Saturday, July 09, 2011

EFL set to kick off 42nd season tonight with three game slate

EFL set to kick off 42nd season tonight with three game slate

Defending champion Plattsburgh heads to Albany in EFL Game of the Week


BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- The Empire Football League (EFL) will kick off its 42nd season Saturday night with six teams in action, including defending champions, the Plattsburgh North Stars, as they travel to Albany to take on the Metro Mallers. The other two games on the schedule have the Glens Falls Greenjackets visiting the Amsterdam Zephyrs and the Elmira Evolution hosting the Syracuse Shock. Watertown and Montreal both have a bye during week one.


In the EFL Game of the Week, Plattsburgh looks to defend their first-ever EFL Championship against return member, the Albany Metro Mallers. The Mallers join the EFL after spending last season in the North American Football League (NAFL).


Plattsburgh went 10-1 last season, and has not lost a game since last August, when they fell to Vermont 20-10. The North Stars won their final six games on the way to the EFL Championship. Plattsburgh defeated the Watertown Red & Black, 13-10, in a repeat matchup of the 2009 title game. In preparation for Saturday's opener, Plattsburgh has played two non-league games which head coach Pat Keleher's has been able to evaluate his team. "We started in mid-May and have had good numbers since," said Keleher. "We worked hard in the preseason and got everyone in the games and were able to evaluate a lot of players." Keleher's team won both non-league games handily giving his team confidence heading into week one.


The North Stars aerial attack will look to continue in 2011 as Plattsburgh returns the leagues best receiver last season, Trevor St. Clair. "Offensively, I like to be balanced," Keleher stated. "Last year people thought we were a passing team, but we were forced to throw because teams were stacking the line." In 2010, St. Clair led the EFL with 10 touchdown receptions and 441 yards receiving. St. Clair paired with Chris Fish gives Keleher much confidence in his receiving corp, "(Chris) Fish is a two-way tight end, he can get out and run and be a run blocker when needed…he could be one of the best tight ends in the league."


Led by third-year starting quarterback Ken Stay, 20 of the Plattsburgh's 28 touchdowns came through the air. "Ken (Stay) has matured nicely and he's really starting to get it…he could have a really good season this year." On the ground the Stars used a running back-by-committee philosophy last season as four different backs carried the ball at least 40 times. The defending EFL champions were led by Zach Block, who rushed for 427 yards on 82 carries, getting in the end zone three times. "We have a lot of depth in the backfield adding Akeem Williams from Vermont in addition to Zach (Block) and Harry Rascoe, who really carried us in the second half of the championship game."


A stingy North Star defense that held Watertown to ten points in last year's championship game will be led by the league's top tackler BJ Godfrey and Joey Painter, who had six picks to lead the EFL in 2010. The Stars boasted a defense that held opponents to 10.4 points per game and had three different players with at least 50 tackles on the season.


"On the defensive side of the ball we are a base 4-3, but we have the ability to adapt to teams who want to spread us out," Keleher continued. "We have depth at both the second and third levels, our linebackers are probably our strongest unit. Our two bigs in the middle return, (Kelsey) Lenny and (Mike) Moran and we have a bunch of talent in the secondary with Jay Mahl and Kris Ross."  


As for the game against the Mallers, Keleher knows his team will come out and compete, saying, "I know we will go out there and battle, I expect a dog fight and we just want to play our game and hopefully things will bounce our way."


Albany, a franchise that has had a storied history in the EFL, returns with a veteran-laden team as head coach Chris Brown looks to Scott Lawson at quarterback and Sylvester Cooperwood in the backfield to lead his offense. Albany has won four EFL titles and a USFA/MLFN National Title in 2008. The Mallers went 2-8 last season in the NAFL, but will look to find success again in the EFL.


The transition for the Mallers has been interesting according to head coach Chris Brown, "Preseason has gone well, we've consistently had 40-50 players, but the transition with some of the guys who haven't played in the EFL before has been slow at times." The combo of Lawson and Cooperwood paired with a stout front four on defense gives Brown a team ready to compete, "Our players are eager and ready to respond, we want to reestablish our presence in the EFL."


Offensively, Brown wants to ground and pound while keeping his opponents off balance. "I want to run the ball, but with Scott (Lawson) its hard at times, but we have the ability to adjust to our opponents." Lawson, who returns under center for the Metro Mallers after playing briefly with the Amsterdam Zephyrs' in 2010 is one of semi-pro football's most prolific passers. Lawson is just 150 yards away from eclipsing the 40,000 yard plateau. Brown is stocked with former All-Americans at the tailback position with Cooperwood and receiver Culture Branch. Brown is optimistic about his offensive personnel, "We have a lot of former All-Americans out there with plenty of experience, they kind of make it easy for us as coaches"


Defensively the Mallers also plays a base 4-3 defense. Brown will rely heavily upon his two big guys in the middle Jeremy Boyd (6'2, 320) and Dwayne Murdock (6'2, 250). "Most teams will be hard pressed to move those two in the middle," Brown reiterated. Albany will look to stop the run with their front four and force teams to pass the ball into their athletic secondary.   


Brown knows the North Stars will be ready to play, "Plattsburgh is a well coached team with a bunch of good guys over there, they execute on every play." As noted by Keleher, Brown too expects the game to be physical, "I know one thing, it will be a very hard hitting game, I'm sure both teams are eager to get after each other."


Both teams are confident in their front four, particular the defensive tackle position. It will be interesting to see who will gain the advantage on the ground. The defending champions want to prove they are for real and earn respect around the league. "It's a matter of respect," said Keleher. "We want to prove last year wasn't a fluke and be considered in the upper echelon of the EFL." Albany will look to spoil the reigning EFL champion's season opener in which should be a hotly contested matchup.


NOTE: According to, Lawson will be the first quarterback to ever throw for over 40,000 yards in a career. Lawson has 1,205 more yards than long-time Scranton Eagles quarterback John Kennedy and is an all-time leader in attempts, completions and touchdowns. 


Wash gives title bid one last shot
He also plans to step away from the Watertown Red and Black at the end of this season, and will do so as the semipro football team's all-time leader in receiving yards and touchdowns. For all that Wash has accomplished, one thing still eludes him, ...


Red & Black goals remain sky high

Watertown has played in the Empire Football League championship game in each of the last two seasons, beating Plattsburgh for the title in 2009, and losing to the same team in last year's title game.


Stars set to begin title defense

Plattsburgh Press Republican

Nine months to the day after defeating the Watertown Red and Black in the Empire Football League championship game, the Plattsburgh North Stars will start all over.


Stars open EFL season

Plattsburgh Press Republican

The 2005 and 2006 Empire Football League champion Albany Metro Mallers left the EFL in 2007 for the North American Football League.

Greenjackets to begin season Saturday night

Glens Falls Post-Star

The Glens Falls Greenjackets will begin their 2011 season in the Empire Football League with at the Amsterdam Zephyrs on Saturday night.




Plattsburgh at Albany, 7:30 p.m.

Glens Falls at Amsterdam, 7:30 p.m.

Syracuse at Elmira, 7:30 p.m.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Free Web Site Counter
Free Website Counter