COLONIE The Albany Metro Mallers have moved to the suburbs.
After playing the majority of their 40 seasons at Albany’s Bleecker Stadium, the Mallers began their 2012 Empire Football League campaign Saturday by beating the Glens Falls Greenjackets 21-0 at their new home – Christian Brothers Academy in Colonie.
Team owner and lineman Sal Iavarone said the decision to leave the city for the suburbs came down to a desire for attracting new fans to the Mallers’ brand of semi-pro football.
“Rent for one game here (at CBA) is more than the rent was for an entire season at Bleecker, but I decided to give it a shot here to see if we can build a fan base,” said Iavarone.
“Bleecker has a history, but it’s worn off over the years,” said Albany defensive back Gabe Young, who is also an assistant football coach at Colonie Central High School. “It’s good to play here because I can bring my family and the kids I work with (at Powerhouse Fitness) here to see me play.”
Approximately 250 people came to the Mallers’ CBA debut, and what they saw was a sloppy effort from both teams. There were numerous penalties, and each team turned the ball over multiple times.
What fans also saw was the Empire Football League’s most dynamic playmaker, Albany’s CJ Tarver. The Bishop Maginn graduate had two long punt returns in the first half in which he eluded several would-be tacklers. The punt returns set up both of the Mallers’ first-half touchdown drives.
“It was our first real game. We got a lot of kinks out,” said Tarver.
When Tarver wasn’t running back punts, he was running Albany’s offense. The Mallers elected to use Tarver, a wide receiver, as their quarterback for most of the game. While Tarver attempted several passes, he spent much of the game handing the ball off to tailbacks Derek Adams and Sylvester Cooperwood – that is, when he didn’t take the handoff and run the ball himself.