Moderator: DCConspiracy

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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 11th, 2012, 12:41 pm #11

DETROIT GLADIATORS

Generally with the Gladiators, you can get the formalities out of the way. Dennis Marr has owned this franchise since 2003, and including the year before, Detroit has been in the playoffs ten straight years. There's no need to ask "are they going to make it?" No, unless something goes horribly wrong, we're going to probably ask which seed they get.

T.J. Cunningham (94 TD 8 INT career) finally comes into his fourth OIFL season as the clear-cut starter; in past years he had to earn the job over someone else. Robert Auger is the clear backup. Dacarreay Peaches will be Detroit's running back again, with a tenuous backup situation there, though the team's high on Willy Wichert. Cunningham will have no shortage of weapons to throw to including James LaCourte (212 catches last 3 years), Shane Andrews, Jackson Matthews, a slew of backups at the position (as well we know, Detroit's going to have 26 players that can play at any time), and the ageless Deion Flanders (seventh in OIFL history with 752 catches, 9,000 yards, and 155 touchdown catches).

John Maurer anchors the Detroit line, and he's had quite the successful 7-year career thus far with the team. As is normal in Detroit, the line goes eight deep and could be deeper if the league allowed them to keep all 35 players they have. There might not be a Gary Boddy frightening presence, but they're going to be able to roll out any player on their roster, as usual, with little dropoff.

All of the offensive talk is nice, but everyone knows what Detroit's calling card is. Over the last three seasons, Chad Scott and Marlo Dadey have 50 interceptions, 8 returned for touchdowns (Dadey with 31-6). OK, maybe they're not as deep as a Cedar Rapids there. James LaCourte (6 more picks L3Y) is no slouch...and if you have even an aging (and he is) Scott, he's still Chad Scott and he still is the only player in OIFL history with triple digit picks (111, 11 housed)...and Marlo Dadey with his 57 in his career...look, you're not throwing the ball well on the Gladiators.

Detroit won OIFLCup V in Las Vegas because of the team's attention to every roster spot, and it's made every single playoff berth since 2002 for that same reason. You know they're going to be fine - obviously, if Dadey goes down the team's in trouble (Scott's not what he used to be, but he's still going to log a lot of minutes). The Gladiators will have trouble getting to 26 players because they feel they have a 35-man roster where all 35 could play - and they're right, most all 35 guys are good enough to.

As usual, the schedule's a gauntlet. The Gladiators by virtue of their AFC North placement get Evansville and Wisconsin twice. Detroit gets to travel to Texas, Vancouver Island, and Los Angeles. Tucson, St. Louis, and Corpus Christi come to town. There's a really good chance their first playoff game is a rematch.

The question, as noted already, is not "is this a playoff team?" No, the question is "is this team going to win a playoff game?" Detroit's best comparison is the 1990s Atlanta Braves, where they ALWAYS make it, but don't always win when they make it. Detroit has the 2005 OIFLCup and the magical run as a seven seed to the East final, but not much beyond that. They might need to make another move or two, but when you have a bona fide superstar on your team, you've always got a shot.
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...
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 11th, 2012, 2:20 pm #12

D.C. CONSPIRACY

Coming off a big jump in result, the Conspiracy come into 2012 looking to continue the imporvement the team enjoyed last year with a playoff win and close battle in the second round with Tucson. The competition has improved in the NFC East, but the Conspiracy feel comfortable that they've improved, too.

Dan Jackson comes back for his second Conspiracy campaign, his 12th in the OIFL. Jackson will dance into Brinkhaven with a bust in the OIFL Hall of Fame, as he's #2 all-time in every major passing category (32,693 yards, 607 TD, 150.05 QB rating). His 159 TD and 13 INT in the past three years indicate he's not really slowed down much, either. Marcus Cribbs (306-3858, 82 TD last three years) adds the big time threat Jackson has always enjoyed. From there, Jackson's pass game is full of solid, if unspectacular, players such as Greg Tiebach, Shawn Kramer, Dewayne Webb (who the team is very high on moving forward in his third year), and rookie Rasheide Benefield.

Corey Palso (2,949 yards, 75 TD last three years) is being called upon to make everyone even better, and reports out of DC camp indicate he's looking to have a big year. Add his 67 catches in the past three years and there's confidence Palso could be an all-star this year. Conspiracy head coach Lenny Antietam agrees. "Corey's got every opportunity to really be the centerpiece of this offense, and our defense. He's got every tool you want, and it's now the year for him to put it together. We want him to be great, and think he can." His backup is Alex Anderson, who is 11th in OIFL history with 9,026 rushing yards.

The Conspiracy line will provide a lot of protection for Jackson and Palso, and will provide some worries for opposing teams. Stan Harlan could be as good as any two-way lineman in the OIFL, and linemates Jason Faber and Onterrio Bartek look to provide what could be a great tandem. The line isn't as deep as other teams, but Frank Miles and Harlan Gordon give it at least a 5-deep starter quality.

Palso's the centerpiece on offense, and as Antietam indicated, he'll be the centerpiece on defense. Great OIFL teams historically have had versatile linebackers, and Palso's as versatile as it comes. Antietam noted "Corey's able to cover the other team's top receiver, and he's as good a linebacker or safety in this league. If he puts it together, everyone's job is easier." Palso will be in the backfield with DS combo Peter Woodward and Edreian Kifer, both of which have the tools needed to give DC a defensive boost in addition to guys like Harlan and Faber.

That boost will be needed. DC will have major problems if a couple key players get hurt (most notably Palso...Anderson's 11th all-time, but his best years are well behind him, and John Marc Colombo is a DS, not a RBDB anymore). But the schedule is the reasoning. They're in a division with Tampa Bay and London, which means the defense is going to get tested a bunch. Add in road games in Omaha, Fort McMurray, Eugene, and home games with Rocky Mountain and Vancouver Island...if the defense falters, DC's going to give up a ton of points. If Jackson ever starts showing his age with that defense having trouble (not likely in 2012, mind you), DC's 12-4 season might be a one-year wonder.

DC expects to win the NFC East, and they should. They might not be as good as Tampa, but if they're right on the superstar status of Corey Palso, they already have an OIFL legend in Dan Jackson. Combining a legend with a superstar is worth a number of wins. Week 1 is the key from the gun, with the Conspiracy kicking off with Tampa. A win there, and the sky's the limit.
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...
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 11th, 2012, 5:49 pm #13

EUGENE KNIGHTS

Coming fresh off a playoff berth in 2011, the Eugene Knights feel strongly that they've built a roster that can take the next step towards an OIFLCup. It may surprise some people before looking at the Knights roster, but that's a possibility. The organization has slowly built from within, and this could be the year to make a big step forward.

In large part due to the offense the team traditionally runs, no OIFL quarterback in the past three years has thrown for more than Damon Owens' 11,454 yards (Montrel Dilworth has more touchdowns). Eugene's going to run the ball more, but the team brought Owens in as a rookie to be the man, to build a system around him, and to have him lead them to the promised land. Given in three years he's already 32nd all-time in passing yards, there might be something to that. Owens will be joined in the backfield by Matt White, who's had a solid (if unspectacular) career with 2,730 yards rushing.

Owens gets plenty of help from a receiving corps who has a shot to be something. Brandon Smith is being called upon to be the team's #1 receiver, and his camp was such that he just might. He has 207 catches over the past three years; with the Eugene offense there are some hopes he has a chance to hit 100 catches. Willie Marck returns as the OS, with his 279 catches and 63 touchdowns in the past three years. Marck's on the downside of his career, but there's little doubt he's going to still be a major part of Eugene's pass game. Other receivers will include Jared Foutz, Bill Blind, J-Von Duvall, Mark Saunders, and backup OS Anthony Oliver. Effectively, Owens will throw for a ton of yards.

The line has taken a huge step forward with trades and a strong camp. Art James, D.J. Drake, and Jermaine Taylor are the likely starters, and they could really wreak some havoc in the AFC West, but the team goes six deep with starter-quality linemen. As Eugene head coach Tim Fuqua put it, "we cost ourselves playoff berths and many wins because someone got hurt and we're done. That's not happening anymore."

The defense is where Eugene will take a big step forward. James, Drake, and Taylor will provide a very strong defensive line, with the other three all being more than capable. While there are no superstar DS players, Shaun Bennigan and Harold LaCrosswell are both just fine, and some combination of White, Foutz, Blind, Duvall, and Smith will provide an exceptional defensive backfield. Injuries will slow this team down (especially if it's Matt White), but Fuqua and his defensive staff have just about as many options to move guys around as you could want.

One question will be who plays linebacker. Most would figure the RB (White) plays LB as that's normal, but normal has changed. Likely Harold LaCrosswell (who can cover as well) will be the LB, and with James/Drake on the line the LB could be more of a safety role. Unlike past years, Fuqua and his staff won't be tied down to forcing guys to roles because no one else can do it. It's a good problem to have.

The schedule is helpful. Because they didn't win the AFC West last year, Eugene avoids Texas and Evansville (while Fort Mac doesn't). Due to them playing the AFC East they get New England, but the game's in Oregon. The nondivisional road games are in London, Long Island, Buffalo, Dallas, and Wisconsin. Eugene fans have to be happy with that (Tampa and D.C. both come to Oregon).

Eugene has a lot of upside. While the history will indicate a lot of people will give Fort McMurray the favorite's role in the AFC West, Eugene fans feel they're the favorite, and could even get out of the 4 seed with their roster. If things roll right and Owens and the offense keep its improvement, with the defense playing up to its par - they have a real chance to.
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...
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KC Owner
OIFL MVP
Joined: November 8th, 2005, 1:08 am

May 11th, 2012, 5:59 pm #14

Commissioner wrote:Yeah, you'll be scouring the FA wire pretty heavily.
It's going to be an extremely strong wire this year, dump half your team for FA's and you might double your win total
2013 OIFL Champions
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 11th, 2012, 6:09 pm #15

EVANSVILLE FIGHTIN' SQUIRRELS

With most teams, there can be a range of expected and acceptable outcomes to a season. In Evansville, it's long been known the team only has one acceptable outcome. If they don't win the OIFLCup Championship, the past season was a failure. And while this team isn't as dominant as the 2010 Squirrels were (and they're not), an OIFLCup is never out of the question when you're talking about Evansville. They drafted well, they traded well, they signed guys in free agency well, and they, while expensive, have never outspent their means. "Oh, guys are getting old?" Sure, might be a problem elsewhere, but Squirrels fans aren't worried. Nor should they be.

Riley Pennington, who is now 9-1 in his playoff career with more passing yards than all but six guys in the playoffs, returns to resume a career that's quickly becoming an automatic invitation to Brinkhaven upon retirement. Regular season stats will never be a major factor in Evansville, because they go 26 deep, and everyone will play. Marshall Raybold, Zidan Hoover, and (to a lesser extent) Lewis Vogel form a deadly three-headed running back tandem that is as good as any in the league. The receiving corps is killer as well, with J'Ron Perry, Chevron Gamal Rastafari, Michael Djordjevic, and youngsters Joe Farda and Asaad Moore helping rotate around Jay Yerkes, who's averaged 101 catches a year over the past three years. Yerkes will be dancing into the Hall of Fame someday, and this year will just cement that. Never mind the OS combo of Stanley Isaacs and Dion Sanders (who had such a camp that he's going to make the roster, where he was an almost sure cut beforehand), who will provide relief.

Evansville's current OLDL tandem goes eight deep, with any three of the eight able to start on most teams. King James Boston hopes to continue a career that hasn't been as "Boddy-like" as had been hoped when he was drafted, but he's been very strong for the Squirrels. Jonas Wile, Leonard Zadovsky, Stephen Fox, Pat Rogers, Fidelis Ziemann, Tyler Heyl (who has not aged well)...a strong line for the Squirrels, and it makes everyone's job easier.

The Evansville defense will again be pretty strong. Rastafari may have found his sweet spot now here in Evansville, and he may still be a backup. Yerkes doesn't have numbers because no one throws to him...that's why Theo Kiwi (possibly a top-5 DB right now) gets them...because they do throw to him. Perry, Vogel, and Jerold Hayhurst will also cause headaches for opposing offenses, not to mention having Boston (38 sacks last three years) there to make just that much more noise. Maybe not the best defense in the OIFL, but they're pretty strong.

Oh yeah, Olin Cringle has 195 more points kicking in the regular season than any other player. So if the offense does sputter, they're getting a guy who hits on 59% of his field goals. Cringle also has 42 more points kicking than anyone in OIFLCup Playoffs history.

Squirrels head coach Eric Geno, who has four rings (two with the Detroit Gargoyles), knows what it takes to win. "Everyone can say nice things about us. Everyone can say how we're guaranteed ever...there's no guarantees. We screw up once in the playoffs, we're done. We did it against St. Louis last year. There's no margin for error, and these guys know it."

While Evansville will be favored more often than not, the schedule isn't exactly easy. Wisconsin and Detroit still live in their division, and they get to travel to Corpus Christi, Fort McMurray, St. Louis, and Tucson. Texas and New England also come to town. They'll be well tested when the postseason comes.

Yes, you can mark it down. Evansville's a playoff team. Maybe even the top seed in the AFC again. There's not going to be some let down like the old Gargoyles after they got popped in the round of eight (2005, Cleveland Thunderbolts). "They ended my first dynasty in Detroit," said Geno (Evansville beat Detroit in the 2006 first round). "We won't have that happen again."
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...
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 11th, 2012, 7:16 pm #16

FORT DODGE ROUGHRIDERS

On the heels of one of the more shocking OIFLCup Playoffs berths in recent memory, the Fort Dodge Roughriders look to make it two straight playoff trips.

No, Fort Dodge never got into the dance with guys like Perry Tuttle being their main weapon. They made the dance after an offseason where they had to cut their salary in half and get rid of just about every talented piece they had. If the league had such an award, Antonio Echevarria would have been GM/owner of the year, hands down. Thing is, it wasn't a one-shot deal. Yeah, they're older, but the playoffs again are not out of the question.

Faustino Borrello after a career resurgence in Central Iowa steps aside for Gerald Briggs to finally get his true shot starting. Briggs has some weapons, too. Raul dos Santos and Harry Shaw provide a fair run game, but Briggs gets to throw to guys like Chas Bryant, Raheem June, Felix Porter (don't laugh), Chris Rhea, Leonardo McKay, Kelvin St. Pierre...and while he's old...oh yeah, Kelvin Street's on the roster now. If there's anything left in the tank, Kelvin Street is the top receiver, by a long shot, in OIFL history, what with 1,060 catches, 15,470 yards, and 344 touchdowns to his name. The gas tank is nearly empty, but he knows how to pull the choke.

Basically, Gerald Briggs will throw the ball well this year. He's got plenty of toys, even considering the average run game.

The line, while not terribly deep (though second year guy Gilles Sunu had a great camp) ,has some staying power. Marc Horowitz has been good for some time, while Robert Kreig and Marcel Muddleston are no slouches. Very quietly, this Roughriders team has built a pretty good squad. For those complaining about only rich teams being able to win...Fort Dodge has the third lowest payroll in the OIFL (both weekly and for tax calculation).

The defense should be improved, too. Injuries will derail Fort Dodge more than other teams, but if not, Preston Street looks like a stud, Kelvin St. Pierre will be good, Raheem June can cover anyone, and Roger Brownings had such a camp that he's still around. Riders head coach Chuck Moon isn't accustomed to having such weapons on his team. "We have always had a star or two," he said, "but we've never had a team where we're pretty good from 1-26. This team is that, and we really have a shot to do something."

Depth will be Fort Dodge's concern, but it's not the crippling thing that they got quite lucky with last year. They can handle a couple big injuries much better this year, though certainly it'd derail any division title shot they might have.

The schedule will give the team some tests. Fort Dodge gets the AFC South and NFC West, but Tucson, Corpus Christi, and Rocky Mountain (#2 NFC North) come to Fort Dodge. They get to travel to Texas, DC, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and never-fun-to-see San Francisco. Never mind two Cedar Rapids games with the always-brutal Minneapolis rivalry.

The pieces are actually in place, with luck, for an improvement on last year's record. Isn't going to be easy, but Fort Dodge has managed things very well in the aftermath of last year's financial crisis. The fans have high hopes (and while the Redemption in the division make a division title hard, they still have high hopes), and the team has a real chance to meet them.
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...
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SF_ThunderSharks
OIFL MVP
Joined: August 2nd, 2005, 8:50 pm

May 12th, 2012, 5:40 am #17

Feel free, to quote me, saying that I am in the division known as "hell."



2012 OIFL College League Runner Up
2008 Guinness Cup Champions
Since 2004 - Home of the Hooligans

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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 14th, 2012, 1:42 pm #18

FORT McMURRAY FATMEN

After winning what was probably the OIFL's worst division in 2011, the Fort McMurray Fatmen look to take another step forward under the Lincoln Lightning management team. Though Fatmen fans were plenty happy with getting that playoff berth (though losing a home playoff game was a bitter pill to swallow), Fort Mac management isn't satisfied with anything but an OIFLCup.

Tony Akins, who head coach Jose Jefferson calls "a man who can be a superstar in this league," returns to quarterback an offense whose clear star is eighth year OIFL veteran Morris Wallace. Wallace in his seven seasons has 8,816 rushing yards and 215 touchdowns, 13th all-time (and with Timmy North, Alex Anderson, Tom Ando, and Marion Stubbs ahead of him, being in the top ten after 2012 is most certainly not out of the question). "Our offense runs through Mo," said Jefferson.

But it doesn't really have to all the way this year. The Fatmen paid huge money to acquire the services of all-star OS Marse Fly, Jr., whose career has been derailed by constant placement on some of the OIFL's worst teams. Fly has 439 catches in his career, good for 36th all-time, though his raw skill set indicates he could be a 100 catch man in Fort McMurray. Akins will need to develop a rapport with some other receivers to avoid Fly triple teams, and third-year WRDB Keondre West could be that guy. David Rowley, ShanTell Moore, and Marle Hoper will provide more assistance in the pass game, though the offense will take a major step back if Fly gets hurt.

The emerging star lineman on this Fatmen team is Cyrus McPhee, a true mountain of a man who will seal the inside of the line on both ends. He's surrounded by a number of stronger linemen as Wally Anderson, Jon Hollingsworth, Brent Ungar, Mikal Bell, and Eddie Collins, but the story of this team will one more time be the OIFL's best-ever player, Gary Boddy. Boddy last year finally started to show signs of wear and tear on his frame, but according to Jefferson "he had a great camp this year. He looked as close to the Boddy of old as you could reasonably expect." Boddy has only led the OIFL in sacks once (2009) in the past four years, but with McPhee clogging the middle, it could be time for him to have a shot one more time. "We're not counting Gary Boddy out, for sure," said Jefferson.

McPhee and Boddy will lead the Fort Mac defense, but there's a number of talented players throughout. Wallace is one of the better linebackers in the OIFL, and his versatility has always been trumpeted and used by Jefferson. David Rowley is their best defensive back, though there's a large corps of younger players that can consistently rotate in pass coverage. With the division they're in, the defensive backfield will have to be stellar for Fort Mac to have sustained success. There may be games they give up big numbers, especially if McPhee (the anchor) gets hurt.

The schedule doesn't help much, either. The Fatmen start the campaign in Eugene and Vancouver Island, giving plenty of early tests for the young defensive backfield. Of the four division winners the Fatmen face, three are on the road (and the home game is against Evansville). Additionally, the Fatmen get D.C. at home. It's not the OIFL's toughest schedule, but the schedulemaker didn't do Fort McMurray any favors.

Owner Andrew Bienka only deals with OIFLCup Championships. Generally (and last year was an exception with the newness of the team), anything less than that just isn't good enough. The Fatmen aren't at that level right now. The core of the team is very young, and there's a very bright future, but an OIFLCup this year is too much to ask. Many people won't favor Fort McMurray even in the AFC West, though a team with an all-time great can't be discounted in that regard. They won't be happy at year's end, but the future is looking up, not down, in Fort Mac.
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...
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 14th, 2012, 1:59 pm #19

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...
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Joined: August 3rd, 2005, 6:18 pm

May 14th, 2012, 3:27 pm #20

LONDON MONARCHS

London followed up a rather successful 8-8 campaign last year with a good offseason, and more development of a young roster that should provide for a strong run down the line (a'la Texas and their drafting/development). They also were the proud recipient of the OIFL's "well, you're easy to move" award with a relocation from the NFC West to the NFC East. New rivals and a roster that might actually work better against the NFC East styles give Monarchs fans a lot of hope.

Kidd Gunn was drafted last year at a point that was fairly early, from discussions with numerous draft scouts. He earned his stripes in his 2011 rookie campaign, though, throwing for 3,590 yards, 64 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. The roster around him is helpful, too, with Michael Loughman entering his third year of all-star calibre running, and a receiving corps that includes Earl Peoples, Louis Clarke, Juan Olson, Owen Rogers, and a number of younger players that will log a few minutes. Depth will be an issue at the skill spots, given the youth that is sitting on the bench. A couple well-placed injuries will cripple this offence. Jonas Mouton will be a key for the depth of the run game, as Loughman tired out as last year went on.

The line is a little deeper. Nate Bianco, Tremaine Mack, Dan Pollock, Theo Olivares, Matt Lindsey, and Matthew Mann will combine on a line that goes six deep, but there's no superstar lineman that scares everyone. They're stronger than advertised and it will work well to protect Gunn and give Loughman running lanes, but there won't be any 25 sack players here. Depth is solid, and they'll depend on the depth to continue to make plays for four quarters.

London's defense was torched pretty often last year, but they look to be better. The run support is strong with the linemen and Juan Olson hovering behind. Management's goal for Loughman includes him being a superstar defencive back (he did not intercept a pass in 2011, something that must change given his skill level). Monarchs head coach Gary Imlach echoed that thought. "Michael is our key. He is our best player on offence and defence. He must be a superstar this year or we will have trouble."

The defencive backfield goes solidly seven deep, with Loughman, Earl Peoples, Craig Pierce, Jonas Mouton (who can also backup Olson at linebacker as necessary), Owen Rogers, Dandray Wingate, and rookie DS Blake Blaze. Future OIFL Hall of Famer Milo Bell (67 interceptions, fourth all-time) will play some, and his contributions will be major to the London effort. Imlach noted how important veteran players are. "Milo and Anthony (QB LaPetri) are keys to our success. They're not going to make huge plays all year, but they've been there, to the tops of their profession. Our young guys, and we have a lot of them, can learn an awful lot from that kind of experience."

London's schedule is certainly different from their 2011 campaign, given the divisional change. Getting D.C. and Tampa Bay twice is never fun, though the rest of the schedule is manageable. The only other 2011 playoff teams that appear are Rocky Mountain (away), Eugene (home), Washington (home), and Fort McMurray (away). Other games with Vancouver Island and Los Angeles are also home. Monarchs fans couldn't reasonably ask for a much better schedule.

The goal for the Monarchs absolutely has to be a playoff berth. Are they an OIFLCup contender? Probably not yet, though the youth on the roster indicates the team's well on their upswing still. The keys are going to be the development of Kidd Gunn and Michael Loughman; if they can move onto the next tier of stardom - and both are that kind of player - London's ceiling becomes awful hard to find.
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...
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