Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stars in favorable position

September 29, 2010

Stars in favorable position

PLATTSBURGH — It's good to be home.

For the first time since Pat Keleher has been head coach of the North Stars, Plattsburgh will host an Empire Football League semifinal game Saturday when Amsterdam comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

With a victory, the Stars would host the EFL Championship for the first time ever.

"The mentality of the team has been good the past few weeks," Keleher said. "We're very excited and we understand the position we're in. And we're happy to be home."

Plattsburgh's last game was a colossal home victory over the Vermont Ice Storm to clinch the regular-season league title, but that was Sept. 11 — over two weeks ago.

By Saturday, it will have been 20 days without a game for Plattsburgh.

"I'm not crazy about not playing for three weeks, but we've practiced well," Keleher said. "We've had decent attendance and have scrimmaged a little more than we probably would have during a regular week."

The long break has given the Stars a chance to rest some injured bodies after a physical game against Vermont that followed a road win against Oneonta and a dogfight when the Stars ousted Watertown, 21-7, at home.

"We had a couple guys dinged up who have now had a chance to heal," Keleher said. "That part of it has been good."
Role Reversal
As the No. 1 seed this year, Plattsburgh will face a team very similar to the North Stars of 2009 in the Amsterdam Zephyrs.

"We're kind of looking at it in reverse," Keleher said. "Last year we were like Amsterdam. We had a decent midseason but ran into better teams at the end. We had to kind of turn thing around, and we did."

Last season, Plattsburgh captured a semifinal victory against Quebec in Montreal, catapulting the team to a hard-nosed 6-0 loss at Watertown in the EFL Championship.

"Amsterdam is much better than 5-5," Keleher said. "They had rocky start to beginning of year, missing some guys. But by midseason, most of the old guys came back and they picked up a few bodies here and there.

"They're like us last year, coming here knowing if they win one game, they're in the championship."

Watertown will host Vermont in the other semifinal game. If Plattsburgh wins, either the Red and Black or the Ice Storm will have to travel to Plattsburgh for the second time this year.

"It's human nature to look ahead, but I'm not doing it," Keleher said. "We can't look past Amsterdam.

"I made it very clear to the guys that we need to have a couple very focused practices this year, with 100 percent focus on Amsterdam."
Cracking the rankings
National Football Events released its national coaches poll Sept. 22, and the Stars made an appearance.

Plattsburgh is ranked 25th in the nation out of about 700 teams and sixth in the Northeast Region.

The Poll impacts selections made for the National Bowl Weekend in Deland, Fla. in January, so the Stars will have a shot a bowl game selection if they win the championship.

Plattsburgh has made big strides over the last three years. In 2008, the Stars made the playoffs and lost in the first round, tallying eight wins overall.

Last season, Plattsburgh made it all the way to the championship game on a road playoff schedule, totalling 11 victories on the season.

This year, the Stars captured the regular-season title and could go 10-1 with the league championship.

"Every aspect of the organization has grown each year," Keleher said. "Because of the success, we've had some new ball players come out and that has raised the overall talent level.

"Also, the board of directors and people working behind the scenes have gotten better. Now, we have a good routine and good people who do a lot to make my job easier."

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Monday, September 27, 2010

EFL Post Game Press Coverage 9/27

Zephyrs get into playoffs
Recorder Sports Staff
Coming into Saturday night's game at Lynch Literacy Academy, the Amsterdam Zephyrs just needed to win to secure the Empire Football League's final playoff berth.
The Zephyrs got the win, but they also made a statement.
Facing the New York (Oneonta) Stallions, the team the Zephyrs lost to in their opener, Amsterdam rolled to an impressive 38-17 victory.
"The guys played great tonight," said Zephyrs head coach Joe Hall.
Setting the tone early was the team's defense, putting on a show on the Stallions' (3-6) first possession. The short-lived drive lasted for seven plays, with the Zephyrs (4-5) stopping five of the plays behind the line for losses.
After a failed Amsterdam drive, the Zephyrs' defense again went to work against the Stallions. After three quick stops the Stallions were forced to punt from their own 10-yard line.
A short punt landed in the hands of Amsterdam's speedy tailback Alex Heath at the Stallions' 40-yard line, and the Zephyrs made quick work of the New York special teams. After dodging an early tackler around the 30-yard line, Heath sped out to the sideline and went untouched into the end zone.
Though the Stallions managed a field goal on their next possession, from there it was all Zephyrs. Behind quarterback Scott Lawson's two touchdown throws and a field goal of their own, the Zephyrs went into the half leading 24-3.
Amsterdam scored quickly in the third quarter on a series of bruising runs by halfback Elijah White (six carries, 80 yards) and fullback Penta Thomas (two carries, 13 yards) to push their lead to 31-3. The burly duo rushed for a combined 60 yards on the drive, often dragging Stallions along with them as they chugged for extra yards.
The drive's most impressive plays came on its last two hand-offs. First, it took four Stallions to finally push Thomas to the ground after picking up six yards, then White capped the drive with a remarkable 21-yard touchdown run. White appeared ready to go down at the 17-yard line, but instead brushed off a pair of would-be tacklers and rumbled the rest of the way to end zone.
From there, the Zephyrs were never seriously challenged, thanks in large part to the stellar play of their defense.
In all, the defense held the Stallions' offense to just 132 yards. Zephyrs' defensive coordinator Bob Reynolds changed up his defensive front before the game, opting for a smaller, but quicker, line. The move worked, allowing the Zephyrs' to treat each Stallions' snap call as a signal for a jailbreak toward Noble Chapen, the Stallions' quarterback. The speedy Chapen (12 rushes, 36 yards) often found himself scurrying out of the backfield to avoid crunching hits from the blitzing Zephyrs. Even when Chapen was able to get off a throw, he often found himself hurried and throwing on the run; as a result, Chapen, the Stallions' major offensive threat, had 16 of his 26 passes fall incomplete and another two secured for interceptions in the arms of Amsterdam's Jon Totzeck. Chapen's eight completions went for 88 yards.
"You can't ask anything more of the defense," Hall said. "They played outstanding all night."
The Zephyrs now head to Plattsburgh to take on the top-seeded North Stars next Saturday. The two teams met earlier this season at Lynch Literacy Academy, a 3-0 Plattsburgh victory. The Zephyrs still think their defense is capable of shutting down the North Stars, but now their offense can do its part. Always able to move the ball on the ground because of the presence of Heath (10 carries, 63 yards) and -- when healthy -- White, the Zephyrs now can move the ball through the air, too.
"We've got a first-class quarterback now," Hall said. "They can't just team up on the run and put nine in the box. We're two dimensional now ... we were one-dimensional when we played them last time."
September 27, 2010
Anonymous Staff Report Staff Report Mon Sep 27, 2010, 03:30 AM EDT
The quest for a playoff spot came up short for the New York Stallions.

The Stallions, an Oneonta-based, adult-football team, dropped a 38-17 decision at Amsterdam on Saturday, ending their chances at making the Empire Football League playoffs.

Amsterdam earned the fourth seed and meets No. 1 Plattsburgh in a semifinal.

The Stallions (4-5) improved from their first year, when they went 0-10 and were outscored, 529-18, in the Regional American Football League.

"It was a pretty reasonable season," New York coach Tom Terry said. "We made strides to build a foundation and hope to be a better football team next year."

Oneonta High graduate Noble Champen paced New York with 90 yards rushing and a touchdown. Kyle Besemer (Walton) had a 7-yard touchdown run for the Stallions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More than semi-tough: Troops take warrior mentality to gridiron - Off Duty ...
Oldest team
George Ashcraft knows what that's like. Head coach of the Watertown Red and Black, just outside Fort Drum, N.Y., Ashcraft and many of his players sport a tattoo with the team's logo bearing the date May 12, 2007. That's the day Sgt. 1st Class James Connell was killed in Iraq.
Formed in 1896, the Red and Black is the oldest semi-pro football team in the nation. Ashcraft first joined as a player in 1973 just out of high school.
"I graduated on a Sunday, and Monday was my first practice," he says. He's been the head coach for the past 20 seasons and says military players have always brought something special to the team.
"It goes without saying most of these men are in fantastic shape. They're disciplined, respectful. Many of them have played college ball. They come and go, but I never forget them," Ashcraft says. He just wishes they wouldn't all go at once.
Last year Ashcraft went to the league championship with a half-dozen of his players in Afghanistan.
That's one of the reasons he now webcasts every game.
"After the first night we put the game on the Internet, I had messages on my phone from soldiers all over the world. One of my coaches is in Germany now, and he watches every game."
Those viewers are on top of the 500 to 1,000 fans who go out to watch the games live. "We had about 2,000 people at last year's championship. I think we might double that if we go again this year."

Not the farm league
It's true, plenty of semi-pro teams would suffer against a good high school squad. And just to be clear, while baseball's minor leagues are the tried-and-true path to the big stadiums, that's decidedly not the case with semi-pro football.
"Pro football has its farm league, and it's called Division I collegiate football," says David Burch, president of the American Football Association, which represents semi-pro teams across the country.
Most semi-pro teams gather a few times a week to practice and play on Saturdays at local high school stadiums. Depending on the league, teams play any of three seasons throughout the year. Some of the better-organized teams with sponsors and a regular fan base will provide uniforms and gear and bus the players to away games, while others require players to outfit themselves and charge a fee to help cover other costs.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

AFA Newsletter September 23, 2010

American Football Association AFA Newsletter September 23, 2010
In This Issue:
•   News from Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance
•   Attempts To Use AFA Founder, Ron Real's Name Continue
•   Free AFA Alumni Club Membership Program
•   Ambit Energy
•   AFA Member League News Clips
•   Join Us On Facebook
News from Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance
News from Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance
New Web Training Videos
FREE to Current Sadler Clients!

Check out the following web training videos on general sports risk management and abuse/molestation risk management that can be found at under the password protected section.

Sports Organizations - Videos
• How to Implement A Risk Management Program (For Administrators Only)
• How to Implement An Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program (For Administrators Only)
• Sports Risk Management Awareness Training (For Administrators and Staff)
• Abuse/Molestation Awareness Training (For Administrators and Staff)

Sports Organization Risk Management Plans - Documents
• Sample Basic Plan
• Sample Intermediate Plan
• Sample Advanced Plan
• Sample Abuse/Molestation Plan
American Football Association
Free AFA Alumni Club Membership Program
2010 AFA Alumni Club Membership - Are You A Card Carrying Member?
For the next 6 months, AFA Alumni Club Membership is basically free. Upon completing the mail in application, you will receive a $25 gift certificate as part of your membership package.

AFA Membership is open to anyone and everyone that, at one time or another, had been (or still is) involved with a semi-pro team and/or league. The AFA Semi-Pro Football Alumni Club is co-sponsored by the AFA National Association and the Members of the AFA Hall of Fame Alumni. If you are interested in a 2010 membership application, just click:

2010 AFA Team & League Membership
Membership applications are now being accepted for the 2010 season. The annual membership fee to join the AFA is $100 "per team" which provides a benefit package that is easily 10x this fee

AFA Member Team Fund Raiser:
Since 2006, Macy's Shop For A Cause Event has partnered with non-profit organizations nationwide to raise more than $34 million for their ongoing charitable efforts. This is your chance to be part of this monumental event on Saturday, October 16, 2010.

Through Shop for a Cause, Macy's provides participating organizations with shopping passes to sell for $5 each. Organizations keep 100% of every ticket sold. Pass holders will enjoy 20% or 10% off most regular, sale and clearance purchases all day, plus 25% off one regular, sale or clearance item in men's, women's or kids apparel or accessories. Some exclusions apply, see pass for details. By purchasing a shopping pass to the event, customers will be supporting their favorite cause while enjoying a day of spectacular discounts, entertainment, special events and a chance to win a $500 shopping spree.

Please contact us at if your organization is interested in participating in this fund raiser

Team membership applications can be downloaded by clicking:

FEEL FREE TO FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER TO A FRIEND (click link at bottom of newsletter)
AFA Member League News Clips
Kragthorpe: Blechen, as in wreckin' — Ute safety makes name known
By Kurt Kragthorpe
Tribune Columnist
Published Sep 20, 2010 02:23PM

Brian Blechen will turn 19 only next week, after starting his fourth game as Utah's strong safety.
"It takes a mature 18 year old to do what he's done," said his father, Robert Blechen.
Yet that's not even close to the most impressive age-related achievement for a football player in his family.
This discovery of yet another quarterback who's making an impact for the Utes defensively comes complete with the story of Blechen's grandfather, who played semipro football in southern California until he was 67. Even now, as he nears his 75th birthday, with both knees having been replaced, Bob Blechen says a comeback is "tempting."
Mix in a father and older brother who were known for their hard-hitting approaches and the portrait emerges of a natural defensive player who marketed himself as a college QB prospect, but must have known where he truly belonged.
Brian Blechen may miss quarterbacking, but this response to why he likes football says everything about his game: "I love just being able to hit people and not get in trouble for it."
Even beyond his game-changing interception against Pittsburgh, Blechen is establishing himself as a Ute fixture. He looks more imposing than his 6-foot-2, 203-pound listing suggests and makes plays all over the field.
How do the Utes do this? In the tradition of Paul Kruger, now a defensive end for the Baltimore Ravens, they have linebacker Chad Manis and Blechen as defensive stars who once were scholarship quarterbacks.
Note: Bob Blechen is a member of the AFA's Hall of Fame Class of '90

Roberson Museum and Science Center
Roberson is the new energetic hub of community based sports activity. Check out Champions!, a celebration of Binghamton, New York's rich sports history. This exhibit will be on display for the next 12 months. The Empire Football League's TC Jets are prominently featured in this exhibit along with a continuous running video of the Albany Mallers vs. Jets 1997 EFL Championship. Next time you're in Binghamton, stop by to visit Roberson Museum's CHAMPIONS Exhibit. Click to view pictures

+ Semi-pro Football HQ Scoreboard
+ Please submit corrections and omissions to
+ Copyright (c) 1998-2009, Joe Hulsebus
Attempts To Use AFA Founder, Ron Real's Name Continue
Unfortunately, despite previous communications from the Family of the late Ron Real stating their position, the distraction of organizations/individuals attempting to use the name of Ron Real for a trophy/championship game continues. This is not only sickening and but also extremely disrespectful! NO means NO !

After just celebrating our 30th Anniversary, the many achievements of our founder Ron Real and 600 plus Hall of Fame members, and the positive image at our level that we continue to promote, the seriousness of this issue has become more paramount. We will continue to distance ourselves from organizations that characterize themselves as associates of the American Football Association………American Football News Today, the Ron Real Trophy, the Minor Pro Hall of Fame, Minor League Football News Hall of Fame, etc.

The AFA Board of Directors and family of the late Ron Real once again state that these groups/initiatives are unauthorized and have nothing to do with the AFA, the AFA Semi-pro Football Hall of Fame or the AFA's American Football News™ created by the late Ron Real, founder of the AFA.
Ron Real
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About the American Football Association: The American Football Association is a national 501(c) (3) non-profit, tax exempt corporation in its 30th year of operation and is dedicated to the advancement of adult (semi-pro) football from coast-to-coast. Our slogan is Semi Pro & Proud®. We are not affiliated with any other national semi-pro/minor league organization (Minor League Football News, American Football News Today, American Football Hall of Fame, Minor Pro Hall of Fame, etc). The AFA, Hall of Fame, American Football News™ and AFA logo design are registered trademarks of the American Football Association. All other AFA-related trademarks are trademarks of the American Football Association.  American Football Association

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