April 28, 2007

Youngstown, Tuned-Up

I HAVE TO ADMIT I wasn't all that confident about the Manchester Wolves' chances tonight in their home game against the Mahoning Valley Thunder. But once again, my minor-league arena football team surprised the hell out of me and got off to a screaming start against Mahoning Valley, which Loyal Rant Readers know is a nice name for Youngstown, Ohio. We won pretty handily in a 67-49 victory. That makes the Wolves 2-2, and Youngstown 3-1.

While that score may seem pretty lopsided, it should have been more so. The Rant assigns blame for this state of affairs to No. 8, defensive back Shawn Murray -- yes, you -- who was called not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES for pass interference while defending against Youngstown. I mean, come on. Three times?

What was really frustrating about it was that the calls were entirely justified. It wasn't like he was playing for the ball and got an unlucky break: each of these infractions were so blatantly obvious that the fans were openly scowling about the guy. So, The Rant hopes Mr Murray stops sucking in future weeks.

However, I saw two particular plays tonight that did not suck, and in fact were made possible due to the unique rules of arenaball. Both involved kickoffs. (In arenaball, unlike the NFL, the kickoff balls are live.) The first crazy kickoff happened when Youngstown's kick went up and bounced off the overhead scoreboard, which gave Manchester the ball at our own 20. In the second crazy kickoff, Manchester kicked the ball deep and it hit the rebound net's lower crossbar just so that it bounced back over the punt returner's head and onto the field. Who should recover it but Manchester's own Canadian import, linebacker Jesse Tupper, who scooped it up and ran it back into the endzone for a Manchester touchdown. Now that kicked ass.

Anyway, here's the recap:

MOST UHF-LIKE MOMENT: During a break, the PA announcer informed fans about such-and-such a local establishment that could handle all one's "tattooing and piercing needs." I was not the only one momentarily taken aback at this announcement. As one man in my section put it, "The team has an official tattoo parlor?"

NEXT MOST UHF-LIKE MOMENT: I think it's worth noting that tonight's featured celebrity guest once appeared on a show called "Battle of the Network Reality Stars."

MOST INEPT PLAY DURING GAME: Well, it's a close call between the entire Youngstown team, which got called for umpteen personal foul penalties, and Shawn Murray, he who got beaten like a steel drum on tonight's pass coverage. But I must award Mr Murray this Important Award.

COOLEST PLAY DURING GAME: Jesse Tupper, for recovering that kickoff and getting it into the endzone. That was tres sweet.

Next week, the Wolves will be on the road -- facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pioneers, who chewed up and spit out the Cincinnati Jungle Kats this evening by a score of 94-25. Christ. 94 points! Even for arenaball, that's a ridiculous score. So it looks like we'll have our work cut out for us again!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at April 28, 2007 10:44 PM | TrackBack
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