Press-Republican

Sports

March 22, 2011

Empire Football League grows for 2011

Plattsburgh North Stars excited to defend title in highly-competitive conference

Five teams who weren't in the Empire Football League last season will take the field in 2011.

Four of them aren't strangers.

The EFL announced that the Syracuse Shock, Elmira Evolution, Albany Metro Mallers, Glens Falls Greenjackets and Montreal Voyagers have joined the EFL for the 2011 season.

The Plattsburgh North Stars, Watertown Red and Black, Amsterdam Zephyrs and Vermont Ice Storm will be back.

Syracuse teams, the Metro Mallers and the Greenjackets have combined for 11 EFL championships, winning every title from 2000 to 2006 besides 2002, where Glens Falls lost in the final.

The Greenjackets won the inaugural championship in 1969.

"We're real excited — I think it's great," said Pat Keleher, coach of the defending champion North Stars. "They have a long tradition in the EFL, so them coming back is terrific."

Montreal has never won a championship but played in the title game in 1991.

Quebec had a team in the Titans for the past few years, but this year's Voyagers team "was resurrected from the original '90s EFL franchise by owners Barry Keeler and Kennis Davis," according to a press release.

"We're still trying to deal with the border-crossing thing, but these guys are willing to play all of their games on the road," EFL Commissioner Dave Burch said.

Burch said he's pleased to have the current group of teams with league-rich history, because he knows they are "solid organizations."

"The thing I stress is that we just want the teams to show up as scheduled, follow rules, play and move on from there," Burch said regarding the league's effort to minimize inconsistencies in the past with "teams coming and going."

He added, "We've got a solid process. If there needs to be a change or an issues comes up, they get together as a team of owners, reset and go from there... A lot of people working together."

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