In a way you can say that Maryland played part in the birth of this 7 on 7 game that we now refer to as the A7FL. In its infancy, this code of football dates back to 2006 where it was referred to as TownBeef. The first ever exhibition game was held in Sayreville, NJ where the hometown Bombers hosted the Howard County Ho-Co Boys of Maryland. After a good old fashion shalackin, the Ho-Co boys left the lot that day with their heads in their laps down Interstate 95 and it would be almost a decade before we’d hear from Maryland again.
One of my ex teammates in High School reached out to me from Baltimore about bringing a chapter down there in 2015. At the time, interest was high in that region and so we organized a captains meeting / team registration. On the day of registration I received a phone call from a concerned Baltimore captain telling me that all of the teams were there but they were still waiting on my buddy to show up. He told me his name was James Love, captain of the Baltimore Assassins. Football teaches life, in life and football there is opportunity. Guys on the bench are guys on the bench but the starters are the guys that just jump in there and make plays. That day it was clear, whether he knew it or not at the time, James Love answered that bell and became the Commissioner of Baltimore.
I never asked why he called himself James Love when in fact his name is Marcus Cole but I did ask him today what the last 4 years have been like growing this sport in his city. “To be honest it took blood sweat and tears playing on the worst fields in the worst environments in some of the worst neighborhoods. It has helped us grow and mature to where we are today. It took dedication and commitment from both myself, the team captains, and the referees etc. It doesn’t matter where we play, the brotherhood that we have built is beyond anything I ever would’ve imagined. In the future I see us growing even more. I see years of being more involved in the community giving back to Youth Giving back to the homeless.”
In 2015 we invited Baltimore to enter 3 teams into the playoff bracket with perennial power house squads out of Jersey and PA. 2 of those teams including the Cobras would both get eliminated by the 2nd round. The story wasn’t much different in 2016 and 2017 with Baltimore still not making an appearance in the final 4. There would be no going home with their heads in their laps down I-95 in 2018. This would be the year Baltimore would make that push to get their respect. Not only did they make it to the A7FL Championship but they managed to do it with 2 undefeated teams both from Baltimore. The stage was set, history was already written and that July of 2018 the city of Baltimore finally hoisted an icon of football dominance. The Baltimore Gators defeated the Baltimore Vikings by a score of 28-14 with the Vikings driving to tie the game late in the 4th. The Gators ended any Vikings hopes when Joe Wilson intercepted a pass and ran it back for the touchdown.
One of the great athletes, the Cinderella Story, The Rocky Balboa Story that everyone loves out of Baltimore is John Gause Jr. AKA, “ACE Boogie.” We had a chance to get a few answers out of this hometown hero. Read on below his video.
Where did you play prior to A7FL? “Prior to A7FL the last time playing organized football for me was in high school 2010. At Patterson I played back up QB and started DB. I have been playing football since I was 5 years old.”
How did you start off your career in The A7FL? “My first actual game was when I was an Assassin and we came to play Savage in a showcase game. But as a cobra i felt like the pressure was on me because I had all of these different weapons around me so nobody should be able to stop us. We actually started out 3-0 but the next couple of games were disasters.”
What was the funniest moment of the 2018 Season with the Gators? “My funniest memory of 2018 was the ending of the championship game when our safety Joe Wilson caught a interception and ran it back to seal the game. In doing so the entire team starts to run on the field and I’m trying to get them to the sideline before we get flagged. Out of nowhere I hear from a teammate ” F*** you and them flags we champs ”
What will be the key to defending your city, your championship in 2019? “Key points to defending the title would be to stick together and get better as a group. Most teams after winning 1 gets complacent and we aren’t like that. We are hungry for more and we are ready for everything that comes with being CHAMPS!”
So to answer the question, Does the 2019 A7FL championship have to go through Baltimore? With the 2 top seeds going undefeated last year both out of Baltimore it would be hard to argue that it doesn’t. Stay tuned for April 7th opening day!
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