The Empire Football League
The Empire Football League
Empire Fotball League Mission
(a)To provide a football league that fosters and facilitates amateur tackle football training and competitions regionally and nationally;
(b)To support the growth of amateur football regionally and nationally;
(c)To organize, coordinate, and support football games with other regional and national; football teams and leagues;
(d)To train, educate, and promote football players who desire to play on regional and nationalfootball teams;
(e)To publish information which discusses subjects described in (a) through (d) above.
Semipro Football History Articles
By Steven M. Brainerd, AFA Historian

This Game is Going into Sudden Death

It’s a Minor Thing -

EFL League History 1969 - 2001
EFL History:
The Empire Football League was organized during the winter of 1968 - 1969 and consisted initially of teams from Cohoes, Hudson, Troy, Poughkeepsie and Hudson Falls. In the first year, the championship was won by the Hudson Falls Greenjackets with a record of 7-1. The Hudson Vikings finished just half a game back with a record of 6-1-1.

New franchises were awarded in 1970 to the Oneonta Indians, Albany Spoilers and Binghamton Jets. The league was also split into two divisions during this time. The Binghamton Jets defeated the Hudson Vikings in the championship game which capped a 14-0 season for the Jets.

During the 1971 and 1972 seasons, Cohoes, Troy and Albany dropped out of the EFL and were replaced by the Scranton Eagles, Wilkes-Barre Giants and the Albany Metro Mallers. Scranton and Binghamton met both years in the championship games with the Scranton Eagles winning in 1971 and the Binghamton Jets winning their second EFL title in 1972.

Click here for 1972 EFL Stats

At the start of the 1973 season, 1/2 of the EFL moved up to the semi pro Seaboard Football League and the Poughkeepsie Diplomats dropping out of the league. This left the EFL with only the Hudson Falls Greenjackets, Oneonta Indians, Hudson Vikings and a new team, the Troy Titans to carry on. During this year, the Oneonta Indians became the second team to go undefeated and win the EFL Championship.


Click here for 1973 EFL Stats

The Glove Cities Colonials from the Gloversville-Johnstown area and the Utica Mustangs joined the EFL in 1974. The Colonials lost only one game and, as a result, won the EFL Championship.

By 1975, the Seaboard Football League experiment had failed and the EFL returned to eight teams with two divisions. Joining the cast were the Metro Mallers, Watertown Red & Black and the Massena Warriors. The Utica Mustangs dropped out of the EFL during this season. Oneonta won its second championship by defeating the Metro Mallers.

Massena dropped out of the EFL in 1976. This year featured an exciting play-off game between Watertown and Hudson Falls, in which Hudson Falls won in triple overtime. The Hudson Falls Greenjackets went on to upset the undefeated Albany Metro Mallers in the championship game to win their second EFL title.

The Rotterdam Eagles moved up from the New York Football Conference to the EFL in 1977. There was also a change in head coaching as Dave Fleck went from the undefeated Metro Mallers to directing the lowly Troy Titans. Dave changed the franchise name to the Uncle Sammies of Troy and guided them through an undefeated season, beating the Glove Cities Colonials for the EFL Championship.

In 1978, the Sammies and Dave Fleck lost three but became the first team in EFL history to win back to back championships by defeating the Hudson Falls Greenjackets. This season started with the Syracuse Aces replacing the Rotterdam Eagles.

The EFL continued with the same eight teams during the 1979 and 1980 seasons. The Uncle Sammies of Troy continued to be championship contenders but losers this time. In 1979, Troy lost the EFL Championship to the Metro Mallers and in 1980, they lost it the Watertown Red & Black.

In 1981, the EFL returned to 6 teams as the Colonials and the Metro Mallers jumped to the Eastern Football League of New England. The Chenango Storm, formerly the Oneonta Indians, dropped out but were soon replaced by the Binghamton Jets coming back from the Atlantic Football Conference. In fact, the Jets continued to be a dominant force, posting a 16-0 record and winning their third EFL title.

In 1982, the Scranton Eagles returned after a 9 year layoff and went undefeated (11-0) winning the EFL title. The Syracuse Aces became the Syracuse Americans during this season.

The Glove Cities Colonials returned to the EFL in 1983, bringing the EFL back to 8 teams. The Scranton Eagles continued to dominate the EFL defeating Binghamton for the Western Division Championship in 1983 and 1984. Scranton defeated the Glens Falls Greenjackets (formerly Hudson Falls) for the EFL Championship both years. In the Championship Game of 1984, Glens Falls was winning until they were turned back by a Scranton field goal with seconds left. In 1983, Scranton became the second team to win back to back championships and in 1984 Scranton became the first team to win 3 EFL titles in a row.


Click here for 1983 EFL Stats

For the 1984 season, the Syracuse Americans changed owners and became the Syracuse Express. After the 1984 season, the Scranton Eagles continued their winning ways and defeated the champs of 3 other semi pro leagues to become the National Champions of 1984.

In 1985, Scranton's victory string stopped as the Syracuse Express won the Western Division Championship and defeated the Glens Falls Greenjackets for the EFL title. This season marked the fifth straight season that the Greenjackets played their way into an EFL Championship game. Unfortunately they were the losers 5 straight times. However, in 1984 they were winning until Scranton kicked a field goal with seconds left to turn back the Greenjackets. After the 1985 season, Syracuse entered the National Playoffs and won the National Championship of 1985 by defeating the undefeated Chicago Cowboys.

Scranton and Syracuse, National Champions of 1984 & 1985, continued their winning ways in 1986. Scranton returned to the top by defeating Syracuse in the EFL title game. After the 1986 season, Scranton entered the National Playoffs and worked their way to the title game but lost to the Chicago Chargers. This
marked the fourth straight year that the EFL continued with 8 teams consisting of Scranton, Hudson, Syracuse, Binghamton, Watertown, Glove Cities, Tri-City Giants and Glens Falls. The only continuing charter EFL members were Glens Falls and Hudson.

This year, the EFL grew to 10 teams with the addition of the Utica Giants and the Electric City Chargers of Schenectady. The Albany entry was changed from the Tri-City Giants to the Metro Mallers. The Mallers had been in the Eastern Football League since 1981, winning titles in 1981 and 1986. In 1982, the Uncle Sammies of Troy has become the Tri-City Giants. The Metro Mallers ended the regular season as an undefeated team while Scranton, Syracuse and Binghamton all tied in the Western Division with 8-2 records. The Metro Mallers lost to Scranton in the EFL Championship Game but not until the game had gone into overtime.
After the 1987 season, Scranton turned down an offer to enter the National Playoffs but the Metro Mallers and Syracuse Express did represent the EFL. The Syracuse Express went all the way winning the 1987 National Championship by defeating San Jose, California in a title game played in Las Vegas.

The EFL moved to 3 divisions and 12 teams for the 1988 season. The Marlboro Shamrocks moved over from the Eastern Football League and a new team called the St. Lawrence Bootleggers from Ogdensburg joined the league. However, before the start of the season, the Bootleggers moved from Ogdensburg to Ottawa, Canada and the Utica Giants dropped out of the EFL. The EFL played with 11 teams from New York State, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Canada. Even with all of these teams, the Scranton Eagles remained undefeated and defeated the Ottawa Bootleggers for our first international championship game. After the 1988 season, the EFL teams skipped the National Playoffs and started the Empire Challenge. The EFL offered an open challenge to any team to play in a "king of the hill" type of tournament. The EFL won every challenge and the Scranton Eagles continued to remain undefeated by defeating the Syracuse Express in the final game to win the first Empire Challenge and a number 1 National Ranking.

This year marked the EFL's 20th Anniversary with 8 teams; Scranton, Syracuse, Watertown, Albany, Johnstown, Glens Falls, Hudson plus the transfer of the New England Crusaders from the Mason Dixon Football League. The Binghamton Jets and the Schenectady Chargers requested and received a one year leave of absence; the Marlboro Shamrocks returned to the Eastern Football League and the Ottawa Bootleggers decided to try their luck with an independent schedule. Ottawa did succeed to remain in the top 5 National Rankings and went on to the Minor League Football Alliance National Championship Game where they were defeated by the Racine, Wisconsin Raiders. The Scranton Eagles finished the season 10-0 and the Albany Metro Mallers finished the season 8-2. Scranton and Albany faced each other in the EFL Championship Game where Albany upset the Eagles. Scranton's loss ended their 40 game winning streak. Albany decided not to enter the American Football Association National Playoffs but Scranton did enter. Scranton went all the way to the AFA National Championship Game where they defeated the DuPage Eagles in Canton, Ohio to become the AFA National Champions for 1989.

In 1990, the addition of Montreal increased the league to 9 teams. Binghamton was granted another year's leave of absence. Scranton and Albany both finished the season with 9-1 records. Both teams losses came from each other on the road. Scranton defeated Albany in the EFL Championship Game. Scranton went on to play in the Minor League Football Alliance National Playoffs where they defeated #1 ranked Ottawa and the Brooklyn Mariners on their way to the National Championship. Scranton defeated the Palos-Orland Force from Chicago, Illinois for the MLFA National Championship of 1990.

This year, the EFL added the Newburgh Raiders and the Plattsburgh Northstars; the Ottawa Bootleggers returned from their independent schedule. The Binghamton Jets were granted an additional year's leave of absence while the Syracuse Express was granted a 1 year leave of absence. This brought the EFL to 10 teams. The Scranton Eagles and the Montreal Voyageurs finished the season with a 9-1 record, while the Albany Metro Mallers finished with an 8-2 record. Scranton defeated Montreal 14-0 in the EFL Championship Game at Scranton; Scranton went on to the MLFA National Playoffs and were defeated in the 1st round by the Marlboro Shamrocks. This is the only time since 1984 that a team from the EFL did not win a national post season game.

The EFL expanded to 11 teams with the return of the Syracuse Express in 1992. Unfortunately, the Binghamton Jets officially closed its operation. This season marked a change from the days of Scranton, Syracuse or Albany fighting it out for the top spot. The second year team from Newburgh went on to win the playoffs and the EFL Championship. As Scranton faced a rebuilding year, Syracuse stepped up and became the regular season champion plus ranked very high in the Nationals. However, during the playoffs, Scranton upset Syracuse only to lose the Championship game at Newburgh. Newburgh had finished the regular season in 2nd place and after defeating Ottawa, in a very close playoff game, moved into the Championship Game. Newburgh tried its hand at the post season National Playoffs but lost to the Marlboro Shamrocks.

The EFL continued with 11 teams but did however, lose the Ottawa Bootleggers as they closed their operation this year. A new team, the Berkshire Mountaineers, joined the EFL. This team was from Pittsfield and organized by veteran EFL personnel from the Hudson Vikings area. Newburgh continued its fine football as it tied Scranton for the regular season spot and beat them in the Championship Game. Newburgh became the 3rd team to win back to back EFL Championships. The Uncle Sammies of Troy and the Scranton Eagles were the first teams to win 2 years in a row. After the season, Newburgh again tried its hand at the National Playoff level but lost a close game to the Brooklyn Mariners from the Mid East Football League. Berkshire and Syracuse were also invited to the National Playoffs but also lost their first round games.

The Empire Football League marked its 25th Anniversary during this season. The league continued to operate a top quality and stable amateur football league plus continued to be a force at the national level. The 25th Anniversary was celebrated on August 20th as the remaining 2 charter member teams, the Hudson Vikings and the Hudson Falls Greenjackets, faced each other. For 1994, the EFL operated with 10 teams as the Syracuse Express moved its program to Rochester and the Mid Continental Football League.

EFL member teams for the 25th Anniversary consisted of:
-        Hudson Vikings
-        Hudson Falls Greenjackets
-        Newburgh Raiders
-        Capitaland Chiefs
-        Glove Cities Colonials
-        Berkshire Mountaineers
-        Plattsburgh North Stars
-        Montreal Condors
-        Watertown Red & Black
-        Scranton Eagles

The Scranton Eagles marked the 25th Anniversary Year with another undefeated season. They defeated Newburgh in the EFL Championship Game. Newburgh had a great season, losing only to Scranton. Both Scranton and Newburgh entered the National Playoffs and won their opening round games. This broke the string of four years without a national level victory. Albany and Hudson also were invited but lost their opening rounds. This made six different EFL teams nationally recognized in the past two years.

The Empire Football League returned to an eleven team league with the return of a team from Syracuse. A different team than the Syracuse Express, a new group named the Syracuse Storm. The Storm proved to be another power team that earned seven wins in their first year. Their linebacker, Ronnie Johnson, was named the EFL's Defensive MVP. The Storm worked their way into the EFL Championship Game at Newburgh, only to lose to the Raiders 14-9.

The Newburgh Raiders returned as EFL Champs, their third championship in the past five years. It was a year of change for Newburgh as their head coach, Norman Mann, left the organization for the Brooklyn Knights and the National Minor Football League. Newburgh's new coach was Ed Christensen, a former player for the Raiders and EFL MVP in 1992. The Raiders finished the season with a 9-1 record.

The Plattsburgh Northstars were second at 8-2. It was a banner year for the Northstars; in fact in August 1995 they were ranked number one in the nation. The Storm was 7-2, followed by the Scranton Eagles and Watertown Red & Black at 7-3.

Also this year, football rushing returned to the EFL. This season was the first time in the EFL's history that two players gained over 1000 yards; Wade Johnson of Plattsburgh, 188 carries for 1461 yards with 10 TDs and Ryan Robinson of Syracuse, 83 carries for 1033 yards with 7TDs. Wade Johnson was voted the EFL's Offensive MVP. In our history, the first player to gain 1000 yards did not occur until 1978 when John Pease of the Twin County Vikings gained 1071 yards. The EFL record is 1554 yards held by Frank Yanik of Scranton in 1988. Frank is the only player rush for 1000 yards in three different years, 1982, 1985 and 1988.

The EFL had three teams receive bids to the USFA National Tournament, Newburgh, Plattsburgh and Syracuse. However, the Syracuse Storm lost in the opening round, the Plattsburgh Northstars upset the Ocean State Buccaneers but lost to Marlboro in the regional semi-final. The Newburgh Raiders beat the Merrimack Valley Outlaws to reach the Eastern Regional Finals only to lose in a close game to the Marlboro Shamrocks. Over the years, the EFL has had nine different teams play in national tournaments and EFL teams have won seven National Championships.

1996 was a banner year for the Empire Football League. Our teams increased to 12, three players gained over 1000 yards, another player moved from the EFL to the NFL and the Watertown Red & Black celebrated their 100th Anniversary.

The season started with the EFL adding three new teams to our group to replace the Syracuse Storm, that transferred to the National Minor League and the Hudson Valley Vikings, who took a leave of absence. The EFL became a 12 team league for the first time with the addition of the New Jersey Wolverines from the United Football League, the Staten Island Jaguars from New York City and the Columbia County Colts of Berwick, Pennsylvania. The EFL now has teams in Canada, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey.

Last year (1995) was the first time the EFL had two players gain over 1000 yards but in 1996 the EFL moved up and had three players rush for the 1000 yard milestone; E.J. Harris of Glove Cities with 1159 yards, Matt Holmes of Newburgh with 1120 yards and Omar Moore of Watertown with 1027 yards. Matt Holmes of Newburgh was also the EFL's Offensive MVP with 742 yards in kick returns. Al Countryman of Watertown was the EFL's Defensive MVP.

Ray Seals of the Syracuse Express entered the NFL as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1986. Presently Ray is with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played in the 1996 Super Bowl. This year, another player, Jerry Drake of the 1989-1990 Twin County Vikings, entered the NFL as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Thanks to the EFL and the Vikings, Jerry Drake went from being a cook at Ponderosa in 1989 to the NFL in 1996.

One of the top highlights for 1996 was the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Semi-Pro Football in Watertown, New York. The Red & Black are the oldest semi-pro football team in the United States, they are in the NFL Hall of Fame and they are older than the Green Bay Packers. This team started in 1896, played in the World Championship in 1903 and were EFL Champions in 1981 (ranked nationally #2). The Red & Black now play at their own football field which is part of the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Sports Complex.

Again, the Newburgh Raiders were the class of the EFL. They came up with an undefeated season and nationally ranked #3. The Watertown Red & Black with the Columbia County Colts were a close second with 7-3 records, followed by the Capitaland Thunder with 6-3-1 record. The EFL play-offs were highlighted by a close semi final game at Watertown with the Colts edging the Red & Black, 17-14 but at the Championship Game, Newburgh stayed undefeated with a 28-0 victory. This marked their fourth EFL Championship in their short six year history.

For years, the EFL was recognized as #1 in the world of semi-pro football. However, this year the EFL achieved another top ranking with the development of the Internet Web Site by EFL Secretary, Dave Burch. We show our history, weekly stats and scores, game results, plus the ability to link up with other league sites and the various national associations.

In 1999 the Scranton Eagles captured their 11th EFL title, defeating the Kingston Panthers in a come from behind victory in the 4th quarter of the championship game.

Scranton came up short in the 4th quarter of the championship game this year, losing to the Syracuse Vipers.

The undefeated Scranton Eagles finally tasted defeat in the EFL title game at Syracuse against the Vipers once again. The Eagles entered the USFA national tournament and won 2 games to advance to the national championship game. Scranton lost to the Raiders
after a long trip to Racine, WI.

Previous EFL Commissioners
Home Town

1969 – 1970
Ken Burkhardt

1970 – 1972
Ed Clough

1973 – 1974
Al Senese

1974 – 1975
Jim Willig
Hudson Falls

1976 – 1977
Bob Aquilera

1977 – 1987
Bob Van Ness

1987 – 1988
Bill Higgins

1988 – 1998
Gary Shaver

1999 – 2003
Butch Keller

2004 - Present Dave Burch Endicott

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