Written by Baylee O’Shaugnessey, Josh Farnzy, Stefaun Forge, Rae Colston and Matthew Slinn

Images by Axel Raven and Hubba Kimbrel

 

RANK: 1
TEAM: Baltimore Vultures, 4-0 MOVEMENT:  -0

The Baltimore Vultures remain at the top of our Power Rankings after an emphatic 17-45 defeat of the Tulsa Desperados. Jack Wigmore went for distance over efficiency, hitting just over 50% of his passes for a whopping 444 yards and 5 TDs, with…wait for it, no turnovers. Luck seemed to be on the side of the Vultures as ball after ball was batted down without major consequence. But, as the successful say, you make your own luck in this world. Jimmy Hazzard featured nicely when he was given a chance, especially in the passing game. Mac Chimah was nothing short of spectacular and the secondary had a field day, picking off Jay Cue 3 times whilst limiting him to under 300 yards. We don’t want to start crowning the Vultures as champions just yet, especially with the strength of their division, but times are seeming rather ominous, much like they did in Season 15.

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TEAM: Mexico City Aztecs, 4-0MOVEMENT: ↑2

Was this victory early signs of an SFL championship level season from Arizona? Only time will tell, but a tough 12-20 victory over the much-fancied Fort Worth Toros should put the SFL on notice. This Arizona Scorpions team is much more than just hype. This first quarter started in cagey fashion, Arizona struggling to gather much momentum resulting in a 6-0 deficit in favour of the visiting Toros, but that lead wasn’t going to last long. A touchdown pass from Ashley Jackson to her favourite receiver, Donnie Hands was coupled with a score by DJ Moses, who ran the ball hard all game, catapulted the Scorpions into a 8-point lead at the half. The 8-point margin would not be relinquished for the entirety of the second half, Arizona proving their defensive prowess by keeping the Toros out of the end zone. Both strong teams cancelled each other out, hitting two field goals each during two quarters of hard-nosed action. Special mentions must go to defensive backs Parker Thomas and Vernard Smith IV, who combined for three interceptions and a couple of PD’s, giving Camero (SLINN SHADY TO COMPLETE)

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TEAM: Queen City Corsairs, 4-0MOVEMENT: ↑2

Queen City are currently the Kings of SFL. Lazy writing, I know. With wins over Fort Worth, London, Arizona and now Atlanta, the Corsairs have established themselves as a top if not the top team in the SFL right now. Fresh of a dramatic last second win over Arizona the Corsairs welcomed the Swarm to town and promptly swatted them. In a grind it out affair in which the Queen City defense and RB Jett Zero led the way to victory.

Leading 13-7 at the half Queen City’s defense locked it down in the second half. They intercepted Bryant Dynasty 5 times on the day. They limited BDG to 21-81 and 42 of that came on 1 carry. Shutting out the Swarm other than a late TD to make it 27-14 well after the game had been decided. Jett Zero had another fine day. He pounded on and wore out the Swarm D with 28-122 and 1 TD. The Corsairs now sit at 4-0 and welcome in the 3-1 Houston Hyenas next week for what should be a great game between 2 teams who seem well on their way to the playoffs.

RANK: 4
TEAM: Houston Hyenas, 3-1 MOVEMENT: ↓2

The undefeated Hyenas hosted the (2-1) Lycans this week.  QB Dave Burr would have to face the tough secondary of the Lycans, and the young defense would have to match up against an offense that no one has had a chance to see during the Lycan’s first three games due to a coaching change.  QB Dave Burr would complete 32 of his 54 passes for 323 yards, one touchdown and 4 interceptions.  WR D.R. Sim had an outstanding day with his 12 receptions for 165 yards and one touchdown.  RB Warren Murray pounded the ball down the field methodically with his 23 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown.  Rookie K Sunny Jay was 2/2 on field goals.  Houston’s secondary gave QB Sully Richardson a tough time forcing three interceptions.  CB Marco Swift, SS Ethan Kye and SS Josh Rowe each had one.  The game was very close and came down to a Lycan’s pass deflection in the end zone.  Houston would loss to the Lycans 20-27.  The Hyenas will be travelling to Queen City next week.

RANK: 5
TEAM: Vancouver Legion, 3-1MOVEMENT: ↓2

The Houston Hyenas went into Week 2 highly confident of another victory in the Pacific after their dismantling of the Portland Fleet, but despite gaining a second victory, things weren’t quite so simple in San Diego. The Mavericks proved to be a stern test for Houston, holding them to a 7-9 scoreline deep into the 4th quarter. The contest ended 14-9, and the way Houston secured victory is one of the best plays I have ever seen in the SFL by a single player. Rookie QB Dave Burr dropped back, uncorked a beauty of a pass which fell into the hands of star receiver, DR Sim. Sim then showed why he is the face of this franchise. Not only did Sim make a tough over the shoulder catch, he proceeded to break three tackles from the despairing Mavericks defense on his way to a huge go ahead TD. The San Diego secondary just couldn’t live with Sim’s leg drive and speed as arm after arm fell off the receiver’s legs. It was a brilliant moment in an otherwise unremarkable game. Houston remain on the road for Week 3 to face a sneaky looking Tulsa team. We’re not entirely sure how good either of these teams are yet. It should be a cracker. (SLINN SHADY TO COMPLETE)

RANK: 6
TEAM: LA Lycans, 3-1 MOVEMENT:  ↑7

The 2-1 Lycans would travel to Houston to play the undefeated Hyenas this week.  Los Angeles would be looking to turn around their anaemic offense after their head coach “resigned” after last week’s game.  QB Sully Richardson got off to a rough start throwing back-to-back interceptions on his first two possessions but would settle in after that completing 20 of his 31 passes for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns.  The new coaching staff involved all their weapons on offense this week and appeared to have a more balanced approach. The leading receiver for the team was the “Cheese” himself Chris Lee with his 5 receptions for 123 yards and 1 touchdown.  RB Robert Johnson carried the ball 25 times for 55 yards.  “Mr. Clutch”, K Rob Emms, also went 2/2 on field goals.  The Lycans defense did not disappoint again this week as they intercepted QB Dave Burr 4 times.  CB Thomasina Ramen, LB Danny Stinson and LB Buddy Blaze each had an interception including the 91-yard pick 6 by Buddy Blaze.  Ryan Yoseph’s diving game saving pass deflection at the end of the game would seal the deal and allow the Lycans to defeat the Hyenas 27-20.  The Lycans will host their division rival the Vancouver Legion this week.

RANK: 7
TEAM: London Knights, 3-1 MOVEMENT: ↑4

London came into this game looking to establish themselves as championship contenders with a convincing win over a struggling Jacksonville team. They started off doing exactly that racing to a 28-7 lead midway through the 2nd Quarter and threatening to reduce the Kings to mere Jesters. Then they suddenly lost their mojo and found themselves tied at 28 early in the 3rd Quarter. With their offense sputtering the Knights defense stepped to fore when Tanner Hendrix intercepted a Marcus Dunhill and returned it for a TD. From there on the Knight defense took control allowing only a last second touchdown to cut the final margin to 42-35.

Johnny Pichler was in HoF form going 30-32 274 4 TDs and 0 Ints. Robert Merrill provided the 112 yards on the ground on only 14 carries and broke a couple big runs in key moments. Vin Calia provided the receiving threat with 7-104-3TDs. It should be noted that Seren Storm was lost for the game in the 1st half as well. The Knights now head into a rematch of their week 1 thriller with the Atlanta Swarm in Atlanta. Another win over the Swarm would solidify London’s contender status.

RANK: 8
TEAM: Arizona Scorpions, 2-2 MOVEMENT: ↓2

Arizona was quick out of the gate with 2 straight wins. But they now find themselves at 2-2 after suffering a last second loss to division opponent, the Denver Nightwings, this past week. The passing offense was moving the ball, but RB D.J. Moses II continues to struggle. With 15 carries, he was only able to manage 24 yards, and one run was for 10. 14 runs for 14 yards… something strange is going on with Moses. The Hands brothers are always a threat. However, until the running game can get going, the yards will not come in big chunks. Arizona had to work hard to get above 300 yards passing. The Scorpions need to make sure to come out with a win next week to try to take back the division, since Denver now sits in first with the division win over them. The Arizona Scorpions go after the San Diego Mavericks in Week 5.

RANK: 9
TEAM: Florida Storm, 2-2 MOVEMENT: ↓2

DC is for real. They are a contender right now. The offense is as good as any in the SFL. Their defense has righted itself since giving up 55 to Vancouver. Clearly that game was an outlier as I said at the time. They only allowed 33 points in their last 2 games while the offense has continued to march along scoring 61 points in the same time span. The scariest part of it all, this team is YOUNG! They are just beginning to develop and progress, nowhere near their final form. They have a few well-placed veterans who provide leadership and savvy coaching and management who have a clear vision of where they are going and how they are getting there. (Think early 90s Cowboys)

The Dragons faced off against undefeated Charleston and threatened to end the competitive phase of the game by halftime. Racing to a 17-0 lead but a late TD by Charleston followed by a TD to start the second half made it 17-14 and sent the message that this game was going the distance. The DC defense however was clutch all day long intercepting TD Drew 7 times and held the Preds to only 3 points the rest of the way. The offense was lead by RB Kevin Seay who brilliant running (33-164 2TDs) help to offset Shabazz Psynergy’s 5 interception day. The Dragons did just enough, scoring 10 2nd half points to earn a hard fought 27-17 victory. Next up for DC is a possible Game of the Year matchup with undefeated Mexico City and their high powered offense. Must see TV!

RANK: 10
TEAM: Denver Nightwings, 2-2 MOVEMENT: ↑2

The score for Denver’s win over the Scorpions this week is a bit deceptive. Arizona started the game with returning the opening kickoff for touchdown. It was a great play… very exciting opening to the game. But, Denver played a good game beyond that point. In fact, they marched straight back down the field and tied up the game. Basically, from that moment on, the Denver defense would hold the Arizona offense to 3 FGs and 1 TD. QB Eric Price is efficient, leading the league in completion percentage. RB Baylee O’Shaughnessy is finding his footing and improving each week, even though he has faced tougher defenses these past 2 weeks. K Mat Fenech is practically automatic now (hit the game winner this week), and the defense makes excellent adjustments at the half, with a secondary that is improving alongside a front 7. Where will they end up? Have they turned the corner? Only time will tell. But, the Nightwings stock is rising after taking the lead in the West Division with this win over the rival Arizona Scorpions. Denver aims to improve to 3-2 when they host the Portland Fleet this week.

RANK: 11
TEAM: Atlanta Swarm, 2-2 MOVEMENT: ↓3

The Swarm are much better than their 2-2 record. They are 1 Peter McLongfellow FG away from being 3-1. They have the makings of a dynamic, explosive offense with more weapons than should be allowed by allowed by law. They are deep and talented at the skill positions. Led by QB Bryant Dynasty it would not be a surprise to see this offense at or near the top of the league by the end of the season. Their defense is solid too, having held Denver to 13 points and Jacksonville to 12 in back to back victories. If the offense reaches its potential and the defense stays solid this will be a team no one will want to play in the playoffs.

Against Queen City the Swarm hit a low point. They moved ball fairly well at times but were done in by 5 Corsair INTs of Dynasty. The defense didn’t seem to have an answer for Jett Zero. The Swarm ran into a top team playing at a high level where, at this point in the season, they needed to be perfect to win and they were far from it. That being said this game seems like an outlier for the Swarm. Just one of those sim days. Atlanta will look to rebound and get revenge in a rematch at home with London of their wild game week 1 game. Somebody give the scoreboard operator a case of Red Bull for this one.

RANK: 12
TEAM: DC Dragons, 2-2 MOVEMENT: ↓3

There would be no last second miracle drive. No heroic fourth down conversions. No last second field goal. The championship rings seemed to arrive this week – but so did the Florida defense and running game. Though the sight of Denver’s opponent brought back fond memories of an extraordinary Season 16 championship game win, the result in Week 3 of Season 17 would not end the same way. Florida’s defense was stout and helped the Storm take down Denver, 26-19 in a championship game rematch. The Nightwings got a gigantic effort from Logan Keel, who put up 216 receiving yards on 18 receptions to keep Denver within striking distance for the bulk of the game. Eric Price was efficient and moved the ball downfield, but the offense stalled out short of the goalline several times, leading to field goals instead of touchdowns. The defense also surrendered 219 rushing yards to make their victory effort that much harder. The loss marks the second regular season loss for Denver – the most in a few regular seasons. Their early-season grind continues this week as they host Arizona in yet another revenge game that the Scorpion fans undoubtedly have circled on their calendar.

RANK: 13
TEAM: Carolina Skyhawks, 2-2MOVEMENT:↑3

The Carolina Skyhawks completely flipped their script from last week’s 27-30 loss to the Lone Star Glory as they snatched victory against their rivals, the Charleston Predators, 27-30. The only thing missing was a dramatic overtime. Despite being outgained and hitting the first down marker less times than their opponents, turnovers and time of possession really clinched victory in this one. Matt South threw a decent game, spreading the ball most effectively than he did last week, whilst hitting Logan Jack and star WR Harish Prasad in the end zone for a couple of crucial scores. Jack was also pretty effective on the ground, something we don’t often say about the pass-catching RB. For player of the game it’s hard to look past Davidson Joseph, who probably had his best ever game from CB. Joseph picked TD Drew off 3 times, added 3 pass deflections to that and also managed to stop a runner for a loss. What a game. This exciting tilt was worthy of a divisional rivalry and Carolina now have a great chance to put their stamp on the Atlantic.

RANK: 14
TEAM: Charleston Predators, 2-2MOVEMENT: ↓4

The Predators’ stock has dramatically fallen the past couple of weeks as they succumbed to their second loss in a row, this time to bitter divisional rivals Carolina, who now sit one place above them in the Power Rankings. Despite gaining a ton of yards, TD Drew was erratic behind center, throwing 4 picks to counter-act his 3 touchdowns. Drew tested CB Davidson Joseph too many times which resulted in the young defender snagging 3 picks. A couple of TD passes to Ken McCarro and one to RB Keith Swearingen kept the scoreboard ticking over, but when all was said and done, those turnovers proved costly. The much talked about defense was also very well matched up by Carolina, the Skyhawks getting joy in both the running and passing games. Charleston are still an excellent team with a chance to take the division. They do however, need to stop the bleeding.

RANK: 15
TEAM: Portland Fleet, 2-2MOVEMENT: -0

Portland came in off a dramatic OT loss to Baltimore but they came in trending straight up. The narrow loss came on the heels of a blowout loss to Houston in week 1and served to change the early trajectory of the Fleet’s season which culminated in their dominant win over San Diego. The Fleet offense in this game was Ezekiel Love, Ezekiel Love and Ezekiel Love but with numbers he put up, 22-268 4TDs, it was a winning strategy. Love carried the offense, as he often does, on a night when the passing game struggled mightily. Rookie QB OJ Bruin could only manage 207 yds on 50% passing with 4 interceptions and 1 TD. Love is one of the best RBs in the SFL and definitely put his hat firmly in the MVP ring with this performance.

The Fleet defense also answered the bell. The defense stood up early in helping the Fleet race out to a 24-0 lead. Then after San Diego staged a rally to get within 24-14 at the half they rose up again shutting San Diego down while the margin expanded to 38-14 and the competitive phase of the game ended. They intercepted QB Javier Vasquez 5 times. 2 of the INTs were critical as they came inside their own 5 yard line with the Mavericks moving for at least a FG and possibly a TD on both occasions that could have changed the game. The Portland back-ups gave up the final end of game TD.  The Fleet have the look of a team that could compete for a wildcard if they continue their upward trajectory. Portland will next host 1-2 Sioux Falls, who are on a 2 game losing streak, in a game where both teams need a win to bolster their standing for a potential playoff spot.

RANK: 16
TEAM: Fort Worth Toros, 1-3MOVEMENT: ↑4

So here is what we learned from the first 2 games of Jacksonville’s Season 17 season. The schedule makers had it in for the Kings for the first 2 weeks. Open @Denver and then host Florida. Those teams combined 26-4 in total last season and played for the championship. Ouch. Add in to that the fact that their franchise QB and his favorite WR retired, the fact that the roster had substantial roster turnover and their schedule overall appears to be a difficult one and it could be a long year for the Kings.

They brought in former MVP and season 14 champion Marcus Dunhill at QB but due to his 2 season absence he faced regression. It left him not where he was and with work to do to get back there. He did pass for 366 yds and 2 TDs BUT also threw 5 INTs. The Kings had the look of team in transition in this game. Definitely not what they were but still a solid team. Of course the schedule makers did them no favors in week 3 either as the 1-1 Atlanta Swarm come to town fresh off a decisive win over Denver and led by an offense averaging 33.5 ppg. “OH, THE HUMANITY!” (SLINN SHADY TO COMPLETE)

RANK: 17
TEAM: St. Louis Gladiators, 2-2MOVEMENT: ↑2

Coming into the game, QB Christian Brown had 12 INTs in his last 2 games and St Louis had lost both largely because of this. Facing a hungry San Diego team and not wanting to be the Mavericks first ever victory the Gladiators coaching staff came up with a risk averse but highly effective game plan. It included short safe passes, largely Out Routes, and power running with Kairo Martinez and Bill Cherry. It worked to perfection. It eliminated Brown INTs as he only threw 1 INT while going 30-37 227 1 TD. Meanwhile RB Kario Martinez led the offense with a 26-96 2 TD performance and FB Bill Cherry chipped in with 9-41 1 TD as the Gladiators ground out a 28-20 victory.

The Gladiator defense was its usual stingy self, making the stops when it counted. They limited San Diego to FGs where they could have had TDs and Freeman Peltier came up with their one and only INT inside their own 10 yard line to stop what appeared to be a sure fire TD drive for the Mavericks in the 4th quarter. It will be interesting to see if St. Louis has found a formula for success moving forward. They will get a chance to find out when they travel to Jacksonville to take on the Kings. The matchup should provide a stiff test as the Kings put up 35 points last week in a wild loss at London.

RANK: 18

TEAM: Louisiana Revolution, 1-3 MOVEMENT: ↑3

The Revolution needed that. A necessary win against the Glory to snag their first win of the season. They have been playing well and just coming up short. With a solid offense that can score (they average 27.75 per game, good enough for 8th in the league) and a defense that is stout against the run (averaging 72.3 yards against per game), they could make a bit of a run. So what is the issue? They allow 30.75 points per game and 367 yards passing. Except for this past week, their opponents are able to hold and keep leads. Week 1: lost by 14, 2: lost by 4, 3: lost by 7. Combined opponents record so far: 8-8. The defense needs to find more effective secondary play, yet keep holding down the opposition run game. The Revolution offense has been excitingly balanced and effective. If they can figure out how to lock it down on defense they could make some noise, or at least play spoiler. The Revolution will look to improve as they host the D.C. Dragons in Week 5.

RANK: 19
TEAM: Las Vegas Fury, 1-3 MOVEMENT: ↑5

Turnovers. Is there any more obvious key to the game cliche than that? Unfortunately, for the Gladiators, cliches tend to be true, as a six-interception day by the St. Louis offense let an opportunity to upset the Vultures go by. The Gladiators looked sharp, especially on defense, against the team (that would be you, Baltimore) many have been praising as the league’s best. Baltimore found life in the second half to leap ahead of St. Louis and stay ahead, 34-23. The Gladiators were down two scores often in the fourth quarter, but after chipping away with a field goal to make it a one-score game with 2:47 and a potentially too-early onsides kick that was recovered by Baltimore, they could not keep the Vultures from a field goal that put the game out of reach. Ultimately, the Gladiator loss came down to turnovers – as in the six they gave up to Baltimore. The St. Louis offense had trouble gaining any traction, accumulating only 275 yards of total offense on the day. They will attempt to put the brakes on their two-game skid as they host San Diego this weekend.

RANK: 20
TEAM: Tulsa Desperados, 1-3MOVEMENT: ↓6

The Tulsa Desperados once again slip down our rankings after a humbling defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Vultures. This game really did show the gulf in class between those at the very top and those fighting for those lower playoff seedings. Other than a mid-game burst which saw two passing TDs by Jay Cue, the offense couldn’t keep up with the free-scoring Vultures. Cue struggled to play keep ball, throwing three picks to counter those two scores, although his passes to Gabriel Manning and DJ Hume to find the end zone were nice plays. Sonzo Robinson couldn’t get any go forward on the ground despite more consistent use, and Gabriel Manning isn’t living up to his obvious talent. The less said about the luck of the defense the better. Despite getting to Wigmore a number of times and batting down over 6 balls, the gloves simply wouldn’t stick. Nate Hezlep had 5 pass deflections. Tulsa are getting in the right positions, just coming short when it comes to game-changing plays.

RANK: 21
TEAM: Lone Star Glory, 1-3MOVEMENT: ↓4

The Glory are in trouble. Their early opponents have a combined record of 10-6. They squeaked by the 2-2 Skyhawks last week in OT, and got simply stampeded by the 1-3 Revolution this past week. QB Ace Fenech was running for his life and was sacked nine times… “Nice times?,” “Nine times…” to quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Somehow, he managed to be upright enough to throw for 359, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Unfortunately, the running game didn’t give much relief, garnering only 16 yards on the day. We are a third of the way through the season, and their QB is under such duress that he has been sacked 14 times. The last 2 seasons he has been sacked 17 times total in both. If this continues, he is likely to match that next week. Combine this with a defense that allows averages of 287 yards passing and 103.5 rushing per game. This is not a winning equation. Something needs to happen quickly to salvage the remainder of the season. The Glory look to start their climb when they travel to face Sioux Falls this week.

RANK: 22
TEAM: Sioux Falls Sparrows, 1-3MOVEMENT: ↓4

Is there an end in sight for this drought? 28 yards per game. That is what the Kings are averaging for rushing. 16 points per game. These are numbers that must improve if Jacksonville is going to give anyone a scare after 9 more weeks. Right now, it is difficult to see the positives through the negatives. There are good chunks through the air at times, but 8 interceptions through 3 games would derail any team. RB Jared Willis had as many catches as the entire rest of his team in the loss to Atlanta this past week. That is not going to get it done: checking it down when you need to score. The season is quickly getting away from Jacksonville, but they should be able to course-correct and get back on track. They will try to make that begin this coming week when the Kings travel to London to take on the Knights.

RANK: 23
TEAM: Jacksonville Kings, 0-4MOVEMENT: ↓1

The Kings are having a season that is not familiar to them. Normally among the league’s elite they have fallen off and are now winless through 4 games. In this game thought they reminded everyone exactly what they are capable of when they get rolling. Were it not for 4 London INTs of Marcus Dunhill it very likely the Kings would have won this game. They spotted London a 28-7 advantage midway through the 2nd only get their high octane offense running and race back to tie the game at 28 in the early 3rd. Unfortunately for the Kings they were stalled out by the London defense for the rest of the game scoring only a meaningless last second TD to make the final score 42-35.

The Kings passing game had a magnificent day in the loss. Marcus Dunhill put up 42-60 458 4TDs. They were haunted though by 4 INTs that proved to be the difference in the game. The run game never really got untracked. Jared Willis finished with 14-50 1 TD but he added a team leading 12 receptions. TE Jack Wall finished with 11-103 and 1 TD. WR Shea Carroll led the wideouts with 4-115 and 1 TD. Up next for the Kings, a visit from St. Louis.

RANK: 24
TEAM: San Diego Mavericks, 0-4MOVEMENT: ↓1

San Diego, San Diego, San Diego. The Mavericks would have no luck at all, which actually might be better for them, if it weren’t for BAD luck. In what has to be a first, somehow the Mavericks were called for “illegal touching” on a spike play late in the 4th quarter. What?! Apparently when they the spiked the ball to stop the clock it hit an offensive lineman in the leg. Looking at you R62! Sus as it sounds, that was what was ruled to have happened. Even more painful for the Mavs was the fact that it was a 10 yard penalty on the final drive that ended with the Hail Mary CAUGHT…wait for it… on the St Louis 10 yard line. Murphy’s Law anyone?

The San Diego offense was limited on possessions because St Louis held the ball for 25+ mins. When that happens the need to score TDs every time you have the ball is amplified by 10. Unfortunately for the Mavs, they did not. 2 first half FGs left them in a 21-6 hole. In the second half things changed dramatically the defense shut St Louis down and the offense got rolling. Led by QB Javier Vasquez 26-43 299 2 TD and 1 INT the Mavs outscored St Louis 14-7 and were it not for a RedZone interception late in the game they might have completed the comeback and possibly gotten the win. The Mavericks are a team on the cusp and will look to break through this week at home against Arizona. It won’t be easy against Defensive Mastermind Eddie Gauge and a potent offense led by QB Ashley Jackson.