Written by Baylee O’Shaughnessy, Ray Bentley, Josh Farnzy and Matthew Slinn
Images by Tyler Falk and Axel Raven
The champs came home to make a statement. The Atoms smashed the Miners for 52 points, 306 yards passing and 193 yards rushing. Player of the Game, RB Douglas Brown, was a machine: 196 yards on 20 carries to go with 4 TDs. QB Trellis Blanton also had a good day going 26 of 37 for 306. Early on, they made the quick-start Lexington Miners (handed down a Week 1 shutout to the Fuel) look simply unprepared. The Atoms top-ranked offense is explosive right now. If there is a chink in the armor of Albuquerque, it’s the secondary. The defense is currently ranked 8th in total yards allowed. They let Lexington come storming back through the air via the arm of QB Dave Burr. But, what else can you say? The defense will likely come along as chemistry gets better on that side of the ball. The Atoms look like they belong at the top right now. They are challenging the league to come and get the title. It should be an exciting season for their fans, and a challenging one for their opponents
After a solid 1-0 start at home to the Salt Lake City Rustlers, a win which looks all the better after Salt Lake’s Week 2 performance, the Madison Lynx got to sit Week 2 out and watch the rest of the SFLm battle it out. Not only that, but due to some shock results around the league, Madison have moved up a spot to #2, nestling in some way behind our PR leaders, Albuquerque. This could all change though after Week 3, as the Lynx get set to travel to a San Jose team on a massive high – a team that has shown the capability to win on the road against top opposition in Memphis. The Lynx will need to think about stopping Joseph Green and his connection with Doug Spelling. Limiting them to under 50 yards and a few catches could be the key to victory. As we all know, only time will tell. The Lynx will be hoping #2 is the lowest they sit next Thursday.
Lexington marched into their Week 2 matchup against the Albuquerque Atoms after a Week 1 shutout. It turns out the honeymoon is over. Welcome to the SFLm, Miners! The Atoms scored early and often, not letting up while getting TDs on the ground and through the air to finish with 52 points. Try as Lexington did to keep up, succeeding at pulling it to 21-24 at the half, the front 7 was not as stout against the run as they were in the previous outing. Atoms RB Douglas Brown lit up the Lexington defense for 196 yards on 20 carries. What this means remains to be seen… the season is young. But, it was clear that the Miners were outmatched in this one. They will continue to progress – this week was against the defending champs who look good so far, and it isn’t like the Miners played poorly… far from it! Rookie QB Dave “Iceberg” Burr lived up to his nickname by passing for 340 yards and 3 TDs. Meanwhile, 2nd year RB Baylee O’Shaughnessy struggled to gain traction, gaining only 82 yards on 24 carries for 1 TD. WRs David Gehres (5 receptions for 121 and 2 TDs) and Zachary Patton (5 for 54 and 1 TD) are emerging as excellent targets (we will forgive the drops of the young corps as they find their chemistry). They will need Burr to continue to be ice cold to make opponents back off the line if they are to win games against the tougher squads. Lexington is a good team. The Miners scored 32 points against Albuquerque! If you think about it, without the 14 points they spotted the Atoms in the 1st Quarter, it was a close shootout. They have good leadership and good coaching. They just don’t look like the team to beat right now if they can’t calm the run game of tough opponents. But, as is the case with all SFLm teams, a lot can change as the season (and progression) goes on.
Don’t look know, but this Salt Lake City Rustlers squad could be on to a winning season. After a narrow 27-30 defeat over in Madison in Week 1, the Rustlers took it to the now 0-1 Ottawa Cavalry, edging the first and second halves of the game to bring themselves back to .500 and to #4 in our rankings. A flurry of action in the 2nd quarter saw a total of 31 pints between both teams, the Rustlers adding 2 TDs onto a score from the first. After halftime, the defense stepped up, limiting Ottawa to just 3 points and closing out a competitive affair. Frankie Kuster made a crucial interception from his safety spot and Jahrad Brodie, potentially the best cover corner in the SFLm, looked sharp all game. Props must also go to the two LBs on the team, making tackle after tackle and holding Ottawa to just 62 rushing yards. Offensively, Tommy Utah had a much better showing, tossing 2 TDs to his receivers (Ace Sharpe and Kelsey Brown). Utah’s connection with Brown was cooking again as they look to be the best QB/WR pairing in the minors. Brooke Beissel also showed up big, slicing and dicing for over 100 yards and a score. Week 3 sees the Rustlers taking on the Birmingham Fuel, a team much better than their lowly record suggests.
Dropping four spots and sitting just above the team that defeated them in Week 2, the Memphis River Runners fell 26-13 at home, putting in a fairly meek performance by their lofty standards. Week 1 of Memphis’ season, a thrashing of the Tacoma Grizzlies, looked so promising, but they found that being the team to beat comes with it’s disadvantages. Teams ‘play up’ to have the bragging rights of beating you. Unfortunately for the River Runners, they weren’t able to match San Jose’s will to win. OJ Bruin had a fairly torrid day with the ball, throwing under 200 yards, 2 interceptions and no touchdowns. He was helped very seldom by the running game too, GP Wells only managing under 4 yards per carry, despite crossing into the endzone for the first half score. The second half, and more specifically the 3rd quarter, of this game was where things got away from Memphis. They just couldn’t breach San Jose’s resistance. LB Zed Markov did his best to help his team with pure will, shown in his 4 TFLs, but it wasn’t enough. The River Runners must repair their holes and watch on as they go into a BYE week. Some might say that it has come at the perfect time.
The San Jose Flight put in an almighty second half performance to shock the home team (Memphis) and the wider SFL community. The second half of this game, it could easily be argued, is the best the Flight have ever looked, which can only be seen as a huge positive for the historical strugglers. After a first 30 minutes in which only a couple of field goals could be shown for their endeavours, the Flight took off, scoring two touchdowns in the 3rd quarter and tacking on another pair of FG’s to close the game out in the 4th. The connection of Doug Spelling and Joseph Green was evident throughout, and Jimmy Hazzard toted the rock for a hard 112 yards, including one score. The real heroes of the day sat on defence though, as they held a Memphis team – who scored over 40 points in Week 1 – to just 13 points, 10 in the 1st half, 3 in the second. Free Safety Deshaun Evans flashed ability with a nice interception, and Philly Collins looked stout in the front 7 alongside defensive lineman, Robert Krohn. Week 3 sees the Flight return home to face off against Madison. There are no easy games in the SFLm – San Jose are well within the mix though.
It’s quite hard to judge a team that haad Week 1 as a BYE and, you could argue, came into Week 2 colder than the rest of the SFLm. But, we have a Power Rankings for a reason and, despite a close loss, the Cavalry are falling down it. Ottawa have always been a very tough team in the SFLm, and they faced another in Salt Lake City, who managed to beat them 23-30. In truth, it was an excellent game and both squads deserved to get something from it. In the end, the Rustlers just had that little bit more firepower. Behind Scar Patterson, the Cavalry looked pretty good, especially in a 2nd quarter where they scored 17 points. It will be to the coach’s frustration then, that they couldn’t carry any momentum forwards into the 2nd half, only troubling the scoreboards once, with a measly FG. Individual stand outs for to wide receiver Ryan Roseveldt and linebacker Stefon Forge, both standing out and no doubt impressing SFL scouts. The Cavalry have a chance to get that first win in Week 3, facing the new kids’ Lexington Miners at home. Ottawa will be hoping to bring the Miners back down to earth even more than the Atoms did in Week 2.
How you respond to adversity says a lot about you. After a 17-10 defensive grind of a win against Birmingham, it’s clear the Grizzlies have plenty of grit here in Season 3. A heavy dose of strong running by Brad Jones and a defense that stepped up all night long was a solid recipe for success. Jones’ second touchdown run on the evening to start the fourth quarter gave Tacoma a 17-10 lead with about 10 minutes, and then saw the defense rise to the occasion and stave off multiple Birmingham drives late to preserve their first win of the year. Jones finished with 140 yards and two rushing scores on 26 carries. The Fuel would have a few chances to drive into scoring range, but the Tacoma defense led by linebacker Axel Raven (10 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss) answered the bell every time. Responsiveness is key. Now the question is: How do the Grizzlies respond after their first win? A Week 3 trip to Albuquerque and the top-ranked Atoms will say even more potentially about these gritty Grizzlies.
They are playing with lots of heart deep in Alabama, but the results are not there quite yet. The Fuel defense played lights out football for most of their showdown with Tacoma, but could not find a tying score late, dropping their second to start the season, 17-10. Birmingham’s offense got the ball three times to mount a tying scoring drive, but were turned away each time by a feisty Tacoma defense. Their best chance came with about three and a half minutes to play and 56 yards, but a three-and-out thwarted the comeback efforts. The offense continues to struggle, but showed more glimpses of playmaking ability from quarterback Bryce Hardaway, who connected on 21 of 27 passes and registered his first touchdown throw of the season. Wide receiver Nick Lockett caught eight balls for 104 yards to give the Fuel a promising young threat as well. And this defense to keep the Fuel in games. A Nana Lahey interception and several key plays from Gerry Dee Gond and Garrett Hudson are promising. Lots of heart. Keep it up, and the wins will come, Fuel fans.
And there we have it ladies and gentlemen! The second edition of the SFLm Season 3 Power Rankings. Good luck to all teams this Friday and check back with us next week!