Written by Ray Bentley, Rae Colston, Baylee O’Shaughnessy, Jack Brown, Matthew Slinn and Josh Farnzy.
Images by Tyler Falk
Written by Ray Bentley, Rae Colston, Baylee O’Shaughnessy, Jack Brown, Matthew Slinn and Josh Farnzy.
Images by Tyler Falk
|We have a new #1 - and thanks to a three-phase, 38-20 victory over Vancouver, the league has been put on notice by this Storm squad. Quarterback Ron Cockren was sublime in the pocket - connecting on 35 of 41 for 313 yards and four touchdowns - answering all of the Legion’s scores with two of their own. Fullback JW Doyle and running back rookie Charlie Biletsky have been a solid 1-2 punch on the ground and catches passes out of the backfield. Ultimately, they answered every Legion score and the defense held on late.
While the defense had issues slowing down Vancouver running back Robert Redford (who doesn’t have issues slowing him down, though?), the pass defense was active and effective against the top quarterback this season, Tom Pepper, forcing five interceptions. Strong safety Andrew Francis registered his first two of the season. Florida is playing their best ball of the season. Can they continue through the end of the season and into the playoffs?
|It’s hard to argue with where they fall on our list based on production. At 8-1, the Nightwings have 3 games left to put themselves firmly in place as the frontrunner heading into the postseason. This past week’s matchup against a middling Atlanta squad was yet another day at the office for the SFL’s top offense: 310 yards passing from QB Josh Miller on a mistake free day where he went 26 of 35 with 3 TDs, and 120 yards on 21 carries from HB Jarrod McChesney, the league’s top running back by almost a full 300 yards with 5.5 ypc to boot. The defense is the best in the league as well: 2nd in rushing yards against, yet only 12th against the pass. With McChesney and Miller leading the way on offense, and a front seven that make it hard on every runner, this team is definitely one to watch!|
|The Jacksonville Kings travelled to Los Angeles to play the Lycans. Kudos to the Kings scouts for knowing that the Lycans defense has been shutting down running backs all season long. The Kings took to the air and QB Christian Christiansen completed 44 of his 50 passes for 295 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. RB Jared Willis had 20 receptions for 56 yards and zero rushing attempts. The leading receiver was TE Jack Wall with 6 receptions for 76 yards. The leading tackler was LB Keenan Samuels with 8. The Kings secondary intercepted QB Sully Richardson four times. CB Michael Sprous had two interceptions, CB Reign Reaux and FS Succo Lohmano each had an interception. At the end of the evening the Kings defeated the Lycans 26-10. The Kings will travel to Raleigh next week to play Carolina.|
|To defend a title, you have to defend that title. And these Vultures are defending at a high level. Baltimore’s defense had six interceptions and only allowed six Corsair points in a 21-6 win. Austin Brigham earned Defensive Player of the Week by picking off AJ Caswell thrice. Troy Loshaw has two interceptions as well to cement the Vultures two-game lead in the division. Offensively, the team hit some road bumps - or rather, the Corsair-shaped road bumps hit them - but Jack Wigmore was able to conjure up 296 yards passing and two touchdowns. On this occasion glory goes to the defense. As for next week, the entire team goes to the Glory, literally, as they look to stay sharp against Lone Star.|
|Pride cometh before the fall; for the Mexico City Aztecs' case this past week, it was the Glory instead. Mexico City left the Lone Star State with a painful 15-28 loss that now has them tied at 6-3 atop the division against the Fort Worth Toros, their Week 10 opponent. Looking at the schedule, it doesn't get any easier after that for them - while the upcoming game is their final away game, their last two opponents are the defending champion Baltimore Vultures and the sneakily scary Houston Hyenas. Fortunately for the Aztecs, they employ Phoenix Jones, who is 13th overall in yards... and 1st in touchdowns with 15 total. This dark horse MVP candidate for the season could very well truck his team's way into the playoffs with his efficiency, but with the previously listed opponents, the Aztecs might be facing an uphill battle to try and get back into the dance.|
|A 14-point 4th quarter and seven interceptions helped the Fort Worth Toros get back to winning ways in Week 9, knocking off the Houston Hyenas 7-27 in a pivotal game in the South division. The rabid Toros secondary ate like kings all game, cornerbacks Ayden Davis and Adam Leach satiating their hunger the most effectively, the latter getting a 90-yard pick-6. The offense was, once again, fairly average, relying on the defence to give them the opportunities rather than crafting them in long drives. Cam Curtis continues to play conservatively, with a high completion percentage but not much pop. The Toros are 6-3 and looking good, but they won't be able to rely on defence forever.|
|If at first you don't succeed, go home, gameplan, and absolutely beat the stuffing out of your opponent when next you meet - or so goes the proverb, if the Lone Star Glory's statement win against the Mexico City Aztecs is anything to go by. Ace Fenech had the nerves of a seasoned veteran with an over 80% completion rating, 10% more than his average. The Glory-ous defense had a field day against former MVP Matt Willson, picking him off three times, which bodes well for Lone Star considering their run defense has been more effective throughout the season. If they can keep it up through their final games at Baltimore, against Queen City and at Fort Worth, they could easily be a dark horse (pardon the pun) candidate for the playoffs.|
|When they say the city of Vegas is all about gambling, they ain’t kidding. The Vegas Fury held on to their slimmest of hopes of claiming the West division crown after narrowly beating out the Arizona Scorpions because of, of all things, a 3rd quarter safety. Yes, in the long run, a one off safety in the third quarter caused it to squeak out the win. However Las Vegas also did well and still had the superiority on the ground. Young gun Scott Johnson rushed it for nearly three times as much as DJ Moses (who suffered an unfortunate hamstring problem) and still showed that he can well and truly act as a good replacement for the department of Redford a few seasons ago. The team with the win though do keep pace in the West and keep in line with the ever tightening Wild Card race. The Fury get to keep their jockeying for division supremacy with a date with the Sioux Falls Sparrows who have been struggling all season long. The Fury look to keep raging through the season, a win would keep it there and from the looks of it it can be easy.|
|The Desperados travelled to St. Louis to play the Gladiators looking for their fifth win after starting the season at 0-3. QB Jay Cue was efficient completing 25 of his 30 passes for 22 yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. WR Gabriel Manning appears to be his favorite target with 9 receptions for 93 yards. RB Sonzo Robinson carried the ball 23 times for 70 yards with 1 touchdown. SS Rickey Thornton was the leading tackler with 10.5. The Gladiators secondary picked QB Christian Brown off four times. CB Kamran Shaw had 2 of those interceptions. Despite going to halftime down 10-13; the Desperados would go to their locker room at halftime, make some adjustment and in the end defeat the Gladiators 20-16. Tulsa will be on the road again next week as they travel to Arizona to take on Eddie Gauge and the Scorpions.|
|The Los Angeles Lycans continue to struggle against east coast teams as they take another L to the Jacksonville Kings (10-26) at home. Sully Richardson complete 25 of his 46 passes for 306 yards, 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Robert Johnson had 15 carries for 54 yards, 6 receptions for 26 yards with 1 rushing touchdown. Leading tacklers were Buddy Blaze and Rachelle Colston with 15 and 9 tackles, respectively. Rachelle Colston also had an interception. The Lycans need to regroup and figure out a way to get a few more wins if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. Los Angeles will travel to Portland this week to face their divisional opponent the Fleet.|
|Sometimes the storm is just too strong. That was the case, as the Florida surge was too much in all three phases of a 38-20 Storm win. Despite the loss, Robert Redford is back, folks. The Natural broke off several long runs and amassed 207 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Tom Pepper’s outing was rough to see in a box score (1 TD vs. 5 INTs). Three of those turnovers came late and down multiple scores as the signal-caller tried quick strikes to get them back in the game. The defense did not have many answers for a Florida passing game that looked crisp and in control. The Legion remain tied for the Pacific Division lead. As this Storm passes, they are still very much in control of their destiny. A divisional matchup against San Diego is on tap for this weekend.|
|The Hyenas have plunged down our Power Rankings this week after a 7-27 pounding on the road against divisonal rivals, the Fort Worth Toros. In actual fact, the team didn't play too badly, but one statistic sticks out like a saw paw, and that is turnovers. ET King, who has been having a bit of a resurgence this season in a new home, threw for 7 interceptions on the day, ending drive after drive with momentum killing plays. Reckless play like that at the QB position is a recipe for disaster, and it's no surprise the Hyenas efforts went in vain in Week 9. You have to believe that King will bounce back next week, so expect the Hyenas to get back on the lift hill - their season has been nothing short of a rollercoaster so far.|
|What’s your favorite type of cheese? Some like a smoked Gouda, others a sharp cheddar, and maybe some weirdos like that French maggot cheese (Look it up, I am not kidding). But for me? It was the cheese that the Charleston Predators whipped out in the form of one or two plays against the San Diego Mavericks this past weekend. Charleston knew what worked against the Mavs and did just that. With HB Keith Swearingen running the ball just once all game long. So without the Preds using their bellcow on offense how did they win by so much? Nothing but deep throws. Fundamentally, that is all they did. Ken McCarro and Buchanon Simons each got well over 100 yards on the day with Lyric Davinci barely inching over the mark too. It was a rather uncharacteristic airshow from a team known for being rather conservative with the ball. This all led to quarterback TD Drew having a day that would put him among the elite with 440 yards through the air. But okay, Charleston, you had your fun and games and won by a very large chunk, but unfortunately that only got you one win and you’re gonna need a few more wins to get into the playoffs and it’s never easy. They start their track to the playoffs against the Storm and unfortunately, the cheese won’t work again.|
|The Carolina Skyhawks are currently 5-4 and sitting on a playoff spot at this point in the season. As Commissioner Cam Irvine said, "Look at those Skyhawks puttin in work!" To wit, some of the work they've put in includes a top-five pass defense, allowing less yards through the air than the top-ranked Florida Storm. That'll come in handy the next few weeks as Harish Prasad and company take on the Jacksonville Kings, Los Angeles Lycans (where their former quarterback Sully Richardson is slinging the ball currently), and the Charleston Predators. Two wins against any of these teams could be enough to get the Skyhawks back into the postseason for the first time since Season 11. If they're able to run the table? Look out, league - they'll definitely be bringing the smoke to the playoffs.|
|The St. Louis Gladiators started the season on fire, but since have lost their last three games. The Gladiators welcomed Tulsa to their house looking for a much-needed win. Things were looking up for St. Louis as they went into halftime up by 3; however, in the end, the Tulsa defense would end up being too much for them, and they would take another “L” 16-20. QB Christian Brown was 24 of 40 for 288 yards and 0 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. WR Eagle Mondavi had 7 receptions for 82 yards. RB Kairo Martinez carried the ball 19 times for 108 yards with one touchdown. LB Mark Gronek had 7.5 tackles and FS Geralt Winkler had 2 interceptions. Things do not get easier for the Gladiators as they will host the Atlanta Storm next week.|
|Another day, another impressive set of numbers for QB Bryant Dynasty, except for 3 interceptions… Unfortunately, there is not much to write home about if you don’t get the W. What is troubling for this team is how heavily they are affected by the QB play. In each loss this season there were 3 or more interceptions thrown, 1 win had 2, 1 with only 1, and the other 2 had none. Hollewood is way too good of a back to to be used so sparingly, in my opinion. He has only 148 carries this season (75 less than his opposing HB this past week, McChesney from Denver), yet is averaging 5.2 ypc! Did he struggle to get going this week? Yes. But it was against a Nightwings defense that is 2nd in the league against the run. They are very unbalanced on offense: 357 passing attempts, compared to that 148 runs with Hollewood… that’s a 70/30 team. Team’s are betting the pass is coming and winning. Will they find some momentum before their year is through?|
|What is London? Average. They went against DC this past week and only managed 1 touchdown. Despite going 9 for 12 on 3rd down conversions they still weren’t able to turn those 1st downs into touchdowns. This is partly due to the worst rushing attack in the SFL, that averages only 38.4 yards per game. That is not a typo: 38.4. If no one needs to respect the run, then good luck! The Knights defense consistently holds its own against the pass (3rd in the league), but struggles against the run (18th in the league). I don’t know what can solve the woes of the Knights. However, I do know where they will be this postseason: At home watching on the couch.|
|After a rally of wins for the Scorpions in the middle of the season the past two weeks have been a bit of a struggle. After a rather embarrassing loss to the Revs in week 8, the Scorpions came up just short against the Fury on the road and now relegate themselves to having to get into the playoffs as a wildcard birth. Now on the whole the game was played very well By Arizona basically matching up with Las Vegas in most statistics besides the running game where the Scorpions got completely trounced, heavily influenced by the early injury to DJ Moses. Arizona on the scoreboard however lost off a 3rd quarter safety in terms of the scoreboard. But honestly, if a rather fluke play that does not happen often is why you lose, while it still sucks to lose, your team has to be in a good place. The Scorpions, while out of the playoff dog fight as of right now, they are but a single outside such. There’s a massive swell of teams right in front of them and some of them are going to lose. Heck, they can knock off one just this week when they play the Tulsa Desperadoes on the road. A win is needed, and a win can be obtained if they just put their all into it.|
|The Sioux Falls Sparrows are hitting good form towards the business end of the season, going 3-1 in their last 4 games, including Week 9's 19-17 victory in Louisiana. Now, judging on the make-up of their division, the Sparrows are unlikely to trouble the playoff seedings and should probably be looking to the off-season, but the 2-time championship runners up are a proud group. This last 3 weeks could see them rise to 6-6 and even second in their division. Impossible is nothing, and if Colin Hart can keep having 140-yard games, who is to say the Sparrows can't make some noise? Up next is Vegas. Consecutive road wins could do wonders for the Sparrows' Power Ranking.|
|The defense showed up possession after possession. The defending champion Vultures kept coming - and eventually broke through the weary Corsair defense for the putaway score in a 21-6 Baltimore victory.
Let’s not overcomplicate the whys here. Six turnovers and zero touchdowns. That was the difference. Jett Zero had 27 carries for 113 yards rushing as a steady contributor, but Queen City offense stalled out before the goalline every single time. The Corsair defense was impressive against the vaunted Baltimore offense. Albert Begin had 12 tackles and registered two big interceptions to give Queen City life and keep them in the game. Six interceptions was just too much to overcome. Queen City at 3-6 now faces the task of running the table to give themselves a puncher’s chance at the playoffs. First things first, a divisional match against DC this weekend.
|Just when you thought the Louisiana Revolution may come back into the playoff frame and make a late-season charge, along come the Sioux Falls Sparrows to sour the milk. A narrow 19-17 loss to the Sparrows was the result of a hard fought game in Week 9, forcing the Revolution down to a 3-6 record and into the job of 'spoiler' from here on out. Reggie Streeter put on a show, nearly rushing for 200 yards against one of the worst rushing defences in the league, but that was the issue - Streeter was the only player performing. Rolamin Hood snagged a pick and Chuck Diesel padded his tacking stats, but in a dog-fight of a game, a rugged 3rd quarter by the Sparrows proved to be the difference. Jonny Pichler is out of sorts and performing well below his usual high standards. Maybe a revolution is exactly what Louisiana needs.|
|Oh, Portland. Their latest matchup against the Carolina Skyhawks was endemic of their season, as their running back Ezekiel Love ran roughshod all over his opponents... just not into the endzone. He's only got 4 rushing touchdowns for the entire season, yet is in the top third of running backs as far as yards allowed. This is an issue for Portland, as their quarterback Matt South has the second-least amount of air yards in the league. The Fleet are going to have to solve this particular puzzle if they want to notch a five win season, and what better test than with the fourth-best run defense in the league as their Week 10 opponent, Los Angeles. Then, the week after? Fifth-best run defense in Charleston. Portland has always loved a battle, and if they're able to unlock their offensive potential, they could be cruising full speed ahead in Season 17.|
|QB Shabazz Psynergy had a good week… meaning he didn’t have to pick himself off of the turf very often since he wasn’t sacked. He also didn’t throw an interception. HB Kevin Seay had a nice day as well with 113 yards on 19 carries and a TD. No one did too much. No one did too little. They are extremely young and talented, but just not there yet. What isn’t there to like about this expansion team except for their record? This makes 4 games where they lost by 1 score or less, to go with 3 that were by 2 scores and only 1 blowout (against the Denver Nightwings back in Week 2). An offense that is 5th in the league in rushing and a defense that is 3rd against the pass in it’s first year?? I know that London isn’t breaking records, but credit this Dragons team with resilience and grit. That’s what perennial contenders are made out of. I know what the W/L numbers say to everyone about you DC. But don’t you listen to a word they say.|
|That one was extremely rough, San Diego, as has been this entire season, I guess. But to an extent, it feels like this is the absolute bottom of the barrel. The mavericks came out after nearly pulling off the single greatest upsets in SFL history got utterly destroyed on defense. Well, the secondary did. Letting up 440 yards from TD Drew and themselves only managing to get one pick despite the fact that Drew threw 43 times. The Mavs defense could just not stop Charleston’s one trick pony offense and weren’t even able to keep up for themselves only getting three field goals. While Javier Vasquez had a dreadful day throwing 3 picks and being sacked four times with one of those picks being taken the other way for a TD. Just on the whole it was an absolutely dreadful day for the Mavericks still in search of victory number one as an SFL franchise. But now, they only have 3 chances left at getting win number one, and these first two up are not easy in any way. The first of that pair is them coming home to play against the Vancouver Legion desperately trying to keep in touch with the playoff race and looking for a win by any means necessary. Meanwhile for the Mavericks? Possibly a spoiler could be in the cards.|