By Various Writers
WE’RE BACK! After a slight delay in proceedings, the SFL Beat Writers are back with the next instalment of the ‘SFL Top 20’. I’d you can’t recall the selection process, or want to see which players preceded the ones in this article, follow the links below:
And now, onto the players…
#15 – Jacques Luyindula, Quarterback, Dallas Lobos
There have been few quarterbacks more consistent than #11 over the past 3 seasons. The Season 10 Rookie has shown an innate ability to improve each team he has played with, twice taking failing franchises to the promised lands of the playoffs. As Carolina and Dallas can confirm; if you want to immediately turn around your fortunes, sign Jacques Luyindula.
The journeyman QB seems to fly under the radar a little – fans know he is good, just not quite how good he really is. The numbers speak for themselves. 20+ TD’s in every season he has been in the league, he has thrown for 9909 yards total, including a career best 3683 with his current team, the Dallas Lobos. Granted, he does throw a few picks, but when you play on the edge, that will happen against the ball-hawking secondaries of the SFL, plus, only his rookie season yielded more picks than TD’s. Luyindula is statistically improving every season, slowly getting closer to the championship game. Season 13 could be his.
Luyindula’s current Owner, Crash Combs stated:
“Jacques has been a testament of high quality consistency. He’s been in different offenses the past three seasons but has continued to succeed at a high level. He was key to us in season 12 in his ability to take over games when needed to but also be that team guy who just facilitates for his teammates.”
#14 – Gabriel Manning, Wide Receiver, San Francisco Sharks
Gabriel Manning has been the heart of San Fransisco in the past three seasons. Through thick and thin, he has stayed right there showing off his talents to owner Ryan Moats III whether on slants, outs, streaks, or even kick returns. His exploits in both of these areas have led him to this list and to be considered by some to be the best player at the position. You should see more of him next season when San Fransisco will be hopefully rebuilt and he can lead them to the playoffs.
Former teammate, Mickey Martino had this to say:
“You don’t become one of the most dominant receivers in the league without embarrassing defenses left and right. Manning’s earned those high paying contracts and has made use of every resource that is put into him.”
#13 – Ray Bentley, Running Back, Mexico City Aztecs
One of the Old Guards to the Progression Era of the SFL, Bentley has truly established himself as one of the league’s greatest running backs of all time. It’s been nearly three full seasons since the Altered Beast wrapped up his MVP season, where he was the league’s premier player leading his Mexico City Aztecs to a maiden championship victory. Since then, Bentley’s rushing totals have steadily fallen off from all-time numbers to pro bowl numbers. He put up 1600 yards Season 10, 1200 more in Season 11, and he’s on pace for a similar amount this season. All being said, Bentley has been among the league’s scariest and most consistent backs in recent memory.
Mexico City Aztecs Co-Owner Ramos Lynn on Ray Bentley:
“Bentley is the best back of all-time. I truly believe that. A selfless player who has taken the paycuts for the benefit of the team and he still is a perennial pro bowl player and one of the best players in the league. He again has double digit rushing TDs with still two games to go. He is borderline unstoppable in gain a yard situations and is so valuable. Has the power and speed to be an all-around back, without a doubt a future HOFer and this is just his fifth season.”
#12 – Taqwuan Hale, Defensive End, Tallahasee Pride
Interview with Taqwuan Hale:
“So, you know you made the Top 20 right? You’re ranked 12th. How you feel about that?”.
“I thought it could be possible, but wasn’t entirely sure if it would actually happen,” Taqwuan himself said.
I believe he’s worthy of at least being ranked #12. At that point, we’re starting to get into the range of it being hard to quantify someone’s value. I can say that having the best pure DE in the league to rush the passer and, at the same time, being a guy who can set the edge on outside runs is a must in the modern SFL. It’s hard to overstate the value of being a consistent presence in the front seven on a play-to-play, game-to-game and season-to-season basis.
“He’s invaluable to our defensive scheme and, more importantly, our team as a whole,” Christian Christiensen, GM of the Tallahassee Pride stated.
“He’s doing pretty good. You guys are the ones doing the top 20 and so far it’s seems pretty par for the course,” HC of the St. Louis Gladiators, Ethan Kye shared.
Taqwuan is a player that works hard and he doesn’t even know he is. He just works and gets past the lineman with ease. He’s a beast and is one of the best DE’s I have seen in this league. I play for the Carolina Skyhawks and the Pride and Skyhawks have a huge rivalry. I remember being in the locker room. We were always talking bout Taqwuan. Always gotta focus on him. If he keeps at it the way he is, he will be a future Hall Of Famer. Top 20 bonafide!
#11 – Kevin Bane, Defensive End, Alaska Storm
There are some defenders who spend their lives training for the time they spend on the field. Alaska Storm (and former Tallahassee Pride) member Kevin Bane was born on it; molded by it. Where other defensive ends fight like young men, admirable but mistaken, Bane shows them where he has made his home while preparing for the game. The question, then, is what will break first – opposing offensive spirits, or bodies? For the past 3 seasons, Kevin Bane has been consistently smashing both, with his statistics rising through all of them. While in his rookie season with the Pride, Bane notched an impressive 24 tackles (with 20 assisted tackles and 9 sacks, no less) on Tallahassee’s undefeated run to the championship. Two seasons later, now with the Alaska Storm, Bane is even outshining Alaskan superstar Alex Dominguez, with 22.5 sacks to Big Sexy’s 13. Simply put: when Kevin Bane is lining up against your O-Line, you’d better hope they’re well rested and ready, because otherwise, he’s liable to lift them into the air, and break their backs. With only three seasons under his belt, this writer is more than a little intimidated to think of what Bane has planned for the future.
Ramos Lynn, Owner, Mexico City Aztecs:
“Great player, great motor, very quick first step, sure tackler, clutch player.”
Crash Combs, General Manager, Dallas Lobos:
“Bane has been a consistent force in the league since he has arrived on and off the field, which has been solidified in his dominance switching systems from Tallahassee to Alaska.”
Andy Hamilton, Owner, Vancouver Legion:
“Kevin is a quality player. One of those guys that has really come on this season and benefitted from the defensive dark lord Mighty RX himself. In Tallahassee he kind of got shuffled in with other talented lineman ,and while he played really well, it was not him standing out as much as the unit standing out. Now in Alaska, he got to join Alex Dominguez and the two of them are just dominating. Think of it like Demarcus Lawrence. He was great right? But Demarcus Lawrence and Von Miller? Oh goodness. That’s another level. Bane really gets to utilize and emphasize his career in Alaska.”
When we return, we see those players who cracked the Top 10. Cone back soon and see which players really are, the cream of the crop…