Ray Bentley, Beat Writer
Banner image by J.R. Lawless

Champions. They come in many shapes and sizes; some believe they were destined to take the top spot, while others believe their ascendance is the product of hard work, long days, and a little bit of luck. In the Simulation Football League, at time of press, the current reigning champions are the now thrice-victorious Alaska Storm. However, would you believe that they were actually the holders of only one of two possible titles? At the end of last season, I decided to see if I could track a ‘lineal’ championship; like a boxing title, it would pass from the first team to win the SFL Championship Game to the first team to beat them; it would continue to transfer from winner-to-winner until the present day. My investigations uncovered a few things: firstly, the original lineal title, won by the New York Knights at the end of Season 1, ceased to exist at the conclusion of Season 7, as both teams in the championship game folded. Therefore, the next season was used as a springboard for the second unofficial title, named for the owner / coach who would have been the holder, Thomas Paterniti. Season 8, being the springboard season, saw the Queen City Corsairs (nee New York Knights) re-capture the title, only to lose it in Week 2 of the 9th season to the Tallahassee Pride. For a complete breakdown of the Thomas Paterniti Unofficial Championship Title, please refer to my previous article, which can be found here. Today, at the cusp of Week 9 in Season 13, I have tracked the TPUCT through to its current owners, and will provide a breakdown of possible owners for the remaining weeks.

WEEK 1 TITLE GAME: New Orleans Pharaohs at Alaska Storm

Max Paul’s team just couldn’t be stopped – not in the championship game against the Denver Nightwings, and especially not against the New Orleans Pharaohs, who had a passing / rushing combined 100 less yards than just Ron Cockren himself. The Storm walked away from Week 1 holding both their Season 12 championship high, as well as the lineal Thomas Paterniti Unofficial Championship Title.

WEEK 2 TITLE GAME: Alaska Storm at Denver Nightwings

It was less a rematch of the former title game than it was a replay of it; Denver started off strong, but Alaska ultimately was able to shake off the cobwebs for a thrilling fourth quarter victory. Twice now Jeremy Vega has seen a title slip through his fingers at the hands of the Storm; how much longer would he and the Nightwings have to wait before staking their own claim?

WEEK 3 TITLE GAME: Alaska Storm at Tallahassee Pride

Speaking of title game rematches, the Storm traveled to Florida to take on their title-game nemeses. Unlike their previous Championship matchups, it was the Pride who looked calm and composed, taking the victory and the Unofficial Title from the Storm 17 – 28. While Alaska was able to get things going in the second half of the game, it wasn’t enough to prevent Frank Goodin’s team from hailing themselves, for the time being, as the new champs on the block.

WEEK 4 TITLE GAME: Tallahassee Pride at Denver Nightwings

Fool me once, shame on you. Denver, having been fooled twice by Alaska (first in the Championship game, then in the Week 2 Title game), was not about to let it happen again. While it was a rough defensive back-and-forth between these two powerhouses, Denver was finally able to reclaim their previously-held title with a field goal made in overtime, sealing their win 10 – 13. Now that the Nightwings were champions, they weren’t looking back – only forward, in the hopes that they would soon become the season’s Grand Champions.

WEEK 5 TITLE GAME: Denver Nightwings at Houston Hyenas

Houston had 18 more passing yards and 70 more rushing yards than Denver did, but the Nightwing’s defense was on Kentez Johnson all evening long, sealing their victory with 4 INTs. With the Unofficial Championship theirs now for two weeks, Denver would tie the Storm on weeks held for the season going into Week 6 – their bye week.

WEEK 6 TITLE GAME: Not Applicable – Nightwings on Bye

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Denver… was on bye this week. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, including shots at the Unofficial Championship; as it was uncontested, it remained in the now-steady hands of the Nightwings once again.

WEEK 7 TITLE GAME: Tulsa Desperados at Denver Nightwings

Ashley Jackson, Kanye Rockafella and crew traveled to the Mile High city in a valiant effort to wrest the Unofficial Title from the Nightwings. Sadly, they fell far short of their goal, only putting up 10 in the second half of the game, while Denver had all the points they needed by the end of first half. Their victory assured, the Nightwings moved forward confident that they now held the title going into a fourth week – the longest streak of the season.

WEEK 8 TITLE GAME: Denver Nightwings at Charleston Predators

Last week, Charleston took the Nightwings to class. Unfortunately for the Predators, the class ended up being “How to Retain Your Unofficial Championship Title, Easily” and Denver was able to waltz to a 16 – 6 victory.

We are now all but caught up to the present. The Denver Nightwings are the current Thomas Paterniti Unofficial Championship Title holders, though with their bye week having already taken place, they must defend the title for the next 5 weeks if they hope to be crowned the Season 13 Unofficial Champion. Moving forward, here are the possible Title Games for each week (note: title games are dependent of the previous winner; as wins and losses are notched some teams will be eliminated from contention.)

WEEK 9 TITLE GAME: Denver Nightwings at Carolina Skyhawks

Denver might have been leading the power rankings, but you wouldn’t have known Carolina was skimming the bottom from this thriller of a game. Ultimately, the victory went to the Nightwings 34-27, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of the Skyhawks, who have now defended the title through five weeks. In addition to this, with Denver’s win over Carolina, the future Title Game match-ups have altered, with multiple teams being eliminated from Season 13 Unofficial Champion contention, leaving six possibilities to take it.

WEEK 10 TITLE GAME: Las Vegas Fury at Denver Nightwings

The Nightwings have once again held onto the title for another week, though Las Vegas gave them a worthy run for their money. Oddly enough, due to the way the schedule has shaken out, the same six teams remain in contention for the Thomas Paterniti Unofficial Championship title, with Las Vegas escaping elimination by virtue of their final game being at home against Denver in Week 13. Now that the results of Week 10 are in the history books, it could very well be up to Denver to bring the title to the postseason with them, as the window is sliding closer and closer to shut with each game that’s played. The other remaining five teams in contention are, at best, bubble teams. In turn, it’s now possible that Season 13 would mark our second time that the TPUCT was held by a team that missed the playoffs (the first time was the St. Louis Gladiator’s unlikely win over the Chicago Wildcats in Season 9, preventing the Aztecs from ultimately taking the title).

London Knights at Denver Nightwings

Unfortunately for fans of variety, London fell to the onslaught of the Nightwings. Along with the Knights defeat, they and the Vancouver Legion were eliminated from the TPUCT contention this week, leaving four possible remaining contenders. Of these four, Denver is the only team guaranteed a postseason berth; while not mathematically eliminated yet, Las Vegas is the only other team, in this writer’s opinion, who could possibly take the title into the postseason. Denver has shown that they’re here to stay for quite some time with their now eighth week in a row holding the title; the only question remaining is can they stay consistent and win out? If the answer to that question is “yes,” the Nightwings have a very good shot at becoming a Grand Champion for Season 13 (winning both the regular season TPUCT as well as the SFL Championship). Two more regular season title games remain, but only one victory podium awaits.

Denver Nightwings at New Orleans Pharaohs

Denver, like a wily old coot, stubbornly refuses to hand over the Unofficial Championship title this season, though other teams have definitely been putting forth the effort. Most recently was the New Orleans Pharaohs, who statistically are ranked towards the bottom of the league this year. On the other hand, the final score of 34-24 proves even the best teams shouldn’t take a win for granted. The Nightwings might have clinched at least a quarterfinal home game, but after this week’s performance, there’s a possibility that they’ll head into it hoping to reclaim their Unofficial title on the way to the Official one. It all comes down to Week 13, which will see Denver travel to Las Vegas for the final regular season episode of Vice Wars – as this season finale also happens to be the game that determines the Season 13 Unofficial Champion.

Denver Nightwings at Las Vegas Fury

Denver Nightwings
Las Vegas Fury

Alaska Storm
Atlanta Swarm
Baltimore Vultures
Carolina Skyhawks
Charleston Predators
Chicago Wildcats
Houston Hyenas
London Knights
Mexico City Aztecs
New Orleans Pharaohs
Oklahoma City Renegades
Queen City Corsairs
St. Louis Gladiators
San Francisco Sharks
Sioux Falls Sparrows
Tallahassee Pride
Tulsa Desperados
Vancouver Legion