There’s hope for Saints

Rich Fyle column

From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The Watertown Red & Black semipro football team is steaming ahead into the Empire Football League playoffs, perhaps showcasing their best performance of the season despite some injuries to key personnel and a challenging lack of overall numbers.

By earning a forfeit victory this week over Seaway Valley, the R&B will finish the regular season with a 7-3 record and be seeded second when the EFL postseason starts Sept. 28.

Watertown, which started 0-3 with all the losses on the road, will play host to one of three teams in the semifinals — either Plattsburgh (5-4), Mohawk Valley (4-5), whom Watertown beat 27-20 at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds last Saturday, or Glens Falls (4-5).

The R&B defense sacked Mohawk Valley’s QB four times, intercepted him three times and recovered a fumble last week.

The No. 3 seed will be determined after Saturday’s regular-season finales, including Glens Falls at Mohawk Valley and top-seed Tri-City (8-1) at Plattsburgh.

After a turbulent, two-year tenure in the Northeastern Football Alliance where the Red & Black had a losing record in 2018, head coach George Ashcraft and his staff must have bright smiles on their faces now returning to their original circuit — and a more calmer setting.

Over the next 10 days, the coaching staff will be trying to get injured players healthier and working on specific drills in practice for the EFL playoffs.

It seemed hard to believe after an 0-3 start, but now the R&B is two wins away from taking its first title since 2009.

n Thoughts on the Orange’s 41-6 defeat to the Tigers: Syracuse University’s first sellout crowd (50,248) since 1998, and the third-largest in the Carrier Dome’s 40-year history, found little to celebrate in the top-ranked Tigers’ demolition.

Clemson sacked QB Tommy DeVito eight times, totaling 56 yards in losses, and his decision-making at times was questionable, namely a brutal red zone interception.

The Orange’s offensive line, perhaps the team’s biggest question entering the season, is a work-in-progress, evidenced by 15 Clemson tackles for losses, and DeVito scrambling for his life before a nationally TV audience.

It’s too early to get a grip on SU (1-2) in which all the schedule’s hardest and easiest games are compacted into a month. The Orange won the opener by 24 points, but lost the others by 43 and 35. SU hosts Western Michigan on Saturday and is listed as a 3 1/2-point favorite.

n NOTE: Top Secret Fyles will return Tuesday, Oct. 1.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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