So here I am at 3 in the morning, eyes bloodshot from internet research and following up on emails, and I am wondering to myself, SupaNation: how did I get into this mess?
I will save the epistemological questions for another time, but suffice it to say that I simply cannot believe that I have been at this for 5 years now-and I hope the thousands of hours spent going to watch games, researching online and talking to my "informants" has been worthwhile. If it hasn't it is not for lack of effort.
Now that the self-indulgent whining is done, let's turn our attention to the first week of predictions for the young 2006 season. It's June, and it is time to play Semi-Pro football again in the Midwest.
Dayton Drive @ Central Ohio Lions
The Drive were once worthy of being spoken about in the same sentence as the elite squads in the Midwest, but the proliferation of other teams and poor financial management sent the team into a spiral out of which it has only recently emerged. The Lions have managed to endure significant changes and losses and remain a very competitive team -indeed, after having fallen off significantly since 2004, the team is still better than most in the midwest. They have of course, lost a lot of talent to the Knights, but have a good deal of promising new talent. One thing about the Lions that have set them apart is their ability to execute and play fundamental football. Everyone is rusty in June, but I've got a feeling the Lions will be better rehearsed than the kids from up the road.
Miami Valley Warriors @ Southern Ohio Patriots
The Patriots have re-emerged after a couple years out of the game. The organization folded several seasons back after having to forfeit a number of games, and suffered from poor organization and financial insolvency. This new incarnation looks to be better organized -if not any better staffed. They could well be in over their heads in their new league. The Warriors, on the other hand, are coming off a strong 2005, and after having hopped leagues for several seasons, have found a good fit in the USFA. The word on the street is that the Warriors are thin up front, but even more athletic than in years past. It's still too early to know if the Warriors will return to 2005 form, but one has to anticipate that they will be plenty strong to whip the green Patriots.
Nashville Storm @ Hardin County Wolverines
This game simply has to be one of the best games in the country this weekend. Both teams are deep and athletic, and both have a great deal to prove in 2005. The Storm, though raw and rugged has faced many of the NAFL's toughest opponents on at home and turned them away. The Wolverines have run roughshod through the OVFL the last few years, and have a great deal of talent returning. Though they more or less demolished the Punishers last weekend in front of the crowd in Louisville, anyone who was there will tell you that the Wolverines were disappointed with their performance. They all know that they will have to play much better to beat the Storm. This one is a close call, but the fact that the Storm do not travel well gives the nod to the hosts.
Lima Warriors @ SW Mich Punishers
There's no one on this planet that can deny the desire of the Warriors. Sure, they are bigger, faster, and stronger than most teams in the region. Sure, their winning percentage is the stuff of dreams for most squads in the region. They are exceptional in a number of ways, but the thing that really sets the Warriors apart is their heart. This is the kind of team that will win by 50 on saturday and work their ass off to get better on Tuesday and Thursday. They are determined to turn their regular season success into a title in 2006, and the Punishers will be but a blip on the radar. The Punishers passing game is better than most that the Warriors will face, but the Warriors' defense will force turnovers and crush their opponent's spirit by early in the second half. The Warriors may not win every game, but they will get better each week, and will start by winning their first one on the road.
Fort Wayne Flyers @ Grand Rapids Thunder
If you can't be down in Kentucky to see the Wolverines and Storm, then you should most certainly head up to the GR for this one. On a good day last season, the Thunder could have beaten any minor league team in America, and their dominance over very strong competition spoke for itself. After an inspiring start in 2005, the Flyers dropped off a bit. They look to be back with a vengeance in 2006 after having gone on the road and winning decisively over the historically stingy Saints. For the Flyers to have a shot at this one, they will have to have success running the ball. If the Thunder offensive juggernaut is allowed to gain rhythm, the Flyers offense all night. I would also go so far as to say that the Flyers pass rush might be the most important part of their game this weekend, but my guess is that it will not be enough on the road.
River City Saints @ Evansville Vipers
After a great 2005, the Vipers have jumped into the big pond of the MLFA, and get a test right away from the high scoring Saints. Coach Bass has some great athletes back for the 2006 season, and has even filled in a few gaps. The Vipers figure to throw the ball more this season, and have spent more time developing special teams (a good lesson for all teams) in anticipation of the better competition of the new league. The Saints will come in looking to throw the ball, and they will test the Viper secondary early and often. My feeling, though, is that the Vipers defense will both slow the Saints momentum and give their own offense great field position all night.
Motor City Warthogs @ Ohio Knights
The Warthogs proved in the indoor tournament that they are no joke. They hit like almost nobody around and have a very very strong defense. The Knights may be a first year team, but they are full of talent at most every position. There are very few Knights that have not competed at a very high level and know how to win big games. It remains to be seen if this team will go on to the kind of success that a group of players with this kind of pedigree would suggest, but my money is on a very strong first season. Though the Warthogs will field one of the best defenses they will see this year, it will be no match for Krishaun around the corner. First of many wins for the Knights.
Okay. That's it, kids. Uncle Supa's gotta get some sleep before the sun comes bashing in on my head. Every year, just like every game, is a new opportunity. Most of you are undefeated and anything is still possible. Go out and earn it.
Oh, and make your mommas proud, boys.
Cmon now Supa...I know that u have the Lima Warriors game predicted correctly in the outcome, but you actually think they are goin to score at all? You gave them 15 points! Wow...33-15 huh? We'll have to see about that one...least u charged up our D cuz they plan on beatin last years start of 5 straight games with a shut out!
The Dayton Drive is a new and improved version. Do not fear for us Supa, we are out to win the USFA. Unfortunately for the depleted Central Ohio Lions they will be the first victim and then on to the Miami Valley Warriors. This is simply the start of a very disappointing season for the Lions-without their stars of the past.
David slays Goliath
The Storm are definitely no joke! Lots of size on the line and pretty good skill to. Two playmakers at QB to boot.
The game was back and forth for 4 quarters. Storm jumped out to an early lead, exposing a rookie cornerback for a long touchdown pass, but missed the extra point. Wolverines come back 2 drives later with a bomb of their own to all american michael skies and casey clark connect on the 1st of 4 extra points on the day.
Wolverines extend the lead before half time with a clock killing drive the ended on a quick slant from kendrick johnson to the wolverines other mlfa all american receiver, brett sheckles.
The storm fought back and took the lead with 5:20 to go in the game but the action was far from over. The Wolverines, led by back up quarterback Dewayne Whitfield took the ball for a 60 yard drive, capped by a 5 yd qb draw to take the lead 28-24, but left 1:58 on the clock.
Storm was stopped on the first two plays of the drive but got things rolling on a 3 rd down quick screen for the 1st down conversion. They progressed to the Wolverine 15 with 10 seconds left to go. Qb got flushed from the pocket and scrambled way too long before misfiring into the endzone. Everyone thought the game was over but there was 0.5 seconds on the clock. Time for one more play. Qb sets up in the pocket and looks left for an out route to the side of the endzone but missed a little high and the ball was barely contacted by the receiver.
Game over ....28-24 Wolverines.
Lima Warriors Win 35-0
Central Ohio Lions-56
Lions show tough defense, with Drive not completing one pass. Also no first downs for Drive in second half. However, the Drive showed a lot of class and played hard from the first play to the last.
What about some details?
Lima Warriors 35
S.W. Mich. 0
Warriors defense forces 4 turnovers and hold the Punishers to 98 yds total offense.
The Knights are a first year team and played just like it. Turnovers and more turnovers led to their falling behind. I think there were 3 or 4 picks thrown. Also gave up 2 Special Teams TD's. Congrats to the Hogs, but you make it easy for them with play like that. Run the ball, run the ball again, and then run some more. Then for good measure run it again.
Not, bad for your first set of prediction's Supa, 4 out of six.
The Saints are a class group. The Vipers Offense did not show up or execute at all. Luke Yaeger went 1-1 on Field Goals. FS Adam Williams and SS Mike Scott had interceptions for the Vipers. Vipers DL Dion Fox also had a fumble recovery. I don't know the player's name, but the Saint who caught the TD pass made a play that would have been on plays of the week in my book. This game was played at North H.S. in Evansville, Indiana. The Vipers home field was being used by a State Soccer Tournament. I was unable to get a copy of the stats before I left the field on Saturday night and will not make excuses for the Vipers lack of execution on offense. This is a new season and we will take 2006 one week at a time!