Well, well, well…
Another week, the LAST week in the IFL regular season and MAN did we have a pretty good one!
Some of the seeding not done until last minute, sorta. And some teams were in long before week 5.
Generals and Wolfpack look to finish the season perfect, and a couple teams are dangerously quietly hunting for the title (I’m lookin’ at you, ‘Cats and ‘Stangs)
So with leaves about to ‘fall’ (thought of THAT m’self!) and me on the way to Aunt Cora’s for a pre’ T-day feast to kickoff the college football season (sorta) – let’s pick some games!
Hurricanes @ Cutters
Bloomington IN. 7pm.
No matter what you say about the Hurricanes, this was a surprise to all of us. They played well and not only won games no one thought they would, they very well could be 5-2 this season and playing for the ring.
Not bad for a 1st year squad.
This is one of the fastest teams in the league, and with men like Wr#10 and DB#5 at corner and all around guy Shepard, they pose issues for any opposing game planner.
If Big John keeps these guys together another year, there is NO doubt in my mind they will be hunting rings next year.
The Cutters have had nothing less than a disappointing season to say the least and it was almost two weeks ago when we saw that there was little chance of a repeat championship.
This is not to say that they have laid down for anyone, and what is to be recollected is that this is a different team at home, and still are the only offense to put nearly 30 on the Generals.
That’s one HECK of a feat.
Although this game means nothing for this year, don’t think both coaches and players aren’t looking at this as a first step into 2011, rather than the last one in 2010.
But in the end, if they play like their usual, speed kills.
Blaze @ Force
Houston Field, 4pm
What I liked about the Blaze last week was that they didn’t come out panicking with a “We have to win or we’ll die” attitude. They came out, handled business and won, pitching a shut out against a good offensive team in the Cutters.
They ran the ball well as usual, but the defense was standout, along with the secondary.
But what was most evident was the attitude they had before the game. This was something that was done either pregame or in the week of practice, and I am sure it has bled into the game.
Another team that may be sneaking up on some folks this year, but I also think we all are aware of how capable this team is of winning it all.
They key is still the tailback Robbie Crockett and as long as he is able to get free, this team is ground chuck, but QB Hakes is smart and efficient.
What is not to be lost is all the team does for its community as well.
That’s always good to hear from my contacts in the far north!
The Force have yet to be – as the army would say – all that they can be. They will be world beaters in one week, not so the next.
They absolutely have offensive fire power in players like the lengthy WR Sean Bosworth, but are not always able to get the ball to him.
Defensively, they do a good job gang tackling and swarming, but breakdown in the secondary from time to time, giving up large chunks and in some cases, 6 points.
They key for the Force is to play together and not break down if things don’t go well on the field.
Odds are heavy in favor of the Blaze, but if the Force can stop the run, they have a shot.
But on THIS Blaze team, the shot is a looong one.
Panthers @ Outlaws
Robinson Field, OH 5pm
This is a pretty good matchup, considering what both of these teams have been through this year.
The Panthers have stuck it out and behind the good play of QB Bosma, they have started to score some points.
If you see this team, they don’t look bad really. Its fundamentals that are missing, and a few dropped passes that keep them out of the end-zone many times.
If some solid game plan and a few extra players are added, this team will start being in closer contention and may even draw some wins.
Hang in there guys, it takes a while in the IFL…( well, don’t tell that to the some of the surprise teams this year)
The Outlaws have had from what we’ve seen, the worst string of injuries in the entire league.
There is no question that if they were healthy, they would be above .500, but in this game, no one sheds tears for that. (Well, my bro does, but he’s such a girl!)
I like the heart of this team and the way they absolutely never quit and will want something to finish the regular season on a good note.
What helps is being at home and I heard a couple players will return this week.
As tough as these guys are, I think the Outlaws will be able to get a much needed W and give the hard fighting Panthers a long ride home.
Wolfpack @ Pirates
Pirates Cove, IN
The Wolfpack are coming off a great game, one of their best last week VS the Hitmen, but before I go into the game, a point was made to me with an email (actually several) about the game itself I must address.
The game again was great, but after listening to film (yes, I said LISTENING to film) we were impressed by the Wolfpack fan base crowd noise. It was loud AT the game, but it was more evident on film.
True enough, we know it was stated by me that I said the Bourbon, IN is one of the toughest paces to play, along with the Generals home and the Blaze pack them in also, but this place was rockin, and I don’t doubt it will be at playoff time. That will make this a very tough place to visit and maybe even hear from the opponents.
Now - let’s talk football.
As I’ve said before, there isn’t much flash to the Wolfpack offense, and Coach Marsh likes it this way. The K.I.S.S. rule is followed but the ONLY thing that ever plagues this team is putting the ball on the ground.
But - they have no issue if they go three and out and kicking. With one of league’s best and strongest kickers in Clawson (Brian, that is) they will almost always win the field position battle.
Which leads to the Defense.
An injury or two has hurt them a bit recently, but this is still a very solid D that more than likely leads the North in sacks (this is unofficial, but we counted 25 on film) and is rivaled only to the Hitmen in run D.
Quite simply, we have yet to see a chink in the Wolfpack armor, and so far no one else has either.
The Pirates have had the up/downs as anyone this year, and it’s a shame.
At seasons open, this was a possible favorite to grit their way near the top of the IFL south, but some in house issues have hurt them and they will stumble into the playoffs at 3-4 presently.
Still one of the best LB cores plays fast and quick, but not able to keep it up if they are out there all day.
Also a great RB in #1 Stacker, but also cannot do it alone.
With these personnel issues abounding, the cove will not be as tough as fans of the pirates would hope and with an opponent like the Wolfpack, all numbers are needed, but not available.
Bad times this week for the Pirates.
Game of the Week (#1)
Mustangs @ Wildcats
Brazil, IN 8pm
Well, this is the FIRST time we’ve had two games of the week, this being the first of teams who are very likely to tangle on a different-bigger stage later this same season!
This is the kinda stuff that gets me rubbing my palms together and wide eyed staring at the laptop after watching film.
Well, after the loss to the Hitmen, the Mustangs have been playing pretty well. The Offense has found its rhythm and the defense has picked up steam.
They are playing as a team now and as good as anyone using consistent pass run pass offense, and a very smart defense has them in contention for the ring.
With their back vs. the wall 2 weeks ago, they head into this game having won the games they needed to win, and are another team that could be near 5-2 or so by now.
Depending on which ‘Stang team shows up, they can pose a real problem to anyone they see.
The Wildcats are another VERY dangerous team that can play with anyone, YES anyone.
I was reminded to go watch the Generals game from earlier this season, and when I did, no, it was not pretty.
Mr. Landry (Wildcat QB) was not at the helm, along with a few others that could’ve helped.
Now, was it 30 points or so different? No. But that was a different Wildcat team all together.
Since that game, they have not lost, improved and began scoring like…well…like Wildcats.
The defense is definitely a swarming crew, absolutely pummeling its last four opponents but will be up against the best O line they have seen since the Generals.
The Offense will have a tough time vs. the speed of the Mustang pass rush, but if they can protect Landry, they may have success in the air.
Mustang QB Mike Whittaker has really hit a stride, which was said before, is bad news for defenses.
Since playoffs are solidified in both clubs, and seeding is assured, either team could rest the starters. But if I know Coach West and Coach Rindone, that simply won’t happen.
Look for a dawgfight here folks with statements to be made on both sides of the ball.
I paid for it picking against the ‘Cats last week. As ‘The Who’ said…“We don’t get fooled again.”
Game of the week (#2)
Hitmen @ Generals
Indianapolis, IN 7pm
Now THIS is what football is all about! Two more great teams headed into the playoffs with legitimate chances at the ring meeting before hand.
Sure as suga’ I’ll be here and getting a decent hot dog as well. (Although we went over budget by $23.00 at the Wolfpack game, but who counting? - Well, my wife is, but don’t tell her, she doesn’t really know were over yet!)
The Hitmen come in off a heartbreaking, hard fought loss to the Wolfpack and have been taking the loss very seriously.
The defense played admirably, but had some protection issues early, and the offense was able to put it on the zone vs. the field goals, which cost them.
The team is still extremely capable of beating anyone, and it actually may have been the big game aspect that was the difference.
Expect them to have learned from a game like that and as said by many teams that may loose right on the cusp of post season, “Better now than in the playoffs”
Thank you, John Madden.
The Generals are off yet another dominating win over a very wounded Outlaw team and will face the most physical team they have seen all season and since the championship last year.
They will do well to protect QB Hibblein as the Hitmen D line are no strangers to the offensive backfield and sacks.
The Generals however run the ball well, and this is where they will make their real money this week.
They have the one thing that can get them the win, other than JT’s play calling, and that is pure speed.
But the Hitmen like to do exactly that, HIT. And it was written by members of two teams to us that the Hitmen hit them harder than anyone else this year.
That’s player testimony, not mine.
There will be sparks here to be certain.
I have another tough one to call, but have to say that until they are beaten, they get the pick, but will definitely take some lumps while getting the win.
Well, that’s it for me and the regular season of the ‘new’ IFL.
I gotta say – I wish I had the help I have now earlier, but I want to take time to thank Frank, Robbie, Steve, Mike, Mike, Taylor, Ty, Scooter, Phil and of course, my wife who makes sandwiches for us while we watch, review film, and although she doesn’t brew the brew, she keeps it cold and the coffee hot and is my support. (And editor, save this installment.)
Love you, honey!
I also want to thank Supa, the rep’s of the IFL, all the teams/players and the spell check who give me the change to write and give me good things to cover and the EXTREME hospitality we (ALL the crew) have been shown at al the venues we’ve visited.
I have gotten all the emails and will be adding at least 4 staff for next year.
Ah, ah, ah! No, I’m not gone! Yes, we covering playoffs, more interviews and working on a few other things.
Keep the letters a’comin. We cannot do this without you!
Be safe and smart this week! And congrats to all teams on completion of a great season and beginning of more to come!
Ya gotta love this game!