By Jeremy Vega
Hello SFL readers!
What a championship game that was on Monday night!
There was a lot to be excited about going into the game. A rematch from last season’s championship game, Max Paul going for history, and a hungry Pride team looking to win their first title in franchise history. Let’s not forget about the outstanding work that went into producing the biggest game of the season by Commissioner Cameron irvine. Add in the amazing commentary team of Irvine, Mullenax & special guest Demond Semian to bring the action alive and really get the fans watching immersed into the game. But we are here to talk about the game, which lived up to the billing and an evenly matched from beginning to end.
By now, we all know the narrative going into the Championship game. Last season, the Pride were undefeated and hosting the 12-2 Storm. Alaska went on to blow out the Pride, winning 34-23. This season, the script was completely flipped as the Alaska Storm were undefeated & hosting the 12-2 Pride. The major difference this time around was that the Pride came to play, as they put up a much better fight against the Storm. As I alluded to earlier, the Pride competed from the first whistle to the last. Even at halftime, both team’s stats were almost identical outside of turnovers. But let’s start from the beginning…
The first half was mostly dominated by fantastic and stout defensive play from both squads. The Storm defense forced quarterback Christian Christiansen into 3 interceptions, including an interception in the endzone, shutting down the Pride offence almost entirely. The bright spark was recently crowned MVP Jay Eniola, who managed 92 rushing yards & the only touchdown in the first half. That touchdown came just under the 2 minute warning to give the Pride a 1 point lead heading into halftime. Despite the four offensive turnovers by the Pride, their defence really held the Alaska’s big play offence and quarterback Ron Cockren in check – including forcing him into 2 interceptions.
When the Pride’s defence had their backs against the wall in the redzone, they really stepped up and held the Storm offence to 3 field goals; a major win for the Pride in the first half, considering most teams who turn the ball over 4 times in one half against Alaska usually find themselves down by a mile.
In the third quarter, it was all Alaska, as their offence finally showed some signs of life. Midway through the third, Alaska kicker Brad Brechett hit his 4th field goal out of 4 attempts to give his team a 2-point lead. Coming off a poor punt from the Pride, Ron Cockren connected with star wideout Optimus Cline, on a 30 yard post corner to get into the redzone for a second consecutive drive. The very next play, Cockren found wideout Jeff Comeau over the middle for a touchdown, extending the Storm lead to 9 heading into the 4th quarter.
The Pride answered right back early in the 4th with a big play from Jaye Eniola on a 38 yard counter run and a touchdown catch from wideout Ken gossett, to bring the Pride within two points. With both teams trading punches heading down the stretch, Cockren orchestrated another great drive, taking his offence down the field into the redzone once again. Between an amazing play (that saw the ball thrown by Ron, get tipped 5 times before being caught by tight end Jason Julienne), to the Pride tackling the Storm wideouts on the 1 yard line twice to complete a goal line stand, it was the best, most thrilling series of the night.
After the Storm settled for their 5th field goal late in the 4th, giving them a five point lead, they had to rely on their defence once again to put the Pride away. Three time defensive player of the year, Alex ‘Big Sexy’ Dominguez, killed the final drive of the Pride with two sacks, allowing the Storm offence to run out the rest of the clock and make them the SFL’s first back-to-back Champions.
Ron Cockren won his second SFL Championship MVP award, cementing himself as the league’s best QB the last two seasons. The Storm now have two Championships under their belt and the 1st ever perfect season, and there is no signs of them or owner Max Paul slowing down. The Pride have now lost two Championship Games in a row and will look forward to next season as they continue their dominance in the regular season.
That wraps up another fantastic season and opens the door for all new hopes and dreams for all twenty-one SFL teams for Season 12. Good luck to everyone, and goodnight to Season 11.
A note from the Editor: This Recap is Jeremy Vega’s last ever piece for the Beat Writing Team as he focuses more on his ownership duties. I personally want to thank him for his hard work and dedication over the last two seasons. His reliability and sheer enthusiasm for writing has been crucial to raising the profile of the team and the league as a whole. Good luck with Denver Jeremy, and thank you.