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.

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