Thursday, July 09, 2009

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage July 09, 2009

Massena looks forward to representing county

TEAM ON RISE: Silver and Black adds players, plans to improve on winless opening season
POTSDAM — The semipro football offseason treated the Massena Silver and Black nicely.
It wasn't so kind to the St. Lawrence Valley Trailblazers. In January, the Trailblazers announced they would not compete in the 2009 season.
With that, the Silver and Black absorbed several players, and the roster continues to grow as people see what the team has become.
"There's more coming now because they see football and they want to play," said Massena coach Jim Compeau. "I didn't necessarily go out and take (the Trailblazers') players. They will play where they want."

Kiechle back in fray with Red and Black

GAME WAS MISSED: Former Watertown QB among those returning after season away
Todd Kiechle mans the safety position during Red and Black practice Tuesday at the Duffy Fairgrounds. The season begins Saturday.
Todd Kiechle isn't a blind man. So, sure, he noticed the lights last summer when he'd glance in the general direction of the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds on Saturday nights. And, though tempted, he didn't follow them.
But the former Indian River high school standout can't resist the urge any longer.
Kiechle, who in 2007 quarterbacked the Watertown Red and Black to within a point of an Empire Football League championship, has returned to the team, and will suit up on defense Saturday when it hosts Massena in the EFL opener for each team.
"It was tough watching from the s tands," he said prior to Tuesday's practice. "I missed the adrenaline rush."

North Stars have good mix of new pieces, key returners

Staff Writer
July 09, 2009 03:23 am

PLATTSBURGH — Things are changing for the Plattsburgh North Stars.

With a new field, a new offensive coordinator, head coach Pat Keleher moving to defensive coordinator and a new quarterback along with additions and subtractions at a number of positions, Plattsburgh looks to do what it failed to do a year ago — finish what it started.

Last season, the Stars bursted out of the gate with six consecutive wins before going 2-4 to finish the regular season and ending the year with a 23-6 loss to Quebec in the first round of the playoffs.

With a bit of a back-heavy schedule once the team got past big season-opening victories over Watertown and Amsterdam, as well as some crucial injuries to the defensive line, Plattsburgh was unable to finish on much of a high note.

"(Last year) we started out real strong, but I don't really think we fizzled off. Toward the end of year we faced Vermont twice and (Quebec) three times," Stars tackle and captain Nick Moore said about the 2008 league champions (Quebec) and Empire Football League powerhouse Vermont. "Those are two very high-quality opponents."

Still, the Stars will need to tame the only two teams that finished ahead of them in the EFL standings a year ago if they want to be considered the top team in the league.

The addition of offensive coordinator Scott Aguglia should be a step in the right direction. Aguglia spent the last eight seasons as a member of the Ice Storm, helping the team to two national titles in the process. Aguglia played receiver and quarterback for five years before taking over as offensive coordinator for the last three.

"All you have to do is just look at the numbers he put up in Vermont with similar personnel that I know we have," Moore said.

Those numbers include 34 passing touchdowns last season from Vermont quarterback Ken Ruderman — exactly twice as many as Plattsburgh quarterback Kellen Nolan threw in the same year.

Vermont's offense led the league in passing in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons with Aguglia calling the plays.

And while the first-year Nor th Star was blessed with a top-notch signal caller in Ruderman, Aguglia sees good potential in first-year quarterback Ken Stay.

The fact that the two are joining forces with the team at the same time should be beneficial in offensive continuity.

"I like the idea that it's a new quarterback coming in the same time as the coordinator," Aguglia said. "It certainly does help in the sense that there are no bad habits to break, or any difference in philosophies."

It's unlikely, however, that there would have been any of those issues with Nolan still behind center. In fact, the loss of Nolan and his brother, Kyle, who was a standout at fullback, in addition to losing all-purpose veteran Heath Geiser to a preseason injury, poses just as much of a void in leadership as it does in talent.

"Kellen and Kyle could have cared less about stats, they just wanted to compete and win. They were all about the team's success," Keleher said. "And Heath is everything you want in football player. He's a great captain and outstanding leader. When a guy like that goes down, its very impacting to a team."

Despite the losses, Plattsburgh still has plenty of weapons on offense, including wideouts Matt St. Clair, Kelly Gordon and Jordan Keleher. St. Clair caught a team-high nine touchdowns for 533 yards last season.

Tight end Trevor St. Clair, who led the team in receptions last season, is also back, but will be out for a few weeks with a bad ankle sprain.

A big,20athletic Chris Fish is a key addition that will help smooth things out at that position. The first-year tight end should make an immediate impact with his ability to go up and fight for the ball in the air.

Brandon Keleher will return as Plattsburgh's No. 1 halfback. Keleher tallied 622 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground in 2008. He will run behind a solid offensive line that saw its anchor, Moore, move from center to tackle this season.

"Nick can play anywhere on the offensive line," Aguglia said.

Coach Keleher finds himself a bit more at home now that he's playing the role of defensive coordinator. The third-year head coach called plays on the offensive side of the ball for the first two seasons.

"D is a better fit for me," Keleher said. "I've been on both sides in my football coaching career but have spent much more time on the defensive side of the ball. I've always had passion for defense."

This year, Keleher has plenty to work with.

Kyle Babbie returns as the league's two-time defending sack leader. Babbie, a defensive end, linebacker Jamil McCray and defensive end Kevin Gibson should find themselves meeting at the quarterback enough times to keep opposing signal callers on edge.

McCray, who joined midway through last season, played more of a third-down role in 2008 but is expected to be a key player on the defense this year.

Keleher also looks for Dustin Frederick, new to the defens ive line, to make a big impact because he is "fast and strong."

Plattsburgh is a bit young in the secondary, but has a good leader in first-year defensive back Chris McMillan.

"McMillan is definitely the field general," Keleher said. "The new DBs have been showing a lot of promise and working hard. If these DBs stay around they will be good in time."

At middle linebacker, B.J. Godfrey returns after making 83 tackles last season, which was second-most among EFL defenders.

Lastly, special teams looks to be a strong point for Plattsburgh. Gordon led the league in return average and had the only kickoff return for a touchdown in 2008. Jordan Keleher is also a threat on returns.

The addition of Mitch Ryder at kicker is the icing on the special teams unit, giving Plattsburgh consistent confidence in taking three points if necessary.

Plattsburgh begins its regular-season schedule at Plattsburgh High School against Broome County at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.

First-year North Stars quarterback Ken Stay fights off a Vermont Ravens defender in preseason action June 27. Plattsburgh looks to improve=2 0on last year's 8-4 record starting Saturday night, when it hosts Broome County in its Empire Football League opener.

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