by Ray Bentley, Beat Writer, Mexico City

The Simulation Football League opened up Season 10 with a bang on the front page of Twitch and in Mexico City. The Season 9 Champions hosted the four-time title holders, the Queen City Corsairs, in an exciting defensive matchup with more than a few surprises in store for both teams. A pick-six was the first touchdown of the season, thanks to Ray Bentley bobbling a swing pass into the hands of a non-contract corner on Queen City; the Season 9 MVP would redeem himself in the 3rd quarter, burning 4 defenders for an 81 yard touchdown run. Queen City kept pace by tossing one of the most improbable touchdowns in SFL history to receiver Memphis Blue to regain the lead and then handing off another to talented running back Ash Odom. Holding a lead of 24-10 over the defending champions, some were ready to celebrate the Corsair’s victory, but a handsome 61 yard touchdown by Richard “Miracle” Montague in the last two minutes of the game brought Mexico back within range of the promised land. Unfortunately, it was not to be for the former champions, who lost possession on a gallant, but unsuccessful, onside kick attempt. Queen City came out on top 24-17 along with Ash Odom capturing the Player of the Game title. Queen City heads home to take on the Dallas Ruffnecks, while the Aztecs travel to the States next week to take on the Carolina Skyhawks.

FIRST QUARTER: The Slugfest

Matt Willson chose to kick off to the Queen City Corsairs to start the game, allowing Mexico City’s new-look defense to take the field. King Wallis, Devin Cabrera, Pablo Zamora, and Jack Brown, along with rookies Landin Mack and Fran Ogawa, were able to hold the contractually powerful Queen City offense, including the highest paid running back in the league, Ash Odom, to only 3 points on their first drive. After that, however, it was time for the Corsair defense to shine. LB Avry King seemed to have Ray Bentley’s number all night, bottling up the former MVP after an average of three yards in the first quarter. The excitement was building, however, as the Aztecs had a first down challenged and overturned, only to go for it on fourth and inches to continue pushing downfield. As the whistle blew, the Corsairs held onto the slim 3-0 lead.

SECOND QUARTER: Buttered Fingers

Things progressed much in this fashion until close to the end of the second quarter. Mexico City had been steadily pushing downfield and had made their way into Corsairs territory when the unthinkable happened: A swing pass on first down to Ray Bentley was bobbled and that’s all that was needed for a non-contract Corsairs cornerback to swoop in, grab the ball, and embarrass the Aztec offense for 6 points. Bentley was benched, and the score 10-0 was at halftime, with Aztecs linebacker Jack Brown promising a fresh round of slaps in the Mexico City locker room if things didn’t turn around. On the other side of the stadium, Caswell and Odom were giving a separate pep talk to their troops, one they hoped would rally their offense to make a stand and hold the Aztecs off for 22 more minutes.

THIRD QUARTER: I… Think I See… The Altered Beast! 

Kickoff to start the second half awarded the Aztecs the ball, but Queen City’s defense was rested and ready. The slugfest continued, but with around six minutes to go, Mexico City got the ball back. Their first play was a rush for a single yard, but immediately following, Ray Bentley had a flash of his Season 9 self, breaking four tackles and rushing for an 81 yard touchdown. The momentum began to swing back towards Mexico City and the third quarter ended with only a 3 point difference between the two teams.

FOURTH QUARTER: Nailing the Coffin Shut 

Friends, if you’ve never seen a Mexico City game, I’ll let you in on a little secret: they’re always a blast, but if you want the most bang for your buck, tune in to the fourth quarter. Last season, an improbable 42 points were scored in the final quarter of San Antonio at Mexico City, so SFL mainstays knew that the game wasn’t even close to being over. Mexico was able to get within field goal distance and star kicker Kole Varner rocketed a dart through the uprights on a low snap, bringing the game back to a single score. Queen City responded by marching their offense down the field with key 1st down grabs from Mike Daggs, Chris Curtis, and Memphis Blue. Caswell, however, wasn’t able to escape unscathed, taking several sacks from the Jack and Mack Attack Stack as he marched downfield. With the Corsairs in the redzone, Aztec fans held their collective breath when Caswell had a pass towards Memphis Blue tipped, but Blue is clearly making a case for Offensive Rookie of the Year, as he caught the wobbly ball in double coverage. Mexico attempted an unsuccessful onside kick, which set the Corsairs up to eventually score on a handoff to Ash Odom, doubling their lead 24-10. With all hope lost, Matt “The Bronze Bomber” Willson turned to the man that had saved Mexico the year before, Richard Montague. On first and 10, with only one and a half minutes to go, Willson threw a long bomb to Montague, who took it all 61 yards in for a score. Estadio Azteca erupted, but the comeback was not to be, as the Corsairs were able to take possession from the second successful onside kick. Without any timeouts left, AJ Caswell lined up in Victory Formation, and the first game of the Simulation Football League’s 10th season was in the books.

Broadcast on the front page of Twitch, the Season 10 opener was seen by a record-breaking number of people, topping the previous record set by the Season 9 Championship Game. It is this (slightly biased) writer’s opinion that they couldn’t have chosen a better match up to showcase, as both defenses and offenses came out to truly put on a show. The question moving forward is: how does Player Progression affect these teams and their builds? As far as an answer, well, we’ll all just have to wait until Week 5, when Mexico City travels north for a rematch that’s sure to be one for the ages. For more SFL action, check out the lineup of games being broadcast on live Twitch.tv and YouTube.com this Sunday, January 7th.  Also be sure to join the League’s Discord Server if you haven’t already in order to involved! The Simulation Football League, as presented by APM Music – we’re Loading Legends!

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