Week 1 had all the makings of a great weekend but was overshadowed with controversy. Just a few days prior to kick off news broke that both the U and the Cardinals were being removed from the schedule and it nearly shook the entire league. The U are defending back-to-back champs and we heard from both sides of the coin. Those who wanted them to play, those who didn’t want them to play and everything in between.
Despite the issues leading up to the inaugural weekend of A7FL’s eleventh season the sun shined and the games were played. Despite heavy snow / rain / wind in the forecast we got a fairly decent day as the teams laced their cleats and went to war.
Kicking things off with BIC who are looking to get back to the Chip after their devastating loss to the U in 2014 and they started off their 2016 campaign against an Animals team that prior to the start of the game were adamant that this was a different team and that there was no chance of a victory for BIC. With plenty of rumors swirling that The U would take their talents across the city to their Silk City cohorts that turned out not to be the case in week 1 and it was shown with a 26 – 0 victory for BIC. Both teams came out flat footed on the offensive side of the ball. Tyree McQueen didn’t do much to silence the critics with a subpar performance as the teams signal caller missing several wide open receivers or just overthrowing his intended targets. Plenty of disorganization rocked several drives for BIC as well as false start penalties are becoming a thing in A7 after nearly a decade of them always being a reset and it cost them drives. Despite all of that BIC was able to get things going in the second half starting with a Punt Return for a TD by Obi who made three defenders look foolish, a TD Pass to Smoke late in the 2nd half and a fake reverse taken to the house by Courage to seal the fate.
For the Animals they did something I was not expecting them to do and that was to take the ball out of their best players hands. I have been highly critical of Skoob since he started last season but that was from a running back position. Looking at the tape you can see he has tons of speed and the ability to make people miss when he has the ball in his hands. The majority of the time his success came from behind center where the ball started and ended with him. In this one they moved him out wide for a good portion of the game and their QB just couldn’t get him the ball. Defensively the Animals made some pretty nice plays, making big hits and stopping drives before they could really get started. But in the end it was the BIC experience that was able to finish off what started off to be a very good game in the first half.
No one really talks about him but he was my MVP runner-up last season. If it weren’t for Alex Vargas doing what he did Corey Hammond would easily be the next man in line. The MVP stands for Most Valuable Player and although Keith Morrison proves to be a major catalyst for that team Corey is turning some heads getting his playmakers the ball. Playing against the Bullies in week 1 Hammond and company carved up a pretty inept defense scoring four times (although the last one shouldn’t have counted due to Illegal Touching). Hammond has some of the best pocket control in the league never has his eyes on the defensive line and slides with his protection like no one else. The Warriors will be sneaky specifically if they can continue to get the ball to their play makers Matt and Keith. They still have some issues with the running game as neither Ishola or #23 are all that fast but with the experience they both bring to the position the Warriors should be just fine. Across the line this team can be pretty scary for a good majority of teams. From Huskies players Alan Sparks & Teddy Slay are monsters on the defensive line and Saul I’ve talked about at nauseam and that doesn’t even refer to the other key veterans like Bobby Newman or Rich Agosto.
The Bullies looked pretty bad. Another Beef team that has decided to bring back a squad without a legit QB. Not sure if it was the QBs issue or if it was the line who failed to give them any time but this team went back and forth several times with different people trying to get things going. In the only moments where the QB did have time though they weren’t very accurate which makes me believe they were a combination of both. Despite their woes on the offensive side their defense led by hard hitting line backer White Mike #13 was the highlight of their squad. Mike was literally all over the field made arguably two of the biggest hits on the entire day and made sure on both Special Teams and Defense that the Warriors regret they went his way.
Despite the Chiefs vs. Savage being labeled as the game of the week it was the Rebels vs. Spanktown that took the spotlight in their thrilling 21 – 20 game. Spanktown came out on top but not without some stress as they allowed a late TD after a poor offensive drive with less than two minutes left in the game. We talked about him last week but Robert Brown showed out and was a nuisance on both the offensive side and the defensive side of the ball making plays when his team needed it the most. But for some reason there were plenty of times where Mr. Brown was no where to be found, which isn’t very good for a star player like him.
For the Rebels they surprised many. They had some unbelievable plays and the addition of Fweez at DE is a great look for when him and Steve Knight get on the same page. The two headed monster of Berto and Keelz needs to get sured up though as plenty of times we noticed that one of the other player could or should have been the guy instead of the other one. But their one, two punch of speed, agility and the ability to get the ball down field is going to be a problem for many teams. In fact, the Rebels are a RB and a WR away from being a pretty solid contender.