The War Between the Walls #10

05/15/03 Josh Stein

Luckily, one of the biggest disasters of the 2003 NIFL season never happened.  Yes, the Rapid City Red Dogs got paid, and they played on.  Amazingly enough, they went to a strong home (LaCrosse) and put all of the mental strife of no payment and the physical strife of no practice, and they got the big win.  The question has to be asked.  Is that point where the Red Dogs put the inconsistency behind them and now start playing some good football?  You’d have to wonder.  Of course, that’s why they play the games.

This is a look at the whole NIFL, not just at the Rapid City Red Dogs.  It’s a great story, but there are 23 stories that all have interest, too.  Well, maybe not Oklahoma or Tennessee, no one cares about them in their home cities.  With that, it’s time to look again at how the standing would look if the OHSAA had their way

Team Points
1) Ohio Valley 5.66
2) Rapid City 4.59
3) Utah 4.54
4) Lake Charles 4.34
5) Omaha 4.34
6) Houma 4.23
7) Beaumont 4.08
8) Lexington 3.93
9) Bismarck 3.67
10) Lincoln 3.62
11) Sioux Falls 3.62
12) Wyoming 3.62
13) Sioux City 3.57
14) Austin 3.21
15) Billings 2.81
16) LaCrosse 2.55
17) TriCity 2.50
18) Fort Wayne 2.40
19) Tennessee 2.36
20) Show Me 1.79
21) Myrtle Beach 1.58
22) Tupelo 0.92
23) Evansville 0.00
24) Oklahoma 0.00

Again, every NIFL team is taking the field this weekend, which will bring fans everywhere a full slate of football.  So, now another question.  Which ones are the best?

*****  THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE

(5-1) Utah Warriors @ (4-3) Bismarck Roughriders

Okay kids, it’s time to stop pretending.  Bismarck hasn’t proven it is a bonafide contender, it hasn’t proven it’s a joke.  Nothing is proven here.  Bismarck has themselves a real good quarterback in Chris Schwab, one of the best runners in Quentin Cradle and a great kick returner in AJ Street.  Heck, their defense is even playing well.  Why is Schwab here?  Well, it’s because John Welsh was awful in his start.  Why Welsh?  Well…in comes the reason.  Fans feel betrayed because this guy left for whatever reason.  Who knows if the players that played with Utah QB Danny Ragsdale last year when he was in Bismarck feel the same.  Of course they’re going to act it…get that crowd interested, which is something they are going to need.  Utah’s defense, even in a win, was exposed a bit by giving up 70 points to Austin.  This game comes down to the better defense, and right now, Bismarck has it.  The crowd goes in a frenzy all night long as the Riders become a big-time player in the playoff race.  Riders by 7.

Okay, if you’ve read this, you know who’s been at the top of this race forever.  Chris Schwab vs. Danny Ragsdale.  Winning defensive coordinator gets a case of Rogaine.

Name Team GP TDs Pace
Danny Ragsdale Utah 6 36 84
Chris Schwab Bismarck 6 34 74*
Dusty Bonner Lexington 5 22 62
Antoine Taylor Fort Wayne 6 26 61
Albert Higgs Billings 8 32 56
Matt Strand Wyoming 8 30 53

*  We all know, Schwab can only play in 13 games.  Oh yeah…the Touchdown-to-Interception ratio isn’t taken to account, so don’t believe Higgs is the NIFL’s fifth best quarterback…and Strand’s concussion…oh boy, the TD race might have to be changed to list all on pace to hit 40 by week’s end.

**** BIG GAMES ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE

(4-4) Lincoln Capitols @ (3-5) Billings Outlaws

Both teams are in dire needs of a win to keep it alive.  If Billings loses, they’re done.  No playoffs, I don’t think.  If Lincoln loses, they can probably kiss a division championship goodbye, and the playoffs aren’t very far off from leaving, either.  Billings’ defense looked a little better for awhile, then the offense started to sputter some.  Nothing’s right in the defending Pacific Conference’s house, and they are in a huge need of a huge win to keep everything somewhat happy.  I can’t imagine a big win happening, as Higgs just isn’t as good as anyone thought he was.  Lincoln’s Justin Coleman has proven adequate, as RB John Hall has done the dirty work.  You can’t win in the Pacific without an offense.  Billings just doesn’t have one capable of getting the job done consistently…too many interceptions and turnovers.  Capitols by  7.

(4-4) Sioux Falls Storm @ (4-4) Wyoming Cavalry

What to do, what to do?  Wyoming lost their quarterback to a concussion and Sioux Falls is losing in their annual game of chutes and ladders…again…sliding down the hill.  Goodness, where do you go with this one?  The home field advantage is usually rather large for the Cavalry, and we all thought their defense was back…nope.  80 to Tri-City?  No respect earned here.  The Storm still have a fairly strong defense, if nothing else (and nothing else).  Gotta have an offense to win, and even without Strand, Wyoming has some semblance of one.  Maybe Richard Fuentes can come out of retirement.  Cavs by 8.

(3-5) LaCrosse Night Train @ (5-3) Rapid City Red Dogs

First game after the problems for the Red Dogs that is in front of the home fans.  They’ll be pumped up.  Now, let’s discuss.  They didn’t practice for a couple of weeks.  They traveled a day or two before the game.  And they won.  Against this same Night Train team.  In LaCrosse.  I might be a Greyhounds fan, but I’m not stupid.  Dogs by 31.

*** THEY DON’T  LOOK BAD ON PAPER

(3-3) Tennessee Riverhawks @ (7-0) Ohio Valley Greyhounds

Only getting three stars because of the Animal Show.  Birdie and Bunny were in Wheeling last year…Bunny got hurt and Birdie ran for 1603 yards.  I think both parties wish he were still here…the Big Uglies blocked for him and he knew exactly where the holes were going to be.  That’s not a luxury this week.  Hounds by 14, just because playcalling still sucks.

(5-1) Lexington Horsemen @ (5-2) Beaumont Drillers

Taite looks like he’s losing a target.  Not good for a player that folds up like a tent when he gets pressured.  He needs all the big-time receivers he can get, and the one he has will be double covered all night.  The run game, which has been average, needs to step up against what is a hot Horsemen offense led by Dusty Bonner and Martez Johnson.  Derrick Taite…the Boy Scouts of America want to go camping…start folding, please.  Horsemen by 21.

(3-5) Tri-City Diesel @ (5-2) Omaha Beef

The Beef aren’t as strong as everyone wants to think they are.  Nope, not at all.  Tri-City put up 80 (!) last week at Wyoming…is it time for them to make their run at a playoff berth that is again just beyond their grasp?  Of course!  But wait a week, the Beefense is way too strong for an average-at-best offense to do much against.  Omaha by 14.

** SOMEONE CARES SOMEWHERE

(2-4) Myrtle Beach Stingrays @ (3-3) Fort Wayne Freedom

50-yard football in South Carolina once had a heisman candidate.  But the AF2’s Charleston Swamp Foxes cut Major Harris a few weeks back.  Myrtle Beach doesn’t have any name recognition.  The Freedom have Antoine Taylor, who is starting to make a name for himself in this league.  The numbers go up again as Freedom RB Rocky Harvey gets some late carries to pad his running stats.  Freedom by 20.

(5-3) Houma Bayou Bucks @ (1-6) Tupelo FireAnts

Jerry’s kids were good enough to surprise Beaumont at home.  Houma knows they can surprise again.  With that said, Jerry’s kids are no good.  They can beat Oklahoma, I think.  Maybe split with Evansville…and they could beat Beaumont, who is nowhere near as good as a 5-2 record would make you think.  Houma is now racing for a playoff spot.  This is a speed bump, as Bambi is off for revenge…Bucks by 18.

(2-5) Show Me Believers @ (4-4) Sioux City Bandits

Do you Believe?  I don’t.  The Bandits are desperate for a win, and the Believers, although a billion times more talented than a year ago, are not very good.  Cannon fodder time.  Bandits by 19.

*WHEEEEEEEE

(0-7) Evansville BlueCats @ (4-3) Austin Rockers

Austin is not a good team.  But they have a nice home “field” advantage.  I’ve blown my knee out on better surfaces than that.  Evansville is not a good football team.  Not at all.  They don’t have a prayer.  Oh yeah, Austin’s team might not be good, but they can play on the “field.”  Rockers by 14.

(0-7) Oklahoma Crude @ (5-2) Lake Charles LandSharks

Lake Charles is proving to me one thing.  They’re just like the rest of that division.  Not much talent, but they can beat on each other pretty well.  Lake Charles wouldn’t have a prayer at Lexington now, since they’ve played a few games.  Oh yeah…there’s a game here.  Sharks by 24.

So, there you have it.  My first pamphlet of the summer vacation.  But now does what I think matter?  Hasn’t done much so far.  That’s why we play…or watch…the games.  Yep, it’s the War Between the Walls.  Don’t miss a single snap.


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