the Football Establishment (NAL, 2004). Recently, two of his features for ESPN the Magazine have been nominated for ASME awards, the most prestigious awards in the magazine industry. And his work has been selected in the best-selling anthology The Best American Sports Writing.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Stars hold off Watertown

Published July 13, 2008 12:45 am - Plattsburgh wins Empire Football League opener.

Stars hold off Watertown

Staff Writer
WATERTOWN -- Stepping onto the field against the oldest semi-pro football team in the country and in front of an anxious and hostile Watertown crowd is about as least comfortable as it gets for an Empire Football League team.

However, walking off the field with a 19-13 upset win over the Red and Black in the season opener makes it all better.

"We did what we had to do to win," North Stars' head coach Pat Keleher said after Saturday night's victory. "When you come out of here with a win, I don't care how pretty or ugly it is, it's huge."

The win was anything but easy for Plattsburgh despite an almost perfect first half.

The Stars went into halftime with a commanding 19-0 lead thanks to stellar defense, two touchdown runs by Kyle Nolan, and a 42-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Nolan to Kelly Gordon.

"The first half went like we wanted," Keleher said. "We pretty much contained them. We ran the ball enough to keep them honest, and Kellen threw the ball pretty well. I couldn't have been happier with the first half."

In the second half, things started out just as well.

Brandon Keleher finally broke open a big run, carrying the offense 51 yards and deep into Watertown territory.

However, the Stars' offensive possession was quickly put to an end when Kellen Nolan threw his only interception of the game in the Red and Black end zone.

"If we score there with a field goal, it would have been 20-0," Keleher said. "I think that would have made it almost impossible to come back with that type of offense."

A very questionable pass interference call on Kenny Ruwett led to a 16-yard touchdown run by Joe Brennan at the end of the third quarter, and a punt return touchdown by Lester Cole a couple possessions later quickly closed the gap to six points.

But the Stars defense, highlighted by two Kyle Babbie sacks and a Brandon St. John interception, didn't allow Watertown to get a sniff at the end zone for the rest of the game.

"We showed character at the end," Keleher said. "We got a first down when we needed one, and when we had to turn the ball over, we got it to midfield and held on."

(Kellen) Nolan completed 11 passes on 19 attempts for 165 yards, and (Kyle) Nolan and Keleher both exceeded 50 yards on the ground.

Kelly Gordon caught three passes for 74 yards, and Matt St. Clair recorded 52 yards receiving.

"The morale with the players is sky-high," Keleher said. "I think this sends a good message to the league."

The Stars' return home next weekend to host Amsterdam.

"We still have work to do," he added. "We've got some issues with our personnel that we need to solve to make us a little better, and Amsterdam's a good team. But I think we're pretty good too."

Plattsburgh 19, Watertown 13

Plattsburgh 7 12 0 0 -- 19

Watertown 0 0 6 7 -- 13

First quarter

Stars- Kyle Nolan 1 yard run, (Currier, PAT), 5:30

Second quarter

Stars- Kyle Nolan 33 yard run (PAT no good), 10:16

Stars- Kelly Gordon 42 pass from Kellen Nolan (PAT no good), 1:52

Third quarter

R&B- Brennan 16 run, (PAT no good), 1:55

Fourth quarter

R&B- Cole 45 punt return (kick good), 7:47.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage Jully 12, 2008


SEMIPRO FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Watertown, Massena starting off fresh


The Empire Football League has a one new team and another ready to continue its standard of success as play gets under way Saturday night.

The Massena Silver and Black spent most of the offseason fighting over players and coaches with the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers. James "Buddy" Compeau left the Trailblazers for the Silver and Black and looks to provide some sparks in the backfield. Compeau took his father, Jim, with him when he left St. Lawrence Valley. Jim will serve as the head coach for the inaugural season of Silver and Black football.

In Watertown, the Red and Black kept its nickname after a lengthy battle with the Revolution. That's about the only thing that hasn't changed with the Red and Black. The plethora of fresh faces makes Watertown look like a young, inexperienced team. But the rookies bring plenty of talent, especially on defense.



Watertown's Brian Williams, right, covers teammate Earnie Wash during Wednesday's practice at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

If Brian Williams had his way, his job would be simply to deflect passes, make interceptions and record tackles. But this is a year of change for the Red and Black, and circumstances surrounding the team will demand more from Williams.

It's time for the Watertown High School graduate to start running his mouth a bit.

As just one of a few veterans who returned to the Red and Black, Williams knew his role would change this year. But he wasn't comfortable with it right away.

"I try to lead by example, and not as much with my voice. At this point I've accepted the responsibility to help guys along," Williams said. "To make it a cohesive secondary.

"I have the utmost confidence in our d-backs. The role I play now is more vocal and to teach."

Watertown's pass defense enters this season profoundly different than when it concluded 2007 with an EFL championship loss to Vermont, as former standouts Keith Jones and Anthony Okonji have departed.

The Red and Black defense appears to be in good shape as it held Massena to just one touchdown during a preseason game, but the unit expects tougher challenges in the future.

"We'd love to shut out every team we play, but we have some maturing to do," said Williams, who notched 23 tackles and four interceptions in 2007. "We won't hang our heads if we give up some points, but we know it will have to be limited."

Defensive coach Rich Potter has taken advantage of Williams's three years of EFL experience.

"He was voted a team captain, and he's a great player," Potter said. "He's helping the younger guys, and teaching them some tricks to help them get better. We're getting better every day."

Williams said that the team's defensive talent is similar to what it's been in recent seasons. That's a good thing because it was the EFL's best in 2006 and '07.

Williams will also take over the punting duties this year.

"We're starting to play well together," he said. "There's things to work on, but we're pretty happy up to this point."



Defensive coach and owner Chris Morin directs the Massena Silver and Black as players warm up before practice Tuesday at Massena.

Running back James "Buddy" Compeau and staring quarterback David Currier both wanted to have fun this season.

Both of them were on the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers a year ago and simply weren't enjoying themselves.

It probably didn't help that the Trailblazers went 1-11. The newly formed Massena Silver and Black was a perfect change of pace for Compeau and Currier.

"We just didn't have fun," Compeau said. "We didn't play up to our potential the last few years. With this, it's like a fresh start."

Compeau's father, Jim, who co-coached the Trailblazers last year, says swiping two of the everyday players from the Trailblazers wasn't the initial intent.

"I wasn't looking to take any Trailblazers," he said. "I told guys to play where they want to play. There was enough talent out there that didn't want to go to Potsdam and wanted to play in Massena."

Buddy led the Trailblazers in all the rushing statistics and is enjoying his new offensive line, which he says is bigger, faster and should open holes.

"We have the size," he said. "We just have to read the holes and be productive."

Along with its size, the supreme condition of the front line will play a major role in games. Coach Compeau has a strict program in place to make sure his team won't be tired come the fourth quarter.

"We are one of the best conditioned teams in the EFL," he said.

Buddy agreed and doesn't see how this team will get tired late.

"We've just been working our legs constantly. It's like a military workout," he said. "Right down to the end of practices our conditioning is there."

Not only are the players ready to get the season under way, but the city of Massena is also looking forward to having semiprofessional football back in the region.

"The minute we approached the EFL, it brought up memories of the old rivalries," said coach Compeau. "That's what I'm looking to get back into Massena."

The Silver and Black takes on the defending EFL champion Vermont Ice Storm on Saturday at home. Buddy thinks it should be a close game and that the Silver and Black won't look like a new team once it steps onto the field.

"I think it is going to be a great game," he said. "We just need everyone to show up and be focused. We're definitely going to put on a show."

As for the season, coach Compeau is a touch more modest, saying he hopes the team stays together and that Massena continues its support of the Silver and Black.

"I'm not expecting a perfect season, but we are expecting a few wins. I'm confident in that," he said. "I told them that fielding a team for a whole season will be a success on its own."

North Stars open in Watertown

Contributing Writer

PLATTSBURGH -- Plattsburgh North Stars' players and coaches aren't exactly sure what they'll be up against when they travel to Watertown tonight to face the Red and Black, but one thing is certain -- "Expect Watertown to be Watertown," said Stars' head coach Pat Keleher.

The Stars kick off their Empire Football League season at the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds in Watertown at 7:30 p.m.

Despite returning only a handful of players from last season partly due to the creation of the new Watertown Revolution, the Red and Black still carries a 70-man roster.

"Regardless of who leaves or who comes back, Watertown is always going to be good," Stars' center Nick Moore said.

Red and Black head coach George Ashcraft, however, is anxious to see what his young team is made of.

"It's going to be a different kind of year in some regards," he said. "But if our first preseason game against Massena was any indication of what we can do, then I'll love it."

Last season, Watertown rushed for over 250 yards in its only game against the Stars, averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

"They didn't have any big runs on us, but a lot of times they would get a few yards at a time, and those add up," Moore said. "We expect them to be a very strong rushing team."

Ashcraft said he thinks the Red and Black still have the personnel to be strong again on the ground, but added he'll have to wait and see because of the youth.

"It's all very new," he said.

Plattsburgh was less fortunate running the ball against Watertown last season, gaining only 22 yards on 16 attempts.

However, experienced running backs Brandon Keleher and Kyle Nolan behind a new and improved line give the team an opportunity to establish control through the run, opening up the passing game.

Keleher expects Watertown to try to do the same.

"When a team gets control of a game on the ground, it's human nature for defensive backs and linebackers to start cheating up, and then you get beat deep," he said. "That's the trap with a team that can control the game on the ground."

That's just what the Red and Black did to Massena.

"In their preseason game they only threw nine passes, but they completed five of them," Keleher said. "Two went for touchdowns, and both were long touchdowns."

The Stars will be on the lookout for Watertown receiver Lester Cole.

"He's tall, has good feet, and good hands," Keleher said.

Improvements in depth on both lines should make things a bit easier this time around -- something that affected the team in the fourth quarter last year.

"We got worn out last time at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against them last year," Keleher said. "I don't see that happening (today)."

Both coaches are anticipating a tough game from both sides.

"They've got a good ball club, and they played us tough last year," Ashcraft said. "I think that no matter what, Plattsburgh and Watertown is always a good game."

"I expect a battle," Keleher added.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

North Stars take hard line

Published July 09, 2008 12:00 am - Plattsburgh strengthens offensive line for 2008 football season.

North Stars take hard line
North Stars encouraged by play of offensive front

Contributing Writer

PLATTSBURGH -- When the average person thinks about offensive football, "skill position" players, such as quarterbacks, receivers and running backs come to mind.

But a driver won't get very far behind a busted engine, and the same can be said about so-called "playmakers" behind a sub-par offensive line.

Without the big guys up front, quarterbacks would have virtually no time to look off a single receiver, and running backs would be on their backs before taking the first hand off of the game.

An offensive line that gives its quarterback that extra second to make a decision, or opens up a wide hole for its running back to hit makes all the difference in an offense's production.

"If you take a poor offensive line and combine it with a bunch of playmakers at the skill positions, chances are those playmakers are going to become average players," North Stars' center and five-year veteran Nick Moore said. "But if you take average quarterbacks, receivers and running backs and put them behind a phenomenal offensive line, those players are going to be very good."

The Plattsburgh North Stars will open their Empire Football League season Saturday in Watertown.

Entering the 2008 season, the team seems to have the tools to give its drivers' a smooth ride, and quarterback Kellen Nolan is the first to acknowledge it.

"I've played behind a lot of offensive lines, and this is definitely the best," he said. "They are definitely the fastest and strongest that I've ever played behind. It's awesome, they're great."

Tackles Jon Garrow, Craig Lamoy and Tim Snyder, guards Ray Nelson, Ryon Sorrell and Kelsey Lenny, and centers Moore and backup Josh Pray complete an offensive line corps that both Moore and head coach Pat Keleher say doesn't lose any production when rotated through.

The group averages 284 pounds, and around 6-3 in height this season.

"I think this year we're going to be able to line up and pound some people running the ball," Moore said. "Last year we had some success running the ball, but there were some teams that were just simply bigger than us, and I don't think that's the case this year."

He attributed Sorrell as a lineman who is good at picking up linebackers, and said he can tell by watching Garrow that "when he latches on to someone, they're not going anywhere."

Moore added that Lamoy is as quick as some of the running backs he has seen, and that Nelson's combination of technique and strength puts him among the best in the league.

Lenny didn't play last season, but gained starting experience during the '05 and '06 seasons; though he was sidelined due to injuries for part of the time.

Snyder has an opportunity to make an impact this season. The young tackle surprised Moore in practice during preseason.

"I didn't even notice until one of our linebackers pointed out how good his feet are," he said.

Moore said his own experience in the league allowed him to learn what certain defensive linemen and linebackers' habits are, since he's faced virtually every team in the league and lines up against a lot of the same players.

Pray, whom Keleher referred to as an "outstanding defensive player" earlier in the preseason, is a serviceable backup to Moore if he needs to be replaced at any time during a game this season.

The line has its own fine supporting cast in running backs Brandon Keleher and Kyle Nolan, both solid blockers in pass protection, as well as an athletic quarterback in (Kellen) Nolan.

Though Nolan has the ability to produce plays when scrambling, the line approaches their play assignments as if their quarterback was "a 300-pound lineman who isn't able to move" as motivation to play at the highest level possible, Moore said.

If all of the players in the eight-man rotation stay healthy and play to their potential, there is no doubt the offensive line will play a pivotal role in the Stars' organization.

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