by Ray Bentley, Mexico City Aztecs RB and reigning MVP.
Raising the Jolly Roger
Within the SFL, there are few institutions as historic and successful as the Queen City Corsairs. Owned by Erik Barkley and playing out of Buffalo, New York, the Corsairs are one of the league’s oldest teams, winning the first ever SFL Championship as the New York Knights before moving upstate and re-branding as Queen City. Over the past nine seasons of simulated football action, Queen City has won more championships than any other active team in the league combined, and have only missed out on the postseason two times. With such an impressive resume, one might expect the Corsairs to be daunted by the particularly stacked Eastern Conference for Season 10, but they remain stoic and optimistic about their chances. For the Corsairs, a swashbuckling life of adventure is just another day at the stadium.
Season 9 started off with a bang for the defending champions, demolishing St. Louis 56-7, but a great season came undone at the hands of the Chicago Wildcats in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The loss stung a proud unit that boasted one of the top offenses in the league, including the number one rusher, Kyle Walsh. Owner Erik Barkley knew that he had to shake things up and so shake things up he did. While AJ Caswell, a top 5 quarterback, was re-signed, the number one rusher retired from the league and Queen City brought in a man who knows how to thrive in a northern climate, Ash Odom. Previously the running back for the Alaska Storm, Odom will take the field as the highest valued running back at the start of Season 10, coming in at a staggering 94.36 max contract rating. The receiving corps come into the season all at bronze-level contracts and include two SFL broadcasters, with Mike Daggs at tight end, and Chris Curtis as wide receiver. Memphis Blue, wideout, rounds out the offensive stars on the Corsairs. Early expectations for the offense should include prayers for any defenders in the way of Ash Odom, whose first test of his super-sized contract is the Mexico City Aztecs.
Batten Down the Hatches
While the offensive side of the game saw a shakeup, Queen City decided to lock down a few veterans on the other side of the ball while bringing in some fresh talent to mentor. Defensive end Koa Kaleo will be taking Ellis Harlow under his wing, while FS Stenzo Woods Jr. now has both Phoenix Blue and Joshua Corbett backing him up at FS and SS respectively. The Corsairs also have a pair of experienced linebackers inside and outside with Season 9 breakout Alex Cross and veteran Avry King. There’s a solid mix of bronze and silver level contracts evenly spread throughout the defense with Phoenix Blue as the sole silver level rookie. This defense should be a consistent threat throughout the season and although it doesn’t feature any explosive contracts, might be feted at the end of the season as the most consistent.
Stormy Waters Ahead
Say it with me now: The Eastern Conference is stacked. From the defending champions Mexico City, last year’s #1 seed Tallahassee Pride, one of the two participants in the Eastern Championship Game (Atlanta), along with the league stalwart Carolina Skyhawks and new entrant London Knights, Queen City has an uphill battle if it wants to reclaim its throne. The Corsairs travel south to the defending champions to open Season 10 at Estadio Azteca, which could get ugly with the high running back contract on one side and the living, breathing big rig on the other. Afterwards, Queen City goes home and hosts a Western Conference contender, the Dallas Ruffnecks, before heading to Florida to take on Frank Goodin’s Tallahassee Pride. The Pride and the Aztecs were both powerhouses last year, while Dallas’ rebuild offers a new challenge for the Corsairs. The question is whether or not Ash Odom will be able to continue any explosive running into the end of the season when Queen City travels to his former team, Alaska, before circling half the globe to end their season in London. Will the Corsairs be overladen with plundered booty or will their post-season hopes have been scuttled? Wide receiver Memphis Blue thinks the race to the postseason will be an exciting one, saying,
“I expect the Eastern Conference to be very competitive and go down to the wire for the top spot, kind of like how close the AFC West was in the NFL last year with most of the division competing.”
However, when all is said and done, I believe their defense will be a consistent threat throughout the season, but unless Ash Odom is able to truly capitalize on his massive contract later in the year,
I’m not sure Queen City has what it takes to weather this Eastern storm.
FINAL STANDING PREDICTION: 6-6
It Is, It Is a Glorious Thing, To Be the Pirate Kings
Erik Barkley knows success. The winner of the SFL Championship in Seasons 1, 3, 6, and 8 is nothing if not consistent, making the playoffs a record 7 times in 9 seasons. While other teams might have more bombastic rushers, or louder defensive units, Queen City keeps its head down and diligently prepares for its next matchup. They know they don’t have to have the spotlight in order to take all the glory. With their offensive re-tooling and their defensive know-how, Queen City has a very real chance to take things all the way under the right guidance. Something tellsme the hand with four rings is a damn good dragoman. Season 10 opens with the Corsairs taking on the defending champion Mexico City Aztecs in Estadio Azteca on Thursday, January 4th on the front page of Twitch – be there!