By Jeff Melinyshyn

The Oklahoma City Renegades are one of the original teams of the Simulation Football League. Oklahoma City will be looking to redirect their long-storied franchise from the middle of the pack to possible playoff contenders year in and year out. They have not had a winning season since Season 2 but there were positives to take away from last time out. Firstly, they made the playoffs for the first time since that winning Season 2 and with that, a lot of the players gained experience. Secondly, quarterback, Deacon Nickens, looks to progress into an elite signal-caller in the SFL. With Nickens, owner Michael Irvine has a quarterback to build his offense around.

Deacon Nickens was used heavily last season. The Renegades are hoping he can draw on that experience to reach new heights

Oklahoma City will be moved into the new Southern Conference and hopefully they can get adjusted quickly. Michael Irvine will have to get the most out of his players this season. This team did some work in draft for Season 11 drafting at 12th overall, J W Doyle, a halfback and with the 30th overall pick Michael Irvine selected wide receiver, Hunter Jones. Both are expected to make a huge impact in their rookie season and be solid building blocks on offense.

Roster outlook for Season 11

Having a gold tier quarterback to lead your team is great start to any franchise. He aforementioned Deacon Nickens will look to continue from a solid rookie season at the helm. Everything revolves around the quarterback. Coming off a 3,648 yards season in which he threw 25 touchdowns, Nickens will sure be someone to watch for potential growth to elite level at the quarterback position.

Donk Bonkers (pictured) carried the load for OKC in Season 10. After his departure, the Renegades have looked to a young, active rookie

Carrying the rock is rookie running back, J W Doyle. Being the first pick for the franchise in the draft a month ago, Doyle will look to add to what is hopefully a solid offense. He will look to make plays and take some pressure off Deacon Nickens and hopefully can pick up the blitz when needed. Oklahoma City will look at Doyle’s fellow rookie, wide receiver Hunter Jones, to lead the way and form solid options for Nickens. Wide receiver, Deezer Powell, is coming off a stellar rookie season where he had 1,309 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns. With the level of play Nickens has shown, Powell should only increase the yardage and touchdowns totals. It will be an interesting watch to see how he progresses. The tight ends for Oklahoma City are Charles Windham – an undrafted free agent – and Tybeerious Bovine. Windham will look to make a name for himself whilst Bovine needs no introduction. Want to talk about the Tony Gonzalez of SFL? Look no further than Bovine. He comes into Season 11 with 5,180 career receiving yards and 35 career touchdowns. With the improvement of Nickens, Bovine should atop 1,000 receiving yards and could hit double digit touchdowns for the first time in his illustrious career.

Many say that Tybeerious Bovine deserves a solid playoff run due to his loyalty and high level of play. Will the Renegades be able to provide him that this season?

Meanwhile on the defensive side of the ball, it starts up front. Defensive End, Zig Washington, is a copper lineman that will be looking to make an impact on a defense that struggled last season. He was another undrafted free agent that Michael Irvine pinpointed and signed. Linebacker, Day Drewery, will look to lead the defense. Last season, Drewery finished with 68 tackles and will need to improve that stat this season. Drewery is all over the place on film and has shown the ability to cover sideline to sideline. Cornerback,  Matthew Lee, will look to make an impact as another in a long list of undrafted rookies who Owner Michael Irvine signed after the draft. He will be tested a lot in the beginning of the season. He will need to show that he can hold his own against the top receivers in the South. Hopefully, he and Kyle Corbett could form a solid one-two punch for Oklahoma City. Corbett is another undrafted free agent on a rebuilding defense. Both he and Lee will be tested early and if both can pass those tests this defense may have a bounce back season. Strong Safety, Al Clint, will look to lead the last line of defense for Oklahoma City. Coming off a season where he made 70 tackles and 8 interceptions, Clint will look to continue the high level play in the back line. He is going into his second season and it will befun to watch and to see how he progresses. Free Safety, Brady Clarke, in his rookie year had 53 tackles and 4 interceptions. He will be tested again and hopefully can improve on the 4 interceptions from last year. Priority number 1 for the Oklahoma City defense should be getting the ball back to Nickens and the offense. That means turnovers.

The safeties are the class of this defence. Al Clint and Brady Clarke (pictured) know they need to be on top form

Season 11 Schedule
Week 1: vs. Dallas
Week 2: vs. Tulsa
Week 3: @ New Orleans
Week 4: vs. Denver
Week 5: @ Atlanta
Week 6: vs. Tallahassee
Week 7: @ Sioux Falls
Week 8: @ Dallas
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: vs. New Orleans
Week 11: @ Houston
Week 12: @ Tulsa
Week 13: vs. Atlanta

The Bottom Line

This season will be no easy task for Oklahoma City. They are in the same conference as one of the best teams in the league: the Tallahassee Pride. Michael Irvine will have a tough season, but with the additions coming in, this is a young bunch of hungry players looking to stand out and make a name for themselves. What will be interesting is what will happen if the season does not start particularly well. The locker room has been changed and hopefully stays positive because being in the Southern Conference is no cake walk. They face Tulsa twice, Tallahassee, Sioux Falls, and Houston who all made the playoffs last season. So, if Oklahoma City can finish 3-2 in those five games or 2-3, they – if – they win some of the other matchups they could make the playoffs for a second year in a row. While walking around, I was able to catch up with rookie cornerback Matthew Lee. I asked him does he think the defense will be tested early in the season and he responded, “Yes sir I do, because of last year and because of the young cornerbacks.” I asked him in practice who on the defense who could be a start and he responded with Zigg Washington “I see the next great defensive lineman in him”. I asked about realistic expectations for Oklahoma City and he responded that “If we take a game by game approach and don’t look to far ahead we can make the playoffs. We have to figure out some things but when the season starts you should see a better team.”

I was also able to chat with rookie wide receiver, Hunter Jones. In terms of how he feels about the team he said this “I think overall, we’re pretty good, got a few coppers to start but they are an active bunch so I’m confident they’ll progress nicely and break out sooner rather than later”. With him catching passes from Deacon Nickens I had to ask him what it’s like “He was a huge part of the offense last season and I’d be shocked if that didn’t happen again this season, I think we’ll put up a ton of numbers in the passing game ”. He agreed that for the defense will be tested early in the season. All-in-all, being in the locker room this team is pumped and ready for the start of the season like all teams are this time of year. The question will be what happens if they start slow. They are in tough conference, but ultimately that will help them down the line.