Saturday, August 29, 2009

For Noel, personal goals don't get in way; North Stars take long road

For Noel, personal goals don't get in way
WILLING TO SHARE: Red & Black's leading rusher just one option
Anthony Noel possesses the type of selfishness that typically spurs an offensive player's achievements, and he's not afraid to admit he wants more carries, more yards, and more touchdowns.
But there's no room this season in the Watertown Red and Black's offensive backfield for any "just give me the damn ball" personalities.
The Washington state native is OK with that, too. It's one of the main reasons the veteran running back has emerged over the past several years as one of the Red and Black's most consistent, most respected performers.
"He took the back seat when he had to," head coach George Ashcraft said. "But when he finally became a starter, he's been one ever since."
Noel's numbers don't reflect those of a back who carries the offensive load with four other runners.
His 553 yards and 7.9 yards per carry are both tops in the Empire Football League, and would likely be even better if the Red and Black wasn't so fortunate to be loaded at the running back position.
Last week T.J. Williams led the way with 123 yards, and Noel, who has been the starter since 2004, is happy to share those touches.
"Since I've been with the team, I've always wanted to have a 1,000-yard season. With four quality backs this year, I'm probably not going to get that many carries," Noel said after Thursday's practice. "It's frustrating sometimes, but we learn to deal with it. As long as we win, that's all that matters. It hasn't hurt us yet."
Noel made championship game appearances with Watertown in 2003, '06 and '07, yet still longs for the championship ring Watertown has been pursuing since 1980.
That quest hit a low point last season when the team finished 3-7. Noel's frustrations were compounded, even though he rushed for a career-high eight touchdowns, as he accepted the quarterback role for several games. He had never before played the po sition.
"If that's not showing leadership, nothing else will," Ashcraft said. "And then he was able to come right back this year as a running back. He's just a versatile ball player, and that's why he's leading the league in rushing."
He's taken full advantage of the carries he does get in becoming the league's most productive runner, highlighted by a 177-yard, three-touchdown outing Aug. 1 at Vermont.
"Coming back this year, I knew I was going to be a running back. I've been here six years now. I wanted to come out and show people I'm a leader on this team," said Noel, who has logged 2,802 yards and 30 touchdowns since 2005. "I've felt more comfortable this year and ready to get out there running the ball hard. Every time I=2 0get it, I want to score."
Published August 29, 2009 12:48 am - Plattsburgh visits Broome County tonight in its longest trip of Empire Football League season.

North Stars take long road
BINGHAMTON — After a tough road loss in Watertown which ended the Plattsburgh North Stars undefeated run, the team takes its longest road trip of the regular season tonight when it faces the Broome Country Dragons in Binghamton.

Plattsburgh (6-1 Empire Football League, 8-1 overall) got its first win and handed the Dragons their first loss of the season in July, as the Stars scored on a punt return, passing and rushing play.

Quarterback Ken Stay completed one touchdown and two interceptions in the game, going just 7-for-20 for 44 yards.

However, Stay has throw eight touchdowns and four picks since that game, and the rushing game has improved since week one with the addition of fullback Kyle Nolan and the development of halfback Zach Blocker, in addition to backs Brandon Keleher and Elija Parks.

"We did a good job running against (Broome County) earlier this year," Plattsburgh head coach Pat Keleher said. "We didn't throw the ball very well but Ken has come a long way since then."

Despite the fact that it faced a very tough defense in Watertown, Plattsburgh will need to be much better running the ball than it was last week.

The Stars totaled just 35 yards on the ground. Brandon Keleher got hurt early in the game and Blocker had to go from his usual change-of-pace position to the primary rusher.

Stay did pile u p 165 yards but Plattsburgh couldn't convert a field-goal attempt or two red zone passes that were overthrown.

Plattsburgh can solidify a home playoff game with a win in Binghamton and can, at worst, garauntee the No. 2 seed if it wins its final three games.

"As far as I'm concerned (Broome County) is a must-win," Keleher said.

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