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Tiger gridders decide to call it quits

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 13 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Hampered all season by a severe shortage of players the Genesee Orleans (formerly Lyndonville) Tigers have folded after 11 seasons of semi pro football competition.

The Tigers, who had only 16 players show up for their last home game two weeks ago, were scheduled to visit Northeastern Football Alliance newcomer the Lockport Rampage on Saturday night. However, the Tigers chose not to show up and forfeited the contest due to a dispute over the recruiting of Tiger players by the Rampage.

“They promised when they were accepted into the league that they would not recruit our players but they did. They have eight of our players on their roster. They did just what they said they were not going to do and I take it very personal,” said Tigers owner Harold Suhr who stated that the incident was the final straw in his decision to end the Tigers 11 year run.

“We had a great run,” said Suhr. “For 10 years we had the best overall winning percentage in the league but now I think it’s over. I think the Tigers reign is over.”

The Tigers in fact had a very consistent run for a decade fishing under .500 only once. During regular season league action the Tigers went 5-4 in 2004, 3-7 in 2005, 8-2 in 2006, 6-4 in 2007, 8-2 in 2008, 9-1 in 2009, 7-3 in 2010 and 2011, 8-1-1 in 2012 and 8-2 in 2013 capturing titles in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

However, with barely enough players showing up to play each game, the Tigers were only 1-4 this season heading into the scheduled contest at Lockport.

“Last year we put together a great season but this year we just didn’t have enough players,” said Suhr.

The Tigers in fact were hampered as much or more this season by the retirement of a number of key veteran players including Tim Conley and Dale Cleaveland on the offensive line, Jon Ostrander and Justin Miller on the defensive line and Joey Suhr and Joel Fidanza at linebacker.

“If we had 35 players that would be one thing but with only 15 or 16 players showing up for a game you can’t be competitive,” said Suhr. “It’s unfortunate it came to a crossroads like this but I had to make a decision. You can’t play with that few a number of players as they have to play both ways all the time. And the league let Lockport back in and they did just what they promised not to do, they recruited our players.”

“I started this team up 11 years ago for Joey (his son) to give him and other guys in the community a chance to play and it worked very well for a good number of years. But now I think it is time for me to leave. At 55 I’ve had enough. I’ve signed my players over to the Buffalo Gladiators so they can continue to play with them if they wish but I’m done.”