A Quick Intro…
The San Antonio Vaqueros (pronounced ‘ba’kero’ in Spanish) are a second-year franchise headed up by owner, Greg Corky (@sa-corky-vaqueros-owner). He is ably joined in leadership by General Manager and Director of Player Personnel, Joey Langdon (@joester09). Despite being a first time owner, Corky is a SFL vet, spending 2 years as co-owner of the playoff contending Houston Hyenas with Demond Simien whilst also acting as defensive coordinator. Corky knows what it’s like to be part of a successful team having played for Houston and the folded D.C. Dragons, hanging up his cleats this year after 5 years of being a nightmare for DB’s totaling 166 catches, 2557 yards and 17 TD’s (according to simulationfl.net).
Season 9: Brave and Valiant in Defeat
Passing Offense: 285.3 YPG (7th) Rushing Offense: 160.8 YPG (5th)
Passing Defense: 306.3 YPG (15th) Rushing Defense: 114.3 YPG (6th)
You could look at last year’s 3-9 record and come to the conclusion that Season 9 was a disappointing one for the Vaqueros. Before writing this preview, I had them pinned down as a struggling team with not much going for it, but delving a little deeper I discovered that the city of San Antonio has a franchise on the brink of making a splash and a bloody big one. This way of thinking is echoed by owner Greg Corky who reflected on last year’s results.
‘Most would find a 3-9 season to be an utter failure, whereas I saw it as a resounding success. The things learned during that season are invaluable and will bear fruit in the coming season: mark my words.’
Facts are facts. The Vaqueros came in the top half of the league in 3 out of 4 of the major statistical categories and 4 of their 7 losses came at the hands of a 3 point defeat (2 of which came against the reigning champions). They also ended the season with a victory over the surging Vancouver Legion and a 55-0 mauling of the playoff bound Houston Hyenas. If San Antonio can sure up their leaky pass defense and carry the late season momentum into Season 10, the rest of the West had better be ready.
Season 10: The Roster
[player_list id=”2229″ title=”” number=”99″ columns=”number,team,position,contractvalue,animations” orderby=”default” order=”” show_all_players_link=”0″ align=”none”]
Breaking down the Offense…
Corky has informed me that the Vaqueros will be adopting a ‘West Coast Hybrid’ scheme, presumably utilizing their 3 massive receivers. Holder (6’4, 222lbs), Hornish (6’5, 224lbs) and TE Aaron Miller (6’6, 247 lbs) should be a force to be reckoned with and, providing Langdon can give them a chance, they will rack up big numbers in the passing game this year. Speaking of Langdon, it’s clear that a lot rests on his shoulders. His starting value of 91.04 is joint-highest in the Western Conference; matched only by Jacques Luyindula of the Sharks.
Langdon’s ability to produce a touchdown or two is clear. He had 23 tds in 12 games last year. However, a big question looming over this season are the 37 picks he tossed in his rookie year (second most in the SFL). With a year under his belt and with a trio of big-body receivers, Langdon’s numbers should improve. Corky will be hoping this improvement translates into wins.
A revitalized Joey Langdon is good news for returning receiver, Daley Holder. Getting Holder back for Season 10 was vital for the success of San Antonio’s passing attack and Corky will hope he can better his gargantuan rookie season. Holder caught 91 balls for 1609 yards and 7 scores last time out, abusing defenses with his physical gifts.
Those of you wondering how I could’ve forgotten Jason German – don’t worry your little cotton socks- I haven’t. The 211-pound running back was a top-5 rusher last year, totaling 17 touchdowns and over 1700 yards on the ground. The reason I leave him until last is because I see him in a supporting role in this offense; another tool to be used to test the opposition front seven, or to close a game out late on.
Overall I see San Antonio as a pass first offense. Being one of the only teams to have a star punter should help them win the field position battle meaning shorter fields to attack. I expect a plethora of short passing routes to their three goliath pass catchers and I’ll be disappointed if they aren’t in the top 3 in red zone touchdown percentage.
Key Player[player_details id=”2872″ align=”none”]
Deciphering the Defence…
The Vaqueros have 5 stars on defense; 2 plugging up the middle of the front seven and 3 aiming to stop the pass. Corky has invested a lot into tightening up the D with big wookie Defensive Tackle, Bailey ‘Chew’ Bacca, a particular standout. When asked about his defensive strategy, Corky enthusiastically shouted, “ATTACK! ATTACK! Then attack some more!”
I can’t fault Corky’s ambition because they do have some nice pieces to work with, but I do worry about their ability to stop the outside run and passing attacks that offer three or four star receivers. Clearly, Corky wants to generate turnovers and there’s no doubting they have the talent to produce them, but (in my, humble, inexperienced opinion) they look susceptible to the big play. Yes, Morris, Perez and Olsen could turn out to be ball hawks, plucking passes out of the air with consummate ease, but attacking for the turnover too often against quality receivers will find yourself on your backside watching the opposition going for six. Corky needs to find a way of making sure San Antonio’s skilled back three can have an impact on every play.
Glancing over the trenches, it’s hard to miss the sizable mass of testosterone that is Bailey Bacca. The 323-pounder is the highest value defensive tackle in the entire SFL, and should dominate the center of the line from week one (that Dallas offensive line had better hit the weight room). Bacca will sure up the center of the Vaqueros’ defensive line and make it a struggle to run up the middle (even for a man with Ray Bentley’s shoulder charge).
If I were San Antonio, I’d be happy with my defense. They have the ability to ruthlessly attack with success and the more time of possession they get for that high-powered offense, the better. Corky just needs to be smart about how he utilizes his pieces, ensuring for maximum attack without getting caught ‘pants down; ass in the air’. If the Vaquero defenders are looking for confidence, they need look no further than Bacca:
Key Player: Bailey Bacca
Souped up Special Teams…
I respect the guts of this build a whole lot (about as much as I love the names of this Special Teams unit). The bravery, and potentially untold genius, to select two star players on Special Teams garners my respect, as it should from everyone around the league.
We know how important a star kicker can be in critical moments (just ask Chicago). We know how helpful having a star punter can be in the field position battle. What we don’t know, is how powerful the combination of the two can be. It’s an unknown. It has never been done before in the history of the SFL and this season we’re going to find out. Yes, the name of the game is touchdowns, but, to the teams that play The Vaqueros, you’d better stop them before the 35, because Arminius Davis will kick it; you’d better get used to playing inside of your own 20 because Antonio Flowerglass is going to pin you there. The latter of these two had a bit to say when talking with me.
‘Punting ain’t hard. Punting well is the hardest thing in the world. I wanna make punts that demoralize and crush souls, destroying hopes of ever getting good returns.’
If used well, this unit could be a powerful weapon, a weapon which may take time for teams to game plan against.
San Antonio will be battling in the Western Conference for Season 10, a conference packed full of offensive firepower and containing two teams not carrying a star running back.
San Antonio Vaqueros
San Francisco Sharks
The Vaqueros’ opening game will be within the walls of the Mullenax Oil Field, the home of the Dallas Ruffnecks. Dallas swept the two-game series last season, winning by 10-plus points both times. This opening road game should prove to be a tough test for the Vaqueros’ re-tooled secondary. Dallas will bring the prestigious talents of thrower, Macc Wavy Jr and catcher, Prince Escobar (led the league in every major receiving category last year) who are in the conversation for the best passing tandem in the SFL.
They follow this up with a home opener against the new boys in the West, San Francisco, and the long trip up north to visit the Alaska Storm (expect this encounter to be played on the white stuff). Neither of these teams boasts a star running back. It will be interesting to see how San Antonio does against two alternative builds and – in all honesty – I see them as a lock to win their home opener against the Sharks.
Moving into Week 4, the Vaqueros will embark upon a three-game home stand that will set the tone. Three games that will show the SFL Nation whether San Antonio are the real deal or just pretenders. The battle that leaps out among these is the Houston game. The last time these two teams met (Week 12, Season 9) San Antonio put an absolute beating on the Hyenas, sending them scampering into the playoffs with their tails between their legs. Houston will no doubt be out for revenge. One doesn’t get pasted like that without coming back for a fight. For me, this is the Vaqueros’ game of the year.
The rest of the schedule is tougher than trying to make a Dutchman laugh. Six games, two at home and four on the road. Vancouver twice, Houston, Dallas, Mexico City and San Francisco to finish. Need I say more?
On the whole, I wouldn’t say San Antonio has an impossible schedule, but it’s certainly not a stroll in the park. If they can get a good start and build up some confidence and a winning mentality, it should help them going into the nasty end-of-season run. Now over to the owner, who had his own thoughts on his team’s schedule:
‘Out of all the potential match-ups I would say the second game of the season, against Ryan Moats and his Sharks, has my attention the most. By then I will have an idea of what they are about come January 14th and I would like our team to be the first to hang a loss on the Sharks, as the Vaqueros turn them into chum.’
Corky also had some thoughts on the upcoming games with Alaska:
“We lost a close game to Max and his Storm, 33-31. He is a very good tactician and fun to match wits with. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of The West is no joke and it’s going to be tough sledding (see what I did there) regardless of who I play.”
Owner, Greg Corky:
‘I feel this will be the start of what could be the best season ever for the SFL. With the new progression system that allows for more player involvement I see it as a success already. As for the season and the Vaqueros, I’m not much on predicting as I am a one game at a time kind of guy, but I think we will do ok. For the SFL, I see it flourishing and growing every season; this is what user players have been waiting for, and now its here. So for the SFL and the Vaqueros, the future is bright. Gotta go find them shades!’
I have great respect for Greg Corky. He is a guy who has come up through the ranks, made a brave team build, and who really understands what the SFL is all about. As an owner, I wish him all the luck in the world this season.
As for his Vaqueros, I like the look of their squad. They have a strong roster and with consistent progression could definitely make noise in The Wild West this year. Whether that will yield a place in the playoffs, I’m not sure, but if the athletic trio of Langdon, German, and Holder make waves, and if the leaky pass defense improves and if the star special teamers make an impact, they have a real chance. I think I’m gonna end this preview with a quote from Vaqueros’ Safety, Scott Perez:
“Plain and simple. I think we’re just better than anyone else.”
Until next time folks.