Morning sports: Red & Black prep for playoffs

Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 6:26 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown Red and Black are hoping for another championship in their post-season..

The Red and Black are on the road this weekend in Rochester.

Coach George Ashcraft’s team will square off against the Upstate Predators on Saturday, the same Predators team that beat the Red and Black a little over a week ago 22-19.

It’s a game Ashcraft says could have had a different outcome if not for a slow start from his team.

”The things that haven’t happened all year bit us good in the last game. We rebounded in the 2nd half, played a very good defensive side of the ball the 2nd half. Offensively, we put points back on the board again.,” AShcraft said.

“It’s the nature of the beast. You’ve gotta put points on the board offensively. Defensively when you do it it’s icing on the cake.”

The Red and Black offense sputtered out of the gate against Upstate and put the defense in some tough spots, allowing the Predators to jump out to a 14-3 halftime lead.

Red and Black offensive coordinator Jerry Levine says the offense has to be sharper from the start if the team hopes to stay alive in the post-season.

”We turned the ball over 4 times which we haven’t done in a long time. We’ve got to hold on to the ball, be able to run a little bit and get the ball to our playmakers,” Levine said.

“We got to make some plays. We got to get off to a good start too. We have not gotten off to a good start in a few games where we’ve had trouble. So I think we gotta come out of the gate ready to play and go down there with a little more effort than the last time we played them.”

Red and Black quarterback Shawn Johnson, who led the late rally that came up short against the Predators, says the loss to Upstate has stuck with him for the past two weeks and he’s ready for redemption this Saturday night.

”Everyone is given a second chance in life or a second opportunity to prove themselves and I feel like this is our chance as a team, as a whole. Didn’t get that opportunity the first game, some missed opportunities here and there - grateful about this one though,” Johnson said.

The players know there’s no margin for error and are well aware that if they don’t bring their A game on Saturday night for the first time in 3 years their season will end without being able to hoist a championship trophy.

”Come in prepared, excited, energetic. We just need to come out not flat like we did last week, have been the past couple of games. Just need more energy out of everybody,” said Cory Smith, defensive back.

”All three of us, Syracuse, Upstate and us, we’re all very tough. Every week you have to bring your A game. If you don’t bring your A game that’s the biggest problem. If you don’t bring your A game, you can fall in defeat,” said Josh Lear, defensive lineman.

The Red and Black and the Upstate Predators are in the opening round of the GDFL playoffs this Saturday night in Rochester with kickoff set for 7 o’clock.