4 p.m. charity football game to benefit WNY Challengers
By John D'Onofrio Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport football fans are gearing up for the premier this Saturday afternoon of the city's newest semi-pro football team, the Lockport Rampage.
The Rampage will host the Finger Lakes Impact at 4 p.m. Saturday at Exchange Club Field, Outwater Park, in a special charity football game to benefit the Western New York Challengers. The cost is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 3 to 12 and free to any children ages 2 and under. Fans are encouraged to come early, as a team photo is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the team will be introduced to the community shortly thereafter.
Albeit preseason, it's the first official football game for the new city semi-pro franchise, owned by assistant coach Roland Davis, offensive lineman Ben Marrotta and head coach James Mount.
The Rampage are continuing a long history of semi-pro football teams in the Lock City that began with the Lockport Essos and in recent years featured the national powerhouse Lockport Invaders and through last year, the Lockport Rage.
“We're all united in making this the best Lockport team yet,” said Allan Scott, a seven-year veteran of Lockport football. “Our goal is to win a championship and we can already see a positive upgrade at all positions on the roster.”
The Rampage will compete this year in the SPF The League, which features six teams in all. Besides the Lockport Rampage, there are the Albany Metro Marauders, Rochester Rebels, Monroe County Sting, Buffalo Chargers and the South Buffalo Celtics, which features two former Rage stars in Lockport natives Jeremy Brown and Daren Stone of NFL, Arena League and CFL fame.
Rampage team captains in 2013 are Marotta (No. 59), Aaron Boci (80), Tom Covey (35), Cliff McDowell (9), Tarrence Owens (24), Allan Scott (82) and one of the most dominant defensive players in Western New York over the past several years, middle linebacker Marcus Wyche (55).
Wyche totalled a Lockport-best 13 sacks in 2012 and 67 career sacks as a member of the Rage, which disbanded at the end of last season. He was also second on the Rage in tackles a year ago.
“I like our attitude. We've got a lot more depth at every position and we're anxious to prove ourselves again,” said Wyche, a seven-year Lockport veteran.
Veteran Lockport running back and kick returner McDowell said Lockport has lost some quality players to other teams, including South Buffalo, but there are several promising young players on the Rampage roster who should make for another exciting season of semi-pro football in Lockport.
“I like the new ownership,” McDowell said. “We've lost some good players, but we've gained a few good ones back to go along with the many veterans coming back.”
Starting positions remain wide open, heading to Saturday, Marotta said, but among those returning to the roster are tailback Joe Taylor, the Rage's leading rusher each of the past four seasons. Taylor, the son of the late-great Lockport pro boxer Johnny Taylor, is among those slated to compete at a June 8 kickboxing fight card at the Kenan Center Arena.
Besides head coach Mount and assistant coach Davis, other Rampage assistant coaches this season are Jermaine Patterson, Anderson Darrell, Tom Covey Sr., Mike Burdette and Mike Ford.
Lockport will play a 10-game SPF The League schedule, beginning Saturday, June 1, at the Rochester Rebels. Lockport's regular-season home opener at Outwater Park is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 22, against rival Monroe County Sting, however, June 8th remains an open date and could serve as their home opener once the schedule is finalized. If no opponent can be found for June 8, Marotta said the team will host an inner-squad blue and white scrimmage.
After Saturday's game which benefits local mentality handicapped adults and children, Brad Angelo Lanes on South Transit Road will feature a postgame party from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., featuring the band, “White Chocolate.”
Lockport Mayor Mike Tucker and Lockport Little Loop Football, under the direction of Ritchie Blackburn and the LLLF Board of Directors, have been key components in helping get the Rampage a home field and a place to practice this season, owners said.