Orlando Suffers First Loss In AAF

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Hotshots Bring Down Apollos in Week 6

Through five weeks into the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football (AAF), it looked like Steve Spurrier’s Orlando Apollos were unbeatable.  In week 6 they were beaten.  Here’s a recap of the games from Week 6:

Arizona Hotshots 22, Orlando Apollos 17

The Hotshots reminded the Apollos that no one was perfect as they held the Apollos to a season-low 17 points as the offense never really got on track.   The Hotshots were the ones calling the shots on offense, especially on the ground.  Tim Cook had 11 carries for 71 yards, Jhurell Pressley ran for 57 yards and Justin Stockton added 37 yards which wore down the Apollos’ defensive line while controlling the line-of-scrimmage.  Arizona was 2-of-2 in the red zone.  The win snaps the Hotshots’ three game losing streak.

Next:  Orlando plays at Atlanta, Arizona hosts San Diego.

Salt Lake 22, Memphis 9

Salt Lake started out strong offensively in the opening quarter jumping to an early 16-0 lead at the hands of QB Josh Woodrum completing an 11-yard touchdown pass to TE Nick Truesdell on the game’s opening drive. Continuing with the league’s highest 2-point conversion rate, Woodrum capitalized the drive when hitting WR Jordan Leslie for the two-point conversion.  Salt Lake continued with their first quarter flurry by capping off a 44-yard scoring drive with a 14-yard touchdown from Woodrum to TE Anthony Denham. RB Terrell Newby caught a pass from Woodrum to convert their second consecutive two-point conversion to take a 16-0. Following a key defensive stop following on a surprise Memphis fake-punt, K Taylor Bertolet kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Stallions up 19-0.

Next:  Salt Lake travels to San Antonio, Memphis hosts Birmingham

San Antonio 37, Atlanta 6

The San Antonio Commanders scored early and never trailed as they defeated the Atlanta Legends 37-6 in front of 10,619 at Georgia State Stadium. The Commanders (4-2) set a season-high in points by scoring 37, and the defense matched its best performance of the year by holding the Legends (2-4) to just six points.  The San Antonio defense led the way by forcing four turnovers, marking the third straight week with three or more turnovers. De’Vante Bausby, Zack Sanchez and Derron Smith all tallied an interception and Duke Thomas recovered a fumble in the victory. Offensively, Logan Woodside completed 17 of his 23 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns – one to Mekale McKay and another to Evan Rodriguez.

Next:  San Antonio will host Salt Lake, Atlanta is at home against Orlando

Birmingham 32, San Diego 29

Quarterback Luis Perez came off the bench for injured starter Keith Price and threw three touchdowns, and he led a final drive that ended with Nick Novak’s 43-yard game-winning field goal as time expired to lift the Birmingham Iron to a victory over the San Diego Fleet at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. The win ends Birmingham’s two-game losing streak.

Next:  Birmingham plays at Memphis, San Diego is at Arizona.

AFF News and Notes:

  • Johnny Manziel has joined the Memphis Express.   There has been no indication on when Manziel might see his first action in the AAF.
  • The Birmingham Iron’s front office has undergone a midseason shake-up.  Iron President Tom Ward and Vice President for Marketing Randy Campbell are no longer with the team. It’s unclear if they were fired or left the organization voluntarily.
  • Offensive player of the week: Birmingham WR L’Damian Washington. Washington had four receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns in The Iron’s 32-29 week six win. The performance marks team single-game records in receiving yards and touchdown catches, while Washington became the first player in Alliance history with at least 125 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions in the same game.
  • Defensive player of the week: Salt Lake DE Karter Schult. Schult tallied five total tackles, two sacks and four QB hits in The Stallions’ 22-9 victory last week. Schult, who leads The Alliance with seven sacks this season, anchored a Salt Lake defense that held Memphis to nine points and 239 total yards while racking up seven team sacks in the win.
  • Special teams player of the week: San Antonio PR Greg Ward, Jr. Ward, Jr., a highly-accomplished quarterback at the University of Houston before transitioning to wide receiver/returner after college, set an Alliance record with a 79-yard punt return-touchdown in The Commanders’ 37-6 win in week six.

AAF Standings:

Eastern Conference

  • Orlando Apollos (5-1)
  • Birmingham Iron (4-2)
  • Atlanta Legends (2-4)
  • Memphis Express (1-5)

Western Conference

  • San Antonio Commanders (4-2)
  • San Diego Fleet (3-3)
  • Arizona Hotshots (3-3)
  • Salt Lake Stallions (2-4)

 

 

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Minnesota Whitecaps Win Isobel Cup With Thrilling Finish

isobelMinnesota’s Lee Stecklein scored 49 seconds into overtime to give the Whitecaps a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Beauts in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) championship final.  The Isobel Cup win comes in Minnesota’s first season in the NWHL.

The game was a defensive battle with both teams scoring goals in the first period.  The Beauts got the first one on a power play goal by Emily Pfalzer.  Minnesota tied it up just 1:22 later when Amy Menke scored on a breakaway.  The goaltenders shut down opposing offenses the rest of regulation.  Amanda Leveille made 22 saves for the Whitecaps while Nicole Hensley made 28 saves playing for the injured Shannon Szabados.  This was the first time since the NWHL switched to a single-elimination playoff system that the final has gone into overtime to be decided.

The Isobel Cup Final was played at TRIA Rink in Minnesota which was the tenth consecutive sellout for the Whitecaps.

Minnesota finished first in the regular season with a 12-4-0 record then defeated the Metropolitan Riveters 5-1 in the semifinals.  Buffalo finished the NWHL season in second place with an 11-4-1 record and shut out the Boston Pride 4-0 in the semifinals.   This was Buffalo’s fourth straight appearance in the final.  They won the cup in 2017.

The Isobel Cup is the championship trophy awarded to the NWHL champions.  It is named after Lady Isobel Gathorne-Hardy who was one of the first known women to play the game and daughter of Lord Stanley.  The National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley.

Pride: Kryptonite To Answered Prayer

obstacleIf you have ever prayed for someone you can understand how difficult it can be to get that prayer answered.  It is especially difficult if you have strife with someone.  There is no prayer you can pray that will impose your will on someone else.  I have had to do this many times and I can tell you from experience that praying for people is the most difficult thing a believer can do.  It will seriously wear down your faith.

The problem is pride.

There is no doubt that God can answer prayer but He will not force anyone to do anything.   People have free will to make their own decisions.  Although God won’t make someone respond to your prayer He can make someone wish they had.

If there is one thing I can tell you from experience – don’t give up.   I know it becomes repetitive and you can go days, months or years without seeing any progress whatsoever but eventually something can happen.

Most recently for me I reconciled with my dad shortly before his death.  Before that last month of his life, we had gone almost eight years without speaking.  When my mother passed away, I thought he had shut the door on us forever.   But…..I kept praying for him and me.  I had to pray for myself just as much as I did for him.  If I wanted God to answer my prayer and reconcile me and my dad I had to be ready for it.  My heart and mind had to be prepared to forgive and let things go.  That’s hard.  I won’t lie.  I had a hard time with that.  I had this ritual every morning on my first walk to my work location that I prayed for him and me.  Some days is was the same worn out prayer every day and some days I was quite angry about the situation.  I didn’t understand it and  I vented to God about it.

Let me tell you that my dad was a stubborn man and set in his ways.  I prayed that God would soften his heart towards me.  There are some days I was just ready to write him off.  “I’m done!” I would say.   Praying for someone isn’t always so glamorous.  It’s hard work.

Still I managed to pray through the situation where it looked like nothing was happening.   I prayed through my own anger and frustration.  I can even remember times I would have a profanity-filled tantrum about it.  God understood.

I wrote letters and sent cards which were never answered.   Still I kept praying.  I would get aggravated with myself because it was the same prayer and I was bored with it but God knew my heart in the matter.

Shortly before my wife and I went on a trip, I felt like writing him again.  I wrestled with doing so but the thought that kept going through my mind repeatedly was this:  “It is never wrong to do the right thing” so I wrote him a letter and put it in the mail.  When I picked up our mail upon our return, I received a handwritten letter from him.  He apologized for everything and wanted to see me.  As I stood there reading that letter I could hardly believe what I was reading.  After all of the time that had passed, my prayer was finally being answered.  It was a weird feeling.  I can’t say that I was overjoyed but it took a while to sink in.  Then I wondered:  Was I ready for this?  I struggled with this thought.  Could I possibly let everything go and press on?

When I called him for the first time, he gave me details about his medical problems which were very serious.  He told me that he had bladder cancer and was scheduled to have his bladder removed the week of Thanksgiving and wanted me to be there.  He was also having issues with something called Pulmonary Fibrosis.  He had just finished his last chemo treatments for the bladder cancer and little did we know at the time that these treatments had made his Pulmonary Fibrosis worse.  When my cousin called to inform me that he had been admitted to ICU in Gainesville, Florida weeks before his bladder removal, I decided to go down and be with him.  He passed away a week later due to complications from the Pulmonary Fibrosis.  In that time we had together, were able to talk and we made most things right.  Some things we couldn’t but I will always be grateful for the time we had.

If you saw the movie “I Can Only Imagine”, I felt like I lived that movie with my own father.  It was tough.

Yes, God answered my prayers but you never know how that answer will come or how it will be.  Being an impatient person, it is agonizing for me to sustain prayer for something or someone for this long.  I tell you that you get weary with it.  Fed up with it.  You want to give up.  But God understands more than you think He does and He sustains you even when the prayer gets stale and boring.  I can tell you that some days I just honestly ran out of words to pray about it.

I have now heard people tell me about how Dad was wearing down and being drawn toward reconciling with me.  Pride was the barrier that kept it from happening sooner than it did.  It’s hard to pray against someone’s pride and resistance.  I did that and I was blessed that God finally broke through to my dad’s heart to let me back in.

So how did I do it?  I didn’t do it by prayer alone.  I also had a wife that encouraged me and reminded me that I had done everything I could do.  She had to remind me to not blame myself.

If you think I’m some kind of super intercessory prayer warrior like that Miss Clara in “The War Room” you would be seriously mistaken.  I was nowhere close to being like that.  The only thing I can tell you is that I never gave up.  I may not have had papers pinned up in a prayer closet somewhere but I always had the prayer for him.   I also had several songs which encouraged me as well.  I salute the song writers out there who put words to these songs that encourage us.  Many of them are still on my playlist.  Here are those songs:

  • Gather At The River by Point of Grace
  • God Is In Control by Twila Paris
  • It’s Not Over (When God Is In It) by Israel Houghton & New Breed
  • Jesus Is by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
  • Made Me Glad by Hillsong
  • Never Been A Moment by Micha Tyler
  • Overcomer by Mandisa
  • Warrior by Steven Curtis Chapman

Although I wish the prayers had broken through his pride sooner so we could have had more time, I am still very thankful that I had that last week with my dad.  It wasn’t a Hollywood ending but it was good way to end when he said his last words:  “Beam me up Scotty”.   I think he was finally ready.

So, yes, praying through someone’s pride is difficult but not impossible.  Galatians 6:9 tells us “Let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.”

Don’t give up.  Keep praying.

Exciting Finishes In Week 5

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Fleet hang on to beat Stallions

If you need some exciting finishes to football games, the Alliance of American Football (AAF) featured three of four games where the outcome was in doubt until the end.  The surprising result was that the much-anticipated match up between Orlando and Birmingham wasn’t one of them.

Atlanta Legends 23, Memphis Express 20

Legends’ kicker Younghoe Koo booted three field goals, including a 38-yard game-winner, to give Atlanta a 23-20 win over the Memphis Express. Koo remains perfect on the season and improves Atlanta’s record to 2-3.  Legends’ quarterback Aaron Murray passed for over 300 yards and a touchdown. Running back Tarean Folston rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown. Seantavius Jones led the team in receiving with five receptions for 89 yards.

San Antonio Commanders 29, Arizona Hotshots 25

This was two different games as the Commanders jumped out to a 26-0 lead. Arizona’s Rashad Ross drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on a pass that had been intercepted, just one play after a holding penalty on the Commanders negated a San Antonio interception. The Hotshots rallied to come within one possession of the Commanders.  However, on the fourth-and-12 “onside conversion” that the AAF uses, the Hotshots were unable to get a throw off. San Antonio moved into a tie atop the West with the San Diego Fleet.

San Diego Fleet 27, Salt Lake Stallions 25

Kameron Kelly had a career night for the Fleet with three interceptions in a 27-25 win over the Salt Lake Stallions. Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum led the Stallions with a 76 -yard drive in the closing minutes of the game to go up 25-24 with less than a minute to play. San Diego quarterback Mike Bercovici answered with a 45-yard pass to Dontez Ford which set up Donny Hageman for the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Orlando Apollos 31, Birmingham Iron 14

This was supposed to be a matchup of two unbeaten teams in the AAF but after Birmingham’s loss last week, it turned out to be less than expected as the Orlando Apollo’s rolled to a convincing win in Birmingham.  The Apollos are averaging an AAF-best 29.8 points per game at the halfway point of the season. They jumped out to a 17-0 lead as quarterback Garrett Gilbert completed 23 of 35 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns against against the league’s top scoring defense. Charles Johnson caught six passes for 83 yards for Orlando, while De’Veon Smith had 119 yards on 14 carries.

AAF NEWS AND NOTES:

  • San Diego Cornerback Kameron Kelly is the defensive player of the week with three interceptions for the Fleet in their win over the Salt Lake Stallions
  • San Antonio Commanders’ quarterback Logan Woodside is the offensive player of the week as he completed 21-of-27 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns against Arizona.
  • Rumors have been swirling that troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel might join the San Antonio Commanders but do the Commanders really need him?
  • AAF football app is now available on Apple TV
  • Starter has returned to football as the official supplier for the AAF.
  • If you don’t have time to watch an entire AAF game, watch the highlights on YouTube.  Type “AAF Highlights” in the search and click on Highlight Heaven for each game.  They are pretty good quality highlights.

Current AAF Standings:

  • Eastern Division
    • Orlando Apollos (5-0)
    • Birmingham Iron (3-2)
    • Atlanta Legends (2-3)
    • Memphis Express (1-4)
  • Western Division
    • San Antonio Commanders (3-2)
    • San Diego Fleet (3-2)
    • Arizona Hotshots (2-3)
    • Salt Lake Stallions (1-4)

Week 6 Schedule:

  • Memphis at Salt Lake
  • Arizona at Orlando
  • San Antonio at Atlanta
  • Birmingham at San Diego

 

Trusting in God’s Timing

This weekend as most of us set our clocks forward to Daylight Saving Time, I was thinking about God’s timing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same with His timing?

I will admit that I am not good at waiting. When I want to go from point A to point B, I want to do it now. Why waste time right? I knew a preacher who would always say that God won’t always give you a ticket until you get ready to get on the train. I didn’t like that saying. I didn’t like it because I worry about things I couldn’t control.

trainIf there’s one thing I have learned about God’s timing is that if you wait on Him, He will work it out. Most of the time you won’t understand it until after you have been through something and then looked back on it.

If there’s one thing I have learned is that God is in control. I will tell you that it doesn’t always seem that way and I can’t always understand it but somehow He works it out. He even works it out when we have messed it up – and believe me – I have messed things up on my own before because of my impatience with timing. Sometimes it will still work out but may take longer or be delayed because I wasn’t able to keep my own manipulating out of the way.

One of the Bible verses people like to use is Jeremiah 29:11 which tells us that God has a plan for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope for a future.”

This tells us that God really has plans for our lives that are good, not to harm us. Too many times we look at the situation and think that God is being unfair or isn’t going to give us what we desire. Sometimes what we desire doesn’t line up for what God really has plans for us. I know many times I have looked at situations and wanted to give God suggestions or take things into my own hands to make things happen. I have learned in these times that if I leave it alone and hang in there that God will work it out. It is funny that the way God usually works it out is totally not in the way I had envisioned it.

There are many reasons that God’s timing isn’t like our timing.

Sometimes He has to work through other people to get us to where we need to be.  It has to be pretty complicated to do that when He’s working people who have free will and can make decisions that aren’t in God’s plan.  He’s not going to force someone to do something against their own free will so He has to work with that.  This may either delay us or actually work in our favor.  The one huge advantage that God has over us is the He can see the big picture.  We only see what is ahead of us.  We only see the obstacle.

I’m sure we all get frustrated with what we see that is blocking us from getting to where we want to be.  Maybe it’s a job opportunity or financial situation that we are waiting on.  There have been times I have been stressed about a job opportunity but when it didn’t work out like I had wanted it to, I have seen later why it didn’t work out and it actually was better that I didn’t get the opportunity that I was stressing over.  I was stressing about it, God was not.

It’s a constant learning opportunity for many of us when it comes to God’s timing.  When I face new situations where I am waiting for God’s timing, I force myself to think back to my past experiences and how God worked out those situations.  I remind myself that God’s timing worked it out for the best for me then and He’s going to do the same for me now.

It’s hard to not get stressed when you hear that train coming but God will either give you a ticket to get on that train but if He doesn’t He may be making us wait to get on another one for something better.

 

May I Ask A Quick Question?

I have been both an instructor and student in many classes in my job over the years. Most of my training has involved some type of software class which almost turns my brain to mush by the end of the class. Unfortunately, I am not one who catches on as quickly as some folks do but it eventually connects. I process things in my own way and my own speed.

In my experience and hundreds of hours in a classroom I can tell you that although each class is different and students change there are always the same types of personalities in each class. Here are some of the common ones:

The Smartest Person in the Room

First, there is the person who wants to be the smartest person in the room. When they ask questions, they aren’t asking because they don’t know the answer, they are asking so they can demonstrate how smart they are. I even heard this type of student actually ask “may I ask a self-serving question?” That’s a pretty good indicator on who this type is in the class. There’s a saying that goes “it’s not bragging if nobody cares”. Same thought goes for that person or persons who want to be the smartest person in the room.

The Frequent Question Asker

Then you have the person that starts their question with: “Can I ask a quick question?” This student is usually going to be the frequent question asker and rarely will it ever be a “quick” question and most likely be the same person who asks questions to challenge the instructor. They will ask questions or make comments to challenge the instructor’s knowledge of the subject matter they are teaching.

The Dumb Questioner

This thing they say sometimes about there is never a dumb question…yes there is and there will be some. They are often the ones who get totally off the subject.

The Smart Ass/Class Clown

In every class there will be the smartass or class clown whose intent is to make everything a joke. Yes, this still happens even with adults. I wonder if these types are trying to relive their high school days.

So where do I fit in the classroom? I can tell you that I am not one to ask questions unless it really presses on me to do so. Usually one of the other personalities will ask the question that’s on my mind anyway so I will just hold my tongue to see if that happens (and it usually does).

When I was an instructor, these classes wore me down both physically and emotionally. In one class, I had a student sitting in the front row that really made my job difficult. He tried to tell me how to teach the class and was pretty much a combination of all of the personalities I have listed. This student totally distracted me and when I reported him to the people in charge of the course, they wouldn’t do anything or say anything to the student because “that’s the way he is”. I never liked that excuse. Shortly afterwards, I stopped volunteering to be an instructor completely. I didn’t get anymore pay for doing it and I certainly didn’t need the added to my stress.

One thing that often annoys me is when students are late for the class and the instructor waits for them before starting. We are grown ups and should be responsible enough to be on time. One or two people shouldn’t make everyone else wait. Maybe that’s my military background but I don’t think you should enable bad behavior of a few to punish those who obey the rules.

I’m in another class this week and I see the same behaviors and personality types. People are funny. I’m sure I have my own eccentric ways. I guess I’m the quiet one who rarely asks questions which probably makes the instructor wonder if I’m getting it or if I’m spending the time daydreaming. Right now I’m looking at the lunch menu and thinking about my options.

In reality, I try to look at these other personalities from another view. There may some deep rooted insecurities or lack of confidence. Actually some people who feel inferior try to project an image as some defense mechanism. I suppose this is a reason for their behavior but I don’t think it should excuse their behavior – especially if they are being condescending to others. That’s never okay as far as I am concerned. We should respect everyone’s opportunity to learn without the silly dramatics.

No self-serving questions allowed.

Unlucky 11 For AAF Teams in Week 4

Former UGA QB Aaron Murray Leads Legends To First Win

The San Antonio Commanders spoiled a potential showdown of unbeatens as they edged the Birmingham Iron 12-11 to leave the Orlando Apollos as the Alliance of American Football (AAF) only remained undefeated team.  Week 4 was an unlucky week to score 11 points as three teams scored 11 points and lost their games this week.

Orlando Apollos 20, Salt Lake Stallions 11

The Stallions and Apollos played in the snow in this one. The Stallions did their best to knock off the unbeaten Apollos but Orlando got it done with quarterback Garrett Gilbert passing for 244 yards. with a 20-yard touchdown to receiver Donteea Dye Jr.  Receiver Charles Johnson also had a big day, hauling in nine catches for 105 yards and Apollos running back Akeem Hunt had a touchdown on the ground.

San Antonio Commanders 12, Birmingham Iron 11

Trey Williams scored a touchdown from 12 yards out in the third quarter and the San Antonio Commanders’ defense held strong to beat the Iron. Commanders running back Kenneth Farrow ran for 142 yards on 30 carries, while quarterback Logan Woodside completed 11 of 25 attempts for 106 yards. Birmingham outgained San Antonio 283-256 but scored just one touchdown on a 1-yard rush from Trent Richardson with less than two minutes to play. The Commanders’ Orion Stewart intercepted the Iron’s ensuing onside conversion attempt.

Memphis Express 26, San Diego Fleet 23

The Express finally got their first victory as they rallied against the Fleet. Memphis quarterback Zach Mettenberger led two impressive drives in the game. Mettenberger finished the game completing 18-of-25 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown while he also ran in another score on the ground. Reece Horn was again his go-to receiver, hauling in all four of his targeted passes for 63 yards.

Atlanta Legends 14, Arizona Hotshots 11

The Legends outlasted the Hotshots and despite a late touchdown to Rashad Ross and 2-point conversion attempt tied the game at 11 with 5:20 left, the Legends marched down the field for a Younghoe Koo game-winner with 1:03 left on the clock. They held Hotshots QB John Wolford to little success on their comeback attempt late in the game for the first win in franchise history. Former University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray replaced starter Matt Simms and. finished the game completing 20-of-33 passes for 254 yards while also leading the team with 54 rushing yards on just seven attempts.

News and Notes:

  • Atlanta scored the first safety in AAF history in their game against the Hotshots.
  • Orlando has the most explosive offense averaging 385 yards and 29.5 points per game.
  • Orlando quarterback Garrett Gilbert is the only quarterback with more than 1,000 yards passing.
  • Memphis Express linebacker Drew Jackson had 13 tackles and an interception for his team’s first win of the season.
  • Nasty weather gave the AFF a blow in attendance as Birmingham and Salt Lake dropped.

Current AAF Standings:

Eastern Division

  • Orlando Apollos (4-0)
  • Birmingham Iron (3-1)
  • Atlanta Legends (1-3)
  • Memphis Express (1-3)

Western Division

  • Arizona Hotshots (2-2)
  • San Antonio Commanders (2-2)
  • San Diego Fleet (2-2)
  • Salt Lake City Stallions (1-3)

Week 5 Schedule:

  • Orlando at Birmingham
  • Salt Lake at San Diego
  • Memphis at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Arizona