by Jeremy Vega, Vancouver WR and Scout

Hello again, SFL Community! I want to first send a thank you to anyone who took the time to not only read my article, but all of the beat writer articles that have been published. Also, I want to thank the SFL staff for everything they do daily to provide outlets and opportunities for all involved. Thank you! I’m thrilled to be able to write this article about the team I help and play for. But have no fear, I am an investigative journalist first and will only bring honesty and truth to you, the readers.

Now that the disclaimers and shout outs are finished, let’s get right into this preview!

 

STAFF

Andy Hamilton, King of the North, is the owner and head coach. His scouting team consists of:
Mahmoud Ajlouni
Jonathan Sanchez
Dr. Kreiger
Jeremy Vega

 

ROSTER

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The Vancouver Legion have a short history in the SFL. In fact, just one season where they started the year off at a horrible 0-4 which put them at the very edge of losing all hope for making the playoffs.Through hard work, determination, and team effort, the Legion went on to win seven of their remaining eight games. It was enough to secure a playoff spot and give this new franchise all the momentum it would need to go up against the best teams in the SFL. After defeating the Alaska Storm, the unlikely Legion team was one win away from joining the DC Dragons, Santa Fe Gorillas, Chicago Wildcats, and Houston Hyenas as the only expansion teams to make it to the Championship Game in their first year. As stated before, the Legion lost a heartbreaking game that will receive a top ten best SFL game of all time vote from me. Last season will give Andy and his Vancouver team plenty of motivation to make it back to the conference championship game and to take the next step to solidifying their spot in SFL history. Head Coach Andy Hamilton provided his thoughts on turning around an 0-4 team and getting as far as they did:

“It was a rollercoaster ride if anything, I believed in my guys the whole time and just had to dedicate more time and effort to them. Once I did that, the playbook started working and we got some luck along the way. It was an incredible feeling.”

I know from being in this locker room that everyone is excited and filled with determination for the upcoming Season. Let’s get into the new offense for the Legion.

 

OFFENSE

Vancouver Legion were able to keep the core of their offense together from last season. Keeping QB Tom Pepper, who last season finished with 25 touchdowns and 25 interceptions. Cutting down the turnovers will help improve his teams chances of starting the season off right. Keeping his star wide receivers Cade Stephens and Brett Killian, plus the chemistry, will go a long way for this group of second-year players. Cade and Brett finished last season with almost identical stats, 60-plus receptions, 900-plus yards with 6 and 7 touchdowns. The offense also kept their star RB Ivan Sanchez, who will now go forward with his career as Jonathan Sanchez after changing his name. Sanchez was a big part of the Legion’s ability to stay balanced on offense, as he was able to rack up 297 carries for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. With the stars aligned in the legion offense, they also added a couple of rookies to that side of the ball. Jeremy Vega, who will be the slot wide receiver, and Tristan Carr, who is the new TE. I got with the Legion’s new TE and asked him what it’s been like to join a successful and established offense, as well as what he is looking forward to the most going into the new season:

“Just playing and winning some football games. Tight end isn’t the most glamorous position in football, but I’m just focused on becoming a reliable target for Tom Pepper in the redzone and on 3rd down.”

Andy Hamilton provided his thoughts on his new offense he has assembled when I asked what his expectations are going into Season 10:

“My expectations for the offense is balance and to do what we do every year, which is play well. My goal, as always, is to limit the bad plays for Tom and get Jonathan going in the run game, while feeding the guys on the outside.”

The Legion offense has its stars ready and expectations set. Come January 7th, they will have to show they have improved and have what it takes to make it to the championship.

 

DEFENSE

Hopping on over to the other side of the ball, the Legion’s defense, nicknamed the Vancouver Penitentiary, is full of new blood. Rookies and vets alike make up of this Season 10 unit. Vancouver is going with no star defensive linemen for the second straight year, one of six teams to do so. Frank Champion and Marquis Reid are the only returning players from last season. Frank Champion had a “champion” level season compiling 107 total tackles, 11 tackles for a loss, and 3 interceptions. The Secondary belongs to four new players, three of which are rookies. Mahmoud Ajlouni, the newly named captain, has come over from the Atlanta Swarm and is going to be the leading veteran amongst these rookies. I asked Ajlouni what his plans are to make sure his guys in the secondary are ready come the season opener:

“One thing for sure is starting the season off right. We are all young and Andy trusted us, so my plan is to motivate the guys and teach them what I learned my rookie year. One of the biggest things I want to focus on is whatever the outcome, we continue to keep our heads up and prepare for the next game.”

Having to adjust to a completely new secondary with very young players is a challenge all by itself, but it is one we expect Andy to focus on. I asked Andy if the new secondary will force him to adjust his play calling and game plans heading into the Season 10:

“I think the play calling does change a bit because of the new system. The guys we’ve
brought in are ready to go and are taller than the guys we replaced, so I think that’s a big
positive heading into next season.”

To improve the defense and get it going early in the season, everyone is going to have to contribute in their own way. I asked rookie safety Josh Banner how he will help lead this team to that level:

“I need to just go out there and do my job as well as whatever it takes to give this team a W. If I
make mistakes, I need to learn from them, but I feel like I can have an immediate impact on this
team as I have been working for this moment my entire life and I won’t let it slip away.”

It’s absolutely going to take a culmination of everyone’s best to take the Legion defense to a
championship level. With a balanced offense to go along with a hungry defense, they might
have all the right pieces in place for Season 10.

 

SCHEDULE

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The Vancouver Legion schedule for Season 10 is starting off harsher than any winter storm to
blanket that beautiful country. They will be tested with three straight road games, including the
season opener against the Alaska Storm. The Legion and Storm gave us a couple of great battles
last season that will only be amplified by the new structure of the conferences. They have built a
rivalry that we will get to witness twice a year, which has both teams and fans excited. Those two games could end up being the most important games the Legion will play in Season 10, as they are in Week 1 and Week 12. A tough season opener in Alaska where the Storm are waiting to get some revenge as they were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round by the Legion. Owner Andy agrees with me on this one saying,

“In terms of a single game, I think Alaska in Week 12 will be a huge game in terms of making
sure we finish strong. Alaska was a very competitive team last season, and to have that game
looming at the end of the season, it will be important that we are mentally prepared to face
them.”

The Vancouver Legion’s first home game will come in Week 4 against the Tallahassee Pride,
which will be a much anticipated matchup with both teams potentially meeting at 3-0. Once the
Legion get to the back half of their schedule, they will see five home games in seven weeks with
all those games being against division rivals. It won’t be a downhill sled ride, but being at home
and defending the north with three straight home games will help with their playoff push. I would
have to say that my top three most anticipated games for the Legion this season is both the
Alaska Storm games and the home opener against the Purple Pride.
The newly formed Western Conference is sure to birth a lot of great rivalries, so I asked Andy
who he is looking forward to battling twice a year from now on:

“I think we drew a strong conference with question marks. Alaska, Dallas, and Houston are
teams that have had very strong seasons over their existences and that’s not something to
overlook. We also have teams like San Fran, who are a huge question mark considering that no one on that coaching staff has any SFL experience. Then you have San Antonio, who were one of our toughest matchups last season.”

The Vancouver Legion owner and players are beyond thrilled for the chance to add more history
to the team with the season coming up. Head Coach Andy Hamilton has already shown the ability to adjust and adapt in this competitive league which will help with the new player progression model. His returning players, along with the rookies, have already shown a high level of commitment and has a roster with a handful of players as the most active people in the Discord community. Andy and his team of scouts are hard at work game planning. All of this shows promising success in Season 10 which I believe will results in The Legion hoisting the first Western Conference Trophy and being a formidable team in the playoffs.

Thank you all again, Have a great Christmas
JeremyV4444