Thursday, October 14, 2010

EFL PRESS RELEASE: (October 15, 2010)

EFL PRESS RELEASE: (October 15, 2010)

(877) 624-4485
The Empire Football League is proud to announce the Plattsburgh North Stars as their 2010 EFL Champions. Plattsburgh  (9-1) won their Empire Football League title Saturday night over the Watertown Red & Black  (10-1) by a score of 13 - 10. Saturday night's win brought Plattsburgh their first Empire Football League erasing painful memories of their 6 - 0 championship disappointment to Watertown in 2009. More than 1,000 fans showed up at the Plattsburgh Athletic Complex to witness a coveted victory in Plattsburgh's 20 year history.
Fan Quote: "This championship game was by far the best I have ever seen the North Stars play. They played a championship team and came out ahead with their perseverance, motivation and desire to play hard and win. What a fantastic game!! When you have teammates that blend as well as the North Stars, you have champions in the making. They all did a fantastic job and played with pride. It was nothing short of amazing."
 The Watertown Red & Black vs. Plattsburgh North Stars EFL Championship game is available for viewing at:
The EFL is also proud to announce the following All Star Selections for 2010 per attachment

Monday, October 11, 2010

AFA Newsletter oCTOBER 14, 2010

American Football Association AFA Newsletter October 14, 2010
In This Issue:
•   Staph Infections Associated With Artificial Turf ?
•   Attempts To Use AFA Founder, Ron Real's Name Continue
•   Free AFA Alumni Club Membership Program
•   Sponsor: Ambit Energy
•   AFA Member League News Clips
•   Join Us On Facebook
Staph Infections Associated With Artificial Turf ?
As high school and college athletes prepare for a new football season, sports trainers and coaches are concerned about outbreaks of an antibiotic-resistant staph bacterium that some people have associated with synthetic turf fields. But a study by researchers in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences should help put those concerns to rest.

Conducted by the university's Center for Turfgrass Science, the study found no trace of Staphylococcus aureus bacterium in any of the 20 infilled synthetic turf fields tested in various locations in Pennsylvania.

Staphylococcus aureus is a common bacterium that often lives harmlessly on the skin or in the nose. When introduced into the body through a cut or medical incision, it can cause anything from minor skin lesions to life-threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia or organ damage. A strain of the bacterium, MRSA (methicillin-resistantstaphylococcus aureus), has developed resistance to the antibiotic -- synthetic penicillin -- typically used to treat it and is becoming a major concern for sports teams with synthetic turf fields. The strain has also become one of the most common causes of skin infections requiring emergency room treatment nationally.

The Penn State study also found low overall microbial populations in the synthetic turf systems. "The microbe population of natural turfgrass far exceeds anything we've found in the infill systems," McNitt says. "In fact, a number of the infill systems had zero living microbes in the sample at the time of testing."

The researchers did find S. aureus on other surfaces (blocking pads, weight equipment, stretching tables and used towels), as well as on the hands of five randomly tested passersby. The bottom line, McNitt says, is that while everyone should be concerned about the spread of bacteria and the cleanliness of equipment and other surfaces that players contact, infilled synthetic turf systems do not appear to be a breeding ground for microbes generally.

"Some other studies indicate that a player playing on synthetic turf may acquire more skin abrasions due to the abrasiveness of the surface," McNitt says. "Thus, they have more entry points for the staph, but they're not getting it from the field -- they're picking it up in the locker room or somewhere else. One study shows that players who shave their ankles prior to taping up, for instance, also have a greater incidence of staph because the shaving creates little nicks for infection to enter."
American Football Association
Free AFA Alumni Club Membership Program
2011 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:

2011 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

Team membership applications can be downloaded by clicking:

Hurray, limited number of AFA Souvenier Glasses available $10 each

FEEL FREE TO FORWARD THIS NEWSLETTER TO A FRIEND (click link at bottom of newsletter)
AFA Member League News Clips
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Power Balance is based on the idea of optimizing the body's natural energy flow, similar to concepts behind many Eastern philosophies. The hologram in Power Balance is designed to respond to the natural energy field of the body. The Mylar material at the core of Power Balance has been treated with energy waves at specific frequencies. The resulting Mylar is believed to resonate and work with your body's natural energy flow to help enable you to perform at the best of your ability.

"The added balance, strength, flexibility, and endurance Power/Balance gives me is incredible. But, more than anything, because of these benefits, Power/Balance gives me the extra bit of confidence I need to know that as long as I am wearing the technology, I will be performing at my very best."
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Check this out:,0,7768803.story By Jon R. Anderson - Staff writer
They don't play for money or to the roar of big crowds.
But for a growing number of military gridiron gladiators, the rise of semi-pro football is offering a second chance to play the game they love.
And maybe, just maybe, some will have a shot at real glory.
Meanwhile, old interservice rivalries are finding new life in unlikely places.

Air game lacking for R&B
PLATTSBURGH - Punishing. Relentless. Opportunistic. This is the Watertown Red and Black running game.

R&B gives up EFL title
NORTH STARS WIN: Field goal attempt in final minute sails wide
PLATTSBURGH -- Hey, you can't win it every year.
The Watertown Red and Black, playing for a second consecutive Empire Football League title Saturday night, came up just short in that quest at Plattsburgh High School

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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Sunday, October 10, 2010

EFL Post Game Press Coverage October 10

October 10, 2010

North Stars EFL champions

Defeat Watertown 13-10 to wrap up first league crown

PLATTSBURGH — Two things are required to defeat the Watertown Red and Black — a stout defense and a good kicker.

The Plattsburgh North Stars have both, and that's why they're champions.

Mitch Ryder was good on field goals from 40 and 42 yards, and Plattsburgh's defense made two stands in the final five minutes as the Stars claimed their first ever Empire Football League championship in a 13-10 victory in front of their home crowd.

"I can't really explain how I feel right now," Ryder said.

No problem, the performance said it all.

Plattsburgh overcame some serious momentum swings, including two controversial calls by the referees and a lull in the second quarter when Plattsburgh was outscored 10-0.

Watertown's Brian Williams got in on a 2-yard run at the end of a drive that saw an incomplete pass on third down ruled a 30-yard completion.

Then, kicker Nate McKeever scored near the end of the half.

"You can't let that consume you," said Stars coach Pat Keleher, referring to the catch ruling. "That was a big momentum change, and we were too focused on it."

The offense was unable to get into the red zone throughout most of the game, but Plattsburgh had enough confidence in its kicker to play it safe and put up three points when the opportunity presented itself.

Ryder opened the scoring 5:49 into the game on a long, sustained first drive.

"When you have a kicker the quality of Mitch, it takes the pressure off of the offensive coordinator, because he doesn't have to worry about making a perfect call," Keleher said. "He's the best kicker in the league, in my opinion."

Plattsburgh's offense got going in the second half, keeping Watertown's bruising rushing attack off the field while the defense charged up for a big finish.

Ryder made his second kick in the third quarter.

The familiar connection of quarterback Ken Stay and Trevor St. Clair made a touchdown appearance four minutes into the fourth quarter to give Plattsburgh the lead, and the Stars defense took over from there.

"We want the pressure to be on our (the defense's) backs," said safety Shane Racette, who made an interception late in the game to help preserve the victory. "That's the type of team we are. Put it in the defense's hands and let us make it happen."

That mentality leaked over to the offensive playcalling. After Racette's pick, Plattsburgh used the ground game to wear the clock down before attempting a safe little slant pass.

"I told (offensive coordinator) Scott (Aguglia), 'don't do anything crazy,'" Keleher said. "If we have to run, we'll kick and play defense."

Watertown's Joe Brennan rushed 32 times for 147 yards.

Air game lacking for R&B

PLATTSBURGH - Punishing. Relentless. Opportunistic. This is the Watertown Red and Black running game.
For two full seasons now, Watertown's rushing attack, featuring quarterback Brian Williams and Joe Brennan, has been the Empire Football League's most dangerous weapon. And it didn't falter Saturday night, racking up over 200 yards as the nation's oldest semipro squad dropped the title game 13-10 to the Plattsburgh North Stars.
The problem is sometimes the holes aren't there. Legs get tired. Or the other team simply knows what's coming, as was the case for the North Stars, who earned their first title in 20 years of existence.
Williams completed four of only nine throws as Watertown missed a chance to become the league's first repeat champion since Albany in 2005 and 2006. Three were to Lucas Meyer, whose 35-yard catch in the fourth quarter, moments before a crucial interception, set up the Red and Black in Plattsburgh territory.
And when Watertown took over for its final possession with 1:53 left, it attempted just three throws, completing only a seven-yard dump to Brennan.
Williams's ability to make tacklers miss and, Brennan's strength running between the tackles has, negated Watertown's need to throw for most of the past two seasons. The Red and Black doesn't have to air it out on a regular basis. But it should be able to do so with more consistency than it has all year. Watertown finished with 511 yards on the year, which was the lowest of the four playoff teams.
Sure, Plattsburgh QB Ken Stay had only 52 yards in the title game. But Watertown knew it had to protect against the pass. The North Stars did not.
Would it hurt to keep the defense guessing?

R&B gives up EFL title

NORTH STARS WIN: Field goal attempt in final minute sails wide
PLATTSBURGH — Hey, you can't win it every year.
The Watertown Red and Black, playing for a second consecutive Empire Football League title Saturday night, came up just short in that quest at Plattsburgh High School.
Nate McKeever's 34-yard field goal attempt with 17 seconds remaining flew inches wide to the left, giving the Plattsburgh North Stars their first-ever title with a 13-10 victory.
Ken Stay's nine-yard touchdown connection to Trevor St. Clair four minutes into the final quarter netted the Stars (10-1) the necessary points to deny Watertown (10-2) another trophy. Who knows if Watertown's championship drought will linger for 29 years again. But it will last at least one.
"The game should never come down to a kicker missing a field goal," head coach George Ashcraft said. "(McKeever) has done a hell of a job for us this year. You could pick a lot of things apart from this game. It was a great game all around, and a great win for Plattsburgh."
McKeever already connected on a 20-yarder in the second quarter, which after Brian Williams's two-yard touchdown run, gave the Red and Black a 10-3 halftime lead. But Watertown, despite dominating the line of scrimmage in the middle of the field, couldn't orchestrate another drive that ended with points.
The Red and Black converted a fourth down and a third down on its final series to set up McKeever's final boot.
"They got a little bit of a rush, but the kick felt good," McKeever said. "The ball went straight. It was just on the left hash mark, and went a little wide."
Joe Brennan led the Red and Black with 119 yards, putting him over 1,000 for the season. Williams rushed for 96 of his own, but Watertown never broke free for the long one as team had become accustomed. The now former EFL champion put together a pair of drives that chewed up more than nine minutes, but still surrendered the title to the team it beat for the 2009 championship last season at the Duffy Fairgrounds.
"We felt like we controlled the ball the way we wanted, but we didn't get the points we were hoping for," Brennan said. "Plattsburgh is just a real good team."
The Stars, who gave the Red and Black both of its losses this season, converted their first series into a Mitch Ryder 40-yard field goal for the early advantage. They finally seized the lead in the same fashion as they did during August's win over Watertown - through the air.
A blocked punt set up Plattsburgh at the Watertown 27. Three plays later, St. Clair was standing in the back of the end zone with the title-sealing points after his touchdown reception from Stay.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 9

October 9, 2010
NICK ST. DENIS Staff Writer Press-Republican Sat Oct 09, 2010
PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh North Stars wanted Watertown.

They got it.

Plattsburgh will host the Empire Football League championship tonight for the first time ever when the defending champion Red and Black pay a visit to Plattsburgh Athletic Complex for the second time this season.

The Stars fell to Watertown, 6-0, in last year's championship game at Watertown, but they clinched the 2010 regular-season title with 21-7 victory over the Red and Black a month ago.

"You're talking about the oldest semi-pro team in the country and the defending EFL champions," said Stars coach Pat Keleher. "If you're going to win a championship, you want to do it against the team that's been there the longest."

The North Stars had a three-week layoff after its last victory over Watertown because of a Massena forfeit and a bye, but they were primed to go in a 31-0 rout of Amsterdam last weekend in the semifinal round.

Watertown defeated Vermont to advance to the title game.

"The game at home was looming right in the distance," said Stars quarterback Ken Stay after last week's victory. "Obviously there were some question marks because we hadn't played in a while, but we were confident that we could come out and win and get to (this) week."

Keleher said the mood surrounding the team is as good as it's ever been since he's been part of the organization.

"It's terrific," Keleher said. "It doesn't get any better than this. We're expecting a big crowd and have gotten a lot of response from people about coming to see us play."

Watertown is a hard-nosed team with an extremely tough front seven on defense.

The Red and Black tried to apply pressure to Plattsburgh's offense when the teams met in August, but the Stars countered Watertown's aggressive rush with quick passes.

Plattsburgh prides itself on being a well-rounded offense, whereas the Red and Black prefer to run the ball.

"For us, we have to stop Brian Williams and control the run game," Keleher said. "Put them in situations where they have to pass when they don't want to.

"In the first game we didn't make any mistakes — didn't turn ball over. We took advantage of red zone opportunities. We created some turnovers when they had two or three fumbles on huge hits by our

Red & Black sets out to settle score on way to defending title

The Watertown Red and Black faces a list of challenges as it travels to Plattsburgh for tonight's final game of the 2010 season.
On top is the quest to claim a second consecutive Empire Football League title. But there are other tasks to get done, too.
A victory would avenge Watertown's one loss of the season, and also prove the Red and Black is a better team than the one that went to Plattsburgh on Aug. 21.
The North Stars won that regular season meeting 21-7. The fact Watertown lost wasn't as much of a shock as the fashion in which it happened. That game was nothing like the two Watertown and Plattsburgh played in 2009.
"For us to give up points like that to a team that hadn't scored on us in two years was hard to swallow," defensive lineman Dan Robl said Tuesday. "This time is all about going up there and shutting them out like we did last year. We have something to prove as a defense. We want to prove that those two long touchdowns were kind of a fluke."
North Stars coach Pat Keleher said that a revamped offensive line, rather than luck, was responsible for his squad knocking off the defending champion, despite not scoring a single point in two meetings last year.
In this rematch of last year's title game, whichever team's defense bends the least will likely triumph.
"The past couple years we probably were outmuscled up front," Keleher said Thursday. "That hasn't been the case this year. We have some depth now on the offensive and defensive lines, and we match up a lot better now with Watertown."
The Red and Black managed just a touchdown catch by Earnie Wash in August, as Brian Williams and Joe Brennan were limited, respectively, to 67 and 68 yards.
Watertown suffered a similar setback in 2009, dropping a mid-season game at Quebec.
Head coach George Ashcraft said the Red and Black did just as much to defeat itself this season as Plattsburgh did.
"I didn't think we were outplayed," he said. "We gave the game away, and we're not going to do it twice. We're up for the challenge to go up there and play."
The North Stars are in much the same position as Watertown was a year ago, hosting the title game with a chance to win it for the first time in the 20-year history of the franchise.
Watertown has been around for a bit longer, and had won one in 1980. But it knows the frustration of years of championship-chasing, and also what it's like to be target of every opponent's best effort.
"We took everybody's best shot all year, right from the first game we won against Syracuse," Todd Kiechle said. "We knew going into each game it was like a championship for some teams. Even if they weren't going to qualify for the playoffs. We just have to focus. It's championship week."

Sunday, October 03, 2010

EFL Post Game Coverage October 3

Zephyrs blanked by Plattsburgh
By The Leader-Herald
POSTED: October 3, 2010
PLATTSBURGH - The Amsterdam Zephyrs season came to an end Saturday night with a 31-0 loss to Plattsburgh in the opening round of the Empire Football League playoffs.
Amsterdam quarterback Nick Shepard completed 11 of 28 passes for 109 yards with Hasan Welch, his favorite target, collecting five catches for 51 yards.
Elijah White carried the ball five times for 30 yards and Alex Heath gained 33 yards on 11 carries for the Zephyrs. Heath also made five solo tackles, assisted on three more and recovered a fumble. John Totzeck and Alvin Foy added two solo tackles apiece.
Plattsburgh 31, Amsterdam 0
Amsterdam0 0 0 0 - 0
Plattsburgh14 3 7 7 - 31
October 3, 2010

Plattsburgh wallops Amsterdam 31-0  to reach championship game

Sunday, October 03, 2010   |  3:28 AM
Zephyrs' campaign concludes
Staff report
PLATTSBURGH -- The Amsterdam Zephyrs made a late-season surge to grab the last spot in the Empire Football League playoffs, but once the second season arrived, the Plattsburgh North Stars proved to be too difficult a task to overcome.
Playing without star quarterback Scott Lawson, who didn't travel with the team to the game, the Zephyrs' struggled on offense all night and watched as Plattsburgh's potent passing attack put up four touchdown passes in a 31-0 rout Saturday in the league semifinals.
Nick Shepard, starting at quarterback in place of Lawson, was 11-of-28 passing for 109 yards. Hasan Welsh led the Zephyrs with five receptions for 51 yards, while Eddie Harrison hauled in four passes for 37 yards.
Amsterdam's potent rushing duo of Elijah White and Alex Heath was bottled up for most of the night, with White managing 30 yards on five carries and Heath carrying 11 times for 33 yards.
Heath also turned in the top effort for the Zephyrs on defense, racking up eight tackles (five solo, three assists) and a fumble recovery. Jon Totzeck added a pair of solo tackles.
A 25-yard touchdown pass put the Zephyrs in a 7-0 hole just 1:37 into the first quarter, and the top-seeded North Stars added another touchdown pass with 4:27 left in the frame to take a 14-0 lead after 15 minutes.
A second quarter field goal ballooned the lead to 17-0 at the half, then touchdown passes in both the third and fourth quarters kept the Zephyrs from holding out hope for a rally and sealed Plattsburgh's berth in the EFL championship game next week at home against Watertown.
The Zephyrs reached the playoffs with a 38-17 rout of the New York (Oneonta) Stallions last Saturday at Lynch Literacy Academy, winning despite a four-week break between games.
R & B defense stands tough
EFL PLAYOFFS: Watertown digs in deep at goal line, denies Vermont and meets Plattsburgh for crown
This is what Watertown Red and Black football is all about.
With the Red and Black holding a precarious seven-point lead and visiting Vermont threatening to score late in the third quarter of Saturday night's Empire Football League semifinal at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, the Watertown defense knew it had to make a heroic stand.
So on fourth-and-inches from inside the Watertown 1-yard line, Vermont tailback Aaron Webster dove for the score only to be thrust back by Watertown's defensive front for a 2-yard loss.
That was but one of several defensive highlights for the Red and Black, which picked off five Vermont passes and limited the Ice Storm to 152 total yards of offense in a 14-2 victory.
That win sends Watertown (10-1), the defending EFL champs, to Plattsburgh on Saturday night for the EFL title. Plattsburgh handed the Red and Black its only loss of the season, so needless to say there's a matter of evening the score.
"We owe them big time,'' said Red and Black linebacker Mike Dumaw, who intercepted three passes and was all over the field. "This week we'll put together a game plan and then try to execute it better than last time.''
Quarterback Brian Williams rushed for 124 yards on 10 carries and scored both Watertown touchdowns. He ran it in from 55 yards in the first quarter, then tacked on a huge 4-yard TD scamper in the fourth quarter to deny the Ice Storm (6-4) any chance of a comeback.
"They made some mistakes, we made some mistakes,'' Williams said. "But when we had to move the ball, we just pushed it down their throats. Our defense came up big as usual, and that just spurs us on.''
The Watertown defense harassed Vermont quarterback Brad Ruderman all night, forcing him to throw most of his passes while retreating. Ruderman completed just 10-of-26 throws for 106 yards.
Todd Kiechle also recorded two interceptions and Vermont's running game managed only 46 net yards in 21 attempts.
As for his interceptions, Dumaw said he just knew where Ruderman was throwing. "He almost always looks off the first receiver and goes for a second,'' Dumaw said. "He wasn't setting his feet because of the pass rush, so they were really easy picks.''
Watertown set the tone early by stopping Vermont on its first series, then scoring quickly when Williams kept on the option and raced past several Ice Storm defenders for a 55-yard score with 91/2 minutes left in the opening quarter.
Nate McKeever's PAT made it 7-0, and that was really all the Red and Black needed.
"In a game as defensive-minded as this, one touchdown is huge,'' Williams said. "It's nice to get that early momentum and then watch our defense work.''
Vermont recorded just four first downs and only 85 yards of offense the entire first half. However, Williams was also picked off twice to prevent the Red and Black from adding to the lead.
Vermont put together its only drive of the game early in the third quarter, marching from its own 38 to the Watertown 1 in 10 plays. That's when the Watertown defense stood its ground.
Vermont's only score came on the next Red and Black series when a bad Williams pitch to Joe Brennan bounded into the end zone and Brennan recovered for a safety. But the Red and Black held on downs after the free kick, and the Watertown offense accepted the challenge by mounting its best drive of the contest.
With Brennan (29 carries, 146 yards) and Williams sharing the rushing load, Watertown drove 74 yards on nine plays with Williams sweeping left end for the final four yards to the big insurance points.
"We basically gave Plattsburgh the first game with our mistakes,'' Red and Black coach George Ashcraft said. "But if we limit the turnovers, and play our game, we'll be just fine.''

Saturday, October 02, 2010

EFL Pre Game Press Coverage October 02

Protect the ball, R & B stresses

EFL PLAYOFFS: Vermont invades Watertown for key semifinal contest
George Ashcraft needed only to look at the game tape from Aug. 21 to see the No. 1 obstacle standing between the Watertown Red and Black and the chance to play for another Empire Football League championship. And it doesn't wear an opposing jersey.
The memory of a trio of red zone turnovers that night against Plattsburgh, which happened to hand Watertown its only defeat this season, should be enough to remind the Red and Black to take care of the ball, win the turnover battle.
Sure, such phrases are so commonly uttered in the football world they've become cliché. But Ashcraft's squad can attest to their importance.
In the eight games, Watertown (9-1) actually played this season, it enjoyed a plus-7 (13-6) turnover ratio. The only outing in which the Red and Black was negative in the turnover column was against the North Stars, and that setback cost the team a chance to enjoy home-field advantage throughout the EFL postseason.
"One bad game this year we turned the ball over," Ashcraft said Thursday. "It was on the one-yard line, the three-yard line and the 15. The rest of the year those were scores for us. It was unusual for us that it happened. We cannot turn the ball over."
The Red and Black played five games without a turnover this season, and equally important, quarterback Brian Williams' only interception of the year turned out to be inconsequential during a blowout victory over Amsterdam.
Those statistics could come into play tonight, when the Red and Black hosts the Vermont Ice Storm in a semifinal at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
During a victory and a tie against the Ice Storm, Watertown, which didn't make a turnover of its own, forced three fumbles and picked off quarterback Brad Ruderman twice.
Vermont managed just one touchdown and a pair of field goals two weeks ago against Watertown, and Ruderman, one of the league's top passers, threw for just 246 yards in the two regular season meetings.
"Our coaching staff has really put together some great game plans, and the guys have been responding to them," Ashcraft said. "I feel really good about that going into the playoffs."
While mistakes with the ball clearly cost Watertown against the North Stars, Ashcraft said the way the team responded was different than in the past, during seasons that didn't end nearly as successfully as this one and last.
He said the team has bought into the idea that once something is done, it can't be changed.
"We're playing well together, and when somebody makes a mistake, they shake it off," the coach added. "Then it's on to the next play. Whatever happens they roll with it, and come back with a positive attitude. There's been no lashing out."
Top-seeded Plattsburgh is hosting No. 4 Amsterdam in tonight's other semifinal game.
Zephyrs ready for showdown at Plattsburgh
Recorder Sports Staff
After playing their best game of the season last week, the Amsterdam Zephyrs head to Plattsburgh today to take on the top-seeded North Stars in the first round of the Empire Football League's playoffs.
"This is do or die now," said Bob Reynolds, the Zephyrs' defensive coordinator.
Amsterdam (4-5) defeated the New York (Oneonta) Stallions (3-6) last week to clinch the EFL's fourth and final playoff spot, and did so in impressive fashion. The Zephyrs topped the Stallions, 38-17; the 38 points were the most scored by the Zephyrs in a single game this season, besting their previous high of 27 by nearly a dozen.
The 38 points scored were a far cry from when the Zephyrs tangled with the North Stars at Lynch Literacy Academy in late July. Then, the North Stars emerged with a 6-3 victory after the Zephyrs missed a game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter.
But good luck holding the current Zephyrs to such a paltry figure; head coach Joe Hall and offensive coordinator Dom Ruggeri have their offense clicking in recent weeks, bringing the unit's production up to snub with the defense's.
"We've got to really establish the run early," Ruggeri said.
The coordinator has several options at his disposal, ranging from the lightning quick Alex Heath to the powerful duo of Penta Thomas and Elijah White. The trio combined for 163 rushing yards on only 18 carries last week.
"We're going to go right at [Plattsburgh] and force them to stop us on the run," Ruggeri added. "And, hey, if they do, all the credit to them -- but then I'll just tell Scotty [Lawson] to open it up."
Lawson, a veteran quarterback who was a late-season addition to the Zephyrs, has been able to open up the Zephyrs' offense. In two games with the Zephyrs, Lawson has thrown for 396 yards and seven touchdowns. A former Albany Metro Maller, Lawson is closing in on 40,000 career passing yards at the semi-professional level, currently sitting at 39,828 yards.
In order to get the final 172 yards, Ruggeri said Lawson will need his offensive line to help him out more than they did last week when Lawson was forced to throw on the move with regularity.
"Our pass protection has to be much better against [Plattsburgh]," Ruggeri said. "They have a very good group of linebackers."
But if the North Stars do bottle up the Zephyrs' attack, that's OK with Reynolds, the team's defensive guru.
"I've got something up my sleeve [for Plattsburgh], something they're not expecting," he said.
Reynolds has played his hunches well in the past, including last week when he switched up his defense's front seven for a small, but quicker, unit. Going against New York quarterback Noble Chapen -- a converted wide receiver who looked often to run -- Reynolds' strategy paid off, his defenders putting constant pressure on Chapen. The speedy quarterback was sacked multiple times behind the line of scrimmage and hurried throughout the night. It showed in his statistics -- Chapen finished a paltry 8-28 for 88 yards with two interceptions.
However, working against the Zephyrs will be a lack of practice. Weather and a lack of an available field cost the team both of its practices this week, sending the group in cold for tonight. Still, the team's head coach isn't worried.
"The guys are ready, they all said they're ready," Hall said. "We should be all right."
Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. The game will be played at the Plattsburgh Athletic Complex.

Colonials, Zephyrs ready for playoffs

By PAUL WAGER, The Leader-Herald
Amsterdam (4-5) at Plattsburgh (8-1)
Coming off a four-week layoff, Amsterdam (4-5 overall) played its way into the postseason with a 38-17 win over the New York Stallions of Oneonta last Saturday at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Quarterback Scott Lawson completed 9 of 20 pass attempts for 175 yards and three touchdowns against the Stallions. Lawson now needs 173 passing yards to eclipse the 40,000-yard career passing mark.
Alex Heath returned a punt 35 yards for a touchdown and gathered in a 30-yard pass from Lawson for a touchdown. Ace Barnhill and Gary Moring also caught touchdown passes of 10 and 18 yards respectively. Elijah White scored on a 21-yard touchdown run, while John Totzeck connected on a 30-yard field goal.
White carried the ball seven times for 98 yards as the Zephyrs turned in 351 yards of total offense.
In their one meeting this season, Amsterdam dropped a hard-fought 6-3 decision to Plattsburgh on July 31 at Lynch Literacy Academy.
Plattsburgh scored its points on field goals in the first and fourth quarters, while Totzeck had a 27-yard field goal for Amsterdam's only points.
Totzeck had a field goal attempt blocked in the second quarter and a 47-yard attempt fall short in the fourth quarter.
Nick Shepard was 4-for-12 for 72 yards for the Zephyrs, while Hasan Welsh had two catches for 56 yards.
Heath added 17 carries for 72 yards for Amsterdam, while David Lumpkin had four solo tackles and an interception.
Tim Sweeney had two solo tackles and three assists for Amsterdam, Ron Pierce had three solo tackles and a fumble recovery, Bob Deming had three solo tackles and Totzeck had two solo tackles and an interception.
Plattsburgh (8-1 overall) hasn't played since a 21-20 win over Vermont on Sept. 11 after accepting a forfeit win over Massena on Sept. 18.
The winner will advance to face the Vermont Ice Storm or Watertown Red and Black in the championship game next Saturday.

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