Sully Richardson, Beat Writer
Banner image by J.R. Lawless
Imagine yourself being a part of a lion pride! You’re on top of the food chain: the biggest, the strongest, and the baddest hunter in the land! In order to stay on top, your pride must feast! One of the largest and most desirable prey in your family’s sight is a mighty herd of buffalo! There’s only one problem: During each hunt, your pride comes up short! Now, translate the previous imagery onto the Tallahassee Pride. That herd of buffalo you imagined earlier on? That’s just the 3x Champs of the SFL, the Alaska Storm:
1. Season 10: Storm 34 – 23 Pride (SFL Championship)
2. Season 11: Pride 17 – 22 Storm (Championship)
3. Season 12: Pride 23 – 36 Storm (Quarterfinals)
The Pride have, for the most part, been a major player in SFL Playoffs gone by. They rolled into the Season 12 quarterfinals mightily earlier this year; however, the Pride lost to the now three time Simulation Football League champ Alaska Storm by three points; the final score was 23-36. Tallahassee’s record ended at 7-5. In Season 13, they look to regroup and take what they feel is rightfully theirs. Currently, the Pride’s record is 9-2. Since Season 5 (the Pride’s inaugural season), TAL has been in the postseason 7-out-of-8 times, missing out in Season 7 with a record of 3-9. They have clinched a top five seed for the playoffs and look to finish the season out strong. Some other facts about the Tallahassee Pride:
– Rookies making their postseason introductions: LB Succo Lohmano, TE Jack Wall, LB J.R. Lawless, LB Chris Young, and WR Ethan Sneed.
– Christian Christiansen is 58 passing yards away from surpassing his rookie passing yards (3422). He is currently ranked 3rd among SFL quarterbacks this season.
– WR Ken Gossett is currently ranked 5th amongst wide receivers. He’s only 234 yards (1079) behind first-place WR Matt Burnham of the San Francisco Sharks.
– With this season being his fourth in the SFL, A.J. Francis has been struggling. He currently has 547 rushing yards (139 carries); which is a career-low in both categories!
The Pride started out slow their first two games. They beat Carolina by 7 and lost to Baltimore by 3 points. Tallahassee’s focus was intense as ever when the Alaska Storm came to town. Sweet redemption was achieved as the Pride defeated the Storm by a score of 17-28. Although QB Christiansen had 5 INTs, he ended the night going 58 for 77, for an astounding 515 yards and 4 TDs! After losing in a low-scoring affair against the Denver Nightwings (10-13) in Week 4, the Pride have accumulated a six-game winning streak. They’ve outscored their opponents by a total score of 192 – 104. As previously stated above, WR Ken Gossett is ranked 5th amongst wide receivers. Not to be outdone, WR Greyson Willis is ranked 11th with 91 receptions for 919 yards and 6 TDs. Along with WR Hunter Jones, the Pride’s wide receiver corps may be the key to guiding them to the promised land. While A.J. Francis has been in a bit of a slump rushing-wise, he’s been a huge contributor in catching the football. He has 103 catches for 540 yards and 6 TDs. When it comes to receiving running backs, he’s 4th in the league.
The Pride’s defense has been good this season. In addition to their win over the Storm, the defense showed out against a fiery Chicago team. Tallahassee’s defense held a strong Wildcats offense to only 3 field goals! Chicago quarterback E.T. King was sacked a total of 4 times (3 by Hale; once by Norwood), and was also picked off two times. The Pride’s defense have the lowest points allowed total (168), lowest points allowed per game (16.8), lowest amount of allowed passing TDs (12), and the lowest amount of allowed rushing TDs (4; tied with Seattle). SS Alex Bond leads the league in INTs (9), and DE Taqwuan Hale is tied for 5th in the league in Sacks (10).
The Tallahassee Pride have all the intangibles and forward momentum to make something happen this postseason. With their fierce aerial assault, hungry defense, and consistent playoff appearances; the Pride could be major players in Season 13’s championship predictions. You have to believe that Tallahassee does not want to become the image under the word “insanity.” They have written down the vision plainly throughout their existence. Their bodies are tense, eyes are laser-sharp, and claws are embedded in the dirt. The herd of buffalo is theirs for the taking. Will they finally capture their prize; or, will the herd band together again and send the Pride with stomachs hungry and mouths agape…once again?