Saturday, October 03, 2009

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 3rd

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Consider what it must be like to be a running back trying to gain yards against the Watertown Red and Black. You might be lucky enough to get past the defensive line, and suddenly, here comes Mike Dumaw and Dylan Kirker.
Or Demetric White. Or Dustin Houppert, or Bob Roshia or Greg Roberson. Or any three or four of them at any given time.
There are surely more enviable situations for an offensive player to encounter, but this is the one that usually plays out for opponents of the Red and Black, and its likely the biggest reason the team is 9-1, with home field advantage, as it opens the Empire Football League playoffs.
"It's been incredible this year," Houppert said Thursday as Watertown prepared to host Binghamton tonight. "We swarm to the ball and there's usually four or five people in on every tackle. Everybody's been ready to rock and roll every single play."
Just one look at the defensive stat sheet reinforces Houppert's description of this stubborn, gang-tackling group of Watertown linebackers.
Dumaw (63), Kirker (53) and Houppert (47) represent the Red and Black's top trio of tacklers, and White ranks fifth on the team with 30.
But each of these play stoppers has registered significantly more assiste d t han solo tackles. That fact just further illustrates how much of a gang-like approach Watertown took en route to yielding a league-low 56 points, while not allowing a single running back to eclipse 100 yards rushing.
"We're just very stubborn, and any good defense needs to be to an extent," Dumaw said. "It doesn't matter what the score is, our biggest fear is giving up points."
Equally as important has been each individual's willingness to forgo personal growth and success for the greater cause of the team. Every linebacker can't be on the field for every down, but the depth at the position hasn't yet rendered any animosity. It simply motivates each man to make the most of the chances he does get.
More so th an in past years, players on this squad seem more focused on ending Watertown's 29-year EFL championship drought than keeping track of th eir own numbers and minutes logged.
"Everybody wants to be on the field and make plays. But everybody also understands it's a team sport," Houppert said. "We have to have guys in who can get the job done. But we're very deep at a lot of positions so anybody can usually fill a spot without any issues. Everybody has been pretty content and humble about things."
Dumaw said the key to linebacking success this year has been superb communication. While defensive linemen and defensive backs are often tied up in one-on-one situations, this group must rely more on each other for support. Production from the other sets of defenders is key, too.
"Our job is to take everybody else's hard work and make tackles out of it," Dumaw said. "If everybody does their job, it's easy to do ours."
"A lot of linebacker corps are just run stoppers," said Roberson, who also plays defensive end, and shared the league lead with six sacks. "But this group is so versatile, and athletic enough to cover ground in the pass defense also."
Dragons reach EFL semifinals
Staff report • September 28, 2009, 10:35 pm
The Broome County Dragons will get a third shot at beating the Watertown Red & Black.
The Dragons advanced to the Empire Football League semifinals with a 15-14 victory Saturday over the Vermont Ice Storm in an EFL first-round playoff game in Albany.
The Dragons will visit top-seeded Watertown on Saturday, with the winner to advance to the EFL title game the following week.
Watertown (9-1) won the two regular-season contests against the Dragons (6-5). The Re d & Black earned a 55-13 road victory at Binghamton Alumni Stadium on July 25 and a 25-0 home victory at Alex Duffy Fairgrounds on Sept. 19.
The Plattsbur gh North Stars will visit the Quebec Titans in Saturday's other semifinal.
Published October 03, 2009 12:49 am - Plattsburgh to take on Quebec Titans in EFL playoffs.

Stars in semis tonight

Staff Writer
MONTREAL — The Plattsburgh North Stars will appear in their first semifinal game this decade when they face the Quebec Titans in Empire Football League playoff action tonight at 7:30.

"I'm excited for it," Plattsburgh coach Pat Keleher said. "The team is going=2 0into it with the attitude that there is nothing to lose."

It will be the third time the teams have met this year. Plattsburgh won at home, 31-7, early in the year before falling, 24-0, on the road.

Both teams were missing key players in the respective losses — Quebec had former-Titan veteran players return to the roster after the loss at Plattsburgh, and the Stars were missing 14 players on their trip to Montreal.

Keleher said Quebec improved drastically on both the offensive and defensive lines throughout the season with returning players, and the addition of veteran quarterback Kevin Wyeth made the Titans that much better.

"They are a completely different team with Wyeth," Keleher said. "He's a very experienced quarterback. He understands the game at a high level, and can read defenses and check off at the line of scrimmage very well."

The Stars have made some strides in their passing game, as well.

Quarterback Ken Stay, despite the fact that he was facing a sub-par Massena team, was impressive with six touchdown passes last weekend. He connected with Matt St. Clair on four.

"It was good to see Matt get back into his groove," Keleher said.

Kelly Gordon will return to the lineup at receiver tonight, and standout running back Brandon Keleher will play a fter missing the last game against Quebec.

The secondary, which also was thin for the last trip to Quebec, will be a deeper unit this time around.

However, the Stars will have to overcome the loss of running back and punt-return man Zach Blocker, who broke his tibia in last week's game.

"Zach is the type of player where if you give him a seam, he can take it to the house at any time," Keleher said.

Jordan Keleher, who is a top-return man in the league, will share return duties with Gordon.

Keleher said the team is much more prepared personnel-wise entering tonight's game than it was two weeks ago.

"We're pretty much back to normal," Keleher said. "We've had some practice time to prepare where guys are going to play."

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