After two very long years the Syracuse Strong finally returned back to the gridiron on Saturday May 22nd.
They opened up their 2021 season vs the Charlotte Colonials of the NFA, the Strong’s old league. Which brought us a lot of new for Syracuse:
- Some new players
- A new league (GDFL: Gridiron Developmental Football League)
- And a brand new football stadium to call home (Sunnycrest Field: 701 Robinson Street Syracuse, New York)
Despite all the new, the final score was a familiar sight for Strong fans.
Syracuse got off to a slow start, understandable after a 2-month layoff thanks to the COVID pandemic, but found their stride in the second quarter before running away with a convincing 53-6 victory.
Veteran quarterback Jason Boltus finished as the team MVP after the Week 1 performance with a thrilling and efficient 9-of-11 stat line with 135 yards through the air and four touchdown strikes.
Boltus found two of his favorite targets for two touchdowns a piece:
- No. 3 Joshua Thomas finished with three receptions for 49 yards and two scores.
- No. 7 LaQuan Rouse, most commonly referred to as LA, scored a touchdown every time he touched the pigskin snagging two balls for 43 yards and a pair of scores.
If you’ve never seen a Strong game, you should get acquainted with No. 8 Syracuse’s star running back in the backfield. Rashad Burns finished with over 109 yards on 17 carries. The veteran tailback also added another pair of touchdowns on the ground. He didn’t find his usual free lanes, but found a way to grind it out throughout the contest.
In a change of pace role, Ishmiek Allen, better known as Loodie, provided the Syracuse offense with a nice spark. He added six carries for 32 yards and another two touchdowns. Loodie could be an intriguing player to watch as we progress through the season.
They say defense wins championships, if that’s true the rest of the GDFL better watch out because Syracuse was on its game Saturday night.
The Strong finished with six sacks and nearly shut out the Colonials, but they got loose for a long touchdown reception, their only score of the game.
A few players that stood out on the defensive side of the ball:
- Kahari Alford, big No. 52, was flat out dominant. The big-time defensive lineman was throwing around members of the opposing offense like they said something bad about his mother. He finished with three tackles, two of those for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble.
- Damion Blue, No. 12, was flying all over the football field for Syracuse. The talented linebacker woke up Saturday morning and apparently chose violence as his path for the day. Blue had five tackles, one of those for loss, a sack, and one of two interceptions on the day for the defense.
- One of the veteran captains on the team, linebacker EJ Maeweather finished as the leading tackler for the Strong defense with eight tackles, one for loss, and two sacks.
It was a strong performance for Syracuse, but as team MVP Boltus said after the game, “there’s still a lot of work to be done here.”
There was a large contingent of Syracuse fans at the game that created a phenomenal home field advantage for the Strong. If you’d like more information on how you can attend the next Strong game, check out the Syracuse Strong on all major social media platforms.
Next week the Strong will face the East Penn Raiders in Week 2 which will also line up with their first official GDFL divisional game of the 2021 season on Saturday May 29 with kickoff set for 7:00 pm at Sunnycrest field (701 Robinson Street Syracuse, New York).