Red & Black coach reflects on 2023 season

Red & Black wrap up 2023 season
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 8:06 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The Watertown Red & Black saw their season come to an end on Saturday night, losing to Upstate 28-0 in the opening round of the GDFL playoffs.

It was a season of highs and lows for the Red & Black.

The Red & Black finished their first season of play in the Gridiron Developmental Football League with a 6-4 overall record, 5-4 in league play. Two of those losses came from Syracuse and two from Upstate.

Red & Black coach George Ashcraft says one of the main reasons for that was the turnover in the roster throughout the season.

“A lot of people came and gone this year, a lot of good athletes, a lot of good players,” he said. “Work schedules, military duty, every aspect of the game that we’ve always depended on came and gone this year. That’s how we ended our season I think too early.”

Ashcraft says while the team didn’t reach its ultimate goal of winning a third straight championship, there were a number of things to be proud of with every player and coach giving maximum effort each and every week.

“My coaching staff did everything we could ask of them,” Ashcraft said. “The players that could be there, I really believe were there when they could be. We had a lot of injuries this year that one week or another one of your starters couldn’t play but they always came back. We were successful and that’s what Red & Black football has always been about.”

This week marks the first week in almost a year that the Red & Black have been off, with playoffs, banquets, a bowl trip to Florida, and an unexpected switch of leagues when the Empire Football League took a year off in 2023 due to a lack of teams.

“Had our banquet the second week of December, then the Florida trip because we promised people that you win another championship, we’ll take the team to Florida if we qualify. No breaks. When we came back, we were looking to start our season with the EFL in a couple weeks. Go to the annual meeting, there wasn’t enough teams involved so they took a year hiatus. We ended up going to the GDFL and a month later we’re practicing.”

Ashcraft says now that the season has ended on the field, he’s beginning to put together some things during the off season that he feels will improve the Red & Black product going forward.

“Definitely. I’ve got a lot of things in the making right now. I’ve had a two-day break since our last game. We’re going to do some things in the off season here in the next few months that will be announced that get more people involved. It’s going to be great. It’s going to be great.”

It’s a chance for the Red & Black to regroup and reload for a run at a championship in 2024.