Beef once more unto the breach

06/25/03 NIFL Fan Article by Andrew Hoyle

The Omaha Beef traveled to Casper, Wyoming, this past weekend for their last regular season road game. The Cavalry, losers of six straight, were looking to reverse their recent fortunes against a team notorious for not playing well on the road. Acting Cavalry head coach Ed Atchley felt there were two keys for Wyoming to make a good showing in this one: a good kicking game on special teams, and his defensive line must stop the run. Unfortunately, neither materialized for Atchley, as his kicker had problems with both kickoffs and extra point attempts all night long, and Beef RB Clinton Childs ran roughshod over the Cavalry defense (17 rushes, 101 yards, 1 touchdown on the night). The Beef proved they were hungry for horsey meat, never trailing in this one, and jumped out to a 33-7 lead less than twenty minutes into the game. Much of the offensive success the Beef had in this game can be directly attributed to the stellar play of QB Matt LaFleur, making his first start for the Beef in place of an injured Troy Travis. LaFleur (8 completions, 14 attempts, 109 yards, 5 touchdowns, no interceptions), thought by many to be a little undersized (6-0) and therefore lacking the vision to be a quarterback in the NIFL, proved naysayers wrong by hitting four different receivers for touchdowns in this one, and sometimes having to find secondary and tertiary receivers on the scramble. All this from a guy who didn't play football until high school. He says he plans to go back to school and finish his master's degree after the season is over, and maybe get into coaching. A future in indoor football looks like a strong possibility after tonight's performance, too. Hopefully it will be in a Beef uniform. "He had a great game," says Beef head coach

Colonel Sanders. "(It) shows why we brought him in."

Another Beef newcomer is quickly making a name for himself on the defensive side of the ball. DB Nick Daniken (5 solo, 4 assisted, 7.0 total, 1 fumble recovery) has led the team in tackles two games in a row. It's no surprise, though; he's got a motor that just doesn't quit. He's the primary reason that Wyoming RB Anthony "Showtime" Simmons only got 25 yards on 9 carries for the night.

Daniken wasn't the only defensive standout in this game. Stalwart DL Dwayne Harris had four tackles for losses on the night for -27 yards, including three sacks. Harris is noticeably starting to pick up his already impressive game, just in time for the playoffs. Tory Veland (3 solo, 4 assisted, 5 total, 1 fumble recovery) deserves some recognition for his play on both defense and special teams. Veland is another one of those true utility players for the Beef, able to play almost any position.

Speaking of special teams and utility players, he's back. Yes, Steve "Superman" Lovell is back after a few weeks off with broken facial bones. He was wearing a helmet visor and was only supposed to see "limited action" according to Colonel Sanders, but there was no keeping the little guy off the field in this one. He got a 52 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, proving he's back to full speed.

Very few things went wrong for the Beef in this one. If there's anything that needs to be worked on, it's the usual things you'd expect: no arm tackling, fewer fumbles, and fewer penalties. Look for these three areas to get a lot of discussion and work at practice this week.

If you can't coach 'em, you might as well join 'em. Here's to former Cavs coach Tyrone Fittje proving he's still got the moves by joining the Wyoming offensive line in this week's game. No matter what you think about a guy who started the season as the head coach being in the game, you have to admit there's not a lot of coaches that could go out there right now and line 'em up with big boys across the way like Harris, Johnson and Paul "The Hulk" Hawley. Yes, I think I've finally found an appropriate nickname for the big guy.

Omaha plays its final regular season game at home this week when Sewer City comes a-smellin'. Emotions ran high for the game up north, with the Bandits still having a shot at the playoffs, and they will run even higher here. Omaha, 5-1 at home this season, looks to keep pace with Utah, and controls its own destiny for home field in the playoffs. Sewer City, 1-6 on the road, has been knocked out of the playoffs now, and was largely ineffective on offense this season (431 points for, lowest in the Pacific Conference). But they don't allow a lot of points either (477 points allowed, 3rd lowest in conference). Omaha will be looking to give Clinton Childs a 1000 yard rushing season (he has 870 yards), so look for a healthy dose of the running game. This will be the final tune-up for the Beef before the playoffs, so don't look for them to take it easy on Sewer City, either. The Beef are looking for a little payback for the debacle two weeks ago, and fans still want to go over the century mark in points at home, and this looks like as good a time as any. The Slaughterhouse promises to be rocking this weekend, and fans from Sewer City are encouraged to come down and enjoy the game at the air-conditioned Civic Auditorium. Bad fans notwithstanding. There's not a bad seat in the house, either.

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