Saturday, August 23, 2008
EFL Pre Game Press Coverage August 23
Ice Storm face rival
Desperation looms for Red/Black
TIME TO GET GOING: Team's hopes for playoff run hinge on ability to overcome shortcomings
By MATT CORDOVA
SATURDAY, AUGUST 23, 2008
JACOB HANNAH /
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
"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.
QB NEEDS TO
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
His signal-calling youth has been evident. Even though
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.
"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."
LIFE WON'T GET ANY EASIER
Allowing 27.4 points per game,
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
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
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
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.
The Stars look to challenge the Ice Storm when the travel to
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.
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