By Various Writers
We are here. This is it folks. The top five players in the SFL. Our beat writing team comprised of multiple champions, general managers, and people that are deeply involved in the league community has outlined the following players as the best the sport has to offer.
#5 – Christian Christiansen, Quarterback, Tallahassee Pride
Mexico City Aztecs co-owner, Ramos Lynn:
“My reasoning is that he is an MVP player, super consistent, top 3 arm in the league. Gets a lot of help from (WR Ken) Gossett and run game.
You have to take Gossett away from him, at least try to limit him, because he is the #1 WR, and he likes to go on deep routes, so make sure that you can have a safety help your CB.”
Queen City Corsair Strong Safety, Nacho Sicario:
“Experiences with CC usually go well (lol). As rivals, we do tend to bump heads but I hold great respect for his game and how he handles his business.
QB skills are Hall of Fame and he is a respected guy in our community.”
Atlanta Swarm Cornerback Pat Ketza:
“10th, maybe. Overrated. Usually having to rely on his great receivers and defense to bail him out.”
Editor’s Note: Pat Ketza is not listed in the top 20 article
#4 Optimus Cline, Wide Receiver, Alaska Storm
His name is synonymous with everything you’d want your star WR to be in the SFL. Anytime anyone here’s it, they know exactly who is being discussed. If you hear the name Optimus Cline, there is no doubt within anyone that’s a part of the conversation that you’re all discussing the 5 season veteran WR that hails from Alaska, building his legacy (along with his domain) one reception at a time in the middle of the Eye of the Storm.
He’ll be the first to tell you, if you ask him, that individual stats aren’t want he’s trying to collect. The 442 receptions aren’t the reason he’s suited up for Coach Max Paul since Season 8; they’re just 442 chances that he’s had so far during his career to get his squad in a position to win. The 5878 regular season yards he’s compiled over the length of his time in the league weren’t about how far he was going as a WR; they were about how far he could will his squad to the end zone each game. The 36 TDs he’s scored, spread across all of the stadiums the various SFL organizations call home, weren’t about getting his name in the player of the game graphics; they were about getting ALK to the Championship each season.
That’s really who Optimus Cline is, when you get past the 3 trophies in his discord handle and his competitiveness in the game chats – he’s just a humble servant of the Storm, doing whatever they need him to in order to be successful for the next season. I asked Max Paul about him, to try and get an idea of who he was in the locker room, and the answer surprised me, honestly… not because it seemed dis-ingenuous or manufactured, but because it fit so well with the player it referenced;
“Optimus Cline – Exemplary teammate. Unselfish. Team-oriented. It’s never about stats with him; only Wins. 1st ever member of the Alaska Storm, he makes coaching offense a lot simpler!”
I wasn’t sure how to do better than that, so I gave the man himself a chance to set his humility aside and characterize is own career in whichever way he’d prefer. I asked him if there was anything specific that he remembered about his performances over the seasons, and whether or not there was a single crazy stat game that stood out for him. Now, glancing over his career stats, I figured he was going to give me at least one eye-popping stat line from a game where everything went his way… instead, I got this;
“Not for me personally, no. I’ve never really focused on individual stats. I guess the best thing that I think that I’ve ever done in the SFL is scoring the first TD in a Championship Game in Alaska Storm history.”
This guy is who every WR in the league should want to be when they grow up… and make no mistake – Optimus Cline is a GROWN MAN, and an SFL Superstar, too.
#3 Ash Odom, Runningback, Queen City Corsairs
Ash… Odom… This running back has been a monster for the Queen City backfield for the past three seasons and his move to Chicago will more than likely bump the Wildcats in most of the preseason standings.
His best season statistically speaking was his rookie season with the Alaska Storm, rushing for over 2000 yards and 21 touchdowns on about 6.5 yards per carry and 6.0 yards per catch. Alaska would then go to the playoffs and be sent back north after a visit to Vancouver sent them packing. Odom then hit free agency where Queen City was ready to hit him with the largest contract at the time (94.36). That big contract would pay off as he would have an even heftier contract in his later seasons (both 101.53). In QCC he would have a solid 5.0-6.0 YPC and a solid bag of rushing touchdowns. However Ash’s statistical impact wasn’t what made him great, it was the fact the defense knew “that guy can run all over us” and even in Queen City’s balanced style they would use Odom as sort of bait to get defensives to run commit and pass on them. Now I don’t have a full spreadsheet of stats to back this up, in fact I hardly have any stats. But after watching his film for the past two seasons, it’s either Odom or QCC that has something special when it comes to the run game.
QCC Owner Erik Barkley describes the importance of Ash Odom to the Corsair offense over the last several seasons:
“Ash has been the heart of our offense, and a presence on the field. He was the cornerstone of what we did, and he did it well. It was nice knowing from a planning standpoint that we could always count on him to produce.”
Some sources say that Ash’s exit is an effect of QCC planning on going towards an air raid offense in Season 13, and Chicago was waiting there with an opening at RB in their ground n’ pound scheme and gladly offered Odom a 93.32 contract. Whatever the case, will Odom maintain his productivity in this new system? Will Queen City be the same with a different RB? We will see in Season 13.
#2 Ron Cockren, Quarterback, Alaska Storm
Quarterback, 3 Time Champion, All Around Nice Guy.
You, the reader, are about to be taken on a journey. A journey… of threes. Well, and of other numbers. Our number two spot is occupied by Number Three himself, “Riverboat” Ron Cockren. An Alaska Storm veteran, Ron can been slinging the rock with ease and confidence since Season 9. Rookie growing pains were quickly brushed off with a 9-3 season, and it would be his last in the SFL without an appearance, and at time of publishing, a win, at the Championship game going forward. Three rings and four seasons later, the Riverboat seems like there’s no chance he’s slowing down anytime soon, either.
After four seasons, Ron’s average QBR is 96.7 – and has risen every season. He’s got a roughly 75% completion rate and has thrown a total of 82 interceptions in almost 14.5 thousand passes. Meanwhile, his touchdowns surpass the triple digit threshold at 110. A leader on and off the field, Mr. Cockren has been exceptionally humble in his and his team’s historic accomplishments, which only adds more layers of icing on top of an already massive cake. Mighty Max Paul might be the brains behind Alaska’s operation, but Ron Cockren is the anchor of a team that, regardless how the winds of change seem to blow, is always making forward progress. Considering that, watch for next year’s top 20 list – there’s room, and time, for Ron to move up, and looking back at the past, that’s exactly what he’s aiming to do.
#1 Alex Dominguez, Defensive Linemen, Alaska Storm
Really, who else did you think it would be? In a series that involved numerous personalities with very different priorities in valuing players that has resulted in much debate, Alex Dominguez has been the only player to be unanimously considered as one of the league’s best of the best. Dominguez was probably the best defensive player in the league by most consideration – and then the progression era hit. Big Sexy took his game to a tier that the league simply hasn’t seen since maybe the days of Rocco Marconi slinging it around for the Minneapolis Maulers. Since Season 10, Dominguez has put up 79 sacks (11.5 of those being in the playoffs) and has been the centerpiece to one of the most dominant modern SFL defenses in the Alaska Storm on their way to winning back-to-back league championships. Last season, Dominguez became an unstoppable force that there was simply no answer for with 38.5 sacks with 56.0 tackles 46 tackles for loss (read that again: FORTY SIX). Dominguez has passed the conversation for best right now and has entered the conversation for the best of all time.
Fellow Defensive Linemen Hunter Norwood on Alex Dominguez:
“The guy is a monster on the line. He almost eclipsed my whole career last season in just a few months.”
Dominguez has been the best in the league at multiple seasons as an elite defensive end option in Season 10 and then being the clear-cut most dominant defensive tackle of all time in Season 11. He followed that up with being a great option at defensive end again book-ending the line and sharing the load with fellow edge rushing stand out Kevin Bane. He’s switching back to defensive tackle again for Season 13 with Frank Champion operating behind him at linebacker. He should be considered the prohibitive favorite to win his first MVP award this upcoming season.