Sunday, August 31, 2008

AFA Newsletter August 17, 2008


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Sunday, August 24, 2008

EFL Post Game Press Coverage August 24

Quebec holds firm against Watertown

EFL MATCHUP: Red and Black makes progress, but Titans triumph at Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds




The Watertown Red and Black actually didn't have too bad a game Saturday night. The team limited the Quebec's powerful air attack, and even reeled off a few big, downfield plays of its own.

Pretty much everything went according to plan. Except the final outcome.

The Titans took advantage of Denis Houle's 112 yards rushing, along with his pair of 5-yard scoring runs, to claim a 17-9 Empire Football League victory over the host Red and Black at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The result left Watertown's postseason hopes even dimmer, as it dropped to 1-5 heading into the league-wide bye week for Labor Day weekend.

"The defense played a great game, and we held them down in scoring. We probably should have put more points on the board ourselves," head coach George Ashcraft said. "But that's part of the game. Good things are starting to come out of this. Even if we're not getting the wins yet."

A re-energized offense gave the Red and Black an opportunity to notch the much-needed upset. Quarterback Anthony Noel went 4-for-15, but his completions totaled 100 yards, and Watertown eclipsed 100 yards rushing again.

Lester Cole hauled in his first regular-season touchdown — a 50-yard strike from Noel — midway through the first, and Watertown received another jolt of energy moments later.

Ben Pritchard intercepted Kevin Wyeth's attempt at a shovel pass on Quebec's next play from scrimmage, and returned it to the Titan 19. Manny Munoz buried a 32-yard field goal three plays later, giving the Red and Black a 9-3 edge. But the home team didn't score again.

"People have to understand there are a lot of rookies here," Cole said. "For us to stay in this game all the way through the fourth quarter is an outstanding job."

Wyeth, who in July tossed three touchdowns against the Red and Black, didn't find the end zone Saturday and was intercepted four times. He kept throwing the ball in Brian Williams's direction, and Williams picked it off three times, raising his league-best total to eight. He also broke up two passes, both intended for the Titans' No. 1 receiver Marvin Joseph, in the end zone.

Watertown was unable to convert those momentum shifts into points, however.

Twice during the final quarter, powered by the running of Joe Brennan (18-99), Watertown drove inside the red zone only to come up short.

Quebec made more of its opportunities, as it orchestrated a nine-play, 85-yard series to set up the clinching score.

More importantly for Quebec (6-1), and disheartening for the Red and Black, it overcame two holding penalties on the drive. Both flags negated long runs by Houle, but he still managed to find the goal line 7 minutes, 7 seconds after his team took possession. The Titans attempted only five second half passes.

"We got into a bad habit a little of overpursuing the ball, especially at linebacker," Brady Nix said. "We were trying to cut back on their runs and make arm tackles instead of getting in close and wrapping up.

"That's been the story of our season. We'll stuff somebody again and again, and they'll break a big run or pass, and score off it."

Dustin Houppert registered six tackles, while Quatrell Walker and Adam Bossinger each turned in five to help lead the defense.

"We didn't play that well on offense, with the four interceptions. But George's teams are tough," Titans' head coach John Mouland said. "You're going to have ups and downs. I've been there. Believe me."

Watertown plays again Sept. 6 at Ottawa.


The Deacon Demons' Ryan Corbit scored on a 10-yard run in the first quarter, and that was all the scoring Ottawa needed as it defeated the winless Silver and Black in an Empire Football League game in Potsdam.

Jason Hudson caught a touchdown pass for Ottawa (2-3), which has recorded both of its wins over Massena.

Mike Weller recorded a safety for Massena (0-5).

Published August 24, 2008 12:15 am - Vermont hands Plattsburgh second straight loss in Empire Football League play.

Stars fall to Ice Storm
Staff Writer
COLCHESTER, Vt. -- The Plattsburgh North Stars and the Vermont Ice Storm did some things right, and some things wrong Saturday night.

Stars' quarterback Kellen Nolan threw two interceptions, while Vermont's Brad Ruderman threw three.

The Stars lost a fumble, and so did the Ice Storm.

But only one team took advantage of its offensive possessions despite a few misses now and then, and that was the difference in Vermont's 35-14 win over Plattsburgh.

"It's not good," head coach Pat Keleher put it simply after the team's second loss in a row.

Like the Stars' last game against Quebec, the team's offense had a few opportunities in Vermont territory, but was given very little from the Ice Storm defense.

"They are good at forcing teams into making mistakes," Keleher said.

A prime example was when Plattsburgh's offense drove the ball inside the 10-yard line late in the second quarter, thanks to a 22-yard scramble by Nolan.

Down by 14 points on second and third down, the Stars went for the pass.

Nolan was forced to roll right on both plays, and on the second, he tried to force the ball into coverage and was intercepted.

Meanwhile, the Stars' signal-caller had a receiver wide open crossing to the left on both plays -- but Vermont never gave him time to look.

Despite Vermont's heavy pressure on the Plattsburgh offense, Keleher questioned how much of it was based on how good Vermont played, or how poorly Plattsburgh played.

"I don't know how much of it is what Vermont is doing to us, or what Plattsburgh is doing to us," he said.

Maybe it was a little of both.

Ruderman recorded three touchdown passes in the first half to give his team a 21-7 lead at the break.

He then came out firing on the team's first drive of the second half, and connected with Mike Jabour for a 31-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline.

"I had guys tell me they knew what their assignments were," Keleher said. "But then ended up blowing those same assignments on the field."

Despite the team's shortcomings, Plattsburgh didn't go without a few solid performances of its own.

Matt St. Clair had a big night in his first game back from injury, catching Nolan's only touchdown pass and intercepting Ruderman twice.

Ken Ruwett gave his team a much-needed spark as well when he picked off a tipped Ruderman pass and ran it back for a touchdown, bringing the score to 28-14 midway in the third quarter.

But that was the last time the Stars would get a sniff of the end zone, and Ruderman made sure it wouldn't matter anyway when he hit Rob Joy for his third touchdown reception of the night to put the game out of reach.

"Sometimes you lose to good teams," Keleher said. "But in that case, I expect something like 28-21, not 35-14."

After dropping the last two games following a strong 6-0 (4-0 in EFL) start, the team feels that they are playing below their standards as of late.

"I'm just disappointed that we're not playing to the level we're capable of," Keleher said. "We did that in our first few games, but not these last two."


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Saturday, August 23, 2008

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage August 23

Ice Storm face rival

August 23, 2008

COLCHESTER -- The Vermont Ice Storm semiprofessional football team will play its longtime rival, the Plattsburgh (N.Y.) North Stars, at 7:30 tonight in Empire Football League action.

Vermont, ranked 10th in the nation in the coaches' poll published at, is one game ahead of the North Stars in EFL play. The Ice Storm (5-0, 8-0 overall) are coming off a 57-0 win over the Massena Raiders and have averaged 46 points per game through the first half of the season.

Plattsburgh (4-1, 6-1 overall) is led by quarterback Kellen Nolan. Nolan is second in the league in passing yards and touchdown passes. The North Stars receiving corps features league all-star Matt St. Clair and speedsters Kelly Gordon and Chris Verkey.

Desperation looms for Red/Black

TIME TO GET GOING: Team's hopes for playoff run hinge on ability to overcome shortcomings





The Watertown Red and Black works on drills during Wednesday's football practice at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.


The Watertown Red and Black is in a rather precarious situation as it opens the second half of the Empire Football League season.

The nation's oldest semiprofessional team has seen better years, but it clings to the hope, however slim it may seem to be, that October will bring yet another postseason berth.

The first task on that journey is certainly tall, as the Quebec Titans, who defeated Watertown 35-14 last month, visit the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds tonight.

"We're a young team, and we've had a rough first half of the season," veteran offensive lineman Aaron Brown said. "The second half has to define us going into the playoffs."


Yes. Even at 1-4, a second-half surge would likely ensure a spot in the EFL playoffs, for which the top four teams qualify.

Head coach George Ashcraft said the key will lie in the team's practice habits, which, he said, have been inconsistent.

"It's up to these men to show up, and play their butts off," he said. "Then we'd be fine. You do play like you practice. You don't win football games by just showing up on Saturday."

Here's a brief outlook on where the Red and Black stands at the year's midpoint.



Things started off great when Brian Green found Lester Cole for a 50-yard touchdown strike on the team's first play from scrimmage during an exhibition against Massena.

But that's proven to be the highlight of the team's air attack.

The shoulder injury Green suffered against Vermont thrust Anthony Noel into the starting quarterback role. Noel filled in for the first two regular-season games while Green was on leave, but he is otherwise inexperienced at the position.

His signal-calling youth has been evident. Even though Watertown put up 31 points last week against Amsterdam, he finished 2-for-8.

During a 47-6 regular season win over Massena, Noel attempted just eight throws, completing three. Cole, the team's No. 1 receiver, has zero scoring catches in the regular season.

The efforts of Joe Brennan, Warren Spies, and Noel have given the Red and Black a dominant running game, however. The team gained 315 and 226 yards on the ground in its last two games.

If Watertown makes the postseason, it will do so running. And with even a semithreatening passing game, the lanes to rush through should get bigger.

"Offensively, we're the best we've been," Ashcraft said. "Anthony's getting more comfortable throwing. It's coming together. Hopefully fast enough so that it shows Saturday."



Allowing 27.4 points per game, Watertown's defensive unit still faces its toughest stretch.

The league's second-leading passer, Kevin Wyeth (79-144-3-1,116, 12 TDs) is in town tonight, and there's still another date with the Ice Storm, too.

The Red and Black has shown vulnerability in the secondary, giving up 246.3 yards per game against opponents not named Silver and Black.

In spite of Brian Williams's league-best five interceptions, defensive coordinator Rich Potter said his unit has to become less predictable.

"We're doing some different things up front, to keep from letting our defense get broken down. We have to put some pressure on the ball," Potter said.

Laced into its schedule down the stretch are two games against Ottawa, which should be winnable. The Deacon Demons are also 1-4.

Brady Nix leads the defense with 26 tackles, followed by Demetric White's 25. Ben Pritchard has three sacks.

If the playoffs began today, the Red and Black would be out — one game behind Amsterdam. The Zephyrs come to Watertown Sept. 27 for what could prove to be the most important game of 2008.

The team, though, hopes it won't have to be.

"We can't lose again. If we come out here thinking we can breeze through the second half of the season and still make playoffs, we might as well hang up our pads now," Brown said.

"We're 1-4 right now, and we haven't broken apart yet as a team. We're still sticking together. Still fighting through games."


Published August 23, 2008 12:30 am - The Plattsburgh North Stars visit the Vermont Ice Storm.

Stars look to stop Ice Storm
PLATTSBURGH -- It takes a lot of discipline to stay in the game with a team that averages around four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns per game.

So far, no team in the first five games of the Vermont Ice Storm's schedule has been able to accomplish that -- except for one.

And Quebec, who lost to Vermont by a touchdown, beat the Plattsburgh North Stars two weeks ago.

The Stars look to challenge the Ice Storm when the travel to Vermont tonight for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against one of the American Football Association's 2007 National Champions.

In Plattsburgh's last meeting with the Ice Storm in 2007, undefeated Vermont shut out the Stars.

The Ice Storm, however, managed to score just 10 points itself in that game.

Both offenses haven been firing on all cylinders so far this season.

Plattsburgh hopes the return of starting wideouts Matt St. Clair and running back Brandon Keleher will bolster a Plattsburgh offense that scored only eight points in the team's most recent game, despite averaging 34.5 points in its first six.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

EFL Post Game Press Coverage August 17

Ice Storm roll past Massena

August 17, 2008          

COLCHESTER -- Brad Ruderman piled up 210 passing yards and three touchdowns and the Vermont Ice Storm kept their record spotless with a 57-0 pasting of the Massena Raiders on Saturday night.

Austin Partain hauled in six catches and a pair of touchdowns four the Ice Storm, who led 36-0 at halftime and improved to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Empire Football League.

Rob Joy notched a 29-yard touchdown reception from Ruderman and back-up quarterback Matt Paul hit y Hershenhorn with 37-yard strike in the fourth quarter. Ruderman completed 13 of 18 passes.

Jason Young, Jed Randall, Adeem Williams and John Fahey tallied rushing touchdowns for the Storm.

Vermont's air-tight defense was keyed by six tackles and two sacks from Kevin Fournier and two Core Belida interceptions. Collin MacDonald also had a sack and Kyle Bombardier and Sean Thomas each had interceptions for the Ice Storm, who play host to Plattsburgh on Saturday in a battle for first place in the Empire.


Published August 17, 2008 12:30 am - Plattsburgh recuperates for tougher stretch in Empire Football League.

Bye gives North Stars break

Staff Writer

Plattsburgh North Stars defensive back can't corral Chateauguay runner last week in Empire Football League action. Stars suffered their first loss of the season and, with a rash of injuries, were happy to have a bye this week.
Staff Photo/Rob Fountain /

PLATTSBURGH -- Last night, the Plattsburgh North Stars had their first Saturday off from Empire Football League play in five weeks.

And with the team (4-1, 6-1) suffering its first loss of the season last week at home against Quebec, the bye couldn't have come at a better time -- especially since the Stars travel to first-place Vermont next week.

"It's beneficial -- we were beat up," head coach Pat Keleher said. "It gives another week for us to heal."

Top receivers Matt St. Clair and Kelly Gordon missed the last two games due to injuries, and the team may have felt the effects last week in a 23-8 loss to Quebec.

Though quarterback Kellen Nolan went without the two speedy downfield threats, driving the ball into the Titans' territory wasn't as much of an issue as finishing the drive with the ball still in Plattsburgh's possession.

The Stars turned the ball over five times in the game: four Nolan interceptions and a fumbled handoff.

"The bottom line is you can't cross the 50-yard line six times and only come away with eight points," Keleher said. "We certainly had opportunities."

Nolan's four picks totalled more than in his six previous starts combined.

"It was a reality check, I think it brought us back down to earth," Keleher said. "The guys know we didn't play our best game against Quebec."

Plattsburgh also went without leading rusher Brandon Keleher the last two games and had players moved around on the offensive line due to injuries within the unit.

Safety Joe Conway got hurt midway through the Quebec game, as well.

"I'm expecting most of them to be back," Keleher said.

The team's two-week break from games also benefits in game-planning for the first of two meetings against the Vermont Ice Storm.

"An extra week to prepare for the number one team is also a good thing," Keleher said.

EFL standings as of 8/16/08

Late score lifts Zephyrs to win over Watertown

By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald

POSTED: August 17, 2008

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Bill Cain
Amsterdam's Cedric Pearman (1) stiffarms Watertown's Dustin Houppert during Saturday's game in Amsterdam.


AMSTERDAM - Conventional sports wisdom says to play for the tie at home.

With fourth-and-the-game from the Watertown 1-yard line and 40 seconds left in Saturday's Empire Football League game, Amsterdam Zephyrs coach Tom Manny was ready to subscribe.

His quarterback, Kenny Schaefer, however, was not.

Manny was ready to send out Brian Barrett to kick a field goal to tie the game at 31 and send it to overtime. Schaefer wanted to go for the win in the fourth quarter.

In the end, Schaefer convinced the coaches.

"When the timeout was called, we were going to kick the field goal," Manny said. "Kenny didn't like it and I have the respect for Kenny and [offensive coordinator] Mike [Finocchi] and I always listen to what Kenny has to say. Kenny came over and he said, 'I know what you're saying, but if we run that play action boot, I'll get in there.'"

Elijah White had already run the ball through the middle three times and Schaefer dove across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game.

Joe Torres picked off Anthony Noel's pass on the last play of the game giving the Zephyrs a 35-31 win.

"Games like this are a lot of fun," Schaefer said. "You want to blow teams out, to run the ball and control the game, but it doesn't get more fun than that right there."

The Zephyrs got the ball 6:11 remaining in the game after the defense followed up Schaefer's 54-yard touchdown pass to Issmal Green by forcing the Red & Black to go three-and-out. The Zephyrs took over the ball on their own 10-yard line and Manny said they needed to use as much time as possible so they didn't give the Red & Black the ball with too much time left on the clock.

"The defense was tired and they came up with two stands we needed and we had to eat [the clock] as much as possible and that was really on our mind," Manny said.

Elijah White advanced the ball 10 yards before Schaefer hit two straight passes to Cedrick Pearman bringing the Zephyrs to the Watertown 45.

White gained 18 and 22 on his next two runs to get bring the Zephyrs to the Watertown 6-yard line with two minutes remaining.

Three straight runs by White got the Zephyrs to the 1-yard line with fourth down giving the Zephyrs their critical fourth-down choice.

"My thinking was I wanted to go for it and I was able to persuade the coaches and we came up with the bootleg," Schaefer said. "We went three times in a row to Elijah and they were really zoning in on him and I figured the bootleg was going to work."

The win sent the Zephyrs (2-3) into two off-weeks before facing the Vermont Ice Storm at Wilbur H. Lynch Field Sept. 6. They'll have a bye next week and the whole league is off Aug. 30.

The break will give the Zephyrs time to get their six injured starters back on the field for another critical game.

"We get six ball players back that have been injured and that's huge because half of them are starters," Manny said. "The numbers get shored up and we get starters back and we have a couple of weeks to get them back in form, who knows."

The Zephyrs' defense had their hands full with the running ability of Red & Black quarterback Anthony Noel, who constantly turned what appeared to be tackles into long gains. He connected with Quattrell Walker for a 60-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter after the pass bounced off Sweeney and into his arms and he ran for a 45-yard touchdown run leading the Red & Black to 16 second-quarter points.

The offense had trouble hanging on to the ball and Schaefer threw two interceptions trying to get the ball deep to Cedrick Pearman. White also fumbled the ball in the third quarter.

"We made three turnovers so we didn't help them much, but they made the stops when they had to and they gave us a chance to win the game tonight," Schaefer said.

The Zephyrs got the offense going after Manny Munoz kicked a field goal to give the Red & Black a 3-0 lead.

Schaefer threw two touchdown passes to Pearman and one to Green giving Amsterdam a 21-16 lead.

"We started off in the first quarter trying to beat them deep because that's part of our game and I think they knew that," Schaefer said. "The second quarter is when we made some adjustments and were able to get some completions out of the slot and out of the backfield for short [passes] and they turned it into big gains."

Amsterdam 35, Watertown 31

Watertown  0 16 7   8 - 31

Amsterdam 0 21 0 14 - 35

Second Quarter

W - FG Munoz 27, 11:34

A - C. Pearman 23 pass from Schaefer (Barrett kick), 7:18

W - Noel 45 run (kick failed), 6:13

A - C. Pearman 12 pass from Schaefer (Barrett kick), 3:24

W - Walker 60 pass from Noel (Munoz kick), 3:12

A - Green 15 pass from Schaefer (Barrett kick), :39

Third Quarter

W - Brennan 39 run (Munoz kick), 4:22

Fourth Quarter

W - Noel 1 run (Noel run), 10:00

A - Green 14 pass from Schaefer (Barrett kick), 8:36

A - Schaefer 1 run (Barrett kick), :34


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Saturday, August 16, 2008

EFL Press Coverage August 16

"Unpredictable' Wiltshire provides spark

NEW MASSENA QUARTERBACK: Former backup trying to lift struggling Silver and Black offense




No one really knows what is going to come out of the mouth of Massena Silver and Black quarterback Mark "Magik" Wiltshire. Yet, what he does say makes some sort of odd sense.

"I got to say what I can when I can. That's why I say it well," he said. "I'm unpredictable."

He was the backup to former quarterback Dave Currier at the start of the season. After Currier left the team after a disagreement with the coaching staff, Wiltshire seized the opportunity and is now letting his play do the talking, even if he doesn't know exactly what he is going to do.

"There's no strategy," Wiltshire said. "Just don't let them see the same thing twice too many times."

He has put together a respectable first month of the Empire Football League season as a fill-in, completing 14-of-42 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He also leads the team in rushing, averaging 11.3 yards per carry on six attempts.

"We struggled on offense a little bit (at the start of the season)," Wiltshire said. "I try to give the team a little spark."

Today, Massena travels to Vermont to play the Ice Storm, the defending EFL champion which beat the Silver and Black 62-0 in the season opener.

"We weren't prepared for the first game," Massena coach Jim Compeau Sr. said. "We've got Wiltshire at quarterback now and that's a big difference."

Compeau changed the offense for Wiltshire. Now, Massena will focus on short passing and running more than the long pass. James "Buddy" Compeau Jr. will be one of the keys in the backfield with the new offense.

"I'm going to play a big role this week," Compeau Jr. said. "I don't have a touchdown yet this year and it kind of bothers me."

He has struggled, accumulating just 97 total yards of offense. Compeau Jr. is much more effective on special teams where he's returned seven kickoffs for 173 yards.

"I've put in the work," Compeau Jr. said. "It's going to pay off this week."

The Silver and Black are still winless and have yet to score more than one touchdown in any game. They've only been shut out once, but it was against Vermont. Coach Compeau Sr. doesn't expect to get blanked again tonight.

"I don't think the score will be quite as bad," he said. "If you can do better every game, then everything is progressing."

Massena has improved from the start of the year, decreasing their loss margin from 62 points in week one to 41 points last Saturday.

Wiltshire has been a big factor in that. He's ready to show Vermont a different side of Massena tonight.

"The game plan is scrambling and go crazy. I want to go as deep as I can every play," Wiltshire said. "I want to pass far."

Zephyrs return home to face Red & Black

By MIKE ZUMMO, The Leader-Herald

POSTED: August 16, 2008

The Leader-Herald/Bill Cain
Amsterdam's Elijah White (44) breaks through a hole in the Ottawa line during the July 26 game at Wilbur Lynch Middle School.

AMSTERDAM - The Amsterdam Zephyrs' offense was good last week against the Vermont Ice Storm, however the defense couldn't get its legs under it as the Ice Storm rang up 62 points.

This week, the Zephyrs will play host to the Watertown Red & Black, which is coming off its first win of the season after pounding the winless Massena Raiders 47-6 last week.

"They have a lot of new faces," Zephyrs coach Tom Manny said. "He's had a lot of changes up there, but it will still be a George Ashcraft coached team. It's going to be pretty much what we've seen over the years, but there'll just be new faces."

The Zephyrs got everything they could ask for out of the offense last week in Vermont, especially the running game, which saw Elijah White rack up 204 of Amsterdam's 258 yards on the ground. He also crossed the goal line twice. Tarquan Pearman added 12 yards on three carries and a touchdown.

"We have Joe Newborn and he's doing a fine job," Manny said. "He sprung Elijah on several occasions last week. He's also very good in the short game with the [quick] hitters."

Through the air, Ken Schaefer went 7-for-16 with 111 yards and threw two touchdown passes, one to Issmal Green and the other to Cedrick Pearman.

Watertown had its best offensive and defensive days against the Empire Football League's weakest team. Massena has scored only 19 points all season, while allowing a league-high 227.

Watertown and the Zephyrs are the only other teams to score under 100 points this season. The Red & Black have posted 88 points, while the Zephyrs have 97, which includes one incomplete game.

The Zephyrs' defense struggled, allowing 507 yards of offense to the Ice Storm with quarterback Brad Ruderman carving up the Zephyrs' secondary going 12-for-16 with 245 yards and four touchdown passes. Matt Paul took over late in the game and finished what Ruderman started by throwing for 85 yards of his own and one more touchdown.

"It was a nightmare," Manny said. "It was quicksand at its best. We would make a stop, then we'd make a mistake. It was just that way. There were occasions where the defensive backs could have had interceptions, but stopped running. It was the same defense that played outstanding in Quebec."

The Zephyrs' defense will have another tough task ahead of them tonight when they face the Red & Black, who enter this game after victimizing the Raiders for nearly 800 yards of total offense with most of those yards coming on the ground as Joe Brennan and quarterback Anthony Noel picked up 197 and 162 yards respectively. The Red & Black nearly put another running back in triple figures as Warren Spies ran for 94. Brennan scored three touchdowns, Noel had two and Spies added one.

"[At practice], we're going to take a step back," Manny said. "And we're going through a few variations that George won't expect."

The Red & Black had some success through the air as Noel completed 21 passes for 326 yards and threw one touchdown, but was picked off three times.

However, for the Zephyrs to be successful tonight, they'll need a crisp effort on the field.

"We have to play a game mistake-free," Manny said. "We just have to get to that point. I'm getting concerned because that's a mental aspect. We have the physical capability, but we have to get mentally strong throughout the entire game."

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

EFL Press Coverage August 10

Zephyrs headed to Vermont to face unbeaten Ice Storm

By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

POSTED: August 9, 2008


SOUTH BURLINGTON - Pressure will be the order of the day for the Amsterdam Zephyrs in today's Empire Football League game against the Vermont Ice Storm.

Amsterdam coach Tom Manny said Vermont runs the same offense and defense as last year, but head coach Doug Perez is good at adjusting to opponents' game plans. The Zephyrs will try to win what Manny predicted to be a "chess match" by pressuring quarterback Brad Ruderman.

"Ruderman is one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Manny said. "He's very efficient and they're the type of team that can spread you out quickly. Our front four have to step up, like last week, and put a bunch of pressure on Ruderman."

The Zephyrs recorded four sacks last week against Montreal and Manny said he wants to see the same today from the likes of defensive end Alex McKinsey and defensive tackle Mishael Castrello. The goal will be to force Ruderman's passes underneath and shut down the passing attack with short gains or no gain.

Amsterdam's ground game was lacking last week, Manny said, and he will work on re-establishing that angle of attack today. He said the Zephyrs want to work the ground game with Tarquan Pearman and their other options in order to open up the pass for quarterback Ken Schaefer, who also is a threat to run.

Against Montreal, the Zephyrs lost 15-12 in overtime. Manny said the defense has come along nicely recently.

"They have bonded together more than I could imagine," he said. "We took one of the top offenses and shut them down. The defense did the job and hasn't given up a touchdown in four quarters, now."

Raphael Nicosia registered 10 solo tackles, while Jim Sweeney had six solos, an assist and a pass deflection. The defense will get linebacker/defensive back Jorge Rodriquez back this week after he missed the game in Montreal with an injury.

Schaefer was 10-for-31 through the air for 128 yards and gained 30 on the ground. He connected with Cedric Pearman for touchdowns of 20 and 18 yards.

The offense will return Bob Loffredo, an offensive tackle who was out with an injury last week. Manny said the return of both Rodriquez and Loffredo should improve the Zephyrs' chances this week.

The Zephyrs are 0-2, but led against Ottawa before the game was called due to thunderstorms.

Vermont is 3-0 and beat the Watertown Red & Black 28-14. Despite the margin of victory in that game, Manny said the league has been pretty competitive every week and no team is blowing out the competition.

"This year, everybody knows every week is a street fight," he said.

He said the Zephyrs are anxious to get their first win, but the players are not consumed by the early winless streak.

"They're human, so of course they're frustrated," he said. "I'm frustrated. But we're not letting it take root. We're knocking on the door and, soon, we're going to knock it down.

"This is a big test. If we can pull it off, then we have four home games in a row. It would be a big turnaround."

Zephyrs searching for first win


Recorder Sports Staff

The Amsterdam Zephyrs are still looking for their first victory in the Empire Football League season and today it won't get any easier for the team as they face Vermont Ice Storm.

Vermont is reigning back-to-back EFL champs and are 6-0 overall with three non-league victories. Amsterdam is 0-2 with two narrow losses to Plattsburgh and Quebec on the road.

Zephyrs head coach Tom Manny expects a lot of the same from Vermont this season.

"From the tapes I saw of them this year and what I saw last year, they have not changed anything. They run a west coast offense. We have a defense to stop it. It will be interesting. They are disciplined and don't make mistakes."

One aspect of the game Manny is happy with is Amsterdam's defensive unit which did not allow a touchdown in the 15-12 overtime loss at Quebec.

"We haven't given up touchdown in four quarters," Manny said. "We had a lot of sacks. The linebackers executed. The secondary played great. Everything was there. We played the way we can on defense."

Offensively, the Zephyrs will throw the ball more then in their previous two games. Last week at Quebec, quarterback Ken Schaefer led the team in rushing with 30 yards. It should be noted that running backs Elijah White and Tarquan Pearman were not available in that game.

"Missing Elijah didn't help our running attack but we have to execute. We did not run the ball well," Manny said "It looks like the run game is going to be used to keep em honest."

Manny is happy with the air attack.

"The whole passing game has been effective. Cedrick Pearman is our top guy. Jason Newborn is going to be a weapon they (Vermont) will have to deal with. Eugene Maye will be a weapon out of the slot as well."

A big factor in Amsterdam's two losses has been the lack of a kicking game. Amsterdam missed two extra point attempts in regulation against Quebec and missed three in a 25-24 loss to Plattsburgh. Manny does not hold his kicker Brian Barrett responsible.

"Our line is not doing their job up front and I'm pulling my hair out over it," Manny said "It's not a problem with snaps, holds or kicker. We are not blocking properly. I almost lost a gasket over it. We know what the mistakes are but we have to stop making them."

With the two losses, Manny acknowledges there is some level of frustration.

"We're frustrated. We're so close yet so far. We're not letting our frustration dictate our performance. We are going over game plans and we just need to execute. We have to hit on all cylinders. We have to play mistake free football without any turnovers."


Published August 10, 2008 12:30 am - Injuries, turnovers catch up with Plattsburgh in EFL loss to Titans.
Quebec topples North Stars
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH -- Unlike last week, the Plattsburgh North Stars felt the effects of their missing pieces on offense Saturday night.

The team again missed the likes of receivers Matt St. Clair and Kelly Gordon in the team's matchup against Quebec, and this time it made a difference.

The visiting Titans handed the Stars their first loss of the season, 23-8, in Empire Football League action at Melissa Penfield Park.

"Kelly and Matt have the speed to stretch the defense," Keleher said. "So does Verkey. But not having those two, without question, allowed (Quebec) to bring more people up to the line of scrimmage."

Despite entering the Titans' side of the field half a dozen times -- including a third down on the Titans two-yard line -- Plattsburgh couldn't reach the end zone until just under four minutes remaining in the game.

After a short Kyle Nolan score late in the fourth quarter, the fullback caught a two-point conversion to bring the score within eight.

But an onside kick gone bad put the ball in the hands of Quebec's Zan Symonds, who then took the ball directly into the end zone to put the Titans up 23-8 with three minutes to go.

"They knew we were going onside, and the ball popped up and he caught it in stride," Keleher said.

Quarterback Kellen Nolan, who has been more than efficient in taking advantage of Stars' offensive possessions all season, turned the ball over four times in the air in Titans' territory and saw (Kyle) Nolan fumble the ball during a handoff.

The Stars' signal-caller never looked completely confident behind an offensive line that put starting center Nick Moore at the tackle position and backup Josh Pray in Moore's position due to two injuries within the unit.

However, Keleher insisted that the position moves weren't an issue, and that it didn't have an effect on Nolan's passing game.

"I don't really think that had a big effect; we practiced all week that way," Keleher said. "(Kellen) has had six pretty good nights, and he had one rocky night tonight."

Nolan finished the game going 15 for 25 with 144 yards, with four interceptions and no touchdowns, while running back Heath Geiser led the team on the ground with 44 yards.

Defensively, Plattsburgh (6-1, 4-1) held the Titans to just nine points until late in the third quarter, which included Quebec running back Denis Houle's single touchdown.

But with St. Clair out of the lineup at safety and Joe Conway only playing half of the game, Quebec quarterback Kevin Wyeth was able to connect with James Treldon on a deep post which went 78 yards for a touchdown to put the team up 16-0 entering the fourth.

I don't think we played poorly defensively," Keleher said. "But we blew the coverage on the long touchdown."

Wyeth finished 14 for 25 with 226 yards in the air.

"Our front four has gotten to just about every quarterback," Keleher said. "I think tonight was the first night we didn't put a lot of pressure on him."

"We got beat tonight."

Zephyrs fall short at Vermont, 62-35

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. - The Amsterdam Zephyrs posted 373 yards of offense, but the Vermont Ice Storm shredded the defense for nine touchdowns in a 62-35 win Saturday.

Elijah White carried the ball 17 times for the Zephyrs (0-4) for 204 yards and scored two touchdowns, the second of which came on a 69-yard run in the third quarter. Kenny Schaefer completed seven passes for 111 yards and connected for two touchdown passes, one to Cedrick Pearman and the other to Ishmael Green.

Pearman caught two passes for 54 yards and Green caught three for 48.

Defensively, Kip Stewart had 10 tackles, five solo, and one sack and George Rodriquez made seven tackles, five solo. Mark Nellis made four solo tackles out of his seven.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Red and Black still winless, still optimistic

Red and Black still winless, still optimistic
0-3 START: Defending champion Vermont rocks Watertown

Maybe Brian Williams is right. Or perhaps he's just trying to remain upbeat. Only time will tell.

Either way, an already frustrating season for the Watertown Red and Black took another downturn Saturday night as the visiting Vermont Ice Storm won an Empire Football League game 28-14 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The loss drops Watertown's record to 0-3, as defending champion Vermont (3-0) took advantage of three touchdowns and 248 passing yards from quarterback Brad Ruderman to remain undefeated.

Things can only get better for the Red and Black, which plays at winless Massena next week.

"We know in three weeks, we'll be 3-3," said Williams, who notched seven tackles and two interceptions. "We know we'll make playoffs. As long as we keep that mentality there's no problem. A team's real character is determined when it's down, not when we're winning all the time. That's how we're going to look it at."

In spite of what Ruderman's numbers suggest, Watertown's defense put forth a respectable effort. The team intercepted him four times, and allowed just two second half receptions.

Watertown's offense, which is made up primarily of first year players, wasn't efficient enough to hold up its end of the bargain, however, as it ran only 13 plays —minus punts — in the first half.

Starting quarterback Brian Green, who was taken by ambulance in the third quarter with a possible dislocated shoulder, finished just 4-for-7 with 11 yards. His replacement, Anthony Noel, didn't fare much better, going 1-for-10 with a pick.

Lester Cole shot through the wedge on a first quarter kickoff return to post Watertown's first touchdown.

Ben Pritchard jarred the ball loose on a crushing hit to Ruderman two minutes before halftime, and Ka'mel Brave pounced on it in the end zone for Watertown's final score.

Williams, who also punts, was often the offense's busiest player.

"This whole offense is brand new together," head coach George Ashcraft said. "It takes longer than playing together a few months to get going."

Watertown's challenging task of mounting a second half comeback got even harder when Green was injured while scrambling. Noel completed his first pass, but not another. He rushed for 44 yards from the QB position, but Vermont crowded the line of scrimmage for most of the second half, knowing Watertown's ability to go deep was severely limited.

The Red and Black was forced to punt on four of their six second half possessions.

"They knew I'd run the ball," Noel said. "I have to get a rhythm of the throwing the ball, too. This team needs to be balanced, with a passing quarterback and then we can establish the run."

Long connections weren't a challenge for Vermont, as Ruderman tossed scoring strikes of 34 and 26 yards, respectively, to Rob Joy and Mike Jabour. Vermont's rushing attack (94 yards) was just good enough to prevent the Red and Black from stacking the secondary.

"More power to the receivers and Ruderman," Williams said. "He throws a great ball. We tried to mix up some coverage, but he's going to get his yards and completions. We let up two big plays, and it hurt us."

Vermont got a few breaks, too.

Williams returned a first quarter interception 70 yards, only to watch the ball squirt from his hands and the Ice Storm recover at its own 19. Vermont recovered a couple of its own fumbles as well.

Adam Bossinger registered six tackles and an interception, while Brady Nix and Trevor Fine had eight tackles apiece.

Noel, who rushed just once in the first half, will prepare to be the team's signal caller for the foreseeable future.

"We all just need to be on the same page," he said. "At times we have to be more disciplined, but this is going to be a learning year. It starts at practice, and then it will translate to the game field."

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