JOHNSTOWN - After a successful 2013 season as a member of the Northeastern Football Alliance, the Glove Cities Colonials have gone back to their roots.
The Colonials have rejoined the Empire Football League and will kick off their 2014 semi-pro football campaign against the Plattsburgh North Stars at 7 p.m. tonight at Knox Field.
"It is big for us because the Empire Football League is the second oldest semi-pro league in the country," Colonials coach Matt Capano said. "Now it can again boast having three of the oldest semi-pro teams in the country, Watertown, Glens Falls and the Colonials. This goes back years and years and will be a renewal of some great rivalries."
The league set its schedule in March with six teams - the Colonials, the Watertown Red & Black, the Glens Falls Greenjackets, Plattsburgh North Stars, Syracuse Shock and Vermont Ice Storm - in the league.
Since that time, the Vermont Ice Storm and Syracuse Shock have folded, leaving a few voids in the schedule.
"We are still waiting for teams to fill in the voids left by Syracuse and Vermont folding," Capano said. "We did pick up a home game with the Oneonta Stallions of the Northeastern Football Alliance on July 26. We are still waiting for confirmation from a couple of other teams."
2014 Glove Cities Colonials Schedule
July 12Plattsburgh7 p.m.
July 19at Watertown7 p.m.
July 26Oneonta* 7 p.m.
Aug. 9at Glens Falls7 p.m.
Aug. 16at Plattsburgh7 p.m.
Aug. 23Watertown 7 p.m.
Sept. 20Glens Falls 7 p.m.
Sept. 27EFL Playoffs
Oct. 4EFL Championship
Home games are played
at Knox Field, Johnstown.
Capano said he has high expectations for the Colonials with the solid turnout of veteran and new players on the roster.
"We have 25 returning starters from the 35 from last year and have 61 players on our roster," he said. "Right now I am optimistic about how things are going to be. We have a lot of young talent on the team this year with 15 local players on the squad. We are glad to have Brandon Insonia back after missing last year with shoulder surgery. Kenny Cronin from Mayfield has not played football but played soccer and will be our kicker. We have the local kids back from last year. Things look pretty good."
Heading into Saturday's season-opener against Plattsburgh, Capano said the Colonials will have to be solid on defense, which has been a trademark of the team the past few seasons.
"Plattsburgh is a pound 'em out kind of team," he said. "They are big and come right at you, pounding it out on the ground. Our defense has always been holding up the team the past couple of years and we will be looking for them to do it again this year. We have a solid defense but we need to put more points on the board. We have a couple new quarterbacks coming this year and some solid receivers. Once we get our offense going, it looks like [the team] could be unstoppable."
Glove Cities won the Empire Football League championship in 1974 and ran off a 26-game winning streak between 1966 and 1970, including undefeated seasons in '67 and '68. They also went undefeated in 1962.
Capano also is looking for the return to the EFL and renewal of old rivalries to spark new interest from the local football fans.
"We ave had between 35 and 40 guys at the practices and everybody is anxious to get at it," he said. "We just want to get everybody to come out to watch the Colonials. It is going to be a special year with a special team for us."