Monday, August 04, 2008
Empire Football League's Amsterdam Zephyrs - The Amsterdam Recorder
|Publication||The Amsterdam Recorder|
|Date||August 03, 2008|
|Brief||By TONY PASTORE |
Recorder Sports Staff
In the world of semi-pro football, it's all about playing for the love of the game and over 40 men gear up for the Empire Football League's Amsterdam Zephyrs each and every week from the middle of the summer until ear
By TONY PASTORE
Recorder Sports Staff
In the world of semi-pro football, it's all about playing for the love of the game and over 40 men gear up for the Empire Football League's Amsterdam Zephyrs each and every week from the middle of the summer until early fall.
For the second straight season, the team will be led by captain and starting quarterback, Ken Schaefer. The 28-year old is in his second season with the team and comes off an impressive showing in 2007.
Schaefer helped lead the Zephyrs to the EFL playoffs last season en route to a second-team all-star selection. He was third in the league in passing yards with 1,595, despite missing two games.
"I consider him the No. 1 quarterback in the league with his showing in eight games. The two ahead of him played in all 10," Zephyrs head coach Tom Manny said.
Schaefer also completed 48.4 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions for a 77.2 rating.
It was a breakout season for the captain, who spent three years as Scott Lawson's backup with the Albany Metro Mallers.
While playing for Albany in 2006, Schaefer came in during the second half against the Zephyrs in a blowout situation. He was 8-for-10 with a touchdown pass and made an impression on Amsterdam's then-head coach, Dom Ruggeri, who recruited Schaefer in the following offseason.
"I was not playing much with Albany and Dom Ruggeri was coaching at that time. We played well against Amsterdam and he wanted me to become a Zephyr," Schaefer said.
The move has paid off for the franchise as he has become one of Amsterdam's most effective leaders on the roster.
"He has leadership ability. Some just have it. Players follow and listen to him," Manny said. "He's very intelligent and an extension of the coaching staff."
"Kenny has a tremendous attitude. He is never down. He is positive about mistakes. He wants to forget it and get going. He does not dwell on the negative. His leadership capabilities are great," Zephyrs Vice President Rick Sager said. "If he sees a teammate down, he gets their focus back. He tries to get them to focus on next play."
Schaefer is a 1997 graduate of Schenectady High School where he played varsity football for one season. At the time, he was more focused on baseball. He went on to play college baseball for Columbia-Greene Community College before going to Utica-Rome. He was a pitcher, shortstop and third baseman.
He was out of football from 1997 until 2004, when he joined the Mallers at the urging of a friend.
"A kid I played school football with was playing with the Mallers and got me into it. I enjoyed the practices and stuck with it," Schaefer said.
Schaefer knows the important of hard work.
"He realizes talent is not enough. You have to practice and put time in to become number one," Manny said.
"He has that drive. He translates that to everybody on the team," Sager added.
Semi-pro football is unpaid and Schaefer, as well as all players at that level, risk injury every time they put the pads on.
"I just love to play the game and be around the guys. I love the road trips too. Nobody is getting paid so injury is a concern," Schaefer said. "I work in an office so it is less of a risk for me then it is for players who have physical jobs."
Schaefer currently sells pool equipment for Bay State Pool Supplies in Clifton Park and resides in Schenectady.
"This is a great opportunity," Schaefer said. "I never thought I'd be here playing football. I stumbled across it. I never heard of teams like this when I was in high school. It's cool to know I can still play."
He enjoys playing for Amsterdam.
"It's been more then I expected," Schaefer said. "The owners have been top shelf guys since I've been here. Compared to other teams in the area, they run a respectable organization."
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