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, 8-0 MOVEMENT:  -0

The Vultures staying atop their perch at 8-0 after a 58-34 decisive victory over London is starting to beg the question… When it comes to the regular season, can we start comparing them to the all-time greats? Save for an overtime win against Portland, Baltimore has systematically taken apart teams on one – and sometimes both – sides of the ball. They boast a league-best +176 point differential, which means after eight games, they are winning by an average margin of victory of 22 points. For reference, the team in second in this category – Mexico City – is at +77. Yikes. Defensive tackle SyrRon Yates IV leads the league in sacks by nearly double the amount of second place. Yates and Al Walker are 1-2 in tackles for loss. Giovanni Bolt leads the league in interceptions – five ahead of second place. Their quarterback Jack Wigmore leads the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns. Wide receiver Ivory Ervin leads the SFL in touchdown receptions, and he is joined by teammate Mac Chimah as two of the top three in receiving yards. I could keep going, but I think you get the point. They may just be the most dominant regular season team in SFL history. Let us appreciate their amazing play for what it has been so far. Jacksonville will be fortunate enough to see that play up close and personal this weekend as the Vultures try for 9-0.

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TEAM: Florida Storm, 6-2MOVEMENT: ↑1

About the time Florida registered a last-minute sack to salt away a 24-20 win over Queen City, the Storm was able to remind the SFL of one important fact: they are still a dangerous, top threat to be holding the trophy at season’s end. The Storm came out on top during a back-and-forth contest on the strength of a stout defense. Florida limited the Queen City offensive attack to 286 yards total. De’Ante Stoneville had two-and-a-half sacks, four tackles for loss and an infinite motor this past weekend to disrupt the Corsairs. Andrew Francis had 11 tackles and an interception from the secondary. In a rare showing of inaccuracy, Florida had to overcome four Ron Cockren interceptions. Charlie “The Bullet” Biletsky made the most of his 12 carries on the day – racking up 140 yards, including a 64-yard dash in the second quarter. The Storm faces a streaking Predator team, where a win for Florida would give them a two-game cushion in the Atlantic Division with only three games to play.

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TEAM: Mexico City Aztecs, 6-2MOVEMENT: ↑2

Mexico City are always in the playoffs – Week 8’s drubbing of a young Jacksonville Kings side showed that this trend is likely to ring true once again in Season 17. The Aztecs’ running game is just too strong for most teams to handle. The combination of Phoenix Jones and Ray Bentley, both whom have switched from FB and HB respectively, is a battering ram of brutal effectiveness. Jones especially, is having the season of his life, doing his best to emulate the performances of his more illustrious partner, a feared running back in his own right way back in Seasons 9-13. The  nature of the running game is also opening up holes for Matt Willson through the air, the veteran QB throwing 3 TD passes against the Kings, all to young receivers Jason Bartley and Jacob McCall. The Aztecs have a knack of taking a roster that values role players over big names and blending them to play perfectly as a team. Having said that, Dan Tritz is still an absolute star on the defensive line. Nobody knows where the ceiling is for this squad – but we know the floor. They are going to make the playoffs. I can all-but guarantee it.

RANK:                  TEAM: Atlanta Swarm, 6-2MOVEMENT: -0

Okay… I’m going to be honest here: I just caught myself singing “How do you solve a problem like Atlanta?” to the tune of “Maria” from The Sound of Music. I am unashamed. Seriously… winners of 4 in a row, the 4th best in points per game, 4th in overall defense… they just keep going! The Swarm don’t show signs of stopping, either. Their upcoming 4 opponents are either struggling themselves, or have been beaten by the Swarm already this season. Could the St. Louis game to finish the regular season be a trap game? Could Louisiana get the win they fell 1 TD short of just a few weeks ago? I can’t see Atlanta going 2-2 to finish, but anything is possible. Right now, they are very much in control of their division and destiny. Truly: “How do you solve a problem like Atlanta?” Their upcoming opponents, I’m sure, wish they didn’t have to try. Atlanta travels to Louisiana this week to take on the Revolution.

RANK: 5
TEAM: Queen City Corsairs, 6-2MOVEMENT: ↓3

Nobody panic, Buffalo. Sure, a back-and-forth contest against Florida where the Corsairs ultimately came up short means the once-undefeated Queen City squad is on an official losing streak. The Corsairs and Storm went back and forth for four quarters, but was unable to cash in on a couple fourth quarter possessions to swing the momentum back to Queen City. Florida was able to slip away with the 24-20 win. Queen City got a workmanlike effort on the ground from Jett Zero (25 carries, 107 rushing yards). AJ Caswell was efficient, but the passing game lacked big plays. On the defensive side of the ball, the Corsairs were able to force Florida into four turnovers. Linebacker Jared Crowe intercepted Florida quarterback Ron Cockren twice in defeat. Keep calm, green and black fans. However, for any shot to stay within striking distance of division-leading Baltimore, Queen City will need to take down the Dragons this weekend. They have suddenly fallen back to part of the pack and must now change their fortunes in order to keep up in the playoff pecking order. Deep breaths, Buffalo. Deep breaths.

RANK: 6
TEAM: Arizona Scorpions, 5-3MOVEMENT: ↑2

I’m sorry but, who dares to limit the Vancouver Legion, one of the most free-scoring offenses in league history, to just 7 points? More to the point, who has the gall to do it on their home turf?! A surging Arizona Scorpions squad – that’s who. After seasons of development, it seems like Arizona are finally putting it all together. A fantastic mid-season has seen them take a grip of the West division and a great chance to go far in the playoffs. Week 8’s victory typifies the stoicism of this team. In fact, the only better scoring defense in the league is that of the Charleston Predators. The shock defeat at the hands of San Diego seems a distant memory, a memory which has galvanised this team. The Scorpions just managed to completely stifle any Vancouver led momentum, their superstar secondary picking off Tom Pepper three times. Eddie Gauge and Everett Garrison both used their experience to take the ball away, but young safety Vernard Smith also chipped in. Smith looks to be learning from his more travelled compatriots and it appears to be having a great effect. On the other side of the ball, Donnie Hands was the stand out, gaining over 100 receiving yards and a score. This was a mature victory for the Scorpions. They look all set to become the new champions of the West.

RANK: 7
TEAM: Vancouver Legion, 5-3MOVEMENT: ↓1

The Vancouver Legion drop below their Week 8 victors in the Power Rankings after they dropped to a 19-7 defeat, a performance that was uncharacteristically muted. The offense just couldn’t score when they needed to. Vancouver held Arizona to 19 points – on a usual week, this would give plenty of room for victory. Maybe it’s something to do with the West division, as two of the Legion’s three losses have come at the hands of West foes. Tom Pepper couldn’t get going, turning the ball over 4 times despite a TD pass to Chris Curtis. Robert Redford had one of those games where he is more of a hindrance than a help – something that seems to happen with Redford, an all or nothing type of player. The sole stand out play came from Ashley Rose Finch who bagged a couple of interceptions. The Legion are in a tussle for the Pacific division title with LA and now a surging Portland Fleet side. On this evidence, the Legion aren’t the favourites.

RANK: 8
TEAM: Charleston Predators, 5-3MOVEMENT: ↑3

Another game against a heavy underdog, another underwhelming performance and narrow victory for the Predators. Coming off getting dominated by 1-7 San Diego for the majority of their last game, it would be logical to think that Charleston would come out ready to destroy 1-7 Sioux Falls and answer any questions raised by their narrow win the week before. Not… even… close, if anything they just raised more questions. While they still managed to post the all-important W, they were remarkably close to being 4-4 or even 3-5 instead of 5-3. It leads to wondering, are they a true 5-3 team or are they a 3-5 team who has 2 fortunate comebacks in the 4th quarter against lesser opponents? These are not the questions a team wants around it heading into the final 4 weeks of the season.

In this game it was all about the defense and RB Keith Swearingen. Swearingen was the offense registering 33-119 and the game winning TD on the ground and 9-43 through the air. He was complemented by K Brad Brechett who kicked 3 FGs, all of which were needed in the end. Swearingen had to be the offense as QB TD Drew suffered through a subpar performance 23-33 184 0 TDs and 3 Ints. Luckily for Drew the Predator defense intercepted 4 Julian Tyree passes and crushed the Sioux Falls run game. Holding them to 21 carries for 31 yards. They say good teams find a way to win and Charleston did so credit to them. However they will need to be infinitely better as they head to Florida to take on the surging 6-2 Storm who have won 4 in a row and have the look of team ready for another title shot. The Predators last 4 games will determine their fate and answer the questions one way or the other. After Florida they are @ Queen City, home to Carolina and home to Jacksonville.

RANK: 9
TEAM: Los Angeles Lycans, 5-3 MOVEMENT: ↓2

The Los Angeles Lycans have been the most fascinating and intriguing team of Season 17. Starting the season with a 47 point loss to Baltimore. Rebounding to win their next 5 in a row during which they fired head coach James Richards after week 3. Their win streak was interesting as well, from blowing out a really good Vancouver 47-24 to grinding past a struggling Sioux Falls 9-7. Jeckyll and Hyde? Now they are on a 2 game losing streak. Yet when put all that together… you get the 5-3 Pacific Division leaders. Theirs is a season story that should be gripping to the end. Only in Hollywood folks, only in Hollywood.

With Vancouver losing to Arizona the Lycans had a chance to create separation between themselves, Vancouver and Portland with a victory at Lone Star. It was not to be however. Despite a standout performance from QB Sully Richardson 29-38 298 3 TDs and 0 Ints the Lycans fell 38-31. RB Robert Johnson just couldn’t get loose against the Glory D all day as he finished with 20 carries for only 56 yards and a TD. His difficulties against the Glory D are best illustrated by the fact that his longest run was 8 yards. Fortunately for the Lycans the passing game had no such issues. TE Jack Flash was dominant racking up 9-119 and 2 TDs. Passing catching FB Tommy Ramen added 6-41 and WR Davius Reid a chipped in 3-62 1 TD. The defense on the other hand had its struggles. They had no answer for the Lone Star Offense on the ground or in the air. The lack of answers in the air was surprising as LA is known for its ball hawking secondary. Yet they could manage only 1 interception in the game. The Lycans now enter the most critical stretch of their schedule where the Pacific Division will be decided. They host Portland next, followed by a visit from Louisiana and then they travel to Vancouver and San Diego the final 2 weeks. How will this epic story end? It should be thrilling to its conclusion.

RANK: 10
TEAM: Portland Fleet, 5-3MOVEMENT: ↓1

There are workhorses and then there is Ezekiel Love. The running back took the rock 40 times on the ground – steadily chipping away at the Dragon defense. Portland did what Portland does…lean on you in the running game and then use an all-around bruising effort on defense to contain you. That, my friends, is Portland Fleet football. Sprinkle in a handful of timely passes from rookie OJ Bruin and the Fleet was able to ground the Dragons, 26-13 this past weekend. Tied at 13 at halftime, the Fleet’s defensive armada kept D.C. scoreless in the second half. Portland’s defense yielded zero points and only 81 yards in the final half. For the game, the Dragons were held to 244 total yards – with only 12 on the ground. Twelve. That’s top-class stingy defense. Despite the rockstar performance on defense, it wasn’t until safety Bob Funk’s pick-six with under seven minutes to play ballooned the Portland lead to 23-13 and they never looked back. The win helped push the Fleet into a three-way tie in the Pacific Division with Los Angeles and Vancouver. They’ll rumble with the Lycans this weekend. Bring your workhorse, Portland. Chip away and you may move to 6-3.

RANK: 11
TEAM: Carolina Skyhawks, 4-4MOVEMENT: ↑4

In one of the most chaotic shootouts we’ve seen in the SFL all season, the Carolina Skyhawks outlasted their Houston-based opponents 42-51, condemning the Hyenas to a fifth straight defeat. It was all offense for the Skyhawks from minute one, Matt South’s offense showing consistent scoring all game. Carolina scored double-digit points in every quarter, outscoring their opponents in all but the 2nd, a nervous 15-minutes where they Skyhawks defence decided they wanted to go on strike. On paper the defensive stoutness of Carolina looked poor all game, but it wasn’t too bad for 45 minutes. Cain Vasquez managed to pick off Dave Burr a couple of times and John Nevels was flying all over the field from his LB position. Fortunately, Matt South was able to keep the Skyhawks a nose ahead despite the 2nd quarter collapse, playing one of the best games of his career in what is definitely his greatest season as an SFL QB. South passed for 4 touchdowns, including a couple of pearls to Heath McDaniel Jr and nearly hit the 400 yard mark on a 80% clip. Logan Jack also ran the ball more successfully than he has done for most of this season, sauntering over for a couple of scores of his own. It was clear that the Skyhawks coaching staff had figured out a way to dominate the Hyenas D and they used that to full effect. Week 9’s game against a porous London Knights defence will be another chance for South to show his skills.

RANK: 12
TEAM: Louisiana Revolution, 4-4MOVEMENT: ↑1

If last week’s victory at the London Knights was a hair-raiser, Week 8’s 7-23 defeat of the Denver Nightwings was anything but. The game never really looked in doubt for the Revolution, whose defence kept Denver from scoring during the first half. Evan Arthur was borderline abusive to his young opposing QB, picking off Eric Price a couple of times and making a nice amount of return yards, setting up his offense with good field position. Doug Day also chipped in with a pick, clearly playing for incentives (I’ve heard a signing bonus of twinkies was written into the contract). Louisiana’s own rookie QB Tommy Utah played fairly well without ever really needing to get out of third gear, although it was pleasing to see him throw a TD pass to Garrison Blue, Blue being part of the coaching staff at the Salt Lake City Rustlers, Utah’s SFLm team. Reggie Streeter, as usual, ran with purpose, nearly racking up 100 yards for what may be the umpteenth time in his career. Louisiana have won 4 out of their last 5, recouping nicely from a fairly dull start to the season. They are getting better at the right time. A slobber-knocker of a contest with Atlanta looms. This could be the making of this young team.

RANK: 13
TEAM: St. Louis Gladiators, 4-4MOVEMENT:↑5

This had to be a statement win for the Gladiators, showing that they are capable of more than the W/L record shows. It was. Shutouts don’t just happen: St. Louis just flat outplayed the Desperados this past week. This defense is stingy, allowing only 2540 total yards from their opponents so far, which is best in the league. They got everything they needed from the defense, and the offense followed suit. The running game provided 126 combined yards and a TD, to go along with the passing game’s 247 and a TD. The TD by the offense deserves a small shout out: Congratulations to TE Guy Clawson for his first career TD reception! What is next for the Gladiators? Can they push into the postseason? As was mentioned last week, it is a bit of an uphill battle. But, if this offense can get a little more production, and this defense can continue to stand up, there is a fighting chance. The Gladiators start the final third of the season when they travel to San Diego to take on the Mavericks this week.

RANK: 14
TEAM: Lone Star Glory, 4-4       MOVEMENT: ↑2

The Glory came into this game fresh off a potential season saving win over Fort Worth. That being said, this was still a must win game for the Glory and win they did 38-31. The win was doubly impressive given the opponent.  It was also hugely beneficial as it boosted the Glory into the final wildcard spot ahead of 2 other 4-4 teams and put them a game up on a pack of 3-5 teams still in the hunt. They have now won 3 of the last 4 and seem to potentially be hitting their stride at just the right time.

In the match up against LA it was RB Ike Mc Bride who led Lone Star to glory. She had a clutch performance with 30-138 and 2 TD line. With the LA secondary being what it is and danger lurking on every pass McBride powered the offense on the ground keeping the Lycans D off balance and helping to open the skies for the Glory passing game. QB Ace Fenech took advantage of Mc Bride’s ground threat to put together a solid day through the air. He finished 28-36 272 3 TDs and only 1 Int. His 2 primary targets were WRs Dave Axis and Greg Soto. Axis hauled in all 9 passes thrown to him and finished with 9-80 1 TD. Soto caught 7 for 107 and 2 TDs. The Lone Star defense did a magnificent job on LA RB Robert Johnson making him a non-factor by holding him to 20-56 and 1 TD. While they never found an answer for LA TE Jack Flash, they kept the rest of LA’s receivers on lockdown as FB Tommy Ramen was the only other Lycan player with more than 4 catches on the day. Up next a big matchup with the red hot Arizona Scorpions, winners of 3 in a row and comfortably in 1st place in the West Division. This game has major playoff implications for both teams as they are separated by 1 game and the winner will hold the head to head tie-breaker for the playoffs.

RANK: 15
TEAM: Las Vegas Fury, 3-5MOVEMENT: ↓5

When you allow 5 sacks and turn the ball over 3 times, any team would find it hard to recover. Then take into account that the opponent is the Atlanta Swarm and your day just got more difficult. The Fury lost 17-31, and now sit at 3-5. All is not lost, however. They can still take the division from the Scorpions and push into the postseason. They need a little bit of bad luck to befall Arizona, but being only 2 games back makes it feasible. Their final 4 opponents are Sioux Falls, Denver, Lone Star and Arizona: All winnable games; the final being the win that would propel them over the top, should the Scorpions lose just 1 of their 3 games prior. Mathematically, it works. I love a good comeback story! The Fury look to shrug off this loss and get back to winning as they host the Sioux Fall Sparrows this week.

RANK: 16
TEAM: London Knights, 3-5MOVEMENT: ↑1

Week 7 sees the Lone Star Glory move up in our Power Rankings after a crucial road victory over division rivals Fort Worth.  The 23-20 victory gives the Glory a 3-4 record to the 2-5 record that Fort Worth possess, a reverse story should the score line have been in the Toros favour. With Houston’s loss to Mexico City, the race for second place in the division is well and truly on. The contest proved to be a fortunate one for Lone Star, who survived largely due to two missed FGs by Fort Worth’s star kicker, Taco Sicario. This fortune aside, to go on the road and come away with victory is a tough task in the SFL, and to do it against one of the best defensive teams in the SFL – you have to give the Glory credit. Ace Fenech was his usual efficient self, throwing no picks and a couple of scores in a performance that championed short yardage over going deep. Fenech’s longest pass was 17 yards to Dave Axis, the receiver the recipient of the quarterback’s pair of touchdown passes. Ike McBride had a tough-running century of yards without ever crossing the goal line. One player who had a mightily impressive game was strong safety Nate Haul. Haul, in his first season in Texas, made 8 tackles, 3 of them for a loss, stifling the Fort Worth offense behind the line multiple times. This important victory leads the Glory into a tough game at home to LA. The Lycans are fighting for supremacy in the Pacific. The Glory fighting for relevance in the South. It could be a bloodbath.

RANK: 17
TEAM: Jacksonville Kings, 3-5MOVEMENT: ↓5

After a few weeks of success, the young Jacksonville Kings team were brought back down to earth with a deafening bump, losing 16-47 to a playoff hungry Mexico City Aztecs squad. The Kings were thoroughly outplayed and the game really showed the gulf between those at the top of the SFL and those struggling for a place in the playoff picture. I feel like we can’t be too harsh on the Kings though – they are a very young squad who had a complete overhaul last season, bringing in a QB who has also been out of the league for a season or three. Road games like the one in Mexico City will build character and won’t have been circled as a winnable game. Speaking of Marcus Dunhill, he didn’t play too badly, going 1:1 on touchdowns to interceptions and falling two yards shy of 400. I suppose those numbers are fairly pintless however if you don’t get the ball over the line for 6. The Kings young D had no real chance to compete. Mexico City’s running game is just too strong. One ray of light for Jacksonville is that they still have a slim chance of reaching the playoffs, although a perfect end to the season may be needed, especially in what is looking like a quality division.

RANK: 18

TEAM: Houston Hyenas, 3-5MOVEMENT: ↓4

The Houston Hyenas have been fairly prolific on offense this season, behind exceptional performances of Hall-of-Fame wide receiver, D.R Sim. Sim was up to his usual tricks again against the Carolina Skyhawks, however he was overshadowed by Kyle Finnamore, Warren Murray and the Skyhawks’ free-scoring offense of their own. Houston just couldn’t keep pace with Carolina’s ability to put up points consistently, needing a 28-point second quarter to ever keep things close. The free-scoring nature of the game was a surprise to many, as teams on a 4-game skid tend to play conservatively – not the Hyenas. Rookie QB Dave Burr once again made his case for season honors, dealing four touchdowns passes – one to Sim, one to Murray and a couple to young receiver Kyle Finnamore. Finnamore also had nearly 150 yards receiving on the day. Warren Murray also made waves on the ground, parting Carolina’s defence on more than one occasion for over 100 yards and a couple of scores. It was a grand shame that the defense couldn’t stop the Carolina juggernaut led by much-maligned QB, Matt South. Forty-two points on the road should guarantee a victory. Not this week for Houston, and their losing streak extends to an unflattering 5 games. The upcoming divisional battle with Fort Worth seems more poignant than ever.

RANK: 19
TEAM: Fort Worth Toros, 3-5MOVEMENT: ↑2

It has not been the season that almost everyone predicted for Fort Worth. As a matter of fact it has been the complete opposite. The Toros came into this matchup on a 2 game losing streak. Their playoffs hopes down to a sliver, their offense mired in a seemingly season long scoring slump and long off season of trying to figure out what went wrong staring them in the face. This was truly a do or die game in terms of their season. So for this game they DID. Yes it was against struggling San Diego so there is that BUT a turnaround has to start somewhere and maybe for the Toros this was it.

The Toros scored 44 points in this game. For perspective, they had 39 total points in their last 3 games combined. All facets of the team were in high gear. The passing game led by Cam Curtis 21-30 337 2 TDs and 0 interceptions. TE Robert Garrett Jr 5-88 and a rompin’, stompin 32 yard TD reception at the end of the first half that proved to be the end of the competitive phase of the game. WRs Stephen Hacker 5-95 1TD and Cade Stephens 3-86 and 2nd TE Lauren Percoco 4-45 all got their fill. Then there was the running game… 2 words: Beast Mode! Jason Williams went wild in this one. He chalked up 23 carries 159 yards and 3 TDs. He was unstoppable. (Unconfirmed reports say he even ran through the stadium wall on the way to the locker room after the game) For perspective he had 3 TDs by himself, San Diego had 2 as team. The Defense rose up as well intercepting 3 passes and stopping San Diego when it mattered. It was a complete and dominating performance for the entire Toros team. Whether or not this was a turnaround game will be quickly shown as the Toros travel to Houston in a must win game for both teams. After that they host Mexico City, @ Denver and @ Lone Star in a game that could decide a playoff berth.

RANK: 20
TEAM: Denver Nightwings, 2-6MOVEMENT: -0

The Denver Nightwings are on their most barren run of form since a rare losing season a couple of years ago. A 3-game losing streak became 4 after a dour performance in Louisiana, the Nightwings succumbing to a 7-23 loss and a 2-6 record. The playoffs look all but out of reach, a fate which some predicted after the retirements of so many star players. When you have to build a new skeleton from scratch, growing pains are a certainty. Against the Revolution, rookie QB Eric Price struggled, throwing three interceptions without troubling the scoreboard through the air. Denver’s solitary score came on the ground, Baylee O’Shaughnessy capping off a decent performance in which he was used extensively in the short passing game. There isn’t too much to say about this showing that the Nightwings themselves don’t already know. The youngsters are showing flashes (Isiah King had a nice interception) but they look at least a season away from having a real impact. Week 9 brings Mexico City Aztecs – not the easiest team to go up against when your playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.

RANK: 21
TEAM: DC Dragons, 2-6MOVEMENT: ↓2

The effort is more than there. The game plan routinely looks solid. But once again, the Dragons are on the wrong side of the scoreboard – dropping a 26-13 decision on the road to Portland. The offense was stymied in the second half – only putting 81 total yards up in the back half of a tight contest. Running back Kevin Seay was held to a paltry 12 yards rushing for the entire game. That put pressure on the passing game. A costly pick-six hurt D.C’s chances for a fourth quarter comeback. There were certainly bright spots. Second-year wideout Josh Gill continued to impress by racking up 140 yards on eight catches and a touchdown. Defensively, Riley Kuse (16 tackles) and Kanye Rockafella (six tackles, two interceptions) paved the way to help keep the Dragons close for the entire game. Gone is the buzzy 2-1 start to the season for these Dragons. Time, however, is not entirely gone on their season’s hopes. They’ll host Queen City this weekend in their first of two matchups late in the season to give them a prayer of a chance to extend their Season 17 beyond the final four games.

RANK: 22
TEAM: Tulsa Desperados, 2-6MOVEMENT: -0

Oof.

What else can you say about being shutout? This season just hasn’t gone their way. Now at 2-6, the Desperados find themselves where I’m sure they did not imagine when the season began. Their opponent, the Gladiators owned time of possession by almost an entire quarter’s worth, and had 2.5 times the amount of 1st downs in this one. The Desperados would just like to put this game behind them, and surely they will. But the rest of their season is wrought with difficult opponents: Vancouver in Week 9, Atlanta in Week 10, a reprieve against San Diego in 11, but then they finish up in Louisiana. 3 of the 4 games are tough wins for any team this year. Perhaps the Tulsa Desperados can redeem themselves in the end. If they do, they sure will have earned it. Tulsa hosts the Vancouver Legion this week.

RANK: 23
TEAM: San Diego Mavericks, 1-7MOVEMENT: -0

There was no reasoning away what happened to San Diego against Fort Worth. They got blown out plain and simple. Too many short field goals in the red zone in the first half, minus 2 turnover ratio on the game (FTW had 1 fumble) and the inability to even slow down the Toro offense after the 1st quarter. The Toros had 3 in 1st and 41 over the remaining 3 quarters. Since their 1st victory 3 weeks ago the Mavericks have been either really good (Charleston), or really bad (Van, FTW). They appear to be trending in the wrong direction. Prior to their win the only game they were out of before the 4th quarter was against Portland in week 3. Since their first win they have been out of the game after 3 quarters in 2 of the 3 games. The Mavericks have had to walk a fine line as their offense struggles to reach above 20 points in most games while their defense struggles to hold opponents under 20 and when both those things occur at the same time games like Fort Worth 44-23 are the result.

This game started off well enough for San Diego as they took a 3-0 lead and were tied at 3 after the 1st. The 2nd quarter the cracks began to show as the Mavericks had to kick 2 FGs on their scoring drives while Fort Worth punched in 2 TDs and a FG. The deathblow came at the end of the 2nd quarter, trailing 13-9, the Mavericks turned the ball over at their own 47 with under a minute to play. 2 pass plays later it was 20-9 and the competitive phase of the game was effectively ended. To their credit the Mavericks never quit and did score two 2nd half TDs.  Hosting St. Louis in a rematch of week 4 is up next. Oddly enough even though they have long been out of the race in the Pacific Division, San Diego may hold the key to the division as they travel to Portland in week 10 for a rematch of their week 3 game, and host LA in week 12 to close their season. Their other game is a matchup with another struggling team when 2-6 Tulsa comes to town in week 11. It will be interesting to see how these final 4 games play out.

RANK: 24
TEAM: Sioux Falls Sparrows, 1-7MOVEMENT: -0

It’s hard to know exactly what to say about the Sioux Falls Sparrows. They have gone from Championship Finalist 2 seasons in a row, just 2 seasons ago, to now battling San Diego for the #1 pick in the season 18 draft. The rich irony there is that their only win this season was against San Diego which gives the Mavericks the inside track on that pick should the teams finish tied and the bottom of the standings. That being said the Sparrows are better than their record. They have 4 losses by 7 points or less and 3 of the 4 are by 5 points or less. A well timed break in any or all of those games and Sioux Falls could be as high as 5-3 and in the thick of the playoff hunt.

In this game it was all about the defense. It had to be as the offense was basically non-existent. QB Julian Tyree threw 4 Ints and the running game generated just 31 yards on 21 carries. The Sparrow defense on the other hand played like a playoff team. Outside of RB Keith Swearingen they locked down the Charleston offense. They intercepted 3 passes and kept the Sparrows in the game until the bitter the end. The D powered the Sparrows to a 10-9 lead late in the 4th quarter but after bruising battling with Keith Swearingen all day and being on the field for almost 27 of the 44 minutes of game time they finally cracked with under a minute to play giving up the game winning TD to… Keith Swearingen. It was another close loss for the Sparrows but it demonstrated again that they may only be a few breaks and an improved offense away from being a contender again. They head to Sin City for their next game against the Fury. It won’t be easy as 3-5 Vegas will be looking to restart their furious push to the playoffs after a rough 38-17 loss to Atlanta that halted their 2 game win streak.