Saturday, September 27, 2008

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage 9/27

Zephyrs to play on the road


Recorder Sports Staff

Time is running out for the Amsterdam Zephyrs to turn a disappointing season around. That doesn't mean there still isn't enough time left to make plenty of noise.

Sitting at 3-5 overall and in fourth place in the Empire Football League, the Zephyrs have just two regular season games remaining to nail down a playoff berth. The home stretch begins tonight, when the Zephyrs travel across the state to take on the 1-7 Watertown Red & Black.

"The regular season has not actually gone the way we thought in the beginning," said team vice president Rick Sager. "We lost a couple of close games right off the bat with the 25-24 loss to Plattsburgh and then the overtime loss in Montreal. Those are games we thought at the beginning of the season we should've won. The balls just didn't bounce our way."

A week ago, however, star running back Elijah White helped the Zephyrs close out their home schedule in style, rushing for 192 yards and three touchdowns in Amsterdam's 27-6 romp over the Massena Raiders.

"Elijah is just a tremendous asset to this team," Sager said. "His running ability is just tremendous."

Although he missed both the Plattsburgh and Quebec games, White still ranks a close second in the league in rushing and has three of the top five rushing performances in the EFL this season, including a 204-yard outburst August 9 against Vermont.

"If he doesn't miss those two games, that easily puts him at the top of the league in rushing," Sager said. "Right now, he's only four yards behind the league leader, and that's with missing two games."

Complimenting White throughout the entire season have been receivers Issmal Green and Cedrick Pearman, who have combined to haul in 70 passes and 14 touchdowns from quarterback Ken Schaefer as the Zephyrs have come on late in the season under first-year coach Tom Manny.

With the top four teams qualifying for postseason play, the Zephyrs are in a close battle with 3-6 Ottawa for the final playoff spot. If the Zephyrs win out, they are guaranteed the final berth, but a tie could create some controversy, as a July 26 game at Lynch Middle School between the teams was suspended in the third due to inclement weather with Amsterdam nursing a 26-19 lead.

"We got down to the nine minute mark when lightning and thunder and rain opened up and we had to stop the game," Sager said. "We waited approximately and hour or so and had various resources -- phone, Internet, the National Weather Service -- they didn't expect it to stop for several hours, so the game was suspended."

Despite having to hit the road for the final two games of the season, the Zephyrs' chances of pulling to .500 for the season and reaching the playoffs look healthy, as their last two opponents own a combined 1-15 record. After taking on Watertown, the Zephyrs' season finale will have them travel for a return engagement with winless Massena.

However, Sager said that the Zephyrs need to make sure they stay focused and put out a maximum effort against the league's cellar dwellers.

"Going into Watertown to play a football game is never a given," he said. "Going up there is never a guarantee that you're going to win. We have to go up there and we've got to give it 110 percent. Anything can happen


 Published September 27, 2008 12:45 am - Plattsburgh to entertain Vermont Ice Storm in Empire Football League play.

Stars wrap up regular season

PLATTSBURGH -- Win or lose, the Plattsburgh North Stars enter tonight's season finale with their playoff fate already decided.

The North Stars will travel to Montreal in two weeks to take on the Quebec Titans regardless of the outcome of tonight's match-up against the Vermont Ice Storm at 7:30 at Melissa Penfield Park.

But the team won't hold anything back during tonight's Fan Appreciation Night.

Since it is the final game of the season, the Stars will have giveaways and raffles throughout the evening for fans.

"We've had good crowds throughout the year," Keleher said. "So we want to do a little something to say thank you."

A win over the Empire Football League powerhouse Ice Storm, however, would be a great way to say thank you.

"We're going to approach Saturday's game like any game," Head Coach Pat Keleher said. "We're preparing to win and are not going to hold anyone out. I don't think we can do that."

Coming off last week's road-loss against Quebec -- in a game Keleher felt the Stars controlled for three quarters -- Plattsburgh will need to finish tonight to have a chance at a victory over the first-place Ice Storm.

Vermont defeated the Stars 35-14 in Colchester earlier in the year and has outscored EFL opponents 368-108 in nine games this season.

"The biggest thing we didn't do in our first game against them was adjust on the field," Keleher said. "When you get to this level there are just certain adjustments you have to make throughout the game. You have to recognize what the other team is doing offensively and defensively, and adjust to that."

Plattsburgh quarterback Kellen Nolan and his offense recorded just 132 yards in the teams' last meeting, so the Stars will have to do a lot more offensively while keeping the Ice Storm's offense somewhat contained to stick with Vermont.

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