By Matthew Slinn, Images by J.R. Lawless
Today I sit down with Scott Johnson, Ezekiel Love and Dustin Zeck – all of whom tote the rock in the SFLm. The trio have had many breakout moments on the field this season, and it’s my job to give them their breakout moment off it. So, without anymore pretence, let’s go!
Slinn: So gentlemen, welcome! I like to get players who are almost direct rivals into one place because if anything, the interactions are always great fun! I know there is probably a healthy rivalry between you all already, which I will explore later. For now, tell me about how the SFL found you?
Zeck: It is pretty awesome to compete against other backs head to head and see how they progress – I try to watch as many games as I can. A friend of mine stumbled upon it while flipping channels and got me into it, something completely new and different and as I researched it, I was instantly hooked.
Love: One night, I was flipping through the guide on my tv, I saw this channel called Eleven sports, and saw something called SFL, so I stopped to see what it was. I was like ‘Wow!’, this is what we (when I say we) I mean my cousins and friends, have been looking for. I can’t remember the 2 teams, but I do remember watching the rest of the game. The next day i went to the website to read up on it, that was all I needed to know I wanted to be involved.
Scott: I am best friends with Zeke Love, Mel Davis, and Ron Gulch and Zeke kept bringing it up as something we should take a look at. We had a Madden league but this was something different and dynamic. We all signed up and joined and its been great.
After our initial greetings, a couple of days passed in between dialogue and I returned to the three rushers, deep in discussion…
Scott: Zeke what are your thoughts headed into this playoff game today? What was your memorable moment of your SFLm season and what do you intend to bring into SFL with you?
Love: Excited brotha, everyone’s watching!! I’m ready to do this thing and help the Lynx to get to the championship. I’m bringing that ‘Don’t quit‘ attitude to the SFL, I’m a team player and that positive attitude will be infectious in the locker room. My most memorable moment in the SFLm hasn’t happened yet (wink wink).
Dustin: Honestly, there were so many. We didn’t have the season we had hoped for in terms of final standings, but the group we had in the locker room and the selfless attitude that was so prevalent is what I’ll remember most. I’ll bring that team first attitude and ready to contribute mentality to the SFL. I want to learn and progress and just be a positive force on the field and in the locker room.
Scott: Great answer Dustin. Isn’t it strange that the essence of football is what happens off the field sometimes. We have a great locker room in Annapolis and it really helps when we face adversity.
After a minute of soaking up the discussion, I remembered that I was the one tasked with guiding the interview, so I stepped in to ask about the upcoming SFLm Championship game…
Slinn: Hey guys! I see you have been talking the SFLm, specifically, the playoffs. We sit here, on the precipice of the SFLm championship game, of which one of you is playing in. What are your predictions for this game and have you had any surprises this season? Has a team gone above and beyond your initial expectations?
Love: I wish i was playing today, but since the SFLm alternates backs, I have to sit out due to league rules. As i have felt all year, we are going to win the whole thing – started on 0-2 and since then we’ve gone 7-1. My prediction – Madison Lynx will win the 1st SFLm championship. It wont be easy, Ottawa is tough and i have much respect for them.
Zeck: I agree, Madison is tough. They win 27-24 in a back and forth game. Going into this season in the minors, I did not know what to expect, so I’d say specifically it was a surprise how welcoming and helpful everyone has been to try to propel this class of rookies to the next level. San Jose didn’t have the year we wanted, but Coach has been great and same with my teammates – we’re all rooting for each other.
Scott: Good evening all. I predict that the game will be tough but Madison will win in a very close one. Both teams are tough and well coached. I still can’t believe that Ottawa came back in the 4th quarter to beat us (Annapolis) in the semifinal game. Madison has exceeded my expectations this year after watching them go 0-2 to start the league. I have enjoyed the bravado that has risen among their players as a result.
We parted ways to go and watch the game that night, and recommenced outcdiscussion the following day…
Slinn: So guys, I asked you yesterday to predict the outcome. How close were we? And what is your assessment of the game?
Scott: Funny, I was just thinking about this. We all thought that Madison would win. Can’t remember the score but I knew it would be close. Great contest between two well coached teams. Derrick Majors carried Madison yesterday, tremendous performance. Good to see so many guys in the chat connecting and rooting on friends.
Zeck: I think everyone was pretty spot on in picking Madison in a tight game. Props to both teams on great inaugural seasons!
Slinn: I’ll let Ezekial catch up soon, but I want to know how you guys are feeling heading into the draft. Are you confident of being picked up somewhere, and, are you adamant of your primary position or would you also stretch to a secondary one?
Scott: I’m always humble. No expectations tomorrow. Hoping that someone will see I have alot to offer on the field and in the locker room. I look forward to playing RB in the SFL if I am worthy, but I made a secondary position at DB.
Zeck: I’m excited for the potential opportunity to land somewhere and be able to contribute, but there is so much unknown and if I happen to not get picked, it’s ok. I’ll work hard at it and be ready when it’s my time. I’ve enjoyed my time at RB for the Flight, but I understand in the end it’s a numbers game and at the end of the day, I want to help the team win, but more importantly add to the culture of the locker room and I can do that from any of my secondary positions as well.
Slinn: Well, with any luck, this interview will help broadcast your names to a wider audience and maybe turn the heads of some owners. I want to give you one last chance to ‘sell yourself’. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I like helping guys out, especially great lads such as yourselves.
Scott: I’m a team player. This season I split carries/games with the ultra talented, Hugo Reynosa and I enjoyed cheering for him as much as I did playing. I root for my teammates and never complain or quit. This year I averaged the most rushing yards per game and scored the most touchdowns. More importantly I’m looking forward to watching the draft to see where my teammates land and if I get drafted helping out my new squad in whatever way possible.
Zeck: I would say to any team, and I haven’t talked to every one, but what you will get in drafting me is someone who wants to add to the locker room in a positive way. Someone that is the ultimate team player, doing whatever is needed. Hopefully, I can assist the coaching staff with scouting or helping with game planning. I have a lot to learn coming into the league as a rookie, I understand that, and I will take all the advice and coaching I can get. I’ve just enjoyed the ride thus far and look forward to growing with a great organization. Slinn, I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us as well, and of course, Go Browns!
Scott: Ive known Zeke all my life so if I can speak for him briefly I’ll state that he eagerly built his player to be the fastest in SFLm. He is a strong locker room guy and teammate. His Madison squad already started a new server to keep the team together and communicating. He looks to be an all-purpose back in the SFL and eventually would like to help his new team as a coach, scout, or coordinator. Dustin good luck to you in the games to come and Slinn, good luck to your team tomorrow. Have a great rest of your evening!
Ezekial Love managed to catch up with me later and gave his final thoughts, in detail. Take it away Zeke…
Love: It’s an exciting time as the draft approaches, so many mock drafts out there, I haven’t appeared on any, but i also know they are just mocks, so we will see. I’d love the opportunity to play in the SFL. The value I’d bring to a team is that I’m a great locker room guy and teammate.I stick by my team and fellow players through good and bad. We win as a team and lose as a team. I have a positive attitude, I stay positive, I’m a winner. As my father used to always tell me “Rest if you must, but don’t you quit”. No matter how bad it may seem, the sun comes up in the morning. I’ve shown that my performance has been extremely steady and consistent every week I’ve played. I’ve shown I have the speed, the fastest back in SFLm, to take it to the house on any carry. I can get outside and I can run hard between the tackles. As my hype video says, I’m the total package; speed, power, a receiver out the backfield, I’ve got all the moves, nicknamed “The Ankle Breaker”. I’m also very dedicated, I’m all about team, first and foremost. No one person wins or loses the game. I know I’m still learning about the SFL, but I’m a good listener and want good advice from the guys that have been in the league longer than i have.
I did create a basic secondary build as a CB as required by the league, but I’ve invested so much time over the 8 week season, although I split carries with Katherine, I had success with my 1st build during the 4 weeks I’ve played, so I’d like to see it come to fruition in the SFL. That is my #1 goal and I don’t want to give up that dream, if for some reason I’m not drafted I’m still not giving up on playing RB in the SFL .Shout out to my life long friend Scott Johnson for looking out for me while I was away today. Scott is a first class quality gentleman. Any team getting him will be blessed with a great player, but an even better person.
I have to say, that was one of my favourite interviews during this series so far. Those three guys are possibly under the radar for alot of teams, especially considering they are in a stacked running back class. I wild happily endorse each and every one of them to a team and hope that they all get drafted, even if it is not quite in the exact position they envisioned. A great interview. That’s all I can say.