The War Between the Walls #4

04/03/03 Josh Stein

Ahh, the grace of football.  Week 3 in the NIFL took us even farther from the blowout-fest that was Week 1.  Week 4 looks to have some of the same appeal, with one game already in the books and eight more to go.

(Myrtle Beach 45, Tennessee 44

Although there have been a few accounts that the game’s presentation was less than spectacular, over 3000 fans came out to this game, nearly every seat was sold, and that is enough to say Myrtle Beach had a successful home debut.  Add to that the fact they held Tennessee’s “vaunted” passing game to numbers that weren’t all that good, and Myrtle Beach let the fans go home happy.

Speaking of the fans, fan support is something that makes the NIFL go around.  The crowds are very important.  The home team’s fans are the focus in Week 4, as a few rowdy groups of fans prepare to make their season debut.  Let’s look at some football, shall we?

(1-1) Show Me Believers @ (1-1) LaCrosse Night Train

The Night Train are nursing an ego hit with a 38-28 loss at traditional home superpower Tri-City, and the Believers are nursing an ego hit with a 58-55 loss at home against the Omaha Beef.  What loss is less of a bad thing?  I don’t know.  With that said, these two teams are nothing like the groups that were last year.  The Believers have what seems to be a strong pass attack with Rick Little throwing to receivers such as Scott Pingel (many college football records broken, who cares what division he was in).  But Little has to get the passes off.  Derric Coakley has plenty of tackles for loss, and he’s only played two games.  Add that to LaCrosse’s QB Johnny Johnson, RB Chris Floyd, and the fact there will probably be another 4000 rowdy fans in the LaCrosse Center, you can bet the home team will be there to impress.  LaCrosse by 20, as they start the march toward a playoff spot?

(0-2) Lincoln Capitols @ (2-1) Rapid City Red Dogs

Even though they have the best radio announce team in the NIFL, the Red Dogs don’t have a huge amount of fan support.  No matter, it’s nothing the visitors haven’t seen before.  You can imagine Red Dog QB Terrance Bryant is going to want to make up for the mistakes the team made in losing last week in Sioux City (not an easy place to play, but a loss is still a loss).  It’s not so much what the Red Dogs could do wrong this week as it is what the Capitols haven’t done.  Justin Coleman might have had a good year last year in Tri-City, but he hasn’t done anything in Lincoln yet.  The offense is sputtering horribly, but the Capitols defense has done admirably without any help.  It won’t matter this week, Bryant and the big plays rule the day as the Dogs give their fans a reason to come back, this time by 21.

(0-1) Austin Rockers @ (2-0 Lake Charles LandSharks

The Sharks are ready for another game in front of the home faithful.  Usually, the team draws 3-4000 for their home games, but they didn’t quite get that for their first.  Austin is a team that we know very little about, other than they didn’t do very well in Beaumont.  The offense has to step up for the Rockers, or Lake Charles is going to run away with this one.  It’s probably too early for a new quarterback to get acclimated to his team and gel perfectly, especially against an extremely strong defense.  Landsharks by 17.

(0-2) Bismarck Roughriders @ (1-0) Omaha Beef

Well, I was wrong on two accounts.  His name is Chris Schwab (sorry for anyone who was offended by my blatant stupidity).  And Bismarck doesn’t quite have it to beat a team like Wyoming on the road.  Schwab didn’t look very rusty at all, which is a huge plus for the quarterback-challenged Roughriders.  And here’s another good thing for the Riders.  The Beefense did.  A week after scoring 24 on Lincoln, the Show Me Believers put 55 up on Omaha.  A cause to worry?  Maybe.  Too many new faces to tell.  Now, they’ve had a week to gel together, as has the offense.  Oh, yeah, one other thing.  The game’s in Omaha.  They haven’t lost in Omaha since the 2001 IPFL Championship Game.  You think they’re going to lose to a team that appears to be in some form of disarray (Bismarck)?  Not in front of at least 5,000 fans at Omaha.  Beef will win quite convincingly, by at least 20.

(2-0) Houma Bayou Bucks @ (2-0) Utah Warriors

It’s not fair to make comparisons of schedule so early, but I think you have to when looking at a game of this caliber.  Houma is 2-0, and their defense has been magnificent.  They have given up less than 30 points all year, but they beat Myrtle Beach (1-1, and we wonder if they will get many more wins) and Oklahoma (0-2, and we wonder if they will get any more wins).  Houma won both at home.  Utah is the same 2-0, but they’ve beaten NIFL Runner-up Billings both times.  We were worried two blowout losses would kill the Outlaws chances of drawing fans.  Oops.  Utah is led by a guy that you might have heard of, QB Danny Ragsdale.  They also have RBs Omar Bacon and Emmett White, WRs Cory Grow and Jason Quinn, and what appears to be a heckuva strong defense.  Houma is led by QB Will Burch, RBs Michael Burks and Nemesis Bates, and WR Kenny Causey.  Causey and maybe the running backs can rival what Utah has.  Houma has not faced an offense quite as strong as Utah’s.  And, with that in mind, it’s time for the touchdown watch.

NAME TOUCHDOWNS PACE
Matt Strand (Wy) 10 TD (2 games) 70 TD
Albert Higgs (Bill) 13 TD (3 games) 61 TD
Danny Ragsdale (Ut) 8 TD (2 games) 56 TD

Who will finish this NIFL season with more touchdowns than any other via the arm?  We’ve got plenty of football left.

Utah is a very strong team, and the fans have come out to support that.  I expect another crowd of at least 6000 screaming warriors fans, and they will help propel Ragsdale to some very very large numbers, as Utah makes it 3-0 with a resounding 24 point victory.

(1-1) Sioux City Bandits @ (2-0) Tri-City Diesel

The Bandits stopped a very strong feeling from a bad road loss (46-21 in LaCrosse) with a good win at home (38-35) against the Rapid City Red Dogs.  The Diesel have blasted a team away from the friendly confines of Kearney, and they beat a good team (LaCrosse) at home last week.  Is this a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the Bandits?  No, those Bandits are going to be ready to play some quality football, as QB Jarrod DeGeorgia and his receiving corps appear to be back from whatever happened up in Wisconsin.  And they’ll need to.  No one grinds it out better than Tri-City, as they have a strong defense and a strong running game (hey, is Bill Cowher their head coach?).  Sherman Jones is making a case to be this year’s Birdie Dockery (1603 rushing yards a year ago), and he will not hurt his case this week, as the Diesel take his legs and the friendly confines of Kearney, Nebraska to the tune of a 10 point win over the Bandits.

(0-2) Evansville Bluecats @ (1-0) Ohio Valley Greyhounds

I don’t want to knock anything, as Evansville’s first game was in front of over 9,000 fans in a loss at Fort Wayne.  But, every one of those Bluecats save one (QB Akili Roberson) has not seen anything quite like the Kennel in Wheeling.  It’s small, it’s cramped (not quite Sioux City level) and there will be over 5000 loud, screaming, crazy fans all ready to work towards another banner like the one they’ll be dropping before the game.  Oh yeah, the Greyhounds have a pretty good team, too.  No Birdie anymore?  Fine, Jason Corle is a bit bigger, and he can catch, too (just like Birdie).  No Jose?  Fine, Shane Franzer is more mobile and he might have a stronger arm.  No Chuckie Hython, JT Kirk, Ryan Silvis, etc..?  Fine, we’ll bring in Steve Vagedes, Willie Austin, and a host of taller guys.  Just be lucky, Bluecats fans, that Bunny Jefferson isn’t quite ready to play yet.  The Kennel will be rocking as the Greyhounds try to win them all a Big-Mac (for scoring 70 or more points).  Ohio Valley by 31.

GAME OF THE WEEK

(1-1) Wyoming Cavalry @ (1-1) Sioux Falls Storm

There are no real “games of the week” this week, as there are no huge rivalries being played out (although you could make a case for the playoff rematch of Bismarck @ Omaha).  But, this game is a classic football game, kind of like the one that should have been the Super Bowl a couple of years back.  High flying team with a questionable defense (Wyoming, or are they the Rams?).  Ground-it-out team with one of the league’s best (Sioux Falls, or are they the Steelers?).  Wyoming QB Matt Strand has been added to the touchdown watch for good reason, he is the ringmaster of one of the best offenses in the NIFL.  We haven’t seen the improved Wyoming defense too much, but they made several key stops in the win against Bismarck.  Sioux Falls doesn’t have the offense to keep up if Wyoming gets hot.  But, Sioux Falls has the defense to make sure it doesn’t.  Even in the high-flying world of the NIFL, it’s defense that wins the big ones for you.  Sioux Falls is near a sellout, and rowdy fans are worth a good touchdown or two more for the home team.  The fans help the defense stuff Wyoming’s offense down a peg, as the Storm wins by 7.

Eight or nine games, depending on how you look at it.  Football is good for what ails you.  Especially if the home team gets a big win.  It’s what keeps the crowds coming back, and the crowds have definitely been very large this season.  Tell your family, tell your friends, there’s a game in town this weekend, a game that should have a lot of action and a lot of fun.  It’s the war between the walls.  Don’t miss a single snap.


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