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."

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