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Well TSL, we made it through the season! No it was not the typical season for us but I for one still had an amazing time each and every week we played and I hope you all did too. Shout out to our fearless leader Topper for going to bat for us and making it happen when the odds were against us. Also props to the Field Crew for all they did to make sure things ran smoothly. Championship weekend is always an exciting day and this year was no exception.

Starting in D1, the start of the playoffs were moved back a week as an extra precaution which meant that aside from the top 2 of the division, all teams had 9am games and would need to win 3 in a row to be champions. Not an easy feat by any means. Marketing Mayors took on Why So Serious? in tight match up. Terrell Bolden has been solid at QB for his team and with another season under his belt, I could see him leading his team to greatness. They have the talent with Pete, Kedron and their females; I saw Pete make a highlight reel worthy catch deep in the endzone with the toe tap for a TD. Unfortunately Marketing Mayors still has Andy Smith who continues to be borderline uncoverable, especially on the deep routes. Cory Turner showed off some one-handed catching ability as well in their win to move on to the semis.

MM met up with Tight Ends in Motion who ended in 2nd place earning them a first round bye despite some big injuries/scheduling conflicts throughout the season. The replacement players stepped up big, most notably Bro Kleckler at QB and Robin Makula who was acquired through a trade. I’m going to be honest and it might offend people but hey, this is the media, that’s kind of our thing. Looking at MM and TEIM I would say MM has the edge talent-wise. Now I’m going to Tarentino this and tell you right off the bat that TEIM wins this game to move on to the championship. So what’s the deal? The deal is that TEIM plays within a system and that system seems to have MM’s number. MM could not stop Bro and Co on defense and could not figure out how to get passed Stoner Dave on offense. The result was a 37-22 win for TEIM.

Eyes Downtown might have been surprised to find themselves in a play-in game for the playoffs but let’s be honest, they haven’t had the best season to this point. Gryffindor has proved that persistence paid off. When they first moved up to D1 they weren’t in anyone’s mind come playoff time but Joey Batts and the crew have continued to battle and recruit. This is a classic tale for all those afraid to move up that it is possible and once you get to D1, you can add whomever you want to the roster. That said, Gryffindor found themselves down by 20 early in the game. Some may have thought that was all she wrote but think again. They battled back, taking the lead late in the game. Eyes Downtown wasn’t about to go down without a fight either though. In their last 2 possessions, Matty Mohr caught a bomb TD pass from the 50 yard line followed by Chris Franjoine getting by Anthony Battaglia on a streak to put them ahead. Gryffindor wasn’t able to come back again and ED moved on to face Public Enemy.

Public Enemy versus Eyes Downtown. We never get sick of seeing these two teams play each other. Bobby McConnell and Matty Mohr tend to bring their A game. Chris Cole and his team always want to win, but against them it’s at more of a personal level. It’s even better when both teams have all their horses in the race. Jeremy Burr was back after seemingly missing quite a few games this year. This game was close right up to the end. Unfortunately for ED, Burr sustained what looked like a pretty serious injury. We hope he is okay but he could not finish the game. It came down to the end when Cole sailed a pass over Mohr’s head to Mike Boccio who showed off his vertical, taking the win and advancing on to face TEIM in the championship.

The championship game was another nail biter. TEIM had an early lead when PE spent too much time celebrating their win over their rivals. Cole took several sacks and things were looking bleak for the defending champions. With 12 minutes left they were down 20. PE rallied, cutting the lead to 6 followed by 2 consecutive stops on defense. Heather Cepchowski sacked Bro on 6th down leading to a turnover on downs. With 15 seconds left, PE came down again and scored to tie it up then getting the conversion to go up by one. TEIM had one more shot with seconds remaining. Eric Kleckler got them passed midfield off a quick pass from Bro. With one last play, they threw it up for one last chance but Jon McGrath was there to knock it down and give PE their second consecutive championship.

Scared Hitless and Frodo Swaggins finished the season with matching records. Both have speed, height and talented females. Scotty Dro was late but made it in time to play offense for his team. Josh Schneider even showed up for the first time this season for FS. That was about the end of things going well for them though. SH shut them completely down on defense, allowing only 8 points against a QB claiming he wants a shot at D1. The tall guy they had rushing didn’t give Scott any time and even got a pick off the line. On offense, SH showed they were a force to be reckoned with. Cat Peters was a huge addition to this team and their QB Dylan Dayy has been climbing the Power Rankings all season.  Tristan Drescher had some big plays all season and added the right mix of speed and height to help his team to the win.

All We Do is Quinn and the Untouchaballs went into double OT, with both offenses refusing to back down. I didn’t see a whole lot of this game but I did see the end and that was plenty. AWDIQ had the lead early but made the age old mistake of looking ahead too soon, wondering how the Frodo Swaggins game was going. Untouchaballs stayed focused and battled back to send the game in into not one but 2 overtimes. AWDIQ had the ball and were driving. Vince Taverna played well all game but he almost made a fatal error throwing a pick on their final drive. Alas, the gods were on his side and the player was out of bounds so Vince got another chance. He capitalized on that chance by finding Troy Boller along the front goal line. Untouchaballs argued that he was short but everyone on the sidelines agreed with the refs call of a good TD and a win.

AWDIQ met up with SH for the D3 final. These teams did not play against each other during the season so no scouting report could be done unless a team watched their opponent play someone else. SH’s game plan was the deep routes against AWDIQ’s man defense. AWDIQ refused to make changes and the result stayed the same with SH taking the lead at half time. During half time, there were too many roosters in the hen house, with everyone arguing with each other. Quinn finally made adjustments and were able to execute some semblance of defense. Tori Ticco played outstanding for AWDIQ but SHs’ Dylan Dayy found Kynan Vandenburgh on another deep ball and took the D3 championship title.

The D5 semi-final was between Practice Squad and Zach Attack. After a whirlwind season last year, ZA was awfully quiet this time around. I saw another offensive shoot out with both QBs preferring the deep ball. Zach Elphick plays a smart game and utilizes his females well. B is not afraid to sling it downfield and let his receivers make a play. Andrew Piatek made some nice defensive stops for ZA but unfortunately for them they fell short and PS advanced to the D5 final.

Cobblestone met up with Mountain Dew Me and the result was what you would expect. Darryl Carr could not get his receivers away from the speedy defenders of MDM and no one could stop them on defense. Honestly that’s really all there was to it, but Darryl’s hair looked phenomenal.

So the final was Practice Squad versus Mountain Dew Me as it should be. ANOTHER double overtime! This game was obviously a close one. Both teams played very well and it could have gone either way. Jordan McGregor showcased his speed while Cody McGregor showed off his arm and route calling. B played a solid game, spreading the ball around to all his receivers. The game was theirs to take but B missed Renee Lantz wide open in the end zone and instead tried getting it to her brother, Kenny, who pulled up with an injury and MDM took the title.

The Dilfs and Slytherin That Endzone met up for the second time this season. The Dilfs won the first match up but that was when Slytherin did not have Newman and Taylor Pagano. This time around, all hands were on deck. The Dilfs were missing Dubey so Travis took over at QB. Slytherin started in a zone defense but switched to man right away. The Dilfs had some uncharacteristic drops which stalled out two of their drives. They were unable to stop Matt Newman’s deep ball. When drives stall out, you need to make a stop on defense, which the Dilfs were unable to do. Slytherin took the win and advanced to the finals.

Jabronies and Sticky Bandits went back and forth for the lead all game. These teams know each other well and had game plans set to capitalize on the others weaknesses. They stayed within a score throughout the game with the lead changing often. Both teams loved the deep ball all season and this game was no different. Close games often lead to emotions running high which was proven true again. Ricky Recckio and Ben Stack were at each other all second half. Recckio’s rushing threw Joe Miano for a loop as he is not used to size and speed coming at him. By the end, SB had a 2 score lead that Jabronies could not overcome.

The D2 championship came down to the 3rd and 4th seed of the division. Based on the last couple seasons, it seems the top spots in this division are not where you want to end up. But for Slytherin and Sticky, they definitely earned their right to be in the championship. And what a game it was. Back and forth action in the first half with the only defensive stop coming from a Ricky Recckio pick on the first play. Dave Baker had himself a game, adding a couple Tds to his stats including the play of the half when Mike Thomas throws it up to Recckio. The Slytherin defender made a play on the ball but Baker dove through the mess of bodies to make the catch. Newman answered back though and Slytherin went into the half up 3. In the second half both teams had some big drops but Recckio came through for his team again with a pick, finishing it off with a deep TD catch. SB utilized stall tactics to end the game and win their 2nd consecutive championship. Fun fact: I overheard players talking and apparently that was the 150th win for the Sticky Squad. 

In D4, the playoffs were off to a lame start when Uncle Rico’s forfeit at the last minute resulting in the Angels getting a fast pass to the championship. Bold strategy. The Buffalo Solar Solutions/Overcompensators game made up for it though. A high scoring affair with 2 elite QBs on either side resulted in an offensive battle, which is always fun to watch. Larry Chruscial looked like the Larry of old that we honestly hadn’t seen much of this season. Andy Clark showed us why they were the top seed in the division. Fast forward to the end of the game and OC had a substantial lead. A huge upset was in the air. But BSS remained poised and continued to come at the OC on offense. Caitlyn Mason is not a name you may hear a lot of but she’s honestly one of the best girls in the league, yes I said league and not division. She’s small, quick and does not drop the ball. Captain Dan Gonzalez helped lead his team to a come-from-behind victory that came down to the wire with Clark putting the team on his back and launching the ball down field. BSS moved on to face the Angels in the finals.

This was a rematch we all wanted to see. The last time these guys faced each other, BSS won fairly easily. They took advantage of the Angels’ weakness (which is height) and fed the tall guy on their team. Sorry your name still escapes me. Email the league with descriptions if it bothers you. I expected to see much of the same. Both teams came out hot. The Angels have not had the fire they used to but that could be because they were missing some of their big names every week. The spark was lit for this game though. Bobby McConnell figured out a way to get the ball to his females while Andy Clark struggled to make connections. He appeared to be injured as I noticed some limping after the play on several occasions and did not target the tall guy nearly as often as in their first meeting. Still, the Angels pulled out all stops. The game was close and a back and forth battle. Bobby had a huge pick that swung the momentum away from BSS and towards the Angels. From there, the Angels went to a systematic, take-what-they-are-giving-you offense and were able to come out with the D4 championship.

And last but not least in D6, TMA took on Graves Brothers in the semifinals. TMA kept the game close and probably could have pulled off a win if they were able to bring in some would-be interceptions. GB played a hurry up offense and sent the ball long often. TMA had Nick Smith back but were missing Drunk Meg’s Brother. Nonetheless the game was close. GB had all the momentum in their favor but that almost came crashing down when a player attempted a pitch that landed in the hands of Diana Bernal. Steve Miller made a defensive play to prevent the turnover that some considered excessive but resulted only in a loss of downs. GB went on to win and advance to the finals.

The Tater Tots took on The Bambs at the same time and admittedly I didn’t see much of this game. The Bambs looked to be running with a skeleton crew while the Tater Tots had their usual cast of characters. Dylan Jaloza played well unfortunately their defense could not get the stops they needed. The Bambs’ Derrick Sekuterski has been quietly balling out this whole season. They know how to use his height and I saw him sacrifice his body on several occasions. The females of this team are also not talked about a lot but I saw Marissa Padilla make some impressive catches for her team. The Tots’ usual run and gun offense was working effectively but as the old adage goes “defense {gets you to the} championship.” Or something like that.

So that left us with Graves Bros and The Bambs in the finals. I’ve heard it said there are few harder things than beating a team twice and more and more that’s proving true. Last time these guys played each other Graves Bros came out with the win in a high scoring affair. This time the scoring was there but both teams improved upon their defense. I can’t say I saw any real big, game changing plays but both teams put together a solid performance with the Bambs just showing they had the edge on football smarts and route running.

And that brings us to the close of the TSL 2020 season. Congratulations to all the champions as well as everyone else who made it through this chaotic season with us. We are so grateful to you all for allowing us to be a part of the greatest co-ed football league in the area. Remember to continue to check back on the Facebook and Topper Sports League page to see who was nominated for awards. I know a lot of nominations were being thrown around at the end of the season. We still aren’t sure how the awards will be announced but make sure you are around for when they are because it is always a good time. Until next session, I’ll be…resting my eyes.

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