A year to remember: The Red & Black’s perfect season

A year to remember: The Red & Black's perfect season
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 7:44 AM EST
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With the end of the year around the corner, we’re looking back this week at area teams that had memorable runs in the 2022 season. Here, we focus on the Watertown Red & Black, a team that strived for perfection and in the end attained just that.

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Coach George Ashcraft’s team entered the 2022 season with a bullseye on their back, entering the year as defending Empire Football League champs.

Early on in the season, Ashcraft had a sense that this team could achieve some lofty goals, with a number of key players back from the 2021 championship squad.

“If we can do what we did a year ago and get better every week, I think this group of men are going to be something to remember by September and October,” he said at the beginning of the season.

The Red & Black opened their EFL season in a rematch of the 2021 championship game with Glens Falls, with Watertown winning a tight contest 19-14 on the road.

In their home opener against Plattsburgh, Ashcraft would have the football field at the Alex Duffy Fairgrounds named after him and pick up his 250th win as Red & Black coach.

“My family, they’ve been a part of it every day of my life that I’ve been doing this for 50 years,” he said. “I can’t say enough to all the coaches, players, the people that support us. We got a great community here and I’m just glad I’ve been a part of this tradition.”

The Red & Black would roll off seven straight league wins after that with ease, with their tightest game coming in the final regular season tilt, where they beat Broome County 17-12, capping off a perfect regular season and home field advantage in the playoffs.

In the EFL semis the Red & Black cruised past Auburn 61-6 to move to 11-0 in Empire Football League play and set up another rematch with Glens Falls in the championship game.

“At the end of the day we did our job,” linebacker Dylan Bice said. “We’re going to do our job next week and come home with a championship.”

And the Red & Black did just that on October1 with a strong showing on both sides of the ball Watertown would beat Glens Falls 30-14 to capture their second straight EFL title.

“I believed in our team, and we came out with the win, back-to-back champions,” linebacker Jeremy Machia said.

“It was a great win,” wide receiver Dequace Jackson said. “Like I said, we came in, got the job done and I just love it. It’s no better feeling than to go back to back.”>

“It’s surreal, everything that’s come our way this year, 13-0 and win two championships back to back like this, it’s what it’s all about,” Ashcraft said. “It’s been a long time coming for our team, but they’ve earned every bit of it.”

The 2022 Watertown Red & Black, writing another chapter for the oldest semipro football team in the country.