Geno's Minor League Mashup: Championship Edition
This is it. This is what everyone has been dreaming of for the past 2 months.
IT'S CHAMPIONSHIP DAY!
Today, we'll be leading you up to the big game as a "pre-game show", with player interviews and more! First, let's go over the other 34 games that lead us here today.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: LINCOLN RATTLESNAKES
Lincoln was a middle-of-the-pack team out of the gates, starting 2-2 through their first four games, but their perfect second half led them to a 6-2 overall record and the #1 overall seed. Logan Lee was a strong factor for this offense, averaging 132 YPG (second behind Annapolis' Chris Grant Jr.) However, the defense is what pushed them through the second half, only allowing a maximum of 20 points (week 7 @ TAC) in a game since week 5. Their semifinal matchup pit them against a stout Annapolis squad, which they defeated in week 3 by a score of 31-25. Thanks to some good bounces (and some stone hands on Annapolis' defense), Lincoln barely survived by a score of 23-17. John Fullerton now joins us to see how the players feel coming into this game, plus some thoughts about the season and the SFLm as a whole.
PLAYER INTERVIEWS: LINCOLN RATTLESNAKES
So my first candidate for these interviews is someone that I've noticed has a good work ethic, and already does his fair share within the SFL, Jason Clay!
Fullerton: First off Clay, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Clay: I am Jason Clay, an Outside Linebacker for the Lincoln Rattlesnakes.
Fullerton: Well Clay, we are finally in the championship game. What a season, 1st Playoff appearance, and possibly looking at possibly a title. What does that mean for you?
Clay: Well I am very excited for the championship. I have been watching Madison, and they are a formidable opponent, but you best believe that Lincoln will take this one home!
Fullerton: This was your second season in the minors, what has changed (or what have you done) with this second go around?
Clay: This being my second season in the minors I haven’t changed too much, but a major thing that changed is I learned what saved progressions meant, I was confused until I found out, so I guess progressions is what I changed.
Fullerton: I see that you do stats work for the Canton Classics, is this something you're looking to continue or would you like to venture off to something else?
Clay: I think that I want to continue stats, but another possibility is that I may want to announce a game or something along those lines.
Fullerton: Okay, last question, here is the moment to promote yourself for the upcoming draft, what would you like to say?
Clay: If you are interested in grabbing me, a random fact you may not know, I am flexible with switching positions.
Thank you, Clay! Appreciate you taking the time out of your day for this small interview, and we are looking forward to your name being called during the draft!
So the Second Candidate that I wanted to interview is a household name in the Minors. This man has been running and trucking for seasons now for the Rattlesnakes. I'm sure the name will continue within the pros, Logan Lee!
Fullerton: First off Lee, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Lee: Well, I live in LA but my favorite NFL team is the Saints because no team has fans like New Orleans. I grew up a big gamer, primarily RPGs, but also played soccer and basketball...
Fullerton: Well Lee, we are finally in the Championship game. What a Season, 1st Playoff Appearance, and possibly looking at a title. What does that mean for you?
Lee: That is the entire reason I am here. It means everything. And the Snakes deserve the title this season. We have had it tough the last few.
Fullerton: How many seasons have you gone through? What’s the difference between back then and now for you?
Lee: Four. The biggest difference is my consistency. I've always been able to break out for 80-yard TD runs, but this season I've been more focused on moving the chains. No more of this "Rabid Mouse", running five yards in the wrong direction and still picking up the ten-yard gain.
Fullerton: If you are drafted, what could you bring to a team? Anything your looking at to do for them?
Lee: The stats speak for themselves. Watch any of Lincoln's wins this past season and I'm sure you'll see at least one long TD run out of me and over a hundred yards rushing.
Fullerton: Here is the moment to promote yourself for the upcoming draft, what would you like to say?
Lee: How many Player of the Games did I get this past season? How many times did my teammates... and even not my teammates post "LL for MVP" on the Youtube chats? What you get is one of the fastest and most agile running backs in the league who can consistently get you those five yards to move the chains, but who can also bust out for huge runs. I think I even had a 400-yard rushing game last season, or close to it. You also get a guy who's could in the locker room, supports his teammates, and puts his team before himself.
Thank You, Lee, for this great interview, and we hope to hear your name in the Draft.
Let's go Rattlesnakes!
HOW THEY GOT HERE: MADISON LYNX
Madison opened the season with a loss @ Annapolis but immediately bounced back with a 3-game winning streak. A 2-2 second half, capped off by a revenge game victory vs. Annapolis, put them in the #2 slot for the playoffs. Switch Thumper put up a fight for MVP, with a 99 (!!) QB rating for the regular season. Ron Haines has been his top target with 599 receiving yards on the season (#4 in the SFLm.) The defense has been stout as well, only allowing 157 points (#2 behind LIN). This performance led them to a semifinal game vs. Lexington. The regular season matchup between these two ended in the Miners' first loss by a score of 34-31. Madison finished a last-second comeback in the semifinal game to take down Lexington 17-16. I met up with two Madison players to get their thoughts on this game and season.
PLAYER INTERVIEWS: MADISON LYNX
First, we'll start with today's game. The two players I chose to interview were John Smith (OL) and Chris Delrow (SS). Lincoln's defense has been top-notch this season, so Smith and his fellow o-lineman will have some trouble keeping this front 7 away from Switch Thumper. I asked John about how he plans to slow the Snakes down: "We all know Lincoln has an elite pass rush and run stop squad. While I feel confident in my ability to slow them down and create gaps for us to attack, it'll be a team effort with all of us (helping) to keep them under control and give the O a chance to score drive after drive." Next, let's rewind to last Wednesday, where Madison defeated Lexington on a last-second comeback. Chris Delrow shared his thoughts on the comeback: "(It was a ) hell of a comeback. The defense was able to make a few key stops and we kept battling. The team knew we could score if we had a shot, (so we) never gave up. Being new here, my nerves were a little high. But once we punched it in, I went nuts."
Lincoln's offense has been quite the force as well. I asked Delrow about the ideals the Lynx will be using on defense tonight: "For me, being new and not experiencing a lot, I've just gotta listen to my coaches and teammates. I believe in our coaches to help get us in spots to make plays. And when you get to line up next to guys like DJ (Woods) and (Joseph) Lama, you know you've got a shot no matter who you're going up against."
However, neither of them could have made it here without going through the grueling SFLm season. I asked John Smith about his experience in the SFLm so far: "It's been fantastic, from interviews, to chatting with owners and coaches, to just having a positive locker room and supportive culture. It's been a great (SFLm) season and I'm very glad to be here. Everybody supports everybody, and we all just want to succeed and make it to that next level, which is the most you can ask for!" Chris Delrow had some similar thoughts: "My experience has been nothing short of awesome. From being able to join late in the season, to participating in the combine before my 1st game and getting signed by this amazing team. They've allowed me to play in a few more games this season and a chance to be a champion. The locker room gets hyped during the games. I've also been lucky enough to have some more people reach out and help me learn more about the game, and make connections with some people over other things besides football, as well as talk to a few people who are from Wisconsin just like me. It's been better and way more fun than I expected. Thankfully my father-in-law showed me this, otherwise, I wouldn't be lucky enough to be a part of this great league!"
Week 8 Predictions
Geno's Record: Week 8 - 1-2 ---> Total 11-10 (.524)
TJ's Record: Week 8 - 4-0 ---> Total 14-14 (.500)
Jay's Record: Week 8 - 0-0 ---> Total 8-5 (.615)
Slinn's Record: Week 8 - 4-0 ---> Total 12-4 (.750) MLM Season 7 Predictions Champion!
Total Prediction Record: Week 8 9-2 ---> Total 47-34 (.580)
For our predictions finale, I'll be running you through both teams' keys to victory.
LINCOLN: SURPRISE MADISON'S DEFENSE
Madison will be expecting A TON of Logan Lee. In their Week 2 matchup, Logan Lee only had 14 carries, but he ran for 106 yards in the loss. Lincoln needs to be able to get Kenny Slider rolling tonight. I'd like to see some simple short routes to John Fullerton and Navonte Richardson (#ThrowItToTheTE), so Logan Lee can be set up for his classic breakaway runs.
MADISON: WIN THIRD DOWNS
Madison has been decent on third downs this season, but they'll need to improve on both sides of the ball to take home the title. The goal for Madison's offense should be to control the clock. If Madison can get Sheppard Valkarian rolling and Switch Thumper continues to scorch defenses, then Madison can provide enough support to the defense to take home the crown.
As much as it may feel like the end of MLM this season, it's not! I'll be back for one last article next week. I'll be recapping the draft, as well as preparing draftees on what to expect in the big leagues.
Header Credit: John Fullerton