From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:
It had been six long years since the Watertown Red & Black semipro football team reached an EFL championship game. Come to think of it, the reality hit more harshly, since the franchise last captured the title, some 12 years ago.
Well, just one year shy of the time it takes a student complete kindergarten through high school as a senior, the Red & Black reached the pinnacle Saturday night with a 37-8 victory over the Glens Falls Greenjackets at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.
It was a completely satisfying triumph for head coach George Ashcraft, his coaching staff, the players and all members of the organization.
The Red & Black finished with a 7-1 overall record, beating the Greenjackets for a third straight time without a loss this season, culminating the campaign on a six-game wining streak with an impressive, tall, gold trophy presented on the field to Ashcraft afterward.
The crown now washes away two disappointing, frustrating seasons the franchise was forced to endure in 2018 and 2020.
Three years ago, the Red & Black competed in the Northeastern Football Alliance — that’s the same league that once featured the rival Carthage Revolution.
There was some strong consternation at the time between Ashcraft and the league commissioner, highlighted when the Red & Black was issued with punitive damage — being assessed a double loss for one setback.
In 2020, the Red & Black, now back in the more familiar EFL, along with other league members, saw their seasons wiped out because of safety concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
But, in a degree of somewhat normalcy for the 2021 season, the Red & Black made a commitment to defense, a unit that caused black and blue marks to foes.
Connor Brown and Curtis Dukes were just two of that group’s star defenders that produced multiple turnovers in game,s along with multiple shutouts during 2021.
Watertown rode its superior defense to the title in Saturday’s convincing win. The Red & Black forced an amazing nine turnovers, including two defensive scores.
Defensive lineman Joshua Lear returned a fumble 15 yards for a touchdown for a 14-0 Watertown lead in the first quarter. Brown’s 40-yard interception return for a touchdown capped the scoring late in the game.
It makes no difference how long or short a football season is in terms of number of games, but when you factor in the amount of practices and film study, there’s no greater feeling for a franchise when it achieves a championship.
Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org