KANSAS CITY TIGERS
Well, that was fun. Generally Lysoby teams are OIFLCup contenders. Financial issues caused the Tigers to finally take that step back to take future steps forward...and it was a step back. Well, it was more like being pushed off a cliff, but that's neither here nor there. The core they had wasn't ever winning a Cup, the team was broke, they did what they had to do. Now, are things better for the future in Kansas City?
Jamarco Angermeier was brought in to lead the Tigers from the pivot. He's started quite a few years in Baltimore, so while not a household name, the experience is there. Dave Madray will start at running back; very quietly, Madray has 5,815 rushing yards in his career (18th all-time). Depth is going to be a concern, but the Tigers are pretty confident in their RB backup corps of Byson Jones, Dustin Calderon, and Chaz Gerhart. Angermeier's arm will get tested with the receiving corps Kansas City has brought in. While there are no superstars, the team is very confident in Jeffrey Conner (221 catches last three years). To help ensure a potent offense, it'll be up to someone else to step up. OS Adolfo Geddinger looks to start, though there's any number of players that can get playing time. Brian Schmidt looks to start alongside Conner at WRD(L)B.
Last year, Kansas City's biggest problem was depth. They didn't have any. Things have improved on that front. Larry Zimmerman, Jacque JOhnson, Lawrence Bullocks, Lamont Jackson, Bohdan Chopko, Rueben Green, and the old man Frank Delighten combine for a line that goes seven deep - they didn't have this last year, and a strong and deep line is worth multiple wins. Tigers head coach Jacob Atwood agrees. "We play last year with this year's line and we have at least six wins. It's that important indoors."
One note - Kansas City took over a team with some horrible contracts. A lot was made of the money they did hand out in free agency, but they key will be that when the season kicks off, the weekly payroll (and there are no major bonuses on tap) will be just a shade over $1,000,000. It shouldn't be a problem, even with $90K a week going to Jacque Johnson, or $100K a week going to Larry Zimmerman.
The defense, always a staple of Lysoby teams, looks to be much improved. The line, while not world-beating, is deep enough that they'll always be fresh. Madray is as verastile a LB as the OIFL has (and Schmidt will be on the field with him, leaving Madray to move to safety). The defensive backfield goes plenty deep with strong cover men, including Conner, Frederick Pilarowski (who Atwood calls "a potential all-OIFL player"), Gene Lennox, and even Matt Mauller, who had the best camp he's ever had. "Teams will have to be more creative against us," said Atwood. "You can handle some inefficiencies on your offensive front. If your defense is inefficient, you're going to be 2-14. We have fixed that."
The schedule plays out pretty nicely. The division isn't terribly fun, given Cedar Rapids and Fort Dodge twice. That said, their nondivisional road games are in Dallas, Corpus Christi, Tucson (OK, those two are rough), Venice, and San Antonio. Other teams have things a little worse. Los Angeles, Texas, and St. Louis all come to Kansas City.
Last week was a rare instance where James Lysoby was "OK" with not being very good. Given the circumstances, it was an opportunity to see what the team needed to fix. They've fixed a lot of it. There's a combination of guys in the twilight of their career and guys whose careers are just getting started. If things fall right, a division title is not out of the question, though likely most fans would be happy if they're just fighting for a playoff spot by the last three weeks of the campaign. One can never discount just how good head coach Jacob Atwood has been at strategizing...now that he has real tools to work with, playing this team is always going to be tough.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...