Written by Baylee O’Shaughnessy, Ray Bentley, Josh Farnzy and Matthew Slinn
Images by Tyler Falk and Axel Raven
The unbeaten Albuquerque Atoms gave the Birmingham Fuel a lesson in converting possession into points as they left the Fuel’s home stadium with a 24-7 victory. A 17-0 half time lead set the Atoms up perfectly, solid defense and a bruising rushing performance by Douglas Brown the catalysts. Brown really stepped up in a big way, making 200 all-purpose yards on 30 touches, culminating in 2 touchdowns. His effort was needed as Trellis Blanton didn’t have his best game, taking less than 20 attempts whilst going 1:1 on TDs to INTs. The usual connection with Nate Ritters wasn’t there, Birmingham’s secondary doing a good job of keeping him grounded. As we’ve said, it didn’t really matter. Both the front 7 and secondary held down Birmingham’s struggling offense, the star players making 4 TFLs and 5 PDs in total. Frank Stackhouse was a disruptive figure from defensive end and Yakov Zolotov was a presence in both rushing and passing D. The linebacker is looking like a real leader out there and will be sure to have caught the eye of SFL scouts looking for a solid tackler in the middle. Week 5 sees the Atoms get a much earned rest as they head into their BYE week undefeated and in perfect position to defend their SFLm crown.
Last week, we called out Salt Lake to make a statement. Last week, we said that a tough game on the road against Lexington was the perfect opportunity to silence any doubters. Last week, the Rustlers clearly listened. The stout Salt Lake City defense held Dave Burr and his team to 6 points – this, a team that still averages nearly 26 points per game even after Week 4. To go into the Miners’ home stadium and hold them down so effectively is testament to the quality of the Rustlers’ D, led by Jahrad Brodie, Frankie Kuster and Bogey Barr. All three contributed to turnovers, Brodie and Kuster forcing fumbles from star Miners RB, Baylee O’Shaughnessy, and Barr recovering a fumble to cap off a very solid game from LB. On the other side of the ball, you have to applaud the work of Tommy Utah. Utah, whom many believe will be drafted early this off-season, had a stellar game, hitting on 32 of his 39 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown. Add this to the fact that Brooke Beissel suffered an injury after only two carries and it really shows the job Utah and his receivers (especially Kelsey Brown) did. It would have been nice for Terrell Southerland to get more touches from FB as he is hard to stop when he gets up a head of steam. Salt Lake City have a good chance to solidify their position near the top of the Power Rankings in Week 5 as they host the Tacoma Grizzlies. They will be favourites, but the players must not let complacency set in.
Despite having a BYE week, the 2-1 San Jose Flight have risen a spot in our rankings, product of the faith we have in the Power Rankings team that they have the ability to keep this winning run going. Week 5 sees the Flight travel north to face the Ottawa Cavalry, a road game that, this season, they will be confident to win, however, Ottawa aren’t known as one of the historically better franchises in the SFLm for nothing. This will be a hard game. San Jose are yet to get a victory over the Cavalry, 0-2 in the series so far, yet to score more than 13 points against them. Scoring hasn’t been as much of an issue this season behind QB Joseph Green, so like I said, confidence should be high. A victory will go a long way to setting up San Jose for a great run at the playoffs. This game is bigger than many might think.