The War Between the Walls #16
06/26/03 Josh Stein
It took the NIFL 16 weeks to finally publicize their playoff standings, and when they did, it caused a lot of commotion. No longer were the Lincoln Capitols in the driver’s seat for the playoffs. Now, they’re almost out of them altogether. No longer do the Ohio Valley Greyhounds have home field advantage wrapped up. They still have a win to gather. Welcome to the NIFL. Never a dull moment here!
We are nearing the end of the season, and with that, the OHSAA computer rankings are starting to look like the actual NIFL order from top to bottom. Heck, we might even be close to what the NIFL experts say on the NIFL Weekly Power Poll!
|1) Ohio Valley
|2) Lake Charles
|7) Sioux Falls
|9) Rapid City
|12) Fort Wayne
|13) Sioux City
|17) Myrtle Beach
|19) Show Me
And with that, everyone has points. It’s nice to actually win, isn’t it Evansville fans?
Now, the games:
***** GAMES OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE
(4-9) Wyoming Cavalry @ (9-3) Utah Warriors
Utah hasn’t been playing very well lately. Wyoming, well…they’ve been worse. It’s gotten so bad in Cavs land that the coaches are suiting up and even getting playing time. This is Wyoming’s last chance at getting anything that closely resembles glory, and it’s an important game for Utah’s playoff chances, too…as they need this one and the next one, with an Omaha loss, to get home field advantage. Wyoming will be pumped up and as ready as can be, which will make this interesting. For awhile. Warriors by 20.
(7-5) Fort Wayne Freedom @ (8-4) Lexington Horsemen
After getting so delicately whipped in Wheeling, the Horsemen still find that they hold all the cards to the playoffs. All they have to do is beat this Freedom team once out of two meetings. This better be the one…you don’t want to have a must-win game away from home in this league. The Freedom messed with what was working, and it cost them. Does that mean Antoine Taylor will get another start at quarterback, or will they hand the keys back to Julian Reese? Reese is who put them in this playoff situation to begin with, but either way, the Freedom aren’t going on. Martez Johnson was the only guy who had a good game in Wheeling, and he’s darn sure not going to let the rest of the Horsemen screw up a good thing. Horsemen by 14.
**** RIVALRY TIME
(6-7) Billings Outlaws @ (8-5) Lincoln Capitols
The Caps players and fans feel jilted by the NIFL. Well, they should. New rule or not, two weeks before the end of the season is NOT the time to introduce a playoff picture that completely changes what anyone thought. Billings came in here last year in the first round and won via a couple of homer calls that went against the home team (maybe that’s why Chace Long went to Omaha). This Capitols team is playing the best football right now of any team in the Pacific Conference, but that loss to the Believers to start the season killed them. John Hall will have a huge game, and Justin Coleman will do just enough as the Caps win by 21.
(7-6) Rapid City Red Dogs @ (8-4) Sioux Falls Storm
The South Dakota Civil War. Sioux Falls needs this or a Lincoln loss to clinch a playoff berth. Rapid City isn’t going to let it happen that easily. The Red Dogs show one of the division’s best defenses, and an offense that can get it going (if they want to). Sioux Falls sports a quality offense now that Ryan Aulenbacher is back calling the signals. They also sport the best defense in the Pacific Conference. This game will come down to which offense is humming better. Although neither outcome surprises me in a rivalry, I’ll have to take the home team here. Storm by 8.
*** MORE INTERESTING MATCHUPS
(6-6) Tennessee Riverhawks @ (11-2) Lake Charles Landsharks
Lake Charles avenged their only two losses last year by beating the Hawks in Laredo, Texas. Now it’s time to welcome the boys from Knoxville down to Lake Charles, where a real beating will ensue. Lake Charles loves to eat up one-dimensional offenses, and Tennessee fits that bill better than any team in the NIFL. A team with a great ground attack that can’t throw worth anything will NOT beat Lake Charles. Lake Charles has a home game in the playoffs all wrapped up, and they most likely will not get home field, so a let down might happen. But, gotta give the fans something to come out to the playoff game (likely against arch-rival Houma) something to cheer about. Sharks by 19.
(6-7) Sioux City Bandits @ (10-3) Omaha Beef
Sioux City’s season is lost. They’ve come in with most of the same talent they had in their inaugural 2000 campaign, when the Sioux City Attack of the IFL made the playoffs. Guess what folks, the league is a lot better than it was in 2000. Enter Omaha. New coach, new system, new logo, new everything, and well…they’re still winning. After entering the IPFL in 2000, they’ve never missed the playoffs in their league. They have a division title sewn up, so they’re still going to have it. They don’t lose at home, and Sioux City is not a good road team. But this one is for pride, and the possibility to throw Omaha off the #1 seed in the conference. It won’t happen, as Sioux City just doesn’t have enough to do it. Omaha by 17.
** THREE GAMES WITH VERY LITTLE MEANING
(6-6) Beaumont Drillers @ (6-7) Austin Rockers
Two teams looking to finish a drab season on a high note, the Drillers and Rockers don’t show me much of anything. Nothing exciting here. Luckily, the Drillers have a couple of the pieces back that led them to a 4-0 start. Austin is a team that isn’t very good that has rode a nice home field advantage. And they’ve had scores in Austin that make our heads spin. 84-67? 91-70? Goodness! Neither of these teams have much in the way of defense, so you’d have to expect another one of those. You’d have to think that such offensive games would help the Rockers at least recruit offensive players! At the tryouts, just put the statistics in a binder and let any ole’ person look at what the team’s offensive exploits were. Oh, wait…game game game. Rockers by 10.
(5-7) Myrtle Beach Stingrays @ (12-0) Ohio Valley Greyhounds
I love the resiliency some Stingrays fans (or just one) are having, coming in and saying that this is the team to end the home winning streak of the Greyhounds. OV just came off a huge win over Lexington that clinched the division, and there could be a let down. But don’t worry, the fans at the Wheeling Civic Center won’t let that happen. Hounds by 24.
(1-12) Evansville Bluecats @ (9-4) Houma Bayou Bucks
I sense that the Bucks would actually rather travel to Wheeling in the first round then have to face the Landsharks for a third time this year. Well, how do you do that? Lose to Evansville and hope Lexington beats Fort Wayne twice or Fort Wayne beats Lexington twice. You don’t ever want to lose at home, especially when you’re 6-0 at home, but um…OOPS. Evansville finally figured out how to win, and they get another roll going before the offseason. Bluecats by 9.
* (NOTE: THESE GAMES DO NOT DESERVE MENTION)
(2-11) Oklahoma Crude @ (1-11) Tupelo Fireants
As bad as it sounds, the Crude have done something this year to tip their hat about. They’ve won TWO games. This is a good chance to win three, as Tupelo is as bad as they come. The Fireants have a decent defensive line, and that’s about it. But, they have home field advantage, and Oklahoma hasn’t ever won away from the friendly confines of Enid, Oklahoma. Fireants by 10.
(3-10) Tri-City Diesel @ (4-9) Show Me Believers
In looking at the mess that was the RiverCity Renegades, not losing ten games would be an accomplishment. In what looks to be the most boring game this year (neither team gets into any ole’ slugfests), the Believers will prove to the league that they are vastly improved. 5-9 is a lot better than 1-13 with some APFL team (that can’t even win there) playing four of the games. Believers by 20.
So, that’s the end. Until the playoffs. Yeah, I know, there’s another week. Guess what? I just found out that I will be out of town for oh, say, a week! So, no article here. But, that’s allright. There’s only five games next week, and only a few of them have any playoff meaning. Until the NIFL postseason, this is the War Between the Walls. Don’t miss a single snap.
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