Niagara Gazette

Sports

April 1, 2007

FOOTBALL: Semi-pro football returns to Lock City

They came from all walks of life — roofers, teachers, businessmen and factory workers — and they came in all shapes, sizes and colors with backgrounds as diverse as you could find in any bigger city.

They had work, then many had wives and families to attend to — but they still found time to play football and play it very well.

That was 15 years ago, when Lockport’s semi-pro football team, the Invaders, were the talk of the town and a national powerhouse.

Today, with the same level of talent, love of the game and entrepreneurial spirit as the Invaders and the Lockport Essos before that, the “Lockport Rage” will make their New York American Football League debut this summer.

“We know we have some big shoes to fill. Lockport is a football town and there’s still a lot of young talent throughout the area,” said Rage general manager Joe Speer of Gasport.

“We’re already a contender. Everyone is talking about us in the league because of Lockport’s reputation state-wide for playing smash-mouth football. One of Lockport High School’s longest winning streaks is from my era, in the years 1987 through 1993. That’s pretty much the main group of guys so far who have expressed interest in playing.”

The NYAFL, whose players must be 18 or older, will jump from eight to nine teams this year. Other teams are the Buffalo Gladiators, Lyndonville Tigers, Northern Tier Bruins, Southern Tier Diesel, Central New York Express, Glove Cities Colonials, Mohawk Valley Vikings and Monroe County Sting.

Rage head coach Carl Stiles said that tryouts for the team are slated for 3 to 5 p.m. April 14 at Dolan Park in Lockport. Practices will begin the following Wednesday at 6 p.m. Practices will continue to run every Wednesday and on weekends.

Speer said the Rage does own some equipment, but players in need of equipment will be assisted by the organization in finding places to purchase it cheaper.

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