Written by Baylee O’Shaughnessey, Rachelle Colston, Ray Bentley, Jason Miller, Josh Farnzy, Jack Brown and Matthew Slinn
Images by Tyler Falk
Written by Baylee O’Shaughnessey, Rachelle Colston, Ray Bentley, Jason Miller, Josh Farnzy, Jack Brown and Matthew Slinn
Images by Tyler Falk
|Ladies and gentlemen of the SFL. We officially have a new team atop the Power Rankings - the Fort Worth Toros. This is the first time the Toros have had the honour of this position, and to tell the truth, not every writer had them as their #1 (Denver and Baltimore also had strong cases). However, behind rookie QB Cameron Curtis, the Toros have bulled their way up the ladder and are worthy of the top spot. The almost brutal demolition of the San Diego Mavericks illustrates the gap between top and bottom whilst also making it easy to forget that Fort Worth were an expansion team in Season 15. They have come such a long way in that time. Curtis had probably his best game in a Toro jersey, throwing 5 TDs to only 1 interception and helping his offense to over 530 yards. Jason Williams ate like a bull in a grassy field and Stephen Hacker is proving that last season was just a blip. The raging bull doesn't look like slowing down any time soon - good luck Arizona.|
|The first Giovanni Bolt interception with no time left in regulation nearly saw a walkoff pick-six. Bolt’s second INT only a few moments into overtime gave the Vultures their field position to get the big W, 30-27 over Vancouver. The defense was stout for three quarters against one of the league’s top passing attacks. A defensive bout for three quarters gave way to a roller coaster fourth quarter that saw Baltimore slip behind by three with under a minute to play. A gutsy last second drive, which included a fourth down conversion and several big throws from quarterback Jack Wigmore, set up the tying field goal. Speaking of gutsy, an all-adrenaline performance from tight end Lloyd Graham Jr., who exited the game early with an injury, but returned and posted 9 catches, 92 yards - many of which came on giant first down conversions. It was a marquee victory for the reigning champs, who move to 5-1 at the midway point of the season. All the pins seem in place for another strong season finish and deep playoff run. No slowing down these birds.|
|Nobody’s perfect, right? Right.
Five interceptions and a defense that allowed 337 passing yards was too much to overcome as they fell prey to the Hyenas, 38-23 - and subsequently falling from the top spot in the poll. Even after a lacklustre first half, the Nightwings only trailed by one score heading into the third quarter. Despite a solid night from Jarrod McChesney (23 carries, 114 yards and a touchdown), the Denver defense had a hard time staying with the Houston offense - especially D.R. Sim - who was a thorn in their side with 13 catches for 150 yards. Big picture time though: Halfway through the season, Denver is 5-1, McChesney is an MVP candidate, the defense remains a Top 3 unit in the SFL and the Nightwings are very much in control of their division and playoff destiny. Not perfect, but still darn close.
|Wow! Not the way we all expected St. Louis to have their winning streak ended. At home, against London - but, if you know your SFL history, you'll know that these teams have somewhat of a long-standing competitive rivalry, and the Knights often come out on top. So, how did the Gladiators fall to the Knights? My guess that it was more than just older weapons and more rudimentary armour. At first glance, you see the turnover advantage and the massive TOP gained by St. Louis - which suggests that susceptibility to the big play was an issue here. Christian Brown played fairly well, although under 60% accuracy is disappointing for this talented rookie. Kairo Martinez was virtually non-existent. The lack of running game despite a huge TOP advantage stunted the Glads offense all game. Geralt Winkler had a great game at safety and Tony Roberto was putting in hits too. This wasn't a bad performance from St. Louis - they just need to ensure this blip doesn't turn into a bump. The playoffs are within touching distance at this point.|
|The Storm was being considered one of the top teams in the league. They still are in my mind but ran into a team that might have finally figured things out. The offense had 3 turnovers which was the story of this game to me. Cockren threw for 383yds 1TD 2INTs so he had a ok game. But the two headed backfield just couldn't get it done while combining 84 yards on 17 carries. Look for Florida to bounce back next week when they go up against STL who just lost their first game this season.|
|The Jacksonville Kings came storming back on in and found themselves having to play the Cardiac kids from Charleston and well, surprisingly, they managed to avoid getting served up the lard covered cheeseburger that has caused so many teams before heart attacks, giving the Kings a ten point win over their foes not too far north. They did it through, well, simply being better by just enough. They weren’t exactly miles better, but they most certainly were better. The big thing that made the difference for the Kings? An 18 play drive going all the way for a touchdown and ran out with a win and improved their way to 4-2. Which goes without saying is good to see. Also jockeying themselves into a good position in the ultra competitive Atlantic Division. The Kings have done themselves well at the midpoint of the season placing themselves firmly in the playoff race but they most certainly aren’t a lock. There is a way for them to take a step in the right direction, though. With a game against a rapidly falling Vancouver Legion team who has lost 3 straight games coming into this week. A win would be great, but you can never guarantee anything.|
|Mexico City's defense could not be stopped this past week against the Lone Star Glory, holding them to just three field goals for the entire span of gameplay. While Matt Willson was comfortable playing gunslinger against Lone Star, it was Phoenix Jones who brought the heat, rushing for over 100 yards and notching 2 touchdowns in his belt in the process. Fox Highwind finally had his first touchdown as an Aztec, a 76-yard catch-and-run that left the Glory defense scrambling. Possible DROY candidate Dan Tritz had a quieter game than he's been having of late, but Jeffery Daggs stepped up in his place, recording 10 tackles, 3 assists, a pass deflection and a ten-yard interception. The Aztecs remain at home to take on the Tulsa Desperados in for Week 7, holding the lead in their all-time series at 1-2. Will the Desperados keep their streak alive and even the series out against Dan Tritz and Phoenix Jones? Tune in to find out, this Saturday at 9:00pm on the FTF Twitch stream.|
|After an impressive home win over the Vancouver Legion last week, the (4-1) Lycans travelled to Queen City to suffer their second consecutive road loss to another east coast team. QB Sully Richardson did not have his best game as he only completed 25 of his 39 attempts for 221 yards with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. RB Robert Johnson had 27 carries for 121 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. The normally balanced Lycan’s offense just looked a little “unbalanced” this weekend. Although the Lycan’s defense held RB Jett Zero to 49 rushing yards, they could not stop the long passes to WR Chris Curtis. The Lycans will stay home this week and host the Charleston Predators. Let us see if they can regroup and find another dub this week.|
|Is there a hotter team in the SFL than Houston?
The Hyenas dismantled undefeated Denver on the road for one of the single-most impressive victories for any teams this season, 38-23. The D.R. Sim MVP discussion may start now after posting 13 catches for 150 yards against arguably the league’s best defense. On the defensive side, five forced interceptions of Josh Miller kept the Hyena offense in business. Two picks came from Ethan Kye and one from emerging Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Ralgar Lawe helped frustrate the Denver offensive machine. After an 0-2 start, Houston has serious momentum and sits in the large muddle of 3-3 teams vying for a wildcard spot. A showdown with the Revolution looms large this weekend.
|We have given London a huge boost this week - that performance in St. Louis was majestic. The Queen would have been proud and she needs a cheer up with Prince Phillip being in hospital and Harry and Meghan being about as loyal as Allen Iverson is to practice. Angus MaClaine was turnover happy, but he made up for it with big plays and killer instinct. Robert Merrill was much more of a factor in this game, proving what London could do with a consistent running game. Barry Barkley's pick 6 proved crucial in a 14-point blitz before the half and we have to applaud London's underrated LB corps. The Knights haven't looked this good since the days of Rob Roby, Reggie Streeter and Slinn Shady. This team is a danger to everyone.|
|Atlanta's quarterback Bryant Dynasty had an under-65% completion rating, 101 less yards than his Carolina counterpart, and was sacked twice in the contest against the Skyhawks, but not once did he turn the ball over in finding the endzone two times. While Carolina held the Swarm scoreless in the first quarter, it was all-time running back leader B.D.G. Hollewood who helped even the game up going into halftime. Both he and Dynasty would end up finding paydirt twice, and were able to have a 0 turnover game against the Skyhawk secondary. On the other hand, Atlanta's defense nabbed three interceptions from Xander Gold, including two from Moose Papineau and another from Chris Henry. The Swarm sit at an even-keeled 3-3 for the season, and will remain in Atlanta to take on their successor as champions in the SFL, the Baltimore Vultures. Who will hold the crown in this contest of champions? The only way to find out is to be there at 6:40pm this Sunday on the FTF Twitch stream.|
|After a heartbreaking 30-27 loss to mighty Baltimore in overtime, there is a lot to ponder in western Canada. On one hand, a three-game losing streak coming after giving up a lead twice in the fourth quarter is hard to swallow. But on the other, taking the Vultures to overtime and storming down the field twice in the fourth to take those leads was impressive and telling that this team is not down on their luck despite a losing streak. On one hand, it was a couple of late defensive breakdowns and an interception on the first play of overtime that spelled doom for the Legion. But on the other, a solid defensive effort for three quarters speaks volumes about the talent on defense and Tom Pepper’s 448 yards, three touchdowns against the Vultures is pure primetime showmanship. They can play with anyone. At 3-3, they will need to reverse their fortunes soon to play with those playoff anyone's.|
|The Scorpions will have rode into Portland on a huge high after Week 5's handling of the Las Vegas Fury, with a chance to go 3-3 with a win...and that is exactly what they did. Granted, it was too close for comfort, but you can't put too high a price on a road win in this league, so Eddie Gauge should be happy. Yes, AJ did throw nearly as many interceptions as she has fingers, but when she hit, the Hands brothers ate it up like chocolate at Easter. Both Hands' hovered around the 200 yards receiving mark, with Donnie getting himself across the TD line 3 times. Rookie, Vernard Smith IV, flashed brilliance with 2 picks in a hectic game. This game won't tell you too much about Arizona, apart from the fact that when it gets crazy, they can handle themselves.|
|Lone Star did not live up to their name this past Sunday in Mexico City, coming up short against the Aztecs 9-24 and slipping four in the rankings for their efforts. Ace Fenech was unable to find Glory in the endzone, nor was the backfield successful in crossing Hollywood Boulevard for the entire game, instead having to settle for three field goals in three separate quarters. Bo Martin Jr. was able to pick off Matt Willson for 18 yards and Al Lewis was able to take him down for a loss, but overall, this was not the desired outcome for the sophomore outfit from Texas. They head home next week to take on one of the last two teams without a win in the D.C. Dragons for Week 7, a match-up that will find the Glory fighting for redemption and the Dragons for their first win of the season. Be there at 9:20pm, Saturday night, on the SFL's Twitch!|
|The Predators came into the week expecting another heart attack game to have some fun with the crowd but this time, for the first time in a long time, the game didn’t come down to the last 30 seconds or so, unfortunately for them, they came out on the losing end of the ordeal. Dropping a game against the Jacksonville Kings 23-13 after the 4 quarters were played but it was a decently close game. The Predators were outplayed, yes, but it was not by a lot. Also HB Keith Swearingen was able to outrun Jared Willis by about 20 yards or so. But the downsides outweigh the upsides here, biggest downside here being that they were once again a tad bit too happy on the turnovers. Throwing 3 INTs to CC’s 2. But on the whole things were just not where they needed to be. Honestly, that is what you could say about a large portion of Charleston’s games have been this season. Sure they are 3-3 and can make a playoff appearance if they keep pace, but it would be by the skin of their teeth. They start that back half against one of the top defenses in the league from LA. Will the Preds upset the Lycans? Only time will tell.|
|After a 0-3 start to their season, the Desperados have come screaming back with 3 straight wins to get to .500 at the halfway point. How did they get those wins? Against teams with a collective record of 3-15. The current record of their first three opponents? 10-8. Point differential in the first 3 games versus the last 3 games: -54 vs. +37. This tells us that they are who we think they are: A solid team, but not in the upper echelon this year. Could they surprise? Yes… but it is unlikely. So far, they beat who they should beat and they lose to who should beat them. This team is building behind a young Jay Cue at QB and are getting better. But, expect them to finish out 2-4 and end the year 5-7. Next year will bring more success.|
|In less than four minutes of gametime at the top of the contest, Xander Gold was able to take his Carolina Skyhawks offense downfield and into the promised land to take a 7-0 lead over the Atlanta Swarm this past weekend. Unfortunately for the Skyhawks, that was the last time they'd hold a lead over the Swarm, who tied the game up in the next quarter and took off in the half after that, leaving Carolina with a 17-31 loss and looking for answers. While Gold threw for over 100 yards more than his Swarm doppleganger, the tired old chestnut 'quality over quantity' reared its head as he also was picked off thrice. Logan Jack was able to find paydirt in the third quarter, but after Atlanta re-took the lead from the tie, Carolina was unable to find an answer for their defense, giving up two crucial fourth-down conversions. Phil Hall, at least, was able to sack Bryant Dynasty twice, while the defense itself was also able to nab five tackles for loss. The Skyhawks head to venerable Buffalo, New York this week to take on the Queen City Corsairs in a matchup that could have long-reverberating playoff implications. It'll be at 7:15pm, this Sunday, on the SFL Twitch stream.|
|Louisiana after starting 0-3 on the year have done well to rebound and have won two of their past 3 games. The most recent of the bunch coming over the crumbling Las Vegas Fury and completely throttling them on offense. Putting up over 400 total yards of offense alongside over 100 rushing yards from Reggie Streeter. That coming from a whole season where rushing has been down? 100 yards is a lot. On the whole Louisiana’s offense hit all the right beats and came away with a big win. Everyone did exactly what they needed to do and not a dang thing more. But after that, they sit at 2-4 on the year but as I said, they are two for three on the trot after week 3 and starting 0-3. The Revs too have scored wins that make people think of the season previous and their semi finals run. It is going to be difficult if their ultimate goal is playoffs, but teams have been in worse spots and have made the big dance. They can kickstart that run by a win on the road against the Houston Hyenas. Will they do so? Well that’s why they play the games.|
|After a rough start to the season, the (1-4) Corsairs would defeat the (4-1) Los Angeles Lycans at home 24-17. QB AJ Caswell was efficient completing 23 of his 30 passes for 254 yards, 2 touchdowns and only 1 interception. WR Chris Curtis had 9 receptions for 150 yards and one receiving touchdown. RB Jett Zero carried the ball 21 times for only 49 yards. The heroes of the game would be the Corsairs’ defense. The secondary was able to shut down the Lycan’s passing game and allowed 0 passing touchdowns. FS Albert Begin and CB Pharaoh Reigns had an interception each. Have the Corsairs reached a turning point in the season? Their next obstacle will be the (3-3) Carolina Skyhawks at home.|
|Despite being 2-4 and near the bottom of these rankings, the improvement between Season 16 and 15 for the Portland Fleet is huge. The Fleet has 2 wins the entirety of last season. We're halfway through S16 and they have already reached that mark - and they came close to going .500 this weekend. A tight 36-30 loss to Arizona in a crazy game, where Portland alone made 7 picks, ensued in Week 6. The much maligned Matt South played one of his better games and Ezekial Love found success against what has been a fairly leaky Scorpions defense. Let's look at that defense though. Seven interceptions! Seven! Bob Funk made 4 alone! As a secondary, despite the loss, you have to be happy about those numbers. In the end, it seems like this aggression was the downfall, as the Scorpions also managed to get over the top on some occasions. Portland look dangerous this season - something that could not be said in S15.|
|After winning their first two games of the season, the Fury have been adrift for the last 4 matchups, with the latest being a painful 30-10 beatdown against the Louisiana Revolution. Colin Pierce was able to throw for over 200 yards and a touchdown, but he also ate 4 sacks that lost 20 yards and threw three picks. Scott Johnson was unable to do a thing, with his longest rush of the night a paltry seven yards. John Blades and Mason Kirby ended up being the shining spots on offense, combining for 92% of Las Vegas's passing yards, and almost 80% of their total yardage. Max Jackson, on defense, ended up nabbing one of the three total picks from Johnny Pichler for the day, but it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the Fury found paydirt - and that's something that's going to need to change soon if they want to compete for a spot in the postseason. They'll be up against the San Diego Mavericks on Sunday, March 7 at 9:00 on FTF's Twitch stream, in the hopes that they can act like their logo, and begin their ascent as the desert phoenix.|
|Congrats to Sioux Falls for getting their first victory this season. They beat a tough Florida team. Things could be looking up for them. Julian Tyree was efficient enough throwing for 193yds and 1TD. The surprise for me in this was Colin Hart going for 23 carries for 46 yards and 1 TD in this game. Figured if they would win a game Colin Hart would have better stats then that. But it still got the job done and that's all that matters in this league. This defense was a killer today thanks to Jay Ringgold who had a pick and a forced fumble. The Sparrows will look to get a win streak going as they travel across international waters to take on the London Knights.
|At 0-6 you need to look at winning the battles (consistent positive motion and developing team identity) on the way to winning the war (battling for the playoffs next season). QB Shabazz Psynergy is passing well (21 for 29 for 209 this week), yet has a tendency to be careless with the ball (15 interceptions to 9 TDs over the season). HB Kevin Seay is getting stronger as well, surpassing 100 yards on the ground in each of the last 2 games. The core is here. The only big loss they have taken this season was against one of the best teams in the league: Denver. All other games were within one or two scores, 2 within 3 points. This is a team prepping for next season, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. This young team can be together for a while. The future is bright in DC. I expect the Dragons to finish the season 2-10. Small victories right now to lead to bigger ones later.|
|Times are looking fairly dire for the San Diego Mavericks, especially as more than a few folks had them as outside chancers to surprise some teams this season. There is no question that they have talent, as we keep repeating every week, but something just isn't clicking. It's best we avoid talking about the self-destruction in Fort Worth in Week 6, so let's look to the future. Next up, San Diego travel to Las Vegas, a team on a 4-game losing streak. This could be the chance to steal a win and get off that duck egg. There is an issue though. These teams played in Week 2, in San Diego...it's not hard to guess the result.|