The Northeastern Football Alliance bowed to the inevitable earlier this week, canceling its season because of concerns of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Carthage Revolution, however, still hasn’t given up hope on playing this summer as the team, which resides in the NFA. It desires to be a part of a new league forming this year, thus providing a potential silver lining for the franchise.
“Definitely, I hope so,” Revolution majority owner Leon Aldridge said. “It’s something we all look forward to and if we’re able to make this happen with the blessings from Jefferson County and from the community, it would definitely be a great thing to have.”
The league will be known as the Northeast Adult Amateur Football League and is tentatively scheduled to begin play in August.
The league so far is made up of teams from the NFA, such as Broome County and Charlotte and may include teams from the Empire Football League, where the Watertown Red and Black reside, according to Aldridge.
The Auburn Pride of the NFA is also a possibility to join the new league for the summer, while the Mohawk Valley Night Hawks and the New Jersey Stags of the EFL will likely join as well for the year.
“I think it’s something that they’re building from my understanding of it,” Aldridge said. “We received an invite and I received some text messages from a few owners, so I think this is something they’re building.”
Aldridge received the news that the NFA had canceled its season Monday and then informed his coaches and players. The Revolution was to open its season on May 30, but the season was postponed, with the opener rescheduled for July 11.
“It’s always disappointing to hear that you can’t play football and you have to break the news to the guys, that ‘I appreciate you being patient, but we’re not going to be able to do anything this year,’ ” Aldridge said. “It’s always disheartening to a lot of players who have putting in the work on their own and been studying in anticipation of actually stepping on the field, so it is kind of gut-wrenching at times.”
Aldridge was then approached by the potential new league later in the week and has hopes the team’s new season will begin in late August, with their home games to be played as usual at Carthage High School.
“We’re trying to provide football,” Aldridge said. “Hopefully the schools will open up and things will be a little more relaxed and give us the opportunity to actually get on the field. But if the (COVID-19) guidelines stay intact or things get worse, then I’m sure the same thing will happen that there will not be any football this year.
“So I’m hoping the guys that are putting this league together understand that and I think they do, I’m figuring that’s why they want to try and start in late August.”
Aldridge also hopes to rebrand the Carthage team if there is a season, hoping to appeal to Jefferson County as a whole.
“It’s not necessarily be an actual Carthage Revolution team,” Aldridge said. “We’re looking at a few avenues that might make a better team, a more productive football team for the area and once we have a meeting, it’s going to be a team that’s going to be put together from a lot of different individuals and trying to make a super team in a way, if we can make this happen.
“Like a Jefferson County team, we’ve give it a shot, see how it works out. If things work out, then it might be something we might look at as a permanent fit for the future.”
With Carthage’s season opener pushed back to August, there’s also hope that soldiers from Fort Drum will be able to again play on the team.
Earlier in the month, the post’s acting senior commander Brig. Gen. Brett Funck placed a temporary hold on soldiers from the base participating in sports because of the pandemic.
“Oh man, we hope so,” Aldridge said. “You know, the military is the backbone of what we’re tying to do. Those guys are very instrumental in what we try to do and what we try and accomplish and hopefully in the near future, we can get some information from the general and hopefully they loosen up some of these stringent policies. But we will follow the general order, whatever Fort Drum puts out is what we will abide by and my soldiers understand that.”
Aldridge also wanted to emphasize that so far the Revolution team hasn’t practiced as a group and hasn’t violated any social distancing rules concerning the coronavirus.
“We understand there’s a lot of misconceived notions out there that we’re trying to do something outside the guidelines, and we haven’t practiced yet,” Aldridge said. “And we’re just trying to give Jefferson County something to have, that’s it. We’re trying to give the county some football, and give young people something to do and the fans something to enjoy, whether it be via livestream or we’re actually able to have fans.”
Aldridge also said that the Revolution, to be directed by first-year head coach Jon Fisher, would play a seven- to eight-game season in the new league.
“But hopefully with reason and with understanding and if the negotiations go the way I hope they will go, then I think we will be able to do something everybody will be very surprised about, but at the same time very excited about,” Aldridge said. “We’re going to try some new things and some bigger things and I think if we get the best of the best from the area and get that team formed, I don’t think anybody around us will be able to handle us.”