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That’s a wrap ladies and gentlemen. The Fall 2021 season has come to an end, leaving new champions in our midst. Overall, Saturday was an amazing day of football that had no shortage of talent on display. The weather held out as best as we could have hoped for given the forecast and rain during the week. Sure, some of the fields were sloppy so I’m certain there’s a good handful of you blaming your losses on that but winners win. Let’s talk about the Semis and Finals!

D1

The semis for D1 were kind of anticlimactic. Sticky Bandits got off to a slow start, failing to find not only the end zone but midfield, on their first 2 possessions. Public Enemy was on full throttle from the start and got up to an early 2 score lead. Sticky Nation was not able to battle back. Brian Stevens was relatively quiet this session but he came up big for his team in the semis. Unfortunately, they had already dug themselves into too deep a hole to come back from.  Pete Nguyen played an all-around incredible game and really brought PE back to their glory as a virtually unbeatable powerhouse.

Tight Ends in Motion versus Eyes Downtown was a little more competitive. Bobby McConnell struggled early finding his receivers. TE got a lead but ED was able to battle back to get within a score at the half. Back to back picks to start the second half pushed ED right back down though. Emily Curry came away with one of the picks off a deflection from one of the ED females. As everyone besides McConnell saw, Eric Delecki was wide open deep. TE capitalized with a gender TD. ED tried going deep on the next drive but Nick Wendt made a phenomenal catch and TE finished it off with another gender TD.

They went on to face Public Enemy in the finals. TE struggled early this time, getting into several 4-2 situations and not using their females effectively. PE got out to an early 20 point lead which TE was able to battle back from. They brought it within 9 points with the ball on the 2 yard line in the final minutes. On 6th down, TE needed a gender TD so Emily Curry threw to a wide open Bro Kleckler…who dropped it. Chris Cole’s swan song was complete and he can ride off into the sunset a champion.

D2

A&A versus XTC was a back-and-forth battle, of which there were many. XTC seemed to have the poise going into and to start this game. A&A repeatedly got into 4-2 situations and needed to bring in a 3rd girl to get the extra downs. Matty Ice couldn’t scramble like he likes to and it took them some time to switch to the short game schema. XTC had some kinks to iron out of their own. Brandt Dubey threw 2 picks that could have been more if the defense held onto the ball. A&A was down but a big Hail Mary catch by Jay Jasker gave them some much needed momentum going into half time. XTC was missing both Kelly Sabo and Kelly Mazur. They had a respectable sub in Emily Schilling but she took some time to adjust to Dubey’s throwing velocity. Katie Keller was quiet in that she was hardly utilized, maybe not your best game plan.

TopShot and Scared Hitless was a down to the wire finish in the semis. Both teams played well on both sides of the ball and both teams made their share of mistakes. I saw a couple open receivers that were looked over for TopShot. Scared Hitless had some uncharacteristic drops. What everyone should take away though was that this game easily could have gone either way. SH was up 1 after Adrian Cannon scored for TS. TS decided to be men (and women) and go for the win. Commendable. Everyone flowed to the right with Cannon running the back line. Jackee Thompson went left. Wide open. Dylan Jaloza kept his eyes facing right though and didn’t see Thompson. He fired it in to Cannon who made the catch but was ruled out of bounds and SH advanced.

They met A&A in the finals. These teams are fairly matched on paper. They both have speed and height with SH having the edge in the former and A&A taking the cake for the latter. Both teams bring solid females that could easily take over any game. A&A had a big defensive start to open the game then both teams alternated scoring drives. The first half ended with SH up by 1. Matty Ice tried to throw another Hail Mary but fell short. A&A began starting drives with 3 females in the game. SH started arguing with the refs and the game got away from them from there. To be honest, I didn’t see the play they were arguing about so I can’t comment on that. A&A started to run away with it late in the second half and SH couldn’t regroup quick enough to come back. I’m pretty sure I heard Matty Ice announce his retirement as well after the game but I can’t be sure.

D3

Grey Hair Don’t Care took on 4th and Dong in another back-and-forth battle early. By the half, it was a 9 point game. Nicole Keller had some great sideline catches to move her team down the field. Austin Weber put on an MVP performance, making what seemed like at least 1-2 catches per drive. 4&D missed the tall guy they usually have going up to get everything. The females of GHDC played outstandingly. Molly Santo was a great addition and had her fair share of catches. With 6 minutes left, 4&D had a shot to catch up but Scott Drosendal tossed up a back-foot throw that was picked off by Jon Von and that sealed the deal.

The Angels took on Frodo Swaggins in a somewhat anticlimactic semifinal. The Angels did not seem like themselves for whatever reason. Matty Ice had trouble hitting his targets and threw a couple picks. The field conditions were detrimental to The Angels usual game plan, resulting in Matty taking numerous sacks or overthrowing his receivers. The ladies also had their fair share of drops and could not move the ball like they usually do. Frodo Swaggins used their height advantage to get down the field. Garrett Beesing made some great throws and drew up some impressive plays. He utilized all his receivers well and their females were able to come in when in the red zone and punch it in.

Grey Hair and Frodo met in the finals. Both teams were flying high and playing lights out football. Rawdog made some nice deep catches and Dave Eickhoff was on. Corey Santo was another great addition, bringing up the teams overall elusiveness rating. Frodo Swaggins finally had their full roster present and it really made a difference. They were able to stay fresh and make plays but GHDC played a smart, solid game and Frodo couldn’t keep up.

D4

The Cunning Stunts and Falconies game was a close one that was a rollercoaster to watch. The CS got a fast start, taking a 24-0 lead. Joe Miano maintained composure and played some excellent football. All the females played great for Falconies which is exactly what you need against a gender team. Andrew Kicak put the pressure on rushing but Joey Battaglia was able to get the ball out quick. I started listing all the CS I saw make great catches but then it turned into just listing everyone so I will simply say the Stunts utilized their receivers perfectly. Every one of them was a threat across the middle and deep and the Falconies could not get a big stop when they needed it. The Falconies were able to chip away at their deficit and send the game into OT with a long ball TD. They started with the ball and made it to their 2 yard line. Emma Patterson took a pitch and threw it up to her receiver. Brandy Clark jumped up and made a huge defensive play, just barely getting a piece of it and pushing it out of reach. On third down, Miano found Mike McKenrick but he dropped the ball. The Stunts just needed to score. After an incomplete pass then a Kicak Sack for a 5 yard loss, it wasn’t looking good for the Stunts. Third down, Renee Lantz went front cone and Batts drew the defenders to her by calling her name. Meanwhile Brandy Clark snuck along the backline and Batts found her wide open to push the Stunts into the finals.

Buffalo Vice and Itches and Ohs was another close one. Itches and Ohs had the lead early but Buffalo Vice was able to battle back by making some adjustments on defense and getting Caitlyn Mason involved in the offense. Amy Denning caught her fair share of deep passes and Dan Gonzalez did what he does best. Laura Streeter added to her YAC stats with several plays through the middle of the field. Itches and Ohs were able to hang on to the lead until the final 2 possessions. Buffalo Vice scored late to take the lead but with just over 1 minute left, they left too much time on the clock. I&O drove down to the 1 and Rylee Moser caught the go ahead TD on 6th down. The conversion was good leaving Buffalo Vice with only one option. They sent up a Hail Mary but it fell short and I&Os came away with the win.

It’s always fun to watch gender teams play another team with solid females and that is exactly what this final gave us. Itches and Ohs took another early lead. The Stunts were able to battle back to tie it up at the 2 minute warning. I&O drove downfield and were able to take the lead with a phenomenal sideline catch by the guy with the beard. Joey Battaglia and Co got the ball back with 45 seconds left but 2 incomplete passes ran down the time and I&O walked away champions. 

D5

Spinellis Plumbing was the odds on favorite for most of the season after dominating D6. Lettuce Win was all but counted out before making a huge stand last week. It could have been the Cinderella story everyone loves to see but it was not. SP at no point looked flustered or even mildly concerned. Nick Hawes threw the ball incredibly well. They honestly did it all. They went deep, they slanted across the middle, they crossed, they wheeled, they hooked. LW had some trouble getting the ball to their receivers. The real tall guy on their team was a monster and should have been utilized more, like every play. I’m not sure how long Connor Stalker has been throwing for in this league but from what I’ve seen of LW’s games, their QBs have not been consistent. If Stalker stays and gets some consistency and basic plays under his belt (including getting his females involved), I think LW could make more waves next season. 

Not So Sticky took on 716 on the next field. 716 was missing some personnel due to scheduling conflicts. NSS, on the other hand, played their most complete game ever. The defense was solid, and offense made no mistakes. Talia Calabro had at least a half dozen contested or tough catches and was the star of the game. #42 on 716 continued to impress with crazy athletic plays. NSS scored late in the second half to go up 21 and locked in the win.

Spinellis was waiting for them in the finals. Both teams' offenses played outstanding, scoring on every possession aside from one pick by Rags. NSS got themselves a mental win by running with them and keeping up with scoring. PS scored a collective 110 points on the day (yes, that was the most and quite possibly a record) so kudos to them. Ryan Rusin had an MVP-worthy performance, coming away with approximately 70% of the target shares in PS’s victory.

D6

Travis Henry’s Kids came out fast and furious against Blitzkrieg. Unfortunately I didn’t see a lot of this game (I was thirsty). But from what I did see, Blitzkrieg had some trouble moving the ball. They looked like they had their full roster back so hopefully next season will be more competitive. THK on the other hand has had a rollercoaster of a session. They went 5-4 and finished in second. They put up some big numbers one week, then couldn’t get any offense going the next. Defense needs work. That said, they made it to the semis and made easy work of it. I didn’t see any big plays that really stood out but they held Blitzkrieg to 8 points which was second least in a high-scoring final day of football.

Taking the prize for least amount of points allowed was TMA in their shutout win over Lenny’s Ladies. Again I was at the bar for most of this game (sorry, watching so many games gets me parched). But I saw enough to get the gist of what was happening. The Ladies couldn’t get anything going on offense. Joe K had a couple misfires and his females had some untimely drops but it basically came down to the fact that they just could not match up against TMA. In all honesty, no one seemed to be able to this session. Jamie Warren had a stellar performance for LL so she definitely deserves a shout out. TMA just their speed and height to get down the field then got their females involved in the endzone. Diana Bernal threw a TD pass from the 5 yard line. LL had no answer for Ron Webber.

In the finals, TMA was rolling. On the field, they looked ready to take on PE. The sidelines had no shortage of hype. Travis Henry’s Kids just could not seem to find a way to match up. TMA had the edge on speed, height and route running. You know who THK really could not shut down, though? Brent F-ing McKenzie. He had 3, yes 3, touchdown catches. And not a “stand on the front line and turn around” TD. One was a deep ball over the shoulder, one was out in front that he went and got, and the other was a John Cena, all alone in the back of the endzone. John Langley threw a couple infelicitous picks which further added to TMA’s hype and they finally came away with their first championship. 

That’s all for this season! It was long, it was wet at the end, but overall the best teams won and it was a great time. Be sure to check back for the Award Nominees and Banquet information come up in the next couple weeks. If you are new to the league or have been here but never go to the banquet, that should change. It’s basically a wedding without anyone having to make a lifetime commitment. I’ll leave you all with my Final Top 5 Notable players for 2021. 

1.     Chris Cole (Public Enemy)- He probably could have been on this list every week but I saved him for the end so he can ride off into the sunset on the top of every list.

2.     Nick Hawes (Spinellis Plumbing)- as I said, PS put up 110 points in 2 games. I remember when they could barely field a team not to mention get a win. Hawes has put this team on his back and their success speaks for the rest. 

3.     Ryan Henry (TMA)- There was talk about whether he was the right pick for QB1 on TMA but Henry put to rest all of that chatter by taking control when it mattered most.

4.     Casey Lawler (A&A, The Angels)- unmatched on speed, Lawler has proven herself to be a top tier female in any division. Matty Ice’s go-to bail out player, she can do it all, from the slant route for 5 yards that she turns into 10-15 to the deep ball with speed that the vast majority of defenders cannot cover.

5.     Topper- I always reserve the last spot for our fearless leader, without whom the league would not be possible. Thank you Topper, for all you do that allows us to spend each Saturday with our football family. 

Until next time, I’ll be watching…

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