by Jeremy Vega, Vancouver WR
The Alaska Storm hosted the Vancouver Legion in the first of two matchups we will see of these division rivals. With lots of question marks surrounding these two teams, lots of hype building around the league, it was a game that was watched by many. How would the Storm fair with no star HB? One of two teams to do so in the league. Could their star-studded receivers along with their veteran quarterback, win games through the air and the air alone? How about the Legion? Were they just a lucky Cinderella team last season or are they the real deal? Can their balanced attack and bend-but-don’t-break defensive method hold true against such a potent offence? Well, two things were certain in this game: ALL these questions were answered and the Legion should have evacuated the state.
The Storm, as expected, came out firing through the air for the entirety of the game. Ron Cockren had a staggering 57 passing attempts with 46 completions. He also had 3 touchdowns through the air. Optimus Cline, MVP of the game, and quite possibly the season, had an absurd 18 receptions for 298 yards. The Storm offense, much like a CAT 6 Storm, were impossible to stop. Their offense threw in every direction of the field confusing the Legion defense. They dominated time of possession while completing 84% of their 3rd down attempts which gave them 24 first downs in the game. With little to no pressure, Ron Cockren had enough time in the pocket to think about his post-game meal, as well as wait for his receivers to get separation from the Legion Penitentiary. Alaska, only outscored by Indianapolis, scored 44 points to come out with the victory in their home opener.
One thing is for sure about the Alaska offense, it is very capable of dominating without a star HB and Mighty and his squad are a force to be reckoned with through the air. The Alaska storm will look to continue their success against their week two opponent, the Houston Hyenas. Head Coach and owner Mighty provided his thoughts on his team’s performance:
“After the way last season ended, we knew there were things we wanted to address. Having lost both matchups against Vancouver last year, we wanted to rectify that and give the home fans something they’d never seen before as we unveiled our aerial attack. Defensively, we were stout, and that has become the norm for the Storm. There were hiccups here and there and those will be addressed. Offensively, we were aggressive. With that, you accept the fact that turnovers will occur. We’ll clean some things up there as we prepare for Houston”.
The Legion, ready to do battle in The Eye of the storm against their biggest rival, came into week one confident they could steal a win. Things didn’t go their way both offensively and defensively. Their offense sputtered most of the game and had little to no success. The offense went 4-10 on 3rd down, while losing the time of possession battle, 16 to 26 minutes. Defensively, the Legion looked lost trying to cover the surging Storm offense. The results of the game vastly overshadows anything that can be considered a positive take away from the game, but there really are positive things the Legion will take with them moving into week 2. Tom Pepper had a very proficient game going 12-21 for 189 yards and two touchdown strikes. Cade Stephens looks like the leading wide receiver again hauling in 4 catches for 125 yards and one score. Frank Champion continues his dominance against offenses compiling 10 tackles, 3 assists, and a tackle for a loss. The captain of the secondary, Mahmoud Ajlouni, had an impressive night with 8 tackles, 2 pass deflections and an interception. With player progression and a positive attitude, the Legion team will use Week 1 as a learning experience while looking to build off their positives as they move on to face the London Knights in the Knights’ home opener. Owner and head coach Andy Hamilton gave his thoughts on his team’s performance:
“I thought the team actually played pretty well. Obviously not the results we wanted, but week one is always a tough week. Our scouts have started working on London and we’re excited to get across the pond and take on the Knights”.
Week one is in the books and both teams are running towards their respective week two opponents with excitement and positivity. This rivalry will pick back up in Week 12 with a strong chance of having playoff implications. It will be, as I have always thought, the biggest game for both teams.
Thank you for taking the time to read all the SFL Beat writers’ articles as well as mine, and until next time, have a great week.