Hey, Hey, Hey ( anyone remember fat Albert? ) it's that times, kids! The final game in the semipro season in Indiana.
Sorta Meloncholy, I know, but it's been a great year for many a player and team.
As I grilled my last steak of the year last weekend, I was reminded that so as the season changes, our lives do as well. I am saying goodbye to an old friend of 13 years who has taken a job as a staff writer in L.A. for the Times. Frank has done some fantastic work for me ( and all of us) and I will never forget it.
I'm still not paying you anything though, buddy! (jk)
God speed, my freind - you will be missed!
Now with THAT out of the way, I THINK ther's a game or something to be played Saturday..thats right! A THIRD meeting between the battle tested clubs. As we know, 'The Tank' holds the lead in the series, 2-0, but the Brazil Machine knows if they make that series 2-1, then THEY go home with the ring!
Let's get to it!
MFL Championship Game
West Central Wildcats(9-3) vs Ohio River Bearcats(12-0)
5400 First Avenue
Evansville, IN 47710
The Wildcats couldn’t be coming off a better game than last week. A hounding Shut out of a very good Patriots team, as the Bearcats showed no mercy as well to the Force in a goose egg for the Defense was created. We broke down the O and D in each section as we did for the IFL Championship as well.
(We apolgize, but we did get more name -info from the Bearcats, so this is why you'll see more name dropping for them)
The Wildcat O line has been a point of strength for them all season, especially when running the ball, which they did a god job last week. Large in size and strength, they don’t do allot of fancy stuff, but have the mobility to do so. It appears the interior is the main area of power, and once they get going, they are very hard to stop.
They typically give Landry time to toss if he needs it, but they primarily do a fantastic job of picking up blitzes to keep their QB dry.
This is a huge, key area for Saturday’s game, and they will be focused, as they have the entire playoffs.
The Bearcats O line is somewhat of an unsung hero in this army. Due to the areas that have risen so far above the rest of the league, what’s not mentioned is the protection of Jamison they do, and J-Buck will tell you this if no ones else does. Even in the stands, fans were heard talking about this group.
Lack of penalties is the only reason they don’t get mentioned as much.
They equal the size of the Wildcats and are as intense, but the difference here is the head to head execution. In both previous matches, Nunn, Tenhumberg, Rodriguez, Oglesby Moore, and Cooke were able to get what they wanted and needed and eventually just wear down their opponent by games end. What’s oddest was by the 2 min warning in the 4th, these guys looked as if they were looking for more and could’ve gone another 60 minutes.
The initial wave of the BearCat O gets the Nod here
Every team has a group they look to - to make things go better when or if they start going off course. This is the part of the Wildcat machine that comes into play.
Massive in size and power, #72 was the leader in the film we watched and has been around the ball whenever he is in the game. The whole front is an immovable wall that does a great job at pressuring QB’s, as they did last game. Facing a more mobile QB, they were still able to keep him contained for the most part and shut down running lanes. For men their size, they way they move is usually not that possible.
They make it very possible. What I like is that they play together, as they all seem to know what the other is doing, yet they never break focus on their own individual job. They are also a quite excitable bunch as more than once we’ve seen some good celebration after a sack, but never any taunting that we saw.
THAT’S impressive in today’s game!
The Bearcat line is as dominating as they come. General Teiken, Capshaw, Monster Madison, Kendall and Tatum are the immovable force behind the Sherman, but as Ive said before, I don’t think that Booker is truly block able. Last game I was there, I saw he and Zach in the backfield counted 8 different times in the same game.
Although they do stunt at times, they don’t really need to as they are strong enough to bull rush you all game. But what is most surprising is not only the terribly effective way they shut down all running lanes, the pass rush. Madison is the main missile here.
From films and stats, this group had OVER 16 sacks in 5 games, two forced fumbles an INT and 5 batted down passes.
You don’t get much better than the Wildcat D line, but this is the only group that does.
Advantage - Bearcats
The Wildcats have a very good tandem of backs, but the standout is William Simmons. Quick, agile and powerful, he is one of the best in the MFL, and with the line he has, he often get to showcase the talent.
What we noticed is the best attribute of the backfield is that since so few times that teams penetrate the line, they can bounce outside to get more yards, although they don’t have to often.
As mentioned, he, Hoole and Ferris (FB) can also pick up a blitz if needed, which maybe essential in Saturday’s game.
They will also need to make us of their ball catching skills, and they already know how rugged the terrain will be this week. They do have the speed to get outside, they will need to make some people miss when they get there.
The Bearcats RB’s are not at all strange to the spotlight. These pounding and surprising fast ground troops are usually the 1st taste of the assault inflicted to an opponent.
Cater, Falls, Hope and Head are the group, but don’t be surprised to see #47 back there also, and Zach has no issue doubling from his duties on Defense. Trust me, he can do just as much damage on either side of the ball.
A bit deeper in depth are the B-Cats, and that is one of the main things that help them as they have the luxury of keeping fresh speed and talent in the backfield if the 1st infantry needs a rest.
Although individual talent makes the Wildcats a favorite here, the depth will make a difference, as it has the last two meetings. We WILL see a much more than normally determined W-Cats machine, the B-Cats have a slight edge here.
Even so, it’s too close to call
Advantage – Push
As usual, this is my favorite area. The Wildcats have one of the best groups around.
Although we have not the exact names of the individual who play the inside LB’s, this group has repeatedly made things tough going to run up the gut for any team.
When called upon to blitz, they get there VERY quick, but what’s most impressive is the stay at home-ness they obviously work on in practice that translates into gameday results.
Sure tacklers, but at times, its hard to tell who is making the tackle t=due to that they gang tackle probably the best in the league. Not top mention, the last few games, we have seen some hits that this group made that hurt our camera guy.
The B-Cats LB’s are the answer. Large, stout and very stingy, this may be the heart of the defense. They have had an intensity so fierce that you can feel the heat from the stands the last few weeks. If you manage to get past the D line, this is what you have to ok forward to and the last group you want to face and as said previously weeks ago, they are great tacklers. Dropping into coverage is a surprisingly good attribute, as usually a group this size cannot do so, but the marines of this unit surely can.
In the film we watched in one game, they had 4 sacks, a forced fumble and two picks.
ALL were made by linebackers.
As a former linebacker, I can honestly make a call that there is a dead even here, but the group behind me is calling for the “marines” to get the nod.
Advantage – Bearcats
The Wildcats are known for hard hitting, stick it to your ribs defense, but little is said about the defensive backfield. I have to say that if there is an area that is more improved over the season, it is this one. If you saw last game, you know why.
A combination of technique and just plain having a nose for the ball, this group truly blankets wide-outs and then closes in if the ball is thrown.
In film we recently watched for review, in one game they had 3 picks, including one for a TD, caused by severe pressure on the QB. The reason we mention the pressure is because the pressure was ALSO caused by a DB on the same play.
I like also how Mike has got them to stay where they are supposed to, regardless of where the play starts.
I’ll say it, they are the electricity that makes this machine hum.
The Bearcats DB’s are a very different group. As effective as they are at stopping teams, it appears that they are not afraid do to man coverage, a thing that I unheard of in football today usually. Facing a top offense last weekend, they mixed coverage quite often, but they did play a steady does of zone it appeared.
It was massively effective.
Tate and Miles have excellent hands, while Schlimmer seems to keep everything in front of him – totally what you expect from your safety.
In all, we counted over 11 takeaways alone in two films of four games.
The Wildcats however, get the nod for the drastic improved play and will make life in the core a little more dangerous when the air attack starts.
Advantage – Wildcats
I let my bro call this one since he IS a WR, but again - I get the final call.
For the Wildcats, I think it’s no secret that the best player at this position is #9, Mark Pate.
Terribly quick and agile, his hands are amazing. But what the best thing about this man is the sheer ability to go over the middle to make a grab. He also can block and if there is a sweep or downfield play, lookout. He is not at all afraid to hit.
This is NOT to say that they do not have a complete group of wr’s, but this one stands out above all the rest. Not just one this team, but in the league.
The TE for the team we believe is also one of the LB’s and also has very good hands, but the forte of this position is blocking, as well as grabbing passes over the middle.
Offensively, this is the most talented part of the machine, the fuel, no doubt.
We have seen some drives where Landry simply plays catch with him until they run out of real estate – to the endzone.
The Bearcats have a group that also don’t get much press, but I am about the change that right now. #16, Monte Johnson is a pure athlete. What we like is how he runs great routes, but can catch nearly anything near him, or NOT hear him.
In a game a few weeks ago, he took a pass that was a sure pick, became defender on the spot and knocked it away from the Db and turned it into an incomplete pass.
The same drive eventually resulted in a TD for the Bearcats.
Monte is joined by other standouts as Mike brown, Chris Clark and Jared Pfister who have all been a well rounded group.
What I love on these guys, all of them is that these special forces unit ALL can block down field.
The ability to turn a short screen into long yards is also something they can do, and it may come into play Saturday.
The B _cats have greater numbers, but I actually feel that this is an area the W-Cats will need to step up even more than ever to get an edge this weekend.
I think they are up to it.
Advantage – Wildcats
I’ve made no secret that I like Landry. True he has all the tools a QB should have but what I like most is even not a large as what a prototypical QB will be, someone forgot to tell him.
Eyes of steel in a pass rush, but can easily evade a rush when needed. True, he has soime great targets to throw to, but even the best will land one on the ground. If this happens, Landry is the last guy you’ll see in his WR’s face dogging him. This is an always glass half full guy, the foreman of the O, and leads more by sheer determination and will, along with great physical ability.
If you let a WR get open, no matter where he is on the field, he will find him. If not he can take off for yards as well.
He is also the guy that will go down to congratulate a wr AND a O-Line=man for a block.
That’s why these guys follow him.
Jamison Buck is the 5 star general who leads this offensive group on the battle field and what a year he’s had.
Counted 17 TD’s and 7 TD’s running the ball.
A bit more emotional than his counterpart, J-Buck is also just as positive and smart. He will change a play in a second if the D doesn’t give him what he wants, so he does what he needs and then takes it.
Most impressive is his arm strength, able to launch a deep ball accurately AND while on the move.
If you blitz him, that’s when he destroys you with his feet, but make no mistake, this young man obviously thinks pas first when he drops back, but he and the air attack will go ground mobile of that’s where the yards are.
Both men are great at their crafts, and are equal in value to their team, but J Buck has had the year to remember.
SLIGHT Advantage – B-Cats
Unfortunately, we have very little footage of either kicking game, but we did this evaluation on PAT’s.
We may have caught the W-Cats on a few bad nights, as we saw a total of 4 missed pats on 9 TD’s. For the most part by score indication, this is not a total trend.
The punt forces are solid, especially downfield coverage’s – we saw only 1 return over 15 yards on them when they won.
The Kickoff team is usually pretty solid, although we also caught one return go near midfield. But all in all, good unit.
The opponents averages approx the 38 yard line.
The B-Cats have a seek/destroy unit on kickoff that we saw some hell-acious hits in film.
The kicks can get past the 10 yard line and opponent averaged approx the 28 yard line.
Their return team in insane.
They have more then 3 returns for TD’s by different players.
They average having the ball around the 32 yard line.
This area will pay dividends for them this game
Advantage - Bearcats.
A great player coach, Mike Rindone is one of those guys that really knows football, but also know his team. Hs players love and respect him, for various reasons, but I think it’s due to his leadership by example.
Mike can keep cool when things and all else are going haywire and a fire alarm is pulled, but he will get in an officials ear if needed.
Another Defensive player at heart, Mike understand that thet ganme has both highs and lows and that no game in won on one play, and convery that to his team and gets them to listen.
As long as they heed his mind and years of experience here, they have a serious shot.
Coach Rucker is a no nonsense guy who also has admiration for and from his team.
Also enough fire to get in the face of anyone, he is a guy you’d like to have arguing for you, especially if you want to win the argument.
Outside play calling, what Coach Rucker does best in my opinion is keep his squad together when there are signs of trouble.
We’ve seen him settle a young player down before after a bad play and just talk to him, getting him ready for the next play.
Always game minded, he lets his players play, but has the ability to take control if need be.
What I like is that BOTH coaches try to keep it on the field and off the message boards in regard to trash talk.
I know for a fact that each one has mentioned NOT spending too much time here, - which now that I think of it, is bad for me! (I kid) But it is out of all respect.
I must say, I hear from many players through email and enjoy what I read from players like Zach and Landry, and never once has a player ever said anything in the slightest disrespect toward teammates, other teams, or anyone.
THAT’S why I love this game.
Oh, I almost forgot, the coaching area is no way an upper hand. Both men have done an outstanding job, One took a team to an entire undefeated season, the other turn a team around and got them in the ship!
You call this one, I know I can’t
Advantage- both teams.
Now, the hardest part - the prediction.
Ive been actually doing thsi a while, and what makes it tough is when you have to pick with your mind, not your heart.
On the advantage side, the B-Carts are simple hands down winners and they have the serise lead as we said.
But the Wildcats are a much different mentally team than last seen, and realize that this ONE a=game ca rtuly make their etire season.
The B-Cats know this just as well, and have been on an emotional high, an dI plan to cpature both teams on film.
But in the end, as much as some want a cinderella story, I think the Sherman tank makes one final patrol, and crushes the glass slipper, but not easily
Well, that's it folks!
I again send thank ya's to all who wrote this week and wished me feeling better, as I think I had a strain of the flu - more like the H1.3 or something.
I and the crew head out to the river as we speak, and gonna try to find a nice spot to bed down for a couple days.
Suggestions on where to stay we will gladly take at the usual email address!
So to both teams, remember that even if caught on film, whether you're a rookie or rookie to the game, a vet in your last go 'round, and on the play you think the ball may not come your way...there is always a chance that it will and the play may rest on you. It may only happen once. And then, all your practicing, lifting, running, reading my garbage and Supa's much more intelligent insight truly mean nothing if you don't show you've done all of it on that play.
How do you want to remember it?
Ya Gotta love this game!
Nice read sir! I'm going to correct you on one thing... #9 is James Allen and #33 is Mark Pate. Mark Pate was not seen last game(Against the B-Cats) due to an injury he suffered against the Pirates. But he is back! Thanks for the Props! Good Luck Bearcats!
I'll help you out with the bcats kicker that guy is byfar the best we have play all year and the biggest kicker I have ever seen. I think his number was 56. 56 what's up with the shoe lol nice touch it fits you well. Good luck to both cats I see it going to bcats 35-19.
You have done a great job all year. I congratulate you on a wonderful season of predictions and writing. Not just from a MFL standpoint, but all leagues. I really look forward to reading your posts every week.
I wish good luck and safe travels to both 'Cat teams. It is weird to not be playing this weekend in the 'ship but the best team won last week and deserves to be in Evansville tonight.
The Patriots will regroup during the off-season and come back next year stronger and better.
I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holidays this year and trains hard in the off-season.
I can't wait to start hitting again!! I already miss it!!
I liked that other kicker for the Bcats, Bibi I think it is, he is #7, he seemed a little more under control when under pressure.
Ha ha ha that #7 kicker sucks a$$ bcats had the right one in that's why he was kicking. #7 should not be on same field as #56 you can ask anyone on that team!!! You don't know shit about shit #7 is kicking 30% for year #56 is kicking over 80% did u not see the force game even with out presure on him because they were up by 20 something that guy still couldn't get the ball off the ground! Keep doing your thing 56 your team and you know your the best in the mfl.
I would hope you didnt snap to the kicker. The only person who puts a foot on the ball you should ever snap to would be the punter unless you are a bad snapper.