As training camps close, players get on their game faces, the preseason comes to a close and the playbooks are adjusted, another season of glorious SFL action begins. Let us see what expectations we have for all 21 teams.
The now 3-time Champions gear up for another season in contention for a championship. However, they will have to do so without FB Jason Williams and DE Kevin Bane, who both left in Free Agency. Of course, with Big Sexy still on that Defensive Line, and Ron Cockren still producing, tanking isn’t happening in any way. See you in the playoffs.
After spending the last few seasons in the basement of the league, the team had enough and brought in some big pieces on defense, including Blake Hamrac and Blake Chance in the secondary, plus a former Wildcat Pro Bowler in Dillon Roland. The questions now faced for the Swarm are now on offense, with the main question being if Marcus Dunhill can lead this unit. If the offense can click, then Atlanta might be a force in Season 13.
There’s this weird part of me that thinks that Baltimore won’t make the playoffs. This doesn’t have to do with the players- Baltimore has a solid group of players and Mike Dazzo is the most consistent passer in the league- it’s due to the fact that most teams loaded for a playoff push while Baltimore stood pat and did nothing. We’ll see how this plays out throughout the year, but for now, playoffs for Baltimore is uncertain.
After a disappointing season, Carolina added some pieces to play alongside the Prasad brothers. They signed Zane Doty from Queen City, Trysten Hatley from Houston and Peyton Ellison from Indianapolis (now Charleston). To go along with those signings, they drafted Sully Richardson with their selection in the Draft. Despite these moves, I don’t see an immediate playoff berth, however if Richardson plays well in S13, then a return to the playoffs may be certain in Raleigh.
After another catastrophic season, the now Charleston Predators signed Jack Brown from Mexico City, and brought Shea Carroll out of retirement. Plus, they added Ken McCarro and Shaun Harrelson from Sioux Falls, Zach Bates from St. Louis, and drafted Kaladin Holley. If you’re lucky, your team might get seven wins.
After last season’s collapse, the Wildcats decided to cut some of their key players, Blake Hamrac, Jared Willis and Dillon Roland just to name a few. They are replaced by Blake Craize, Greg Gaines and Ash Odom. The big question now is in coaching. If Shann Varner’s game planning decisions pay off, then playoffs are a certain for Chicago.
After a surprise run to the SFL championship, losing to Alaska, the Nightwings improved their secondary by signing Justin Jones from San Francisco and Josh Vasquez from Atlanta. The big question now is: Was their performance in Season 12 a fluke, or is this team actually good? If this team is for real, expect this team to return to the playoffs for seasons to come.
After a disappointing Season 12, the Hyenas used Free Agency to make noise, signing both Mike Johnson, and more importantly, Anthony Wyo from Vegas. Along with drafting Ayden Davis, Houston has been officially declared champions of the off-season. This team is ready for playoffs.
LAS VEGAS FURY
The Fury grabbed some decent pieces in Free Agency, despite losing Wyo to Houston. These include a reinvigorated Memphis Blue, Rhett Sawyer from Tulsa, and drafting Jon Taylor-Skonseng, plus the return of Jack Burton. Who knows how this ends up, but the future of the Fury looks promising.
After narrowly missing out on the playoffs, Liam Crowter is making sure they make the playoffs in Season 13. He acquired Trevor Ferril from Indianapolis, and drafted DeAndre Washington, plus the return of a majority of the core. Along with the emergence of Reggie Streeter, there may be hope in London after all.
MEXICO CITY AZTECS
The only thing the Aztecs managed to do is sign a guy who decided to skip the draft to sign with the team. You better be prepared for a possible down year or the team will become Tenochtitlan.
NEW ORLEANS PHARAOHS
New Orleans made a big splash to add Levant Irvine to their defense after Irvine’s short stint in Vancouver. They also added star TE Yasin Clifton to an offense full of playmakers. Maybe this is the season you guys make it to the semifinals.
OKLAHOMA CITY RENEGADES
A team literally defined by mediocrity is hoping to break out by dumping JW Doyle to Alaska while signing Jason Williams to replace him. They also became the first team to have two female athletes on a team in SFL history by bringing Ashley Rose-Finch out of retirement. However, the situation became a two small steps forward, one giant step back type, as Rich Pratchard left to sign with Vancouver. He was replaced by Ermac Jaxen, who hasn’t proved himself in a position higher than a No.2 receiver. Good luck, you’re gonna need it.
QUEEN CITY CORSAIRS
After a disappointing loss in the Wild Card round to Tallahassee, the Corsairs decided to let Ash Odom walk in Free Agency and is replaced by Jared Willis, who hopes to bounce back in Buffalo after two seasons in Chicago. The team also replaced Zane Doty with Tanner Hendrix while also drafting Kyrie Hason in the draft. A rebound season is in bloom and the last thing most players want is Queen City winning again.
SAN FRANCISCO SHARKS
Season 12 for San Francisco was mostly represented by the quick exit of QB Dylan Aciel. Season 13 for the Sharks will hopefully show progress with the young players on the team. Another wave of talent has come in the form of Chris Leone, Sim Franco Jr. and LJ Smith. Gabriel Manning’s good performances must continue in order to justify his contract. Keep pushing, you’re close.
Back when the team was still in Dallas, they had a good run, only to be stopped by Denver. Now in Seattle under Crash Combs, the team hopes for the same success. They added to the secondary by bringing Mahmoud Ajlouni out of retirement, as well as signing Mario Martino. With the emergence of Zach Sandlin plus a solid offense and defense around him, the Tyrants are ready to go for blood.
SIOUX FALLS SPARROWS
Another playoff veteran hopes for another run. Unlike Baltimore, they added to their roster, specifically in CB Terrell Davis and the return of George Calderon. See you in October.
ST. LOUIS GLADIATORS
Another year, another new QB, this time its Noah Johns after Moody Mitchell left for unknown reasons. Aside from him and #1 overall pick Maur Rivers, nothing else has changed. I expect another disappointing season for the green and gold.
After another loss in the playoffs to the champs, they got Kevin Bane back plus receiving depth in Hunter Jones to join Ken Gossett and Greyson Willis. With C2 at the helm, playoffs are certain, but doubts about winning a championship loom large.
Despite the loss of Kyler Murray in Free Agency, they got good weapons for Ashley Jackson by signing Mike Osayi away from Seattle and the Desperados drafted Anthony Mosley at TE. Murray is replaced by Dante West, who hopes to be a cornerstone of the defense. With the offense much improved, now we ask is the defense ready to take a step up?
Apparently Andy Hamilton had enough about his team struggling and blew it up. In come Zigg Washington at DT, TE Craig Hearn from Sioux Falls, CB’s Kyler Murray and Mana Kanaka from Tulsa and Houston respectively, and a young wide-out in Rich Pratchard from OKC. Along with drafting Vick Bowers Jr, this kind of spending spree could either go well, or it could fall apart. Only time will tell.
Sometimes, predicting the playoffs is easy, while other times it’s a bit harder. For an unpredictable league like the SFL, this is more of the latter. Play ball!