Written by Josh Farnzy
Images by Hubba Kimbrel
The Rookie Index – 4.0
Congrats on finishing your first full season, rookies! (Well, except you, Houston and London. Finish strong). Now, it’s time to be good little freshmen and go out retrieve that championship for your squad. Many rookies are on deck to officially pivot from first-time-SFLers to first-time-playoff-ers. SFL-playoff-ites? SFL-playoff-ians? Whatever. We can let these ideas breathe a little. While dozens will be in position to start making playoff memories, there are a handful of rookies that stand to have the most impact in front of them during the postseason. This doesn’t mean the four best rookies in the playoffs necessarily. (Although if you are one of these four, go ahead and say you’re the best. Sure. You’re the best. Why not? Feel better?) See the ones who the Rookie Index believes as needing to have the greatest impact in order to help their team survive and advance, in no particular order.
Top 4 Rookies to watch this Post-season
1. Charlie Biletsky/RB/Florida Storm
That’s right, number one on the list with a bullet. Biletsky’s Storm have a bye in Round 1 and will be waiting to see who their opponent is. Whomever travels to Florida will need to attempt to slow down this rookie running back, who has formed a versatile 1-2 punch with fullback J.W. Doyle as runners and catchers-who-then-become-runners. His production was good, not great, the last two weeks of the season, but has shown the ability to take over games for chunks of time. For the Storm to continue their hot streak deep into the playoffs, Biletsky will need to help keep the offense balanced and give their swarming defense breaks from time to time.
2. Colin Pierce/QB/Las Vegas Fury
Let’s face it: any rookie quarterback would look at home on this list. This writer is not above bribes, you know. For my money, Pierce is playing the best ball of any rookie QB down the stretch. His last three wins in the second half of the season when Las Vegas needed good performances behind center? 18-for-24, 228 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT; 17-for-30, 288 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 28-for-42, 315 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs Solid. Consistent. Makes big plays in tight spots. The Fury will need all of that to get out of the Wildcard Round and make waves deep into the postseason.
3. Adam Leach/CB/Fort Worth Toros
The Toro defense has been tops in the league for much of Season 16. Voice from off screen – “But Farnzy, Leach doesn’t lead the league in picks and the Toro defense is still solid without him, right?”…Good question, whomever you are. That defense has been taken to another level because cornerbacks Ayden Davis and Nacho Sicario have received so much complimentary coverage from Leach all season long. And with two pick-sixes this season, he has the ability to change a game in a hurry. Opposing offenses will look for weak spots in the Fort Worth defensive armour, which means going to second and third passing options. If Leach can do his thing, the defensive train called Fort Worth can keep rolling…and for some time. Voice from offscreen – “Thanks for the info!”
4. Deuce Fenech/WR/Lone Star Glory
Catch that Week 12, 44-42, Lone Star-Fort Worth game? That’s when some media members might say they put up “video game numbers.” But, you know… yeah. Fenech was in the thick of it all with 5 catches, 100 yards and a touchdown. In a loaded Class of 16 draft, Fenech stands at the top of the mountain for rookie receivers still standing in the playoffs with 60 catches, 815 yards and 6 TDs. As the punt returner, he seems overdue(ce) for a match-altering return. He can help this Lone Star offense stay on the field, especially on third down. And third down wins sure help those actual game wins a ton.
One last thing…
With the SFLm starting up this week, The Rookie Index will be watching. Best of luck to all the players throwing down in the minors for the weeks to come. And be sure to check out these playoff games and root for your favorite rookie or two. That might be you sooner than you think. Trust the rookies. See you next time.