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Jett Zero, Beat Writer

It’s finally here. Championship Wednesday. A heavyweight slugfest between the best two teams in the Simulation Football League in Season 13. Each team has gone through numerous trials and tribulations to finally make it to the big stage this week, and one of these teams will see their hard work and determination pay dividends in the form of a championship trophy come Wednesday night. After watching one team in particular battle it out all season, and speaking with their respective players throughout the week as they prepare for the big game, I am convinced they are the ones who will be hoisting the golden cup this week; that team is none other than Jeremy Vega’s very own Denver Nightwings.

In breaking down how the Nightwings will have the edge this week over a tough Tyrants outfit, one must first look at the Denver run game, spearheaded by RB Jarrod McChesney. Over the course of the regular season, #32 compiled 1,223 yards on the ground and 11 rushing scores while adding 81 catches and 4 TDs in the passing game. In the Nightwing’s win over Tallahassee, McChesney bulldozed his way to 4 scores, then salted the clock away when his team needed him to seal the game late. Talking to Jarrod this week about how he started with the team and this season, this is what he had to say:

Jarrod McChesney, celebrating one of many, many Nightwings touchdowns

When did you join the Denver Nightwings?

I joined Denver in the off season leading up to season 11. I was actually their first ever draft pick.

Tell us about your first encounter/experience with the team? What made you want to join?

My first experience with the team was quite interesting. Some of the guys in the locker room thought it was a reach to draft me where they did. Thought I was going to be a bust. Having a disappointing rookie season didn’t help that narrative, haha. But now that’s something we look back on and laugh about.

I knew I wanted to be a Nightwing for a several reasons. 1 – I’m a Colorado Native and have lived my whole life in the Denver metro area. 2 – I’ve known Jeremy since we were kids, he is one of my best friends. 3 – I could see the attitude that those guy’s in the chats and had an idea of what the culture was like and knew I wanted to be a part of it. I’m grateful for Jeremy and BJ taking a chance on me.

What was the feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game?

The vibes in the locker room after that Tallahassee game where crazy. The feeling was: Ecstasy, Euphoria, Buck Wild. But mostly, proud. Everyone was so proud of each other, of Jeremy and how far we’ve come. It was a beautiful vibe that night.

This is your 2nd finals appearance; how were you able to push through the loss last season to make it to the big stage once again in Season 13? What will you do different this time around?

Running over opponents? Just another day for Jarrod McChesney.

I think we all just went into the off season with the right mindset. We didn’t take that finals trip last year for granted. We knew even though we lost that we had a special season and we knew we had what it took to get back. We just took it one day at a time and never hung our heads.

You had 23 carries for 104 yards and 4 TDs against Tallahassee, what do you think you can do differently on offense against Seattle to increase your chances of success?

I think we’re gonna have to put up a lot of points to beat Seattle. We all saw that wild shootout with Baltimore and understand they are an absolute juggernaut offensively. I think I’m just going to have to run for 208 yards and 8 TDs!

To the viewers out there and anyone interested in joining this league: It will be one of the most enjoyable experiences of your life. I’m just an everyday normal guy… but in the SFL, I’m a superstar… and I’m getting ready to make an impact in the championship game. And that’s pretty awesome if you ask me.

~Jarrod McChesney, Denver RB

Aside from the run game, the passing attack for the Nightwings, led by Josh Miller, has proven to be just as effective at running up the score and putting games to bed. With a completion percentage of 72.73% and 3,259 passing yards on the season, Miller has established himself as one of the better gunslingers in this league. His QBR of just under 92 signifies how effective Denver can be on offense with #6 under center. Speaking to Josh about his career in Colorado and the finals this week, he had this to say:

Josh Miller is ready to right past ‘ship wrongs

When did you join the Denver Nightwings?

I joined the Nightwings halfway through Season.. Ten I believe? At that point we were still the San Antonio Vaqueros, who were owned by Greg Corky. Back then there was not a seasonal draft, so most rookies replaced veterans halfway through the season. Originally Greg wanted me to play tight end if I recall correctly, but eventually he surprised me by telling me he had to replace his quarterback and told me that I could be the man to replace him. My first ever game, which is still one of my most favorite games in the league, was against the Vancouver Legion. We won in a shootout 31-35 after I tossed 5 touchdowns.  We went on to make the playoffs at 7-5, but lost the first game to the Indianapolis Devils. After that season Greg told me he was selling the team, and the new owner would be the Vancouver’s offensive coordinator (at the time), Jeremy Vega. The rest is history

Tell us about your first encounter/experience with the team? What made you want to join?

My first encounter with the Vaqueros was on February 12th in 2018. I decided to check out twitch for the first time in ages, and on my recommended channels feed I saw the simulationfl twitch channel. This was my first exposure to the league. I was really intrigued at the idea before I even clicked on the stream, but when I did, I was blown away by the quality of all aspects of the stream: the presentation graphics and the commentators, especially league Commissioner Cam Irvine. The game was the Vaqueros against the Alaska Storm, and the Vaqs would eventually pull off the shock upset. I was hooked. This ended up being a coincidental encounter between my future team and I, but I instantly fell in love with the league and the underdog Vaqueros

What was the feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game?

The feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game was electric. We take every opponent we play seriously, especially Tallahassee, and to get over them to reach the championship game for the second season in a row was the greatest feeling in the world. All the vets were excited for our rookies and offseason signings, who didn’t have much playoff experience whatsoever, and we’re glad we have every single one of them on our team; we couldn’t have done it without them.

Miller’s scanned the field and has found his target: The Championship.

This is your 2nd finals appearance, how were you able to push through the loss last season to make it to the big stage once again in Season 13? What will you do different this time around?

I can’t lie; we were pretty gutted after the championship game last season. To have come that close to de-throning the two-time champions, only to come up inches short, was heartbreaking. On the other hand, however, we also realized that we had been able to come within inches of the juggernaut Alaska, which is no easy feat. We knew we still had what it takes to come into this season and continue right where we left off; we didn’t lose many players, and we brought in quality rookies and offseason signings to bolster our roster. We knew we still had all the tools to succeed, and since that loss, we’ve had our eyes fixed on this year’s championship.

I don’t want to reveal too much as to what we’re going to do differently in the championship this year, but we now have experience playing in a game like this, including head coach JeremyVega, so we’ll fix our mistakes that we made last year in order to ensure our best chance for victory

You had 38 completions for 290 yards with one interception and zero TDs against Tallahassee, what do you think you can do differently on offense against Seattle to increase your chances of success?

While I definitely didn’t play my best against Tallahassee, the rest the team was able to step up for me to get the win. I guess the only thing I could say about improving for the championship is that I need to make better decisions when I’m passing the ball. Sometimes I make the wrong choice and throw across the middle where there isn’t really a hole, so that’s definitely something I’ve been working on for Wednesday.

If you are new to the SFL and reading this: this could be you playing in the championship sometime down the road. All it takes is to get active and get involved somehow in the league for people to notice you, especially with these expanded rosters. Never in my wildest dreams did I believe when I joined the Vaqueros I would ever play in the championship, but here I am. It truly has been a journey, and I am forever grateful to Mr. Corky for giving me this opportunity and Mr. Vega for sticking with me through the seasons.

~Josh Miller, Denver QB

Perhaps the real MVP on this Denver team, kicker Kramer Jackman has been near perfect booting the pigskin since drafted by the Nightwings in Season 12. Going 28 for 28 in back to back seasons and making 100% of his FG’s in the Season 12 postseason, Jackman missed his first career FG EVER against Tallahassee in the semi-finals this season. His response to the missed kick and his and the team’s response moving forward were as such:

Kramer Jackson embodying the SFL mantra “KICK IT”

When did you join the Denver Nightwings?

I was drafted two seasons ago to Denver not thinking I was even going to be drafted. Draft day they told me they had two picks in the first round and then something happened that they only had one pick. I was a little nervous after they told me that then things were figured out and they got a second pick and its history now.

Tell us about your first encounter/experience with the team? What made you want to join Denver?

My first encounter or experience was with Denver’s GM at the time, BJ Armstrong. We shared a common interest of liking the Oakland Raiders and he told Jeremy we have to draft a kicker and I was a perfect fit for them. I have loved it ever since I have joined.

What was the feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game?

The locker room was hype as always after a win. It was great sharing moments with guys who have been in the league for a few years like Josh Vasquez and we are sharing a moment all together. There was other stuff said in the locker room that stays in the locker room. Especially something I said. The guys know what it was.

The Houston game saw your first field goal miss ever; how did you feel in that moment?

Kramer Jackman stars as THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN FOOT, in the Championship Game this Wednesday!

The first thing I said about missing that field goal was thank god I’m glad that is over with. I know it sucks that I missed my first one ever, but I am glad I missed it when the game was pretty much already over. If that was the game tying or winning kick, I would have been heartbroken.

This is your 2nd finals appearance, how were you able to push through the loss last season to make it to the big stage once again in Season 13? What will you do different this time around?

We were focused last year, and we are focused this year. Yeah, I get it we lost to Alaska last year and they were our first and only loss in the regular season this year, but we have improved a lot since then. We are not looking to be the second team again this year; we want it all.

Be active and kind to everyone. This is a great community to talk have fun and BS all the time. You can do [anything that you can] dream of, like hosting a podcast, making articles, broadcast and social media. You will be doing that and making friends along the way. Please don’t be shy.

~Kramer Jackman, Denver Kicker

Aside from the vets on the team, Denver added two non-contract rookies this season as part of the SFL’s new Couch-to-Field program in Season 13, which enabled teams to bring on rookies mid-season to get team and play experience ahead of the Season 14 draft. For the Nightwings, that was wide receiver Bryce Battle and outside linebacker Adam Wiseman. Both players have added team spirit and camaraderie in the locker room as well as meaningful contributions on the field of play. Speaking to them during practice this week, they offered their thoughts on their experiences so far with the team and in the league, as well as the upcoming finals game this Wednesday:

Bryce:

When did you join the Denver Nightwings?

I joined the league week 8 of Season 13.

Tell us about your first encounter/experience with the team? What made you want to join as a non-contract rookie?

Denver was my first and only team I reached out to. I first messaged Jeremy Vega looking to know more about the league and just simply asked what he needed on his team. After a quick interview I fell in love with the teams philosophy and the warm welcome that the rest of the guys gave me. From day zero I felt like I been there for years. Thus I joined the team as their WR3.

What was the feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game?

After our last win we all celebrated that night then next morning it was back to business. Heads down and back to the grind to stay in championship form.

What are your plans for after this season? Are you going through the draft process? Would Denver be a team you would consider coming back to play for in Season 14?

I would love to come back to Denver the teams philosophy the Jeremy Vega has and how all the player adopted it willingly. I love the family and friendship vibes this team gives off and thus shows in the results this year.

If there is one thing I would like to leave [you with from] my SFL debut, [it’s this]; put your mind to it, hit hard, run fast, and you always run faster in all black.

Go Nightwings!

~Bryce Battle. Denver WR – Non-Contract Rookie

Adam:

When did you join the Denver Nightwings?

I joined Denver prior to Week 7.

Tell us about your first encounter/experience with the team? What made you want to join as a non-contract rookie?

My first experience in the locker room was when they announced my signing to the team. Everybody was very welcoming and made me feel at home immediately. Denver was on a shortlist of 3 or 4 teams I was looking at when they announced the roster expansion due to their success this season and last. Jeremy, Jared, Kramer and I talked and it just seemed like a perfect fit immediately for me.

What was the feeling in the locker room after the Tallahassee game?

The locker room after the Tallahassee game was, as the kids say, “lit”.  I think Jeremy and Jared said “I love you guys” 4 or 5 times and the feeling is mutual amongst all of us in that locker room. We all just get along so well that it’s not surprising we made it this far. There’s been no doubt in the locker room that we are going to win this championship since I’ve joined. That’s been the number 1 goal and we are one step away from achieving that.

What are your plans for after this season? Are you going through the draft process? Would Denver be a team you would consider coming back to play for in Season 14?

I would love to stay in Denver after this season but we have not had those talks yet. I am preparing as if I am going into the draft but if Jeremy wants me back next year I’m going to jump at the opportunity to stay a Nightwing.

The SFL is an incredible community. I wasn’t 100% convinced that I would get as hooked on the SFL as I have but seeing your player out there making plays and hearing your name on TV is an indescribable experience. I was hooked as soon as I made my first tackle against Tulsa and I encourage anyone looking at joining to give it a shot for at least 1 season and I have no doubt you’ll get hooked as well!

~Adam Wiseman, Denver OLB – Non-Contract Rookie

After hitting the practice field, I was able to sit down with the guy responsible for bringing this whole thing together, Head Coach Jeremy Vega. JV has been the pillar of this team since its purchase a few seasons ago, and his hard work has showed with back to back SFL finals appearances. When asked about the team’s success this season and the adjustments he’s made to finally snatch the victory this season, he had this to say:

Coach, great win on Tuesday night against the Pride! How were your guys able to pull off that huge win?

We stumbled out the gates in the 1st quarter. But like we have done all season, we stuck to our gameplan, made adjustments where needed, & competed all the way till the last whistle.

What was the feeling in the locker room after the game?

The energy in the locker room was insane!!! Lots of “I love you guys” & “congratulations!” It was a great time in the locker room.

The Nightwings have won back to back games this post-season to punch their ticket to the championship game, would you say these games have gone as you scripted them, or have you had to improvise along the way to ensure victory? Any big surprises?

You cant predict anything in this league. Anything is possible. We stick to what we can control and trusting each other every week. That’s what we practice, that’s what we script.

You guys are 13-1 so far this season, how do you keep the momentum going into the finals to ensure a Denver Championship?

We have won 12 straight games this season. The momentum has been with us practically the entire year. We are working hard to ensure it doesn’t come to a halt. We would rather let glide itself out into the off-season after winning our first championship.

The Championship game against the Tyrants is this Wednesday, October 30th, what are you going to be telling your guys this week and on that night before the game?

We are treating this like every other game. Cliche, right? Mainly, go out and have fun. These moments are very rare & it goes by very fast. That’s what I learned last season in our first championship appearance. Don’t worry about losing. If it’s our time, it doesn’t take anything away from the season we had, or from the fun we had.

All of the new rookies who have joined recently, stay patient cause next season you could be in the championship game helping your team win the big one. Also, good luck Seattle and we can’t wait for gameday!!

~Jeremy Vega, Denver Owner, Head Coach

In short, just being around these players and this team and speaking with the coaching staff, and really just being a bystander to the Nightwing’s dominant season, I am convinced. My money is on this Denver squad and the numbers they have been able to put up all season. Short a narrow 3-point loss to the defending champs in Week 2, Denver has been doing all season what they have been known to do best: win football games. That is exactly what I believe they will do this Wednesday night against the Seattle Tyrants.

So there you have it folks. Whether I am right or just full of it, all will be decided this Wednesday. But no matter the outcome, this has been a great SFL season and players and coaches and teams alike are all excited for the outcome and look forward to next season to be able to further build on this great community that is the Simulation Football League. Zero Out.

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