GLENS FALLS — Regardless of how strange this Glens Falls Greenjackets season was, there was no mistaking the joy in the postgame celebration Saturday night at East Field.
The Jackets (6-3) cruised to an all-too-easy 56-0 Empire Football League championship rout of the shorthanded Seaway Valley Venom — the only other team in the league this season. It was the Jackets’ third win over the Venom this season, and first EFL title since 2004.
“We understand the league was a little shallow this year, but it still feels great,” said wide receiver Brian Owen, one of the Jackets’ team captains. “I haven’t played for a championship since high school — winning one is even better.”
“I feel like a king right now,” said 49-year-old Tony Green, who played his final game — and won his third EFL title — in a Greenjackets uniform after 23 seasons as a player. “It took a lot of composure, teamwork and playing as a family, just grinding it out (this season).”
Seaway Valley, which had given the Jackets fits during their last meeting three weeks ago, showed up with only 17 players Saturday night, so most were playing both ways. The game featured running time throughout the second half, and was called with about four minutes left, after Justin Watkins returned an interception 80 yards to complete Glens Falls’ scoring.
“Last game out here against this team was a hellraiser,” said Jackets running back Tony DeLoatch, who rushed for two touchdowns and was named the game’s outstanding player. “We showed a lot of composure tonight.”
“They tried to do the same as last time, but we didn’t bite this time,” first-year head coach Raymond Swann said. “The boys were hungry. I don’t think it would have mattered who they brought today — we were on a whole other level. ... The boys played a heck of a game.”
The Jackets jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead on DeLoatch touchdown runs of 28 and 36 yards, and Jake Gregory blocked a punt and returned it for another. Green and Paul Hanna added short scoring runs in the second quarter, and James DeLoatch and Zach Infield added scores in the third, the latter set up by quarterback Brian Furbert’s 20-yard scramble. Kicker Dan Meluziis went 8 for 8 on extra points.
After James DeLoatch’s touchdown, two Venom players were ejected following a skirmish on the ensuing kickoff, leaving them with even fewer healthy players. There was a delay of several minutes while team officials discussed whether or not to continue the game.
The Greenjackets and Massena-based Seaway Valley were left as the only teams in the EFL this season after a couple of teams folded and three others jumped to other leagues just before the start of the season.
EFL commissioner Dave Burch, who presented the championship trophy to the Jackets after the game, credited the team for sticking it out in what was a trying season for the league.