Bye Weeks! The most important part to any football season couldn’t have come at a bigger time. With a schedule unlike any other, this season has kicked off with some of the biggest match ups we have ever seen in A7 history. With big match ups come big injuries and due to the holiday weekend the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time.
Kicking things off in New Jersey are the defending Beef Bowl IX champs The U facing arguably one of the best franchises in A7 history, The Bombers from Sayreville, NJ.
Hailing out of Paterson, NJ, the U aka Paterson U had found themselves on the outside looking in for many years prior to 2014 including a runner-up trophy a few years back when losing in a hard-nosed game against the since retired South Ward Gators from Newark, NJ. 2014 proved to be Paterson U’s year as they were able to hold off 11 other teams to hold up the trophy.
On the other hand, the Bombers have been struggling to return to glory as of the last few years. Missing both a Beef Bowl and Fall championships for a few years in a row including a season where the boys in blue weren’t even seen on the field when they folded back in 2013. But when you are a team like the Bombers full of rich history you very rarely stay down and out for too long as this past Fall season saw the Bombers hoisting the title once again.
The U has been a bit up and down so far in such a short period of time. After pulling out a tough victory in week 1 beating The Punishers 16 – 12 Paterson U took their first loss of the season in week 2 to the currently undefeated and Beef Bowl IX runner up BIC.
It wasn’t just the loss that sparked the headlines in that game but more so the turmoil from within the ranks that caught the eyes of many spectators. Tahree McQueen former Paterson U QB and longtime friend of many of the players from the squad saw a changing of the garb when Kareem Moon returned to the team after missing a few years to focus on college ball.
Kareem Moon who posses a bit more elusiveness than McQueen provided a spark to the U in the 2014 playoffs after McQueen went down with a torn achilles in their week 4 loss to the Savage. When McQueen returned to the field healthy for the first time in almost a year he struggled to hit open receivers or elude defenders on their way to a close victory. Talk from within the organization started to surface and the players themselves started to question if McQueen still had what it takes. This inevitably forced McQueen to look else where and he did just that going to week 2 opponent and upcoming rival BIC.
Despite the internal chaos that ensued within Paterson U it didn’t stop them from getting back to work following the big loss to the Nation. Last week, The U took on Pennsylvania powerhouse The Misfits in a battle of some the leagues top tiered teams. However, despite the slow start The U carried out the victory when it was all said and done.
One of the key takeaways from their week 3 win against the Misfits had to be their front line play on both sides of the ball. Offensively we saw a new scheme that included a running game from Air Jamaica which we hadn’t seen since Daryl T Luck donned the gray, green & orange just a year ago. This opened up holes for Moon to be able to do his things with both his legs and his arm. However, the defensive line played an intricate part in the early woes Paterson U suffered at the hands of the Misfits running game. Almost everyone on the field or off the field knew who was getting the ball and they still couldn’t stop the north-south running of “I Be Beastin” who helped the Misfits jump out to an early lead with a score of his own. The U is going to need to sure up their run defense this week if they plan to slow down the Bombers offensive attack.
Speaking of the Bombers, it hasn’t been easy for them either this season. With back-to-back-to-back games against the leagues elite the Bombers have been struggling in their own right to hold onto the ball. Just three weeks ago in their clash with Baltimore’s top team The Cobras, The Bombers coughed up the ball five times on route to their first loss of the season. But things didn’t stop there as long time all-star Ameer “Chicc” Moore fumbled the ball early in their next match up and a late fumble by the Bombers almost sealed their fate.
Despite their turnover woes early on this year they were able to squeak out a victory on yet again another controversial final play that involves the New Jersey Savage. With less than 30 seconds left on the clock and the Bombers losing Mujahaad “Moo” Myles put up a hail mary from 30 yards out where James “Big White” DeMild was there to reel in the catch. Replay following the game indicated that there could be arguments made that a push off was indeed the reason why DeMild came down with the ball but nevertheless it was the Bombers with the victory.
Both of these squads are coming in to this one 2 – 1 and a loss for either team could easily jeopardize the season and playoff standings permanently. The Bombers are known for their speed and their athleticism while the U is known for their size and elusiveness for their size. For The U the running game may have kicked up a bit, but the aforementioned Kareem Moon is going to need to settle down and put more ownership on his teammates shoulders than his own. In the past two games it looks like Moon is forcing plays to be made and although he has the legs to make those plays, as seen several times on film, he often times gets himself into trouble and against a Bombers team that thrives off mistakes it could be a long day for him and The U.
On the other hand though The Bombers inability to hold on to the ball is a major issue right now. Shaune Thomas was unable to play in last weeks thriller against The Savage but should be back on the field this week after the bye week and extra rest. But if the Boom Squad can’t hold on to the ball it won’t matter what the leagues best athlete can do. The Bombers also have to worry about the big play, specially against a team like The U. The Blue have found themselves on the short end of the stick when it comes to big plays several times this year. Both Kelly Gillmore and Chicc have been giving up some big plays this year which has cost them one game and could’ve cost another as well and that could lead to a big day for Moon, A-Star Rodriguez, Deion Davis and Joel Rivera among others.
Both of these teams are going to need to get back to the things they do well in order to take home the victory. I don’t know who will edge who out once that final whistle blows but I know either way a show will be put on on Saturday and if you miss it you are doing yourself a severe disservice.
The Bombers and the U won’t be the only ones kicking off on Saturday as down in Baltimore we will get to see another glimpse into the powerful Cobras who earlier this year defeated the above mentioned Bombers squad.
This time around though they get to face a Savage team that is coming off their first loss of the season to the very same Bomber squad.
Just about 9 months ago these two teams met before in an exhibition match up on the day of Beef Bowl IX. The Savage took the victory in that contest but, it wasn’t an easy one for the Savage who got to see Jawuan Lipscomb and Darrel “Bone” Harris impede their will on a Savage offense known for putting up points.
In the Cobras (formerly known as the Assassins) short history in this league we have seen them play lights out football against two of the leagues elite teams. This week they get to enact revenge on the Savage who squeaked by with a victory last June. And against the Bombers just three weeks ago they forced five turnovers sending the Bombers home with their first loss on the season in a 30 – 18 final score.
Rhudson “RF1” Fonseca showed some uncharacteristic flaws the last time the two teams met in this one missing several big throws in the first half. But much like the greats of the game RF1 couldn’t be held down long enough as he slowed the game down and played like the all-star we know him to be, connecting twice in the second half with Q Bell for scores.
Both defenses proved they are the cream of the crop with second half scores of their own. Early in the second half with the score 6 – 0 in favor of the Cobras, a fumble by WR Q-Bell #6 lead to a recovery by another #6 Bone for Baltimore who returned it for a score. However, later in the fourth quarter the Savage answered back when #5 Isaac Negron, now a member of the Punishers, sacked the QB and Defensive Back Jus Kali picked the ball up and returned it nearly 60 yards for the go head score. The Savage never looked back.
Despite losing the lead late the Assassins made sure their lead wouldn’t go to waste making a comeback late in the fourth to bring the game within two points. However, the Savage proved to be too much for them at the time and were able to hold off and finish the game with the 20 – 18 victory.
The Savage need to be careful this week as this could be a trap game following a devastating last second loss just prior to the bye week. The Savage who were riding high coming off a dismantling victory of Pennsylvania’s A-Team went into their week 3 aimed for destruction of a team that had lost to the Cobras the week before.
This match up is built for headlines. RF1 and the Savage offense is argued by many as the leagues top flight offense, although The Nation might beg to differ. And the Cobras defense is touted as being one of the hardest hitting groups the league has seen.
In their last match up it was more than just Bone and Lipscomb who planted the Savage but their defensive backs held down the Savage wide receivers like no one had before. #24 Scott locked Q-Bell down while the rest of the squad was able to keep the Savage pass catchers at bay.
If the Savage can’t figure out how to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers quick this could be a long day for a Savage team that has had multiple undefeated Spring regular seasons in the past. I for one can’t remember a time for when they had even one loss let alone two.