Written by Matthew Slinn

Images by Tyler Falk

Hello and welcome to the first edition of this season’s Power Rankings! Much like the SFL version, we have a dedicated team of reporters who will focus on ranking the teams and assessing them fairly each week, with more than a few strong opinions thrown around! One nice feature of the Beat Writers covering this series is that the majority of them are SFL rookies or currently play in the SFLm. We wanted our content creators to have a knowledge of the SFLm process as much as possible. This first edition was written solely by yours truly, but from Week 1 onwards, the rankings will be produced by our experienced team. Enjoy my Pre-Season rankings and I look forward to seeing how all the teams progress throughout the season!

Rank
Team
Record
(Movement)
Recap

1

Albuquerque Atoms
0-0
(-)
The Albuquerque Atoms sit at the top of our Power Ranking in pre-season after their big championship win back in SFLm Season 2. The narrow victory over the Birmingham Fuel cements the Atoms' moment in history - but surely they want a second taste of that willing feeling. Under the leadership of new QB, Trellis Blanton, the Atoms start their campaign on the road against the San Jose Flight, interestingly the team propping up our Rankings. Second-season players like Nate Ritters and Douglas Brown are joined by a bevvy of new faces, so it's hard to predict how the Atoms will fare in San Jose. One thing we do know: the coaching will be top notch. Expect Albuquerque to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.

2

Birmingham Fuel
0-0
(-)
Well Birmingham. Have you recovered? I hope so!

The Fuel suffered a heartbreaking loss in the championship game a few months ago, falling to the Atoms in a defensive struggle after lighting up the scoreboard for most of the season. Now, with Christian Brown and Riley Quintero making waves in the SFL (both featuring in the playoffs I might add) will the Fuel return to that high-octane offensive play? That remains to be seen, but looking at the fact that Birmingham carry a star FB to assist RB Randy Squarebush added to a new QB who prides accuracy over arm strength suggests that the Fuel will be all about grinding teams down this season. A lack of stars on the defensive line will limit pass rushing effectiveness, so the secondary will need to perform at a high level, and one more interesting note...CJ Arthur, famed 'little-man' wide receiver, has re-invented himself at tight end. I'm very intrigued at the impact he can make. The Fuel open their account by travelling to Lexington. Victory is the only item on the agenda.

3

Memphis River Runners
0-0
(-)
Making their debut last season, the Memphis River Runners shocked a large part of the community by making it to the semi-finals with a winning record. Now we are about to start Season 3, the River Runners have the luxury of retaining their QB and RB, OJ Bruin and GP Wells respectively. Some may remember that Wells transferred over from Salt Lake City last season after some impressive performances for the Rustlers. The receiver room is very new and green right now and the defense has been over hauled with new faces, but linebacker Myles Gibson is arguably the best talent in the SFLm at his position, so there is no reason they can't be a strong outfit. Personally, I think Memphis have a great chance to win it all this season behind Bruin and Wells. A trip to Tacoma will be a tough test to start.
4
Salt Lake City Rustlers
0-0
(-)
After a near-miracle final game day last season, the Salt Lake City Rustlers scraped into the playoff semis with a 4-4 record, stealing into the Post-Season on a 3-way tiebreaker. The Rustlers lost some important pieces to the draft, such as their star safeties and wide receiver, Kingston Ellington, but enough have remained to keep this franchise in a strong position. Tommy Utah returns at QB, aiming to become a hot prospect in the Season 17 SFL Draft and he is joined by second-season players, Brooke Biesel and Kelsey Brown. Terrell Southerland will want to open some holes from the FB position and highly touted CB Jahrad Brodie is probably the favourite to make at least 5 interceptions this season. The Rustlers travel to Season 1 champs Madison in Week 1. Both finished on 4-4 last season. This contest will tell who has had the better off-season.
5
Maddison Lynx
0-0
(-)
The Madison Lynx sit one spot below their Week 1 opponents in the rankings this week, salivating at the chance of victory and a boost up the rankings after Week 1. The Lynx have a great pedigree in the SFLm, winning the entire thing in Season 1 and only just missing out on the semi-finals in Season 2. The task of these Season 3 Lynx players? Get back to that post-season. Quarterback Eric Price, whom many expected to be drafted last season, will be crucial to Madison's chances, especially his connection with deep threat Essex Denebola. A strong front seven including linebacker Leon Thunderman will hope to make up for the holes in the secondary, which only contains one contracted star at free safety. I predict Madison will end up in some barn burners this season. High-scoring games on both sides of the ball. I, for one, can't wait to see Denebola go up against Salt Lake City's Jahrad Brodie in Week 1, one of the best match-ups of the first run of games.
6
Ottawa Cavalry
0-0
(-)
The Ottawa Cavalry went into Season 2 with high hopes of a return to the championship game. Instead, they succumbed to a disappointing season filled with inconsistency. The main task of this season's group will be to regain that consistency and to lead a charge back up the Power Rankings and the overall standings. Looking at the offense, a high-scoring passing attack may be the way to go. The Cavalry have retained their QB, WR and carry by far the highest valued tight end in the SFLm. Couple that with a fairly depleted defense, much like the Lynx, expect high-scoring games from Ottawa this season. Harry Huskey at safety will lead a young defense. He will need to be on defensive MVP form if the Cavalry are to make any noise on that side of the ball. Ottawa have the potential advantage of sitting it out in Week 1, giving them a chance to study every team before having to face them. Week 2 brings a trip to Salt Lake City. You had better believe the Cavalry will view the Week 1 game between Madison and the Rustlers with keen interest.
7
Tacoma Grizzlies
0-0
(-)
Drifting down towards the bottom of our rankings, we come across the Tacoma Grizzlies, who couldn't quite put it together in their debut season, going 3-5 on the season. The Grizzlies should be all about pounding the rock this season behind top value running back, Brad Jones. Had running back been more of a hot commodity in last season's SFL draft, Jones would have found himself drafted. As it happened, only 2 were taken and Tacoma will reap the rewards. He is joined on offense by second-season starter, Jonny Reno who will be throwing to an all new set of receivers. The Grizzlies have on of the strongest secondaries in the SFLm and a pair of highly-rated linebackers in Axel Raven and Everette Willis. Add this to the fact that they have the advantage of a star kicker and it wouldn't be out of the question to predict the Grizzlies in the post-season. I'm predicting a big upturn in fortunes for Tacoma this season. Week 1 at home to Memphis is the perfect way to prove that theory.
8
Lexington Miners
0-0
(-)
Digging further into the ranks, we discover the new kids on the block, the Lexington Miners. Lexington didn't play in the SFLm last season so it would be easy to presume they have a disadvantage. However, underestimate this club at your peril - the coaches are ready to win and so are the players. Let's not forget - the Miners have inherited the talent from the Annapolis Navigators - a team last season who proved they could beat anybody at their best. LA Reaux and Baylee O'Shaughnessy will be the stars for the Miners, carrying them through Week 1 at home to the Birmingham Fuel. The receiving group and defense are very inexperienced, but anchored by safety, Josh Rowe, they should be able to compete. I can't guarantee that Lexington will make the semis, but I also can't write them off.
9
San Jose Flight
0-0
(-)
The San Jose Flight have something to prove. It's as simple as that. Two less than satisfactory seasons in the SFLm are in the history books and it is about time the Flight left the runway. Now, the Flight have excelled in one way each season - they produce very draftable players, including last season's quarterback, Colin Pierce, who has lead Vegas towards the playoffs. This suggests that the coaching needs to improve in San Jose. Joseph Green will provide a nice QB for them to work with, and Jimmy Hazzard is a shifty running back. The secondary is young and the receiving group is lead by Doug Spelling, who will need to be huge this season. I can't back the Flight until they show me something. And believe me, I'm happy to be proven wrong. That's my challenge to San Jose. You wanna take off from the foot of the Power Rankings? Prove it to me in Week 1. The reigning champs await.