JOHNSTOWN - The 51st season for the Glove Cities Colonials semi-pro football team is set to begin. After finishing with a record of 9-4 and losing to Troy in the Eastern Conference Championship game in 2012, the Colonials are optimistic about 2013.
"This year we have a lot of young talent coming to our team," head coach Matt Capano said. "We have a lot of speed and we finally have some local talent coming out to play for us, so we're excited about that."
A key difference this season for the Colonials will be a revamped coaching staff. Coach Romell Ponder remains on Capano's staff, while a number of coaches who previously coached for the Albany Metro Mallers will be joining the Colonials this season, including Darrin Earing, Ron Wise, Tommy Manny, Damon Walker and Joe Bouck.
"With the new coaches we added to the team, we're optimistic about this year," Capano said. "We should do pretty good."
With only 15 players returning from last season's squad, the Colonials were able to take advantage of the Amsterdam Zephyrs' inactivity in the Empire Football League this season, luring three Zephyrs to play for the Colonials in 2013.
Colonials fans will notice a change in quarterback at the helm this season. Justin Kastner, the quarterback for the last four seasons, decided to retire prior to the season.
2013 Glove Cities Colonials Schedule
vs. Troy Fighting Irish
@ Oneonta Stallions
vs. Utica Yard Dawgs
@ Utica Yard Dawgs
@ Finger Lakes Impact
vs. Watertown Revolution
vs. Cortland Bulldogs
@ Troy Fighting Irish
vs. Oneonta Stallions
Playoffs Round 1
Playoffs Round 2
Replacing him will be Salih Banks, a product of the Shenendehowa High School football program. Capano feels the addition of a talent such as Banks will soften the blow of losing a veteran like Kastner.
"He's [Banks] fast and it's going to add another dimension to our offense," Capano said. "He's very mobile so that's going to help us out. Justin was more of a pocket passer."
Another offensive weapon the Colonials are excited to have joining the team this year is Ace Barnhill, a Gloversville High School alum who played under coach Tom Ciaccio. Barnhill joins Glove Cities after playing for Albany in 2012.
"He [Barnhill] is going to add a lot of depth to our wide receiver crew," Capano said.
Due to an expansion of the Northeastern Football Alliance this season, the Colonials are in for stiffer competition.
The Finger Lakes Impact, Western Conference champions for the past three seasons, have joined the Eastern Conference for 2013 due to three expansion teams joining the league out west. The Northeastern Football Alliance will now feature 16 teams, with eight in the Western Conference and eight in the Eastern Conference.
The Colonials will be tested right away. The team will kick off their season Saturday at Knox Field in Johnstown at 7:30 p.m. against the defending NFA champion Troy Fighting Irish. The Fighting Irish have represented the Eastern Conference in the NFA championship game the past three seasons.
"Troy's been the powerhouse the last three years," Capano said. "They put together a winning team and they know how to run it."
All home games will follow the same format as the season opener, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. at Knox Field.