June 28, 2008

Defense Wins Arena Football Games

FOR THOSE READERS unfamiliar with the grand sport of arena football, the above statement may seem a bit strange, especially when one hears about arenaball teams scoring 60, 70, or even 80 points in a game. But this was the case last night in Manchester, when my beloved Manchester Wolves (6-7), my city's minor-league arena football team, crushed the Albany Conquest (4-9) 50-33. There was some beautiful defensive ball played last night and I can't say enough good things about how well our defense performed.

We must have sacked Albany's quarterback six or seven times during the game -- I wish I could give an exact number, but I lost count of how many sacks we had. For that matter, I lost count of how many sacks our rookie lineman Larry McSwain, out of UAB, had during the game, but it must have been three or four. His fellow UAB alum Bradly Chavez, who has fast become a fan favorite, had not one but two fumble recoveries -- including one beautiful play where he recovered a fumble for a touchdown. He simply scooped up the ball and was off to the races.

I have long contended the smart thing for players to do when they're going after a fumble is simply to fall on it: that ensures the ball doesn't slip from their grasp in the recovery attempt. On the play prior to Chavez's scoop for six, I had politely reminded the team about this, as Albany had fumbled the ball on that play too but managed to recover it after a prolonged fight. OK, I was actually screaming, "Fall on it! Fall on the ball!" But I suppose that advice goes out of the window when you're a hands guy.

In any event, defense won this game. Defense also kept Albany in it: despite stellar opening play on Manchester's part, the Conquest made a crucial interception of our quarterback, James Pinkney, as Manchester was seeking to extend our 13-0 lead. This allowed Albany back into the game, and before one knew it, it was halftime and the score was 20-20 -- and Albany started out with the ball in the second half. But Manchester's defense really stepped up in the second half -- I mean, they got a safety, for Pete's sake -- and so did our offense, which powered home in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. Everyone had a lot to be proud of in this game, although being a perfectionist I was a little concerned about the interceptions our quarterback threw.

Although Manchester's victory was not a surprise, I was surprised to learn upon my arrival at home we were still in ninth place in the af2's American Conference. The stupid Quad City Steamwheelers (7-6) of Moline, Ill., somehow managed to wallop the Green Bay Blizzard (9-4). God, how I wanted Green Bay to win that game -- had they done so, they would have probably pushed Quad City down into ninth place. But the news was not all bad last night. Somehow, the lowly Mahoning Valley Thunder (3-10) of Youngstown, Ohio, beat the Louisville Fire (7-6), putting Louisville uncomfortably close to the hot seat. And the pathetic Stockton (Calif.) Lightning (3-10) beat the Tennesee Valley Vipers in Huntsville, Ala., to put TVV at 8-5 on the season. If the Peoria Pirates (4-8) can beat the Lexington Horsemen (7-5) tonight, that will really make things interesting.

The Wolves get a well-deserved rest next week, but will come back in the following week to play the Thunder at home. Sweet. Here's looking forward to a 7-7 record as of July 12.

THEY DID IT AGAIN! Loyal Rant Readers who may recall my "Adolf Hitler, Dallas Cowboys Fan" post will not be surprised at my argument one could as easily contend Hitler would be a fan of the Dallas Desperadoes. After all, both the NFL and AFL franchises are owned by Mr Jerral Jones and as such are evil. Also, both Dallas squads are quick becoming known for playing fabulous during the regular season, only to get knocked on their asses during the playoffs.

Well, much to my surprise -- and I think everyone else's -- the New York Dragons stepped up last night and beat Dallas on Dallas' home turf, 77-63. Heh. Beautiful. Last year, Dallas went 15-1 in the regular season, yet lost to the 7-9 Columbus Destroyers in the first round of the playoffs. This year, Dallas went 12-4 in the regular season, yet lost to the Dragons, which were 8-8.

Oh, joy and rapture. I mean, Dallas had a great squad again this year, and an unstoppable offense -- and having seen them play live, I can attest to this. But how wonderful was it to learn they had lost, lost, lost, and to New York of all teams! Perhaps this schadenfreude is unseemly, but as one catchy pop song puts it, "It felt so wrong, it felt so right." Yeah.

New York goes on to face the No. 1 ranked Philadelphia Soul next week.

Good luck with that.

This afternoon's AFL game is Colorado v. Utah, while on Monday night we'll have a double-header: Orlando at Cleveland and Grand Rapids at Arizona. The Colorado-Utah game will be on ESPN and the Monday night games will be on ESPN2. Here we go, here we go, here we go!

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at June 28, 2008 07:19 AM | TrackBack
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