Every once in a while, not often, but just about every other season or so there is a team that comes out of the gates firing on all cylinders, a squad that looks like it can do no wrong.
Either because it all just started to click for the team, or because they recruited a new player or two that the league has never seen before giving them a level of anonymity that only favors their home squad.
The Punishers were thought to be that squad. The Punishers have a history in this league, once being a playoff team a few years ago before taking a small hiatus. They came back with the same brass lead by Isaac Negron and Gerald Llewellyn that helped start and develop the team four years ago. They had an offensive line that could move mountains and they had a QB that could throw over the Grand Canyon if he wanted to.
No way we thought it would be the Animals. And boy were we wrong. With the addition of several new rookies the Animals who for years have been a bottom of the list team winning one maybe two games a season shot out of a cannon to start the season off 3 – 0.
The rookies in question, Skoob and Spazz added a level of quickness and vision that we hadn’t seen up until this point. Skoob took over the offense in the beginning of the season and proved with a fix of jet sweeps, speed options and QB draws that the Animals could move the ball well enough to find the end zone early and often.
The Punishers originally made their return to an A7 field this past fall where they won a few games but what it really started was the beginning of what looked to be a pretty strong team. Lacking in size on the offensive line and another playmaker on the offensive side of the ball, the Punishers used the winter off season to retool the roster and fix the holes.
Day 1 of the Spring season we saw a completely revamped offensive line where they added three of the largest people I have ever seen play this game. They added some significant playmakers on the defensive side of the ball when they merged with a young, up and coming team from the previous season. And they kept the same nit and grit that we have come accustomed to.
Of the key additions to that merger is probably one of the hardest hitting Safeties in the game in Tashawn Williams #9. Williams has been seen on several occasions hitting the ball carrier literally into next week and he has the coverage skills to match.
The Animals started the season off hot, winning their first three games in easy fashion. But the last three weeks really haven’t been all that fun for the team that had high hopes after the quick start.
Back – to – back games against the leagues elite the Animals had to take on the currently undefeated Nation and the 3 – 3 Bombers both from New Jersey and both known for their history of winning. While they fought hard against BIC they still took the loss and that started the downhill tumble which has seen them take a loss to up and coming New Jersey Wolfpac this past weekend in a 21 – 0 loss.
What made the Animals so strong in their first three games was winning the turnover battle. With Dwan Williams #45 and Rogers #6 in the defensive backfield the Animals were picking people off left and right stoping drives in their tracks. Since then they have been on the other end of the turnover differential with several fumbles and interceptions thrown of their own.
Despite the thinking that the Punishers would be the team to throw a wrench into everything up until this point they have been severally underwhelming. After week 1 they had a promising future, they lost the game but they played defending champion Paterson U and held them to under 20 points which isn’t an easy feat in it’s own right. However, since then they have been significantly unimpressive losing all games but one, their only win coming against another one win team in the Hawks two weeks ago.
However, things might be turning around for the Punishers who although they lost last week they played the Savage (Paterson U’s opponent this week) very well holding them to under 21 points as well, another feat not easily obtainable.
Even though the Animals are reeling, and the Punishers are sitting at the bottom of the league both of them still have a remarkable chance at making the playoffs. Currently the Animals sit 6th in the league good for a playoff spot but their schedule to end the season isn’t going to be an easy one with the Punishers & Savage to close it out. The Animals are right on the cusp of locking in their playoff hopes and just one more win will get them a clinch of the playoffs.
With only two games left in the regular season the Punishers are going to be forced to win out to just have a chance. Good for them however is that wins against both the Animals and Warriors in these next two weeks will give them the head – to – head tie breaker over both squeezing them into the playoff picture.
We may be in a week where The Chiefs face the Immortalz – Last years Pennsylvania Champs – the Savage face the U, or the Wolfpac takes on the Warriors with great playoff implications in all. But this game right here might have the biggest implications of any as we could see a once 3 – 0 team looking from the outside in and a team that has started 0 – 4 looking from the inside out.
Join us Sunday evening as these two teams clash in a match up that should be full of excitement.