Saturday, October 10, 2009

EFL Pre Game Preee Releases October 10, 2009

R&B line primed for EFL title
BETTER THAN EVER: Doherty's shake-up improves group targeting win
The Red and Black offensive line blocks for the ball carrier during Thursday's practice in preparation for today's championship game.
When Brandon Doherty took over responsibility for coaching the Watertown Red and Black's offensive line this season, he was as concerned as he was impressed.
If a coach's job is to see problems where fans don't, and fix them before they do, then Doherty got started on his right away.
But the holes he saw weren't gaping. Not like the ones Aaron Brown and Co. blow open for a running back. Instead he sensed complacency and comfort. And he knew those qualities wouldn't win Watertown its first Empire Football League title since 1980, as it can tonight with a victory over visiting Plattsburgh.
"Doherty's the one who came in here and shook things up," lineman Mark Bowman said Thursday, moments after the Red and Black wrapped up its final practice of the season. "I think a lot of us guys had started taking our positions for granted."
The first-year assistant has convinced the EFL's top blocking group, arguably the best of the decade, that it can be better. Even though it gives up the fewest sacks. Even though it produced 2,618 rushing yards.
Doherty is grateful to have encountered such a close-knit unit, receptive to change and willing to offer a newcomer an open ear.
He had to preach his message loud, though. Loud enough to drown out the years worth of praise and cheers that have been bestowed upon Watertown's run- and pass-blockers.
"I think I've held them to a higher standard, and brought a level of discipline they hadn't seen in a while," Doherty said. "And I've tried to teach them to deal with adversity, and overcome it — some of the true values of what good football players have to do."
Plus, he made it clear all season that nobody's job was safe.
He was willing to move a veteran tackle to center, or guard, if necessary, and it didn't matter=2 0how long a given player had been at the same spot.
That kind of boldness created uncertainty and urgency that produced a competitive environment up and down the line.
"For me it's about maximizing our offense's ability by putting guys in the right positions," Doherty said. "In doing that, and moving people around, guys started getting concerned about losing their own positions. In turn, that made them play harder, pay more attention to detail."
Any offensive line knows it is the subject of one of football's most often uttered clichés. And, if everything really does begin with the big guys up front, then the responsibility for claiming this long-awaited, patiently-chased title lies squarely on the shoulders of Brown,=2 0Bowman, Jared Cook, Ryan O'Hara, David Towles, John Toper and any other offensive line member
"I'm trying to challenge them every practice, and every game, to not be content with what they've done just because they've been here for so many years," Doherty said.
In that regard, his efforts are right on target. This team shouldn't be satisfied any longer with the title-game appearances it made in 2003, '06 and '07.
Second place is getting old.
"He sa id he'd get us here," Cook said. "But we have to win it."
Published October 10, 2009 12:34 am - Plattsburgh to travel to Watertown for championship showdown.

Stars go for EFL title tonight
Plattsburgh takes on Watertown Red and Black tonight for EFL championship

Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — For the last two games, the Plattsburgh North Stars needed to win to play another week.

However, a victory tonight over the Watertown Red and Black won't ensure another game this season. Instead, the Stars are playing for an Empire Football League championship ring.

So Plattsburgh offensive coordinator Scott Aguglia, who went to the finals in 2007 and 2008 as an assistant with the Vermont Ice Storm, is making sure the players keep their focus in the right direction throughout the biggest game of their season, and maybe the biggest of their EFL careers.

"What I want to try to convey to them is the fact that it's still a football game," Aguglia said. "Yes, it's a championship game, but they need to do the same thing as they have done every night. Just go out and execute — do your job for 60 minutes."

For Plattsburgh, the job will be slowing down Watertown's running game and keeping a tough Red and Black defensive line in check so the Stars can execute their multi-dimensional offense.

Watertown racked up nearly 300 yards of offense on the ground in the team's last meeting on its way to a 21-0 shutout over Plattsburgh.

Stars defensive end/linebacker Kyle Babbie said Plattsburgh's three-man front wasn't able to take up enough bodies at the line of scrimmage. That allowed Red and Black rushers to get momentum and break off bigger runs than Plattsburgh would have liked.

"We were trying to tackle them at the line of scrimmage instead of behind it," Babbie said. "I think with some adjustments we've made, we'll do a better job stopping them before they get a full head of steam."

The Stars also got beat on a couple deep passes to speedy wideout Lester Cole. Watertown doesn't go to the air often, but its stout ground game can lure opposing defensive backs into cheating up in coverage.

Stars coach Pat Keleher said he thought Plattsburgh slowed down the run enough, considering how often Watertown rushes the ball. He said the two big passes were what killed his team.

"Both of those plays set up touchdowns," Keleher said. "That's really what hurt us last time."

Plattsburgh's secondary will focus on recognizing where the ball is and trusting the front seven or eight to attack the run.

"We (defensive backs) just need to stay over the top and know that our defense is pretty solid up front," Stars defensive back Joey Painter said. "The defense has to play well and give the offense as many chances to score as we can."

Plattsburgh, which is much more apt to go to the air attack, will need quarterback Ken Stay to make good decisions and help the offense maintain a good time of possession.

Watertown has a tandem of big interior defensive linemen and quick defensive ends.

"We have to be balanced; We're not good enough to run it down their throats all game long," Keleher said. "The last time we played, we allowed them to tee off on us. The tackles gave us problems with the run and the ends pressured Kenny all night."

Stay threw a pick-six last week in the semifinal game against Quebec, but also ran for a score and threw for another. He tossed six touchdown passes two weeks ago against Massena.

"Our offense is playing well at this point and Kenny is really coming into his own at quarterback," Aguglia said. "Our game plan tomorrow is to just control the football.

"We'd like=2 0to get into end zone early and give our defense a little bit of cushion. Obviously, we want to make Watertown leave their comfort zone, which is the running game."

Keleher said containing the option and forcing Watertown into second-and-long, as well as third-and-long situations, will be key.

"They've proven that they can pass, but it's not their bread-and-butter."

Special teams will be important in the game. Without two blocked punts and two blocked extra-point attempts last weekend, Plattsburgh may already have been in the offseason this week.

The championship game will be available to watch on live webcast at

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