Football Friday (7/19/19)

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Sioux Falls Storm defeats Arizona Rattlers to win United Bowl title

Let’s take a look at what’s going on with American Football being played around the world and the latest news:

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

American Arena League, CEO, Tony Zefiretto released the 2019 American Arena League All Star Team. “The unbalanced schedule presented some uniqueness to the process of owners and coaches nominating the players. We have representation from eight different teams. Although we do not anticipate an All Star game this season, these players deserve to be recognized for their outstanding seasons.”

  • Coach of the Year Ervin Bryson Carolina Energy Mook Zimmerman West Virginia Roughriders
  • Dance Team of the Year First Class Dance Team Jersey Flight Sparks West Michigan Ironmen
  • Mascot of the Year Fe West Michigan Ironmen Richie the Rider West Virginia Roughriders
  • Kicker Jed Solomon Georgia Doom
  • Kick Returner Noel Devine West Virginia Roughriders
  • Offensive Player of the Year Larry Beavers West Virginia Roughriders
  • Quarterback Jarrett Brown West Virginia Roughriders
  • Running Back Dakota Smith West Michigan Ironmen
  • Wide Receiver Larry Beavers Jr. West Virginia Roughriders Gerron “Scooby” Bryant Carolina Energy Carrington Thompson West Michigan Ironmen Antwoine Thorpe Cape Fear Heroes
  • Offensive Line Steven Fluker Cape Fear Heroes Leon Hill Carolina Energy Zach Hooks Carolina Havoc Jesse Somsel West Michigan Ironmen
  • Defensive Player of the Year
  • Ellis Lankster West Virginia Roughriders Fred Williams Carolina Energy
  • Linebacker Cornelius Edmonds Indianapolis Enforcers Brian Price West Virginia Roughriders Fred Williams Carolina Energy
  • Defensive Back Ellis Lankster West Virginia Roughriders Sayyid Muhammad Carolina Energy Kevin Scott Jersey Flight Carlos Thomas Carolina Energy
  • Defensive Line Ryan Armstrong West Michigan Ironmen Harold Love West Virginia Roughriders Josh Smith Carolina Havoc Dequan Harvin Carolina Energy

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Washington Valor (6-5) defeated the Baltimore Brigade (6-5), 47-40, Saturday night at Royal Farms Arena. Valor quarterback Arvell Nelson threw for 271 yards and totaled seven touchdowns (five passing, two rushing) and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. With the win, Washington clinches a postseason berth for the second consecutive season. After closing out the regular season next weekend against Columbus, the Valor will begin postseason play on the weekend of July 26. The 2019 postseason will kick off with a pair of home-and-home series between the top four teams in the league (#1 vs. #4 and #2 vs. #3) with games played on the weekends of July 26 and August 2. Teams will advance to ArenaBowl XXXII based on the aggregate score of the two games played. Unlike the first round of the playoffs, ArenaBowl XXXII will be a traditional single-game matchup on Sunday, August 11 at 3 p.m. ArenaBowl XXXII will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL

The Duke City Gladiators are once again CIF Champions after they beat the Salina Liberty on Saturday night 35-29. The Gladiators are now two-time winners out of just five CIF Champions Bowl games.

“Amazing, we got the toughest young men in the country and I am not saying that because of an emotional win. I am saying that because man, did you see this game, it was all about guts”, said Gladiators Head Coach Dominic Bramante.

The Gladiators and Liberty were tied at 29 with under 30 seconds left in regulation, but 1st year DC running back Romello Brown would punch in the game-winning touchdown from two yards out.

“Right before the play, the running back in front of me, Justin Kelly, he told me to make a nice cutout. The lineman blocked well for me, and I put God first, and it happened man. I am very blessed”, said Romello Brown.

It was a big celebration after this win and Mayor Tim Keller was there to celebrate with the team after their 2nd consecutive CIF Championship victory.

GRIDIRON DEVELOPMENT FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Middle Tennessee Bulldawgs (8-0) win their second-straight divisional crown as they head into the 2019 GDFL Playoffs they won a messy game against the River City Pythons (5-3) on Saturday, a game that was sealed up by Randall “BayBay”Smith two interceptions of Carl Davis.

The pick halted a late Pythons’ drive and ended the game at 24-0 for the Bulldawgs. The Pythons have struggled to score for the 2nd time this season against the Bulldawgs only managing six points out of two games and the Pythons offense hit rock bottom at home against the Bulldawgs, while Carl Davis was just 4 of 11 for 60 yards and threw 6 interceptions Ramon Stevens was the Pythons’ leading rusher he only manged 40 yards on the ground.

That’s saying a lot, especially considering The Bulldawgs forced a team high of 8 turnovers in one game which is a franchise record, both teams went into halftime tied 0-0 but the excitement about the game for the Pythons might have been dampened though, quite literally, by the fact that the second half of the game was played in an absolute downpour. Head Coach Derek Baker,said It was like a monsoon out there.

There was widespread flooding reported throughout the south as Hurricane Berry made land fall in Louisiana and the effects where felt as far away as Decatur,Alabama.

The game suffered a bit from the conditions, as sloppy passes, lost footing, and general sogginess slowed down play and hindered execution. In the end, the Bulldawgs got it done though, grabbing the Xtreme Division and handing the Pythons their third loss of the season and costing them the Impact South Division crown.

Middle Tennessee relied on their running game and defense to get them through the weather conditions, the Bulldawgs ran the ball by committee and ended up with 300 yards rushing and 3 rushing touchdowns with 5 different backs getting touches Keon Bohannon had 10 rushes for 55 yards and Tae Bradley had 15 for 65 yards add in Rahiim Muhammad the Black Rhino coming back off an injury since February,he had 9 rushes for 95 yards and a touchdown and lead all backs.

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Sioux Falls Storm claimed their 11th National Championship after defeating the Arizona Rattlers in the 2019 United Bowl 56-53.

The Storm would strike first after a seven-yard touchdown pass by Lorenzo Brown to Damian Ford to take an early 7-0 lead. The Rattlers responded by scoring back to back touchdowns to take a 7-14 lead; the first was a three-yard rushing touchdown by Jarrod Harrington and then a two-yard rushing touchdown by Jamal Miles. The quarter would end with a score of 14-14 after a 40-yard touchdown pass by Lorenzo Brown to Brandon Sheperd.

The second quarter was a back and forth battle where the Rattlers would take a 14-21 lead after a one-yard rushing touchdown by Drew Powell. The Storm tied it up after a 11-yard rushing touchdown by Brandon Sheperd. The Rattlers would take a 21-28 lead after a 29-yard touchdown pass by Drew Powell to Anthony Amos. The Storm tied the game after a six-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Brown. The Rattlers would end the half with a score of 28-31 after a 31-yard field goal by Jimmy Camacho.

The Rattlers would be the first to strike in the third quarter and take a 28-38 lead after a eight-yard touchdown pass by Drew Powell to Jamal Miles. The Storm would score back to back touchdowns to take a 42-38 lead; the first was a three-yard touchdown pass by Lorenzo Brown to Kent Shelby and then a two-yard rushing touchdown by Calen Campbell. The Rattlers would end the quarter with a score of 42-45 after a 58-yard kickoff return Jarrod Harrington.

The Storm opened the fourth quarter by scoring back to back touchdowns to take a 56-45 lead; the first touchdown was a 26-yard pass by Lorenzo Brown to Calen Campbell and then a nine-yard touchdown pass by Lorenzo Brown to Kent Shelby. The Rattlers would end the game with a 11-yard rushing touchdown by Drew Powell but failed the two point conversion, bringing the final score to 56-53.

Quarterback Lorenzo Brown completed 15 passes for 200 yards and five touchdowns, he also had 19 rushing yards and one touchdown. Running back Calen Campbell had 28 yards and one touchdown, he also had 28 receiving yards and one touchdown. Wide receivers Brandon Sheperd accumulated 115 receiving yards for one touchdown and 21 rushing yards and one touchdown, Damian Ford had 38 yards and one touchdown, Kent Shelby had 19 receiving yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 30 yards. Kicker Parker Douglass was perfect on the night after hitting all eight extra points. Linebacker T.J. Neal led the Thunder Defense with eight tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one pass break-up. Defensive backs Lorenzo White had one tackle for loss while Jermaine Robinson had one pass break-up. Defensive linemen Charles Williams had 1.5 tackles for loss and one fumble recovery while Claude Davis had .5 tackle for loss.

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

In three years there had only been one shutout in NAL history until two week ago when the Cobras travelled to Orlando and beat the Predators (2-10) 60-0, but home cooking is good the second time around as the Cobras outperformed the first matchup, this time winning 72-0 in Greensboro to run their record to 9-3 and with the Pirates losing the Cobras now will host a playoff game as they locked up the #2 Seed in the NAL Playoffs. Jordan Jolly also set a NEW NAL record for yardage on the year with 1,119 yards for the season, beating the old record of 1,085 set by Durron Neal of the Columbus Lions last season. Charles McCullum tied the NAL record with nine TD passes, and I believe the Cobras defense set an NAL record allowing only five first downs and 66 net yards passing.

Current standings:

  1. Jacksonville Sharks (11-1)
  2. Carolina Cobras (9-3)
  3. Massachusetts Pirates (7-5)
  4. Columbus Lions (4-8)
  5. New York Streets (3-9)
  6. Orlando Predators (2-10)

INTERNATIONAL NEWS:

AUSTRIA

The Dacia Vienna Vikings scored two second half touchdowns and solved a riddle in beating the Prague Black Panthers in the Austrian Football League semifinals to advance to Austrian Bowl XXXV.

The riddle was simple. How do you stop the Prague running attack in the second half while mounting your own running attack? The answer. Play harder and smarter. And they did just that.

Prague running back Herbert Gamboa had a field day in the first half against the Vikings, rushing for 143 yards and scoring two touchdowns while his quarterback Dylan Potts rushed for 47 and another score.

In the second half, Gamboa was held to seven yards, Potts eight. And zero touchdowns.  Read more…

CANADA

Current Standings:

  • Eastern Division
    • Hamilton Tigercats (4-1)
    • Montreal Alouettes (2-2)
    • Ottawa RedBlacks (2-2)
    • Toronto Argonauts (0-4)
  • Western Division
    • Winnipeg Bluebombers (4-0)
    • Edmonton Eskimos (3-1)
    • Calgary Stampeders (2-2)
    • Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-3)
    • British Columbia Lions (1-4)

Last Week’s Results:

  • Edmonton 33, British Columbia 6
  • Winnipeg 48, Toronto 21
  • Montreal 36, Ottawa 19
  • Hamilton 30, Calgary 23

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Toronto at Calgary
  • Ottawa at Winnipeg
  • Edmonton at Montreal
  • British Columbia at Saskatchewan

SWITZERLAND

The Calanda Broncos played extremely effective football this past weekend in shutting out the Geneva Seahawks 31-0 to win Swiss Bowl XXXIV, claiming their third straight title and 10th overall.

With a smothering defense that snagged two interceptions, forced a fumble and made three key fourth down stops, the Broncos stunned the visitors and the rest of the Swiss football community.

It wasn’t the win but the way they won that surprised everyone.

Geneva had beaten the defending champs once during the regular season and had looked solid all year. Experts were expecting an exciting, close-fought final.

On this day though, Calanda simply took it up a notch.  Read more…

TURKEY

The unbeaten and defending champion Koc Rams (7-0) will be looking to win their fourth straight Turkish title Sunday, July 14 when the take on the 6-2 METU Falcons in the Turkish Bowl.

The Rams downed the ITÜ Hornets 35-27 in the semifinals to advance to the title game while METU qualified by edging the Bogazici Sultans 28-26.

In the only meeting between the two teams this season, the Rams came out on top 33-23.

The Rams are making their sixth consecutive trip to the Turkish final while the Falcons are appearing for the second time in their history.  Read more…

(Thanks to oursportscentral.com and American Football International for their reports.)

Football Friday

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Milano (Italy) Runs Away to their third straight Italian Bowl title

Here’s a recap of this week’s report of American football from around the world:

AMERICAN 7s FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The A7FL, which is a 7-on-7 full-contact football league in which players do not wear hard pads or helmets, is in the playoff round of its 2019 season that featured a 16-team North East Division of teams located in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The A7FL is in its fifth season and eventually hopes to expand with various regional divisions across the United States. The 2019 regular season ran from early April to late June with each team playing seven or eight games.

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

The owner of the Wheeling-based West Virginia Roughriders stated there is no truth to rumors the team will fold, but it is uncertain whether the team will return to the AAL next season.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Balitmore Brigade (6-4) became the third team in the AFL to clinch a playoff berth and will be in the postseason for the third consecutive season.  The Brigade secured their position on Saturday, July 6 after the Atlantic City Blackjacks lost to the Philadelphia Soul.  Read more….

Current Standings:

  1. Albany Empire (8-2)
  2. Philadelphia Soul (7-4)
  3. Baltimore Brigade (6-4)
  4. Washington Valor (5-5)
  5. Atlantic City Blackjacks (4-7)
  6. Columbus Destroyers (1-9)

ELITE INDOOR FOOTBALL

The EIF recently announced two more new teams called the Northern Nemesis (Springfield, IL), and the Southland Power (Chicago/Palatine, IL) have been added for 2020 as part of the league’s new Mid West Division. The Southland Power was the 2019 champion of the semi-pro Indoor Football Association. The EIF previously announced teams called the Ozarks Mountain Express (Lebanon, MO), Music City Fire (Nashville, TN) and Louisville Kings would also join for the 2020 season.

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Indoor Football League’s 2019 -United Bowl will be broadcasted on FOX Sports Arizona Plus as they attempt to win their second championship in three seasons. The game will also be streamed live on the free FOX Sports GO app and also on FOXSportsGO.com. Chris Harris and Randy Gatewood will continue to be the announcers for the bowl game as they have been for the Rattlers the entire 2019 season.

The Rattlers will face the Sioux Falls Storm (13-3) for the title. Sioux Falls has gone to the United Bowl in ten straight seasons, while the Rattlers have appeared in their championship game in seven of the last nine seasons. The 2019 United Bowl takes place Saturday, July 13, 2019 at Gila River Arena. Kick off is slated for 6:05 p.m. AZT.

The FOX Sports Arizona Plus broadcast, beginning at 5:30 p.m. AZT, will include a 30-minute pre-game show as well as a 30-minute post-game show.

The United Bowl can also be seen on YouTube. The official IFL channel can be found here: www.youtube.com/IndoorFootballLeague

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

The #1 ranked Jacksonville Sharks (10-1) are sailing into Week 14 on a 10-game win streak, their third longest win-streak in team history. They travel to Massachusetts to take on the Pirates (7-4), who are on a streak of their own with six straight wins after defeating the New York Streets 54-52 last Friday night. If the Sharks win, they will clinch the #1 seed and secure home field throughout the playoffs. The Sharks currently lead the regular season series 1-0 against the Pirates after winning in Worcester 55-36 in Week 4.  Read more….

Current Standings:

  1. Jacksonville Sharks (10-1)
  2. Carolina Cobras (8-3)
  3. Massachusetts Pirates (7-4)
  4. New York Streets (3-8)
  5. Columbus Lions (3-8)
  6. Orlando Predators (2-9)

NATIONAL GRIDIRON LEAGUE

The indoor professional NGL, which failed to start play as planned in 2019, announced player combines and tryouts will be held in Brunswick (GA) later this month as the league plans for a 2020 season. The NGL has 12 proposed teams aligned in Eastern and Western conferences, each with three-team North and South divisions.

XFL

The new outdoor professional XFL, which plans to start play with eight teams in February 2020, was reported to have registered the Wild, Force, Fury, Dragons and Surge as potential nicknames for the league’s Seattle franchise.

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUES

AUSTRIA

The Prague Black Panthers downed the SonicWall Mödling Rangers in a game that was closer than expected while the Danube Dragons got by the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants in a game that was just as close as expected as the Austrian Football League wound up its Wild Card weekend.

Both Prague and the Dragons move to the semifinals this weekend. The Black Panthers will travel to Vienna to face the Dacia Vienna Vikings while the Dragons head to Innsbruck to take on the unbeaten Swarco Raiders.

Read more…

BRAZIL

The Sampa Bowl, the São Paulo Football League championship final, is set! The Corinthians Steamrollers and Rio Preto Weilers will battle for the right to call themselves the best of the state of São Paulo in Brazil!

The Corinthians Steamrollers and Rio Preto Weilers had the best records during the regular season of the São Paulo Football League and now will face each other on July 14th at 13:30 (Brasilia Time) at the Iberapuera Park in São Paulo. The game will be televised by one of Brazil’s top TV station, BAND, and in its international channel, BAND INTERNATIONAL which will televise the game to six countries, including the United States, Argentina, Mozambique, Angola, Uruguay and Paraguay.  Read more…

GERMANY

As the German Football League has hit a four week break with only three games scheduled during that time, let’s take a look at the offensive stats leaders.

After eight rounds of play in the 14 game GFL season, there are still some surprising leaders in the three key offensive categories, passing, rushing and receiving yardage.

What is also clear is that no one team is dominating the stats although two teams remain undefeated, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and Braunschweig New Yorker Lions.  Read more…

HUNGARY

The Fehérvár Enthroners survived a furious second half comeback by the Kiev Capitals to edge Kiev 14-12 to win Hungarian Bowl XIV and capture their first Hungarian title

Both teams were playing in their first ever Hungarian Football League (HFL) final last Saturday. Since the top league in Hungary changed its name to the HFL in 2012, no team based in Western Hungary has ever won the championship. However, Kiev, from the Ukraine, is not the first foreign team to reach the final. The Bratislava Monarchs from Slovakia won the title in 2015.  Read more…

ITALY

The Milano Seamen exploded for four unanswered touchdowns in the last 14 minutes of the Italian Bowl to pull away from a stubborn Firenze Guelfi team to win 62-28 and capture their third consecutive Italian title and fifth in six years.

Wide receiver Xavier Mitchell caught a diving 20 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Zahradka with just over a minute to go in the third quarter to jump out to a 41-28 lead in what had been a see-saw battle. That seemed to take the wind out of the sails of the Guelfi, and Milano ran off two more touchdowns and then defensive back Marco Aletti scooped up a fumble with a minute let and raced 53 yards for the final score.  Read more…

SERBIA

The Kragujevac Wild Boars captured their fourth consecutive Serbian championship and ninth overall in beating the SBB Vukovi Belgrade 60-55 in a shootout at the “Čika Dača” field in Serbian Bowl XV.

The Wild Boars jumped out to a 40-27 halftime lead and boosted it to 46-27 before Vukovi mounted a furious fourth quarter comeback.  Read more….

SWEDEN

The Stockholm Mean Machines proved once and for all that they are for real in defeating the Carlstad Crusaders 49-35 to win their second straight Swedish championship this past weekend

If there were any doubters left, they are now on the bandwagon. Stockholm is back on top. They downed the eight-time champion Crusaders for the fourth time in four games although Carlstad kept it close until late in the fourth.  Read more…

(Thank you to American Football International and Our Sports Central for these reports.)

 

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)

 

 

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

 

New Football League Has Successful Kickoff (without a kickoff)

The new Alliance of American Football (AAF) made its debut over the weekend and was surprisingly successful. The league, which features a few different rule changes including no kickoffs, had higher television ratings than other sports they were competing with. Early reviews have been favorable as they drew 2.9 million fans for the Saturday televised game for CBS. It’s still early to decide what that means but it is always good to get off to a good start.

Here are the results of the games that were played:

Orlando Apollos 40, Atlanta Legends 6

The Apollos were led by their coach Steve Spurrier and a defense that stifled the Legends. They held Atlanta to just 162 yards after the opening drive of the game, forced four turnovers and never let Legends’ quarterback Matt Simms to get in sync.

San Antonio Commanders 15, San Diego Fleet 6

The Commanders opened their season in front of 27,857 fans at the Alamodome as quarterback Logan Woodside completed 18 of 36 passes for 255 yards and two interceptions. The Commanders’ defense had six sacks and snagged three inceptions while limiting the Fleet to 295 yards of total offense.

Birmingham Iron 26, Memphis Express 0

The Iron and Express started out as a defensive struggle for about three quarters before they took control with the running of former NFL running back Trent Richardson scoring twice and the Iron defense shutting down Express quarterback Christian Hackenberg. It was announced that the Pittsburgh Steelers have become an affiliate of the Iron. This means that former NFL players who most recently played for the Steelers will be allocated to the Iron.

Arizona Hotshots 38, Salt Lake Stallions 22

With most of the other AAF games being defensive games, the Hotshots and Stallions put up the points. The Hotshots pulled away in the third quarter to take a 35-16 lead. Hotshots quarterback John Wolford and receiver Rashad Ross connected for 103 yards along with two touchdowns in the games. Wolford’s touchdown pass to Jhurell Presley made it a 19-point game as the Hotshots pulled away.

Week 1 Standings:

  • Eastern Division
    • Orlando (1-0)
    • Birmingham (1-0)
    • Atlanta (0-1)
    • Memphis (0-1)
  • Western Division

    • Arizona (1-0)
    • San Antonio (1-0)
    • Salt Lake (0-1)
    • San Diego (0-1)

Week 2 Schedule:

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

Friday Flashback: Coldest Ever High School Football Game

Tonight in the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) state quarterfinals, The Warner Robins Demons will host the Clarke Central Gladiators.  This matchup takes me back to the 1985 State Championship game which was played between these two teams in Athens, Georgia.  In fact, I start shivering immediately when I think about it.  It was the coldest high school football game I have ever attended.  I had to pull up the weather history to find the exact temperature which was 29 degrees at kickoff.  That was cold.

The 1985 season was my first full season of attending Warner Robins football games.  The team finished the regular season undefeated at 10-0 which was capped with a thrilling 21-14 overtime win over crosstown rivals Northside.  Warner Robins defeated Southwest Macon 40-14 and then Northside again 27-0 in the region playoffs.  Warner Robins edged Lowndes 8-7 in penetration in the first round and then beat Bradwell Institute 28-14 in the semifinals.

I decided to make the two-hour trip to Athens for the game.  At the time I was a single 21-year-old man in the Air Force and I was able to convince a date to go with me to the game.  More on that later.  When I arrived at the game I had general admission tickets and the only seats I could find were the front row of bleacher seats in one of the end zones.  I had a blanket and attempted to keep warm but the cold weather made the blanket as stiff as a sheet of plywood.  The bleachers were also full of some Clarke Central fans – one of which would purposely yell in my frozen ear every time his team made a big play.  I might have moved had I not been frozen to the bleacher.  I think every part of my body was cold that night.  I certainly wasn’t a whimp to the cold weather since I had just been transferred to Robins Air Force Base from Thule, Greenland and it was a painfully freezing reminder of Greenland.

Although the game was statistically close, Clarke Central recovered three Warner Robins fumbles, turning the first two into a pair of field goals (31 and 41 yards) by John Kasay, who also put four of five kickoffs deep into the end zone to help keep the Warner Robins offense backed up. Additionally both Gladiator touchdowns were big plays, the first a 53-yard pass from Robbie Kamerschen to Tommy Stewart on the Gladiators’ first possession of the second quarter and the second a 54-yard run by tailback Richard Jewel on Clarke’s first possession of the third period.

In comparison, the Gladiators committed only one turnover, a fumble at their own 42 late in the second quarter. After recovering, the Demons moved to a first down on the 4-yard line, but the Clarke Central defense held on three straight running plays inside the 2 and took over on downs, preserving a 13-7 halftime lead.

Kamerschen and Jewel accounted for the majority of Clarke’s 291 yards total offense, as the senior quarterback completed four of eight passes for 122 yards while the senior tailback rushed 14 times for 108 yards.

Warner Robins, which totaled 245 yards offense and led 14-13 in first downs, got 101 rushing yards on 16 carries from junior Jeff Thompson. But 98 of those came in the first half. Warner Robins totaled just 53 yards and two first downs after intermission.

The game was a disappointment. I had to drive the long trip back home.  The only consolation was that my car had heat and I would be able to thaw out on the drive.  I also had my date with me.

About that.

On the drive back I got that “You’re a nice guy but I just want to be friends” line.  Ouch.  My football team and my dating suffered a bitter defeat that night. That night was cold on so many levels.

But, as they say, it all worked out for the best.  As for Warner Robins, it took three seasons before they captured the state title and demolished Brookwood in 1988.

No high school game was colder than that night in Athens.

Friday Flashback: Football/Baseball Team Names

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Dodgers, Yankees, Pirates, Reds, Cardinals and Giants

Back in the day – like LONG before I was born when the National Football League (NFL) was just a baby sports league, many of the teams shared the names of their Major League Baseball (MLB) counterparts.  Since the NFL was trying to survive in those early years, some teams felt that sharing the name would encourage fans to attend.  Baseball was king in those days.  Today, none of the team names are shared since the St. Louis Cardinals left St. Louis for Arizona.  Here are some of the NFL (or other professional teams) which shared names with their baseball brothers:

  • Brooklyn Dodgers
    • Origin:  Two Brooklyn businessmen bought the Dayton Triangles in 1930 and renamed the team to the Dodgers.
    • Played from 1930-1943
    • Record:  60-90-9
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  2nd place (1933, 1935, 1940, 1941)
    • Best Players:  Morris “Red” Badgro, Benny Friedman, Frank “Bruiser” Kinard and Clarence “Ace” Parker
    • What happened to the Dodgers?  Team was renamed to the Tigers in 1944 but went 0-10.  They merged with the Boston Yanks for the 1945 season.  The franchise indirectly became the Indianapolis Colts.
  • New York Giants
    • Origin:  One of five teams that joined the NFL in 1925
    • Played from 1925 – Present
    • Record: 711-610-33
    • Championships:  8
    • Best Finish: 13-1-1 in 1929
    • Best Players:  This is a long list but would include Lawrence Taylor, Frank Gifford, Y.A. Tittle, Sam Huff and Charlie Conerly
    • What happened to the Giants? The team has been called the “New York Football Giants” by ESPN’s Chris Berman but the baseball team moved to San Francisco in 1957 leaving the football team as the only Giants in New York.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
    • Origin: Joined the NFL in 1933 and was originally named the Pirates by owner Art Rooney but locals referred to the team as the “Rooneymen” to distinguish them from the baseball team.
    • Played: 1933 – 1939
    • Record: 22-55-3
    • Championships: None
    • Best Finish: 6-6-0 in 1936
    • Best Players: Byron White (would later become Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court).  At the time White signed the biggest contract in NFL history.
    • What happened to the Pirates? The team was renamed to the Steelers in 1940.
  • Cincinnati Reds
    • Origin:  Joined the NFL in 1933
    • Played: 1933-1934
    • Record: 3-14-1
    • Championships: None
    • Best Finish: 3-6-1 in 1933
    • Best Players:  None
    • What happened to the Reds?  The team was suspended by the league for failure to pay their dues during the 1934 season and were replaced by the St. Louis Gunners after eight games.  The Reds have the two lowest officially recognized season scoring totals in NFL history.  They scored only 38 points in 10 games in 1933 and 37 points in 1934.
  • New York Yankees
    • Origin:  Played in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946
    • Played:  1946-1949
    • Record:  35-17-2
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  11-2-1 in 1947
    • Best Players:  Spec Sanders, Tom Landry, Frank Sinkwich
    • What happened to the Yankees?  Before the 1949 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers football team folded and merged with the Yankees to become the Brooklyn-New York Yankees in the final season of the AAFC.  The AAFC was absorbed by the NFL after the season but did not bring the team into the league and divided the players between the New York Giants and New York Bulldogs (which played at the New York Yanks in 1950).
  • St. Louis Cardinals
    • Origin: NFL team relocated from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960.
    • Played:  1960-1987
    • Record:  186-202-14
    • Championships:  None
    • Best Finish:  11-3-0 in 1975
    • Best Players:  Larry Wilson, Don Maynard, Roger Wherli, Dan Dierdorf, Jackie Smith and George Privateer
    • What happened to the Cardinals?  Owner Bill Bidwill moved the team to Phoenix, Arizona after the 1987 season.

After the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Arizona, no other NFL team has shared a name with their baseball teams.  The only teams who currently have closely-related team names are the Chicago Bears/Cubs and the Detroit Lions/Tigers.  According the team origin information both NFL teams were named to relate to their baseball teams.

 

 

Friday Flashback: My Football “Glory” Days

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My football playing days at Villa Rica High School.  I am pictured on the right watching an Oklahoma drill as Head Coach Mac McWhorter (far left) watches intensely.

I have loved football from a very young age. The first football player I ever remember watching was Joe Namath. The first time I ever attended a football game was in 1974 when my dad took me to see his alma mater Clinch County Panthers play the Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets.

I never had the chance to play youth league football but after much asking, my dad finally let me be on the Ware County Gators 7th Grade team. I wanted to play football. I tried really hard to do it. I never realized until I tried to play on how limiting those darn pads were. Shoulder pads simply swallowed me up and the helmet made me resemble more of a bobble head figure than an actual football player. I still tried to play and I stood on the sideline in a real game as our team beat Atkinson County 8-0 in a spring game.

That was the last time I thought I would ever be on a team as we moved to Villa Rica, Georgia a few weeks into the next school year. My dad was a preacher and he was appointed to a church there to fill a sudden vacancy.  The football season had already started so I didn’t bother with it. Villa Rica was your typical small town Georgia and they had a passion for their football team although they weren’t very successful when I had arrived. It seemed that the whole town showed up on Friday Nights. It was also the first time I had ever been exposed to something called pep rallies. I thought they were pretty awesome.

I finally talked my dad into allowing me to play again. I joined the Villa Rica Wildcats’ B-Team in my sophomore year. Now don’t be impressed that I was on the team because everybody made the team. Here I was barely 100 pounds trying to play football. I wasn’t the smallest player but I was definitely in the bottom three on the size list.

So I tried to play – more accurately said, I practiced. I hated running laps at the end of practice. That alone nearly killed me. My body took a beating too. I came home everyday with bruises on my arms and many places on my body. I tried to hide them from my mother because she didn’t want me playing anyway and she would have worried even more.

What position did I play? Running back. Yes I realize how funny that sounds now. Can you imagine a 100 pound running back? I still tried. In one practice, a play called for the quarterback to fake the ball to me then pitch it to another back. After the fake I was leveled and I could swear I landed on a rock on the practice field because that’s how hard it felt to be leveled by someone twice my size. It took me a while to get up.

The coaches always preached to us about volunteering for positions. One day at practice the coach asked for a volunteer to return punts. I am not sure why, in that moment that my hand wasn’t connected to my brain; however, I raised my skinny hand and the coach put me in. The punter booted the football high in the air and I positioned myself under hoping not to drop it. The moment the football touched my hands I was steamrolled. My helmet was spun around where I was now looking out of the ear hole and fluids came out nose and mouth rather involuntarily.

My dad wasn’t always able to attend practice but when he did it seemed I played my worst in practice. Each time he was watching I ended up fumbling the ball a lot and getting yelled at by the coaches.

I still tried.

When our B-Team schedule started I watched from the sidelines. I knew I wasn’t going to stand a chance to play unless our team had a huge lead or way behind in the game. During the middle of the season I got my chance.

“Hooper” the coach yelled out.

“Who me?”

I couldn’t believe it. He was actually putting me in. We were playing Central of Carrollton and we were well ahead. The coach put me in on defense. I joined in on one tackle before I was back on the sideline again.

My next chance came a couple of weeks later when we played at Bremen. I suppose I was some sort of novelty or they felt sorry for me but the coaches had planned to put me in late in the game when our offense was close to scoring but we scored before I had the chance. When we got the ball back again on offense, they put me in and called a running play. It was a counter play where I faked one way and the went the other way into the line. I got the ball and followed the lineman before a mound of players converged on me. After the bodies had been cleared I had gained three yards. The coaches took me out.

VRHS2

Standing on the sidelines (#48) here watching our team play Bremen

I think for me just being on the team was the best experience. Sure, I wanted to play but I believe the reality of my size was too much to overcome. On Fridays we were allowed to wear our football jerseys to school. I loved that although the jersey swallowed me up and could have been a dress. I didn’t care. I still tried. The next spring I did it again.

Our varsity team got a new coach, Mac Mcwhorter. He gave the football team a renewed shot of enthusiasm and got the players motivated. I joined the team again for spring practice. I changed positions from running back to receiver and defensive back. I did pretty well catching the ball but those darn pads still limited me. It’s a hard life being short and lightweight. That weakness was made even more evident when we were scrimmaging in practice. On another occasional I was on defense and the quarterback sprinted around the end. I cut the angle and grabbed his jersey. I didn’t bring him down. Instead he airlifted me. I felt like I was holding onto Superman’s cape. When I finally let go, I was flung like a rag doll into the fence on the sidelines behind the bench.

I still tried.

We had a drill that was called “Oklahoma” where two players, usually a lineman and a back, would go head-to-head against two other players. The coach asked for volunteers.

Yep, you guessed it. My scrawny arm went up once again and I was put in this drill. I was on defense and on the other side was our starting varsity running back, Keith Glanton. Even back then, I think one of Keith’s legs was bigger than me. My job in this drill was to tackle him. When the whistle blew Keith picked his direction to run. I guessed right and attempted to grab something – anything – as I was bulldozed and felt Keith’s cleat imprint into my chest.

I was mad. I pounded the ground.

The coach apparently thought I wanted to do it again so he lined me up with another back but it was sadly the same result.

Our spring practice culminated in a game against the Carrollton Trojans.  The Trojans were our county rivals.  On the night of the game, there was a terrible storm so the game was moved to the following night.  At some point in the game, the coaches put me in the defensive back position.  I had no involvement in any plays and then on the last play I would ever play, the opposing quarterback attempted a pass which went over the receiver.  I sprinted as best as I could on the muddy field to the ball but it landed in the muck at my feet.  I tossed the ball to the referee and returned to the sideline.

That would be the end of my football playing experience.   We moved to Savannah, Georgia during the summer before my junior year.

I learned that playing football was hard.  I also learned that you can only do what your body will let you do.  Football players were big then but they are giants now.  I was very fortunate to avoid any serious injuries.

You won’t see my name in any record book or any stats reflecting the three yards I gained in a B-Team game in 1979.  In fact, you won’t even see my picture with the football team in the high school yearbook.  I think I was absent that day the photo was taken.

It the end, my body couldn’t do what my mind thought it could do but – I tried.

 

Friday Flashback: 1983 United States Football League

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We take the time machine back 34 years ago when a new professional football league called the United States Football League (USFL) kicked off their first season.  This was the first successful professional spring/summer football league.  The league kicked off on March 6, 1983 and played an 18-game schedule with 12 teams:  New Jersey Generals, Washington Federals, Boston Breakers, Philadelphia Stars, Michigan Panthers, Chicago Blitz, Arizona Wranglers, Birmingham Stallions, Tampa Bay Bandits, Denver Gold, Los Angeles Express and Oakland Invaders.

The league started out not wishing to compete with the NFL but quickly changed as the USFL began signing top college athletes.  Perhaps the biggest signing was when the league signed Herschel Walker from the University of Georgia to the New Jersey Generals.  New Jersey’s first game at Los Angeles, was quickly the top-billing for ABC’s television coverage of the league’s opening weekend.   Walker  finished the season with 1,812 yards and 17 touchdowns but the Generals could only win six games.

The Michigan Panthers emerged as the first champions when they defeated the Philadelphia Stars 24-22 in the USFL Championship Game.

Several big name coaches and players played in the USFL.  George Allen was the first coach for the Chicago Blitz and led them to the playoffs in 1983.   Allen also added NFL veteran quarterback Greg Landry to his team.   Another NFL veteran, John Reaves, landed in Tampa Bay as quarterback for the Bandits.  Steve Spurrier was the head coach for the Bandits.    The leading quarterback for the USFL in 1983 was Bobby Hebert of the Michigan Panthers.  Herbert would later play for New Orleans and Atlanta in the NFL.

The Denver Gold (hate the singular nickname) led the league in attendance with an average of 41,736 fans per game.

The Philadelphia Stars finished with the league’s best record at 15-3.  They were coached by Jim Mora.  Quarterback Chuck Fusina, running back Kelvin Bryant and linebacker Sam Mills were key players for the Stars.

The league played for three seasons before it folded.  There are several reasons that the league but the main thing that doomed the league was when the owners voted to move from spring to fall in 1986.   Most of the teams folded with the prospect of competing head-to-head with the NFL.  The USFL filed a lawsuit against the NFL claiming it had established a monopoly.  The USFL sought $567 million dollars.  A jury ruled in favor of the USFL but only awarded them $1.00.

1983 Final Standings:

Atlantic Division

  • Philadelphia Stars (15-3)
  • Boston Breakers (11-7)
  • New Jersey Generals (6-12)
  • Washington Federals (4-14)

Central Division

  • Michigan Panthers (12-6)
  • Chicago Blitz (12-6)
  • Tampa Bay Bandits (11-7)
  • Birmingham Stallions (9-9)

Pacific Division

  • Oakland Invaders (9-9)
  • Los Angeles Express (8-10)
  • Denver Gold (7-11)
  • Arizona Wranglers (4-14)

Playoffs:  Philadelphia 44, Chicago 38 (ot), Michigan Panthers 37, Oakland Invaders 21

Championship:  Michigan 24, Philadelphia 22

 

 

 

 

 

Will Nashville Be In Tune For Major League Soccer?

nashvillesoccerToday, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, will be meeting with Major League Soccer (MLS) officials in New York City to support the cities’ bid for an expansion franchise.

Okay, I already jumped on the fact that she more important things to do than go to New York for a soccer meeting but apparently she had already planned to be in New York for some economic development trip.  Whatever that is.   I guess it’s a big thing that our mayor is not only supporting Nashville’s bid but also has plans for a stadium at the fairgrounds.  She will be joined today by John Ingram, the chairman of Ingram Industries Inc. who is said to be the lead investor in the Nashville group trying to get an MLS team for the Music City.

Today is the deadline for Nashville and 12 other cities to submit applications for four of the league’s expansion slots.   MLS is planning to add four teams and remain at that number for several years.  Other cities competing for an MLS expansion team are:  Sacramento, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; San Diego, California; Charlotte, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Miami, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona; Indianapolis, Indiana and San Antonio, Texas.

The favorites seem to be San Diego and St. Louis which have lost their National Football League (NFL) teams.  Nashville’s chances is probably in the upper half of the group; however, Nashville’s metro population is the smallest of all the cities under consideration.

Can Nashville support an MLS team?  Absolutely.

Nashville has a solid support for soccer.

In the last major soccer event that was hosted in Nashville, a match between Mexico and New Zealand in October drew over 40,000 fans.  In December, Nashville was named one of 14 cities that will host matches in next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

A Nashville MLS team would also have no Major League Baseball (MLB) team to compete with but the same is true for other expansion hopefuls as well.

Nashville’s bid can only be strengthened by Mayor Barry’s presence and support for Nashville’s quest to become Music Soccer City.