The War Between the Walls #8
05/01/03 Josh Stein
We’re almost halfway done through the NIFL’s regular season? Hard to believe, isn’t it? So, where do we stand? The defending champions are the only undefeated, with Ohio Valley at 5-0. The other undefeated, Lake Charles, is 5-1 and coming off a shocking home upset loss to Houma. In the Pacific, Utah is sitting pretty at 3-1 after a whacking at home of Sioux Falls. Two teams, Evansville and Oklahoma, currently rest at the winless street, both at 0-5.
Who’s the best team in the NIFL? In my personal (and biased, you’ll all agree, I’m sure), the best team is the defending champion until they are unable to defend their title (out of the playoffs, mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, etc…). That means the 5-0 Greyhounds are my best team. Of course, looking again at the way Ohio does things for their high school playoffs, I’d be wrong. Look back to Week 7’s article to see how it works.
|1) Lake Charles
|2) Ohio Valley
|3) Rapid City
|4) Sioux City
|10) Sioux Falls
|18) Myrtle Beach
|20) Fort Wayne
|21) Show Me
You must get a win before you can have any points. And remember, this helps teams that have played more games (Rapid City).
Let’s take a look at all the games this week, using the same star rating system I made up (but didn’t make up) a week ago.
***** NIFL GAME OF THE WEEK
(3-2) Omaha Beef @ (3-3) LaCrosse Night Train
Omaha comes off a bad loss at Billings, and LaCrosse is fresh off whipping the Believers in Missouri. Who has the advantage? You have to give it to the Night Train. LaCrosse is not a bad team, and they’re back at full-strength playing at home, after figuring out what went wrong in coach Reggie Mathis’ debut (at home against Lincoln). Omaha brings in a lot of talent, especially on offense, with QB Troy Travis, RB Clinton Childs, and a plethora of good wide receivers. Omaha fans want them to pass more, but coach Collins Sanders isn’t in to that kind of thing. LaCrosse has a good defensive line, spearheaded by Derric Coakley, and they have a fairly good offense, too, with QB Johnny Johnson and WR DiAllo Johnson. The Train are going for a playoff berth, and nothing less will do. The key to the game? Omaha’s offensive playcalling. Sanders goes for the deep ball a bunch, Omaha has a real good chance of winning. He won’t. Night Train by 10.
**** THESE ARE STILL SOME GOOD GAMES
(3-1) Utah Warriors @ (3-2) Austin Rockers
Home field advantage sometimes gets to a point where it’s just pathetic. Okay, let’s put big seams in the turf. Okay, let’s not have all the turf everywhere and have some area exposed to whatever the heck is underneath. Okay, let’s have an away team come in and play against us on it! Austin has had some luck on this crap they call turf. But, they haven’t had to play against quite as complete a team as is visiting Texas. Utah has the high flying offense Austin had last year, with QB Danny Ragsdale leading the way with WRs Cory Grow and Jason Quinn there to make anyone look good. I said before that Austin wouldn’t lose at home because of their turf. Against Austin’s anemic offense (come on, 84 against Oklahoma really isn’t that big a deal…67 given up against Oklahoma IS), Utah’s defense should have a good day. The key here? Ragsdale and crew. He is on pace to throw 76 touchdowns this year…that pace should go up. Utah by 14.
(4-2) Wyoming Cavalry @ (2-4) Billings Outlaws
Bench the high flying Higgs, you say? Why would you do something like that? Oh yeah…because QB/WR Bryan Meier won the game. Good reason. Wyoming needs this win to keep it going in the division race, and Billings needs this win to get back into the playoff race. Who wants it more? Well, Higgs is back, and Meier is playing the receiving role, where he still leads the team. It’s been said that Higgs’ attitude is 1000 times better now that he’s been benched. Albeit improved, Wyoming’s pass defense is still suspect. Oh my. Big win for the Outlaws. By 14.
With that said, it’s time to look at the weekly feature that absolutely no one gets excited about. Wyoming QB Matt Strand and Billings QB Albert Higgs are still on the list. Here it is, including Bismarck QB Chris Schwab flying up the chart after a NIFL record NINE touchdown day.
- Chris Schwab can only play in 13 games this year, he didn’t play in the season opener.
Back to football.
(3-3) Lincoln Capitols @ (4-2) Sioux City Bandits
Another good game this week, as the Caps try to go above .500 and catapult into an even closer race for the division lead. They will have to rely on a beast of a running back in John Hall, as the pass game doesn’t do anything. Sioux City relies on a balanced offense, led by QB Jarrod DeGeorgia and a strong and balanced defense, to get the job done. What’s the difference in this game? We call it the crackerbox. Sioux City fans call it the best home field advantage in the NIFL. Smallish field, tiny arena, 3-yard end zones, relatively boisterous fans in tiny surroundings? Yeah, this has all the makings for a 5-2 Bandits record. Sioux City by 10.
*** COULD BE GOOD ONES
(3-3) Sioux Falls Storm @ (2-3) Fort Wayne Freedom
FW is coming off their third straight loss, this one coming barely, at the defending champs. Moral victories don’t help the playoff race for a team, but this one might get the Freedom started. Enter the Storm. It’s slide time, with the Storm falling again in their fifth and sixth games of the season. Their offense is no good, and their defense got smacked around at Utah (which is not uncommon). Fort Wayne has a fairly good offense, with one of the TD race leaders (Antoine Taylor) playing there. This game will depend on what the two offenses can get against the other defense. Defense might win championships, but the offense has to get you there first. Freedom by 9.
(2-3) Myrtle Beach Stingrays @ (3-1) Lexington Horsemen
Lexington got their first win at Myrtle Beach. The Stingrays have wins over Tennessee and @ Evansville. This could be a good game, but I can’t really see that happening. The Horsemen have a strong offense and an adequate defense. The Beach, as they’re called, have a relatively good defense, but not much of an offense. On Kentucky Derby day, the fans might want to hope they show the derby events on the jumbotron, the football game will probably get ugly. Horsemen by 21.
** BASED ON PAST RESULTS…
(4-2) Beaumont Drillers @ (0-5) Oklahoma Crude
Beaumont was riding high, at 4-0, one of the league’s best, then SMACK. A 61-20 slap-down at home to Lake Charles. Then, they went to Tupelo and SMACK! Lose 26-25 to a WINLESS team! Why? Taite folded up like a tent because he got hit a bit. If he doesn’t get hit, he’s golden. Oklahoma couldn’t stop AUSTIN…Taite won’t get hit. Beaumont back on the winning side of things by 24.
(1-4) Show Me Believers @ (2-4) Tri-City Diesel
This was the year for both teams. For the Diesel to leave mediocrity, and for the Believers to at least get to mediocrity. I’m still waiting. The Believers have a decent offense, but a weak defense (but new defensive coordinator). Tri-City is an unknown. Their pass game shows up once in a blue moon, the running game shows up occasionally, as does the defense. What’s going to give? Go with the home team, Tri-City’s always good there. Diesel by 10.
* DON’T BOTHER WITH YOUR PRECIOUS TIME
(1-4) Tupelo Fireants @ (3-3) Houma BayouBucks
This has all the makings of a 9-7 snorefest. Big points aren’t scored for either team unless they get blown out. Herb Tyler is back for Houma for his second week of duty, but there’s nothing to say he’ll be worth a big game. I picked the Ants to win last week, and I will consider the same. Tupelo’s defense shut down a pretty potent pass attack, they should shut down a pretty pathetic one. Jerry’s kids by 7.
(5-0) Ohio Valley Greyhounds @ (0-5) Evansville Bluecats
You’re kidding, right? Since the Hounds smacked Evansville a few weeks ago, the Hounds have only gotten better, the Bluecats only worse. OV comes in with a few injuries, but it’s not going to matter, the backups are still good. Hounds by 10, but only because OV head coach Bonar elects to start running the ball up the middle on every play in the second quarter.
I went 6-6 last week. Not a terribly proud moment, but not awful considering the upsets. I don’t care to divulge season standings, it won’t be pretty. But, neither will our opinion of you, if you don’t go to the games! It’s the War Between the Walls. Don’t miss a single snap.
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