THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY
The Good: Salina Liberty and Sioux City Bandits both put up 75 points against league opponents.
Also Good: The Omaha Beef, Rapid City Marshals, and especially the Topeka Tropics all have great new looks!
The Bad: The Southwest Kansas Storm have a litany of problems on the field. Essentially they looked like a team in preseason that hadn't worked together. They'll improve.
The Ugly: The "G" decal on the Mustangs helmet doesn't look like an improvement. Don't like my opinion? Cool. I respect that. The colors look great, but the "G" looks like it belongs in a previous century and didn't suggest "new & fresh" to me. But their on-field play was lit!!! The Mustangs surprised me at every level!
Also Ugly: The 4-point play. When you have a great story like Game of Thrones and then oversaturate the story with a litany of unnecessary nude scenes...well, you get my point. The 4-point PAT option seems over gratuitous to me. While it will help good offenses pad the score, it creates more lop-sided victories when the defense of competitors can't keep up. Of course, the argument could be made that happens anyway. I don't disagree. However, my opinion is this hurts the parity and intense endings the CIF is looking for among all it's member teams. Fight me if I'm wrong.
Week 2 Previews
Starting with a glorious matchup, the Billings Outlaws travel to play the Omaha Beef at the Slaughterhouse on Friday, March 10, @ 7PM CST.
While we haven't seen the Outlaws play yet, the Beef made light work of the Omaha Stockmen (non-CIF member) by a score of 71-0. No matter who your opponent is, putting up 70+ points is impressive. What's more impressive is pitching a shutout in indoor football is extremely rare. The fact the Beef did both against the hapless Stockmen makes them relevant. On top of that, the Beef looked shiny with their new uniforms and orange-bronze helmets.
The JK Photography team in Omaha is really good! I think the Rayshaun Kizer-led squad is poised for a great season. While the Outlaws haven't played yet, they have the advantage of having watched Omaha game film. But there's not many mistakes they can emphasize from the Beef herd. Kerry Locklin is an incredibly smart coach and is sure to put together a great game plan. I have the Outlaws winning the first half because of it. But, due to the sheer talent on Omaha and the ability they all have of making adjustments when the game plan is discovered, I'll take Omaha in this one by a score of 57-52. Thriller!
Next, we have what I will call the game of the week. The Champs travel to take on last years #1 seed, the Sioux City Bandits. Kickoff is at 7PM CST on Saturday, March 11th.
This game has all the makings of an offensive slugfest! I think the players will get involved in that slugfest too, but trust they have enough professionalism to not let it get ugly. The receiving core on Salina looks like the best in the league, and their backfield is just as brutal. Tracy Brooks had 84 yards on the ground! They picked apart the still-winless Tropics. Their defensive backfield looks a little less potent with the losses of Dewayne "Ballhawk" Autrey and Mikendric Harper. However, they're still good. Coach O won't let them be less.
For Sioux City, Taz Wilson surprised me. 140 passing yards and 6 touchdowns through the air, adding a tuddy on the ground. At first, I was suspect about the offensive attack since Lorenzo Brown switched Sioux locations in preference to the Falls, instead of the City. The offensive attack really took off in the second half as Sioux City put up 75 points, just like their opponent this week. The defense struggled early but really buckled down holding the Marshals to 34 points. Claude Davis and Dajon Emory are lethal, and the defensive backfield looks like they're going to tick off receivers all year long. Anytime a player gets 3 sacks in one game, you know he'll be a nightmare for quarterbacks. That's Dajon Emory folks! For these reasons, and because the offensive line for Sioux City looks like the best in the league, I'm taking the Bandits in one of the highest-scoring affairs in CIF history. Bandits 67 Liberty 65. Get your tickets! You don't want to miss this one!
The talented Gillette Mustangs engage in Border Wars: Episode 1 as the Rapid City Marshals plan to host another intense matchup! Sunday Night Football in the Spring! Sunday, March 12 @ 6PM CST.
First off, please forgive the fact that my Mustangs helmet is wrong. I did that on purpose. I don't like the "G" decal. Too basic for me. Second, I'm impressed with the Mustangs on-field play. Their defense was sensational in Dodge City and their 30-12 win on the road was something I would not have predicted. Mike Pena is athletic and accurate. He was second this week in passing yards. His 4 touchdown passes all went to an impressive wideout named Karonce Higgins! That man is a baller! If Pena can develop a great rapport with the rest of his receivers, everyone becomes a threat on the Mustangs offense, and defenses will get overwhelmed quick. One the defense, Garret Pemelton is solidifying himself as a top defender in this league. 5 tackles and 2 sacks for that young man. The defense had 4 interceptions against the Storm, so watch out!
Last year when Gillette came to Rapid City, we were treated with one of the most intense ball games ever as the Marshals held on for a 56-55 overtime win in front of the home crowd.
For the Marshals, quarterback Tyrone Jones was really impressive...with his legs. The Bandits defense took awhile to figure him out as he danced his way to 124 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. His 79 yards through the air was underwhelming, but I'd have negative net yards if Dajon Emory and Claude Davis were chasing me! On a good note, Jones seemed to have a rapport with receiver Jauhem Byrd, who had 51 of those yards. There's great receiver talent on this team and I think the O-line will be much improved this week. I'm more concerned with the Marshals defense. They allowed Taz Wilson to throw 6 TDs and the Bandits to add 3 rushing touchdowns. That said, I really think they make all the right adjustments this week and give their home crowd something to cheer about. Marshals 42 Mustangs 38
"Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!? A Monday night PARTY!" The game kicks of @ 7PM CST on Monday, March 13th in Topeka, Kansas.
First, how cool is it that all 4 games are on different nights? How often do we get to focus on one game and get to see all CIF matchups live in a weekend?
Second, I LOVE the new helmets of both the Arlington Longhorns and the Topeka Tropics!
Third, this may be a non-league matchup, but do NOT sleep on the Arlington Longhorns. They're probably the best independent team out there!
Fourth, the Tropics may have lost to the champs 75-45, but don't let that deceive you. Tropics quarterback Lorenz Stefan actually has the best quarterback numbers in the league through week 1 with 195 passing yards and 5 touchdowns. He seems to like returning receiver Ryan Martinez who edged the aforementioned Karonce Higgins in receiving yards with 115! He added 3 touchdowns. Fellow receiver Max Novak added another 3 TDs and 75 yards. They're an effective duo, so I'm anticipating the Tropics putting up some points! Their defense needs work.
Fifth, the Arlington Longhorns are always at a disadvantage not having the resources to attract top-notch talent with dollar bills. But, they're organized well and coached well, and are kind enough to give us all a show. The other non-league matchups look like this:
Rapid City Marshals 67 Fargo Invaders 21
Sioux City Bandits 60 Tri-State Tridents 9
Omaha Beef 71 Omaha Stockmen 0
The Longhorns should keep this game much closer, so to Topeka residents, my advice is buy a ticket and show up--even if there's no coconut-touting Hawaiian chics swaying. The Tropics will put on a show and the Longhorns will do plenty to make it great entertainment. Tropics 52 Longhorns 36. Besides, the colors of these teams and their helmets look so elegant, it's bound to look good.
The Southwest Kansas Storm, thankfully, have a bye this week, and they need it! They underplayed and underwhelmed in every category, and that O-line needs some work. I'm sure they're working on it and will show improvement when they host the Beef on March 18.
The CIF is heating up baby!By Ducon Williams