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2012 OIFL Team Previews
Topic Started: May 8 2012, 06:29 AM (1,995 Views)
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This thread will be where I post the official 2012 OIFL team previews.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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BUFFALO SPEED

Buffalo is the reincarnation of the Houston Marshals ownership group, with former Marshals owner Will McKethan making his return to the OIFL. Obviously, the Marshals' issues in the past boiled down to owner participation, an issue that's been promised to have been fixed. That's good, because the talent here top to bottom isn't exactly what Marshals fans hoped would turn into some 12- and 13-win seasons.

Haroly Wyandt gets his shot to quarterback a team with some talent, and there's going to be no competition here. Albert Gardner is a backup, and that's what we have. Buffalo will be hoping a line desperately lacking depth can keep Wyandt above ground, because the run game is going to be based on finesse rather than power. Darius Fitzgerald (and probably Dwenass Killebrew) are going to run the ball out of the OS spot, but you can figure Buffalo's going to throw the football all over the place. Theron Guest is the only listed RB on the roster, and he's probably going to be cut.

While there's not a whole lot in the way of superstar receiving talent, both Fitzgerald and Herb Jackson (168 catches last three years) are going to give Wyandt some weapons. Joshua Soames (209-2385, 44 last three years) will be the top target, and he better be given his payroll. In typical Will McKethan fashion, Buffalo does have overpriced talent. But on a 26-man front, the roster isn't overly expensive. That just means depth is questionable.

The line corps is not going to push anyone around, and that'll be a problem. Wyandt has fumbled the ball in the past, and he's going to take shots. But he's proven to be able to stand up to intense pressure; he quarterbacked in Montreal!

Buffalo decided early on to make sure the offense can be explosive (and it can; the starters are solid and the backups will play OK if Wyandt keeps throwing well). As an expansion team, you can't fix everything early, and the defense will see that. Herb Jackson is probably their top defender, but there is a dropoff from there. One DS slot will have to be used for LB Shakim Matua, and if Jackson or effective DS Chris Perrone go down, there are going to be problems. Consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks is going to be a constant problem all year - Ryan Hutchinson will get a lot more play on the line this year than he has in the past because he's got the ability many other Speed players don't.

The schedule isn't terrible for Buffalo. The AFC East gets the AFC West and NFC North, so Buffalo avoids Evansville, Cedar Rapids, Tampa Bay, and Tucson. They get New England twice, which will be a chore, but some of their tougher non-division games (Fort Mac, Eugene) are at home. The schedule plays well for them.

Assuming the ownership issues are truly in the past for McKethan, Buffalo has a bit of a chance. The line has to be perfect, and injuries will derail anything they have, but with some luck Buffalo can make a run. There's no OIFLCup Game in this year's Buffalo future, but a playoff berth is not out of the question. It might be if they can't get home wins in Weeks 1 and 2 over Long Island and Norfolk, but the schedule is there for them to potentially have a good year (as Norfolk did last year at 8-8). The defense will be the key - if they can't improve throughout the season, Buffalo will be on the wrong end of a lot of 68-60 games.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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CEDAR RAPIDS REDEMPTION

Because changing names of an OIFLCup contender always makes sense, the Cedar Rapids Redemption come to town after last year's Phantoms won a playoff game and carded the OIFL MVP in Roland Young. One playoff win isn't going to cut it in 2012 for this organization.

Sean Spoelstra had a plenty fine year in 2011 (52 TD 4 INT), but he's not the star of the show here. 2011 OIFL MVP Roland Young (1,820 yards, 46 TD rushing) is the star the Phantoms revolve around. He's plenty strong enough and is faster than just about every running back in the OIFL. And they'll be happy to let him run behind their line that goes easily seven deep. Mark Blevins is his backup, so a key point of the equation is really solved here. The Redemption have depth everywhere you need it. When they need to throw the ball, and they'll need to - this is indoor football - Spoelstra's proven plenty capable and has no shortage of guys who can catch. Kyle Farmington (20th in the OIFL last three years with 240 catches) has had a solid career in mid-Iowa, and other guys like Merrill Samuels, Zach Welker, Marcus Klecker, and backup OS Ward Soto will be able to provide weapons for Spoelstra. But it's Young's show.

Depth is Cedar Rapids' key. Every player has a backup that can come in and be just fine - problems may come if multiple receivers get hurt (after Klecker, it's a little iffy with a Stuart Nelson or Dan Sin), but it's few and far between that you have a 2010 Evansville where their second string is a 10-6 playoff team. If multiple players get hurt, Cedar Rapids can still survive.

The defense is going to be brutal for opposing teams to face. Cedar Rapids, effectively, goes six deep with starter quality defensive backs. The DS battery of Robert Garrett and Marc Farris will give offensive coordinators nightmares. Add Welker and Merrill Samuels, and effectively the Redemption can go man to man on every team and keep a rover somewhere to help. While the league's greats can beat any man to man coverage, no team has three greats, and if you double even a Jay Yerkes with two of those guys, you have a Jay Yerkes who isn't catching 10 balls.

Why is this even scarier? Roland Young is one of the OIFL's best blitzing linebackers. His weakness is his pass coverage, and unless the Phantoms lose multiple defensive backs, he's...never...going...to...have...to...cover...anyone. Add to that possibly the best three-man DL in the OIFL (Emerson Calderon, Logan Rohtin, Brett O'Dell), and not only will opposing quarterbacks have trouble finding open receivers...they won't have any time to find them. Matt Patten has built a fine defense here.

The schedule always has the fun given the Redemption won their division last year. Tampa and Tucson will be on it given they're a division winner in the NFC (they play the NFC West and AFC South). Given that, they also get St. Louis, Texas, and Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi, Tucson, St. Louis, NFC North winner Washington, and always-tough-at-home San Francisco is the road slate. That's a brutal out of division schedule for the Redemption, but the team might be good enough to survive it.

This team has a shot to be special. Maybe one more trade is needed to cement that status, but this team's going to be good. It's been built well and they already are coming off success. They might not be OIFLCup Game worthy, but no one's going to be shocked if the Redemption are playing their twentieth game of the season. They expect to be there, and they should. The defense is that good.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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CHICAGO MINERS

The Miners had a rough inaugural year with the combination of the team acting as a proper expansion squad (go young, build guys through that route) and being in a division with Evansville, Wisconsin, and Detroit. The team's improved from Year 1 to Year 2, but they're still in a division with Evansville, Wisconsin, and Detroit. Fans are going to be worried the team's record won't improve a whole lot (and I'm a Browns fan, take my word for it I understand), even if the team does.

Tacasey Cadet is likely to keep the starting QB job, though there's going to be an open competition in the preseason between him, John Morrow, Richard Wright, and Chuck Wente. Given the roster makeup, it's likely between Cadet and Morrow, because a pivot that can't run on a team whose receiving corps is not terribly strong isn't going to be very helpful. Last year, Chicago ran the ball as much as any team in the OIFL with Sean Maxey (939 yards, 18 TD in his rookie year), and the running will continue. Brook Crawford was brought in to be the star of the team (2,642 yards, 78 TD last three years, 23rd in the OIFL in that span). Early camp reviews indicate he can be, but his career certainly doesn't reflect the $270,000 weekly contract he was given. He'll be given every shot to earn it, though.

A big issue Chicago saw was their depth last year. Guys who had no business playing OIFL football were sometimes even having to start. That's not going to repeat. Their 26 man roster will be night and day better, helped a lot by a slew of rookies brought in to provide some real competition. The offensive line is better this year, with second-year OLDL Kevin Labeck showing signs of becoming a star in this league. Chicago lacks star power; anyone who can come forward as one will be welcomed. The backup corps on the line is not great, but is competent, something lacking last year. If Crawford *and* Maxey get hurt, Tommy Fairchild will be called upon to be the star OS the team hoped he'd be when they hit the sleeper last year.

Defensively, Chicago's going to have similar problems to last year. Labeck, as good as he can be, is not a superstar DL yet. He's very good, don't get us wrong here, but he is not going to take over 16 games as "the man." Getting Vern Sweeton to help depth was very well needed, though he's a loose cannon and $80,000 a week was nuts. The price of the 26-man won't be high, but it is contained in a few guys who aren't worth their price. Maxey has to play linebacker as OS is tied up in Fairchild, and he can't cover me. There are no superstar DBs, though the team hopes Blake Blast can become that guy. Crawford was sneaky good as a defensive back in Baltimore; he'll be forced to carry a kmore prominent role this year as Chicago's top corner.

The schedule is brutal. Chicago gets the distinct advantage of playing Evansville, Detroit, and Wisconsin twice. That's 6 playoff games. They also get the NFC West and AFC South, so that adds Texas, Tucson, St. Louis, Venice...four more. The Terrors and Rush are at home, but we're not sure it matters this year. Over half this team's schedule was in last year's OIFLCup Playoffs, and two more (@ Corpus, vs LA) are against teams that are at least perennially close. A home game with San Francisco is the only respite the Miners get.

It's still a building process in Chicago. The team wants to see real improvement out of the team, and they will. But the record isn't going to reflect it. Chicago could've used a schedule with a lot of weaker teams. They'll improve, but the record isn't going to show just how improved the Miners are this year.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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CORPUS CHRISTI STORM

Since their expansion year, the Storm have been known as a team that, while perfectly average, was never able to get over the hump. After another around-.500 season in 2011, the Storm have made it a point to dispel that notion, and fans are as excited about their team since the Rob Cole playoff years in Corpus Christi.

Juan McPherson, who in his relatively short career is already 23rd all-time with 14,210 passing yards, is looking to make a jump into "superstar QB" status, and he's got the receiving corps to do it. Davion Strachan and Jerry Rodriquez are solid running backs, but the Storm aren't ever going to lead the OIFL in rushing. It's not their thing. McPherson, who is third in the OIFL in the last three years with 11,012 passing yards, has what can be considered an elite receiving corps. Dropped passes against top talent might be an issue, but in the past three years, he has five receivers (Kotea Patton, Alex Emmons, Dexter Walters, Darius Mockobee, John Cornell) who have at least 197 catches and 35 touchdown catches. He has...options.

On top of that, he's got rookie sleeper Joe Kenney, who has all of the makings of a potential superstar. Kenney isn't slated to start this year, but Storm coach Mike Willis was very high on his prized rookie. "I've seen some very good receivers here," said Willis. "Kenney has a chance to be a top-10 all-time guy. He's got every tool you'd ever want from a receiver, and while his defense needs to get better to start both ways, he's got the desire and the 'want-to' to eliminate those problems. He can be special, and he's going to have his shot here."

James Tobin is one of the OIFL's better linemen, and he's got Charles Prescott and Josh Salas around him to work. The depth on the line in Corpus consistently has needed work, and rookies Moeeb Razaq and Paki O'Meara have been brought in to help eliminate those needs. The line goes five deep in "starter quality" and seven if you include situational guys O'Meara and Roosevelt Jenkins. "It's going to help us stay sharp," said Willis. "We're not going to lose fourth quarter leads from being tired like we used to."

Defensively, Patton and Emmons will create a lockdown atmosphere for the opposing team's top receivers, but beyond that there's not much star power. Cornell's always there and will be a factor, the team's hoping for a 15-sack year out of Tobin, but this is where Corpus Christi will have fun. Again. If Emmons and/or Patton get hurt, the defense becomes ordinary in a hurry, and with some of the high octane offenses in the AFC South, Storm fans will be watching pinball football as they've grown accustomed. However, given the offensive improvements and how well they'll score, the defense doesn't have to be great for the team to be.

The schedule, while hardly easy, lines up favorably. The Storm will play the AFC and NFC North. Evansville, Cedar Rapids, Vancouver Island (AFC West #3) all come to the Gulf Coast, but Corpus has to travel to Wisconsin and Detroit. Texas, St. Louis, and always-tough San Antonio are on the schedule twice, so the team will be tested early and often.

Fans have a lot of optimism for the Storm this year, and they should. The one storyline to watch, if the team's defense does falter a bit, will be the pursuit of 100 touchdown passes. If the points are needed consistently (and as great as McPherson has been, if your defense is great you aren't scoring 100 touchdown throws), McPherson has a shot to eclipse that mark that has never been done in the OIFL. A bigger goal, though, for the Storm is to play a seventeenth game this season, and that one to not be in the OIFL Invitational Tournament. The division might be a tough goal given the AFC's OIFLCup representative (and the team they beat in the AFC final) being in their division, but it's not out of the question.
Edited by Commissioner, May 10 2012, 10:48 AM.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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DALLAS DIABLOS

John-Mark McKethan presided over OIFL history recently when his Waco River Demons earned the league's first-ever 0-16 mark. It was a combination of McKethan ownership troubles and a tough schedule that earned them the 0-16 medal (much in the same way as the 2008 Detroit Lions, that Waco team wasn't the league's worst-ever squad), but all things considered, that team probably had more talent than the Diablos do right now.

Diablos management is very high on rookie QB Alex Pettyfer, so much that there's talk of releasing 12th year veteran A.J. Mizerak. That would be a mistake. While no quarterback is making this Dallas team an OIFLCup contender, A.J. Mizerak has the veteran presence of mind to be an effective game manager for a team that needs talent everywhere. Pettyfer will, and should (if he's your 10-year QB plan), play, but Mizerak should probably start the campaign. The RB battle will be between a host of players, with Kadeem Vogler, Lequinton Arundel, DiCarlos Watts, or DeLorean McNeil getting the eventual nod. My money's on Watts due to his defensive abilities, but none of these backs are going to scare anyone on the Dallas schedule.

Pettyfer and/or Mizerak will be throwing to some players who have had OIFL-level success, but the lack of depth is alarming at the receiver position. Ian Gillian (27-283, 3 TD last 3 years), Tarvaris Holmes (133-1491, 20 TD L3Y), and Adam Reyeb (127-1503, 26 TD L3Y) are going to be the three starting receivers, with fingers crossed that either some other capable players get cut (and it will happen, actually, with the 26-man rosters), or that they don't get hurt.

The line corps, and this is why Mizerak should start, is not good. Matt Thomas is the unquestioned leader of the line, and he hasn't had that role since he played for the Washington Attack. Dallas is very young on the line beyond the 11th year Thomas, and the development of those players will be their key to success in future years. Whoever plays quarterback will get hit a lot, which is another reason to have the veteran who's 13th all-time in passing yardage back there to take the brunt of the action.

Defensively, Dallas is a little stronger, but good offensive teams will still roll them. The defensive line is not going to scare anyone, the linebacking corps is not good, but the defensive backfield can be OK. Rookie DS Bryson Roman-Ayers had a "superstar-level" training camp for a rookie, and he's sufficiently good enough that no one's going to throw to him much. He'll make rookie mistakes, but he has the most upside of any player in Dallas. Daryl Yell will line up alongside him to create what really isn't a bad DS combo.

Sergi Womack might lead the team in scoring, by the way. In his 12th season, Womack is still improving, and he has a shot to move up from 6th on the kick scoring list given how many field goals he'll undoubtedly be kicking.

When you have a team such as Dallas, the schedule is important, but not to see playoff chances. It's to find a game you can peg as a win. There aren't many, but home games with Omaha and North Dakota are probably winnable. It doesn't help to play Tampa Bay, D.C., and London twice, and it certainly doesn't help to get the San Francisco game in front of the Hooligans.

Let's get this out of the way now. This team isn't making the playoffs. The OIT is a long shot. The team has to find the young guys on the roster who will be the stars for this team going forward (and don't ask about winning the Gravy Bowl; London holds their 2013 E1). Dallas has players that can be special (Roman-Ayers, for example). But this is going to be a rough season for Dallas fans.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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Don't worry John-Mark, I too was predicted as a Gravy Bowl team ;)

And how dare you, Josh, not say that Buffalo has to worry about playing us twice :frantic: just kidding
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I fully admit I've been wrong with previews in the past. I had 2001 OIFLCup Champs Rochester missing the playoffs altogether.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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I fully admit I've been wrong with previews in the past. I had 2001 OIFLCup Champs Rochester missing the playoffs altogether.
I think your bet is pretty good on this pony.

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Yeah, you'll be scouring the FA wire pretty heavily.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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DETROIT GLADIATORS

Generally with the Gladiators, you can get the formalities out of the way. Dennis Marr has owned this franchise since 2003, and including the year before, Detroit has been in the playoffs ten straight years. There's no need to ask "are they going to make it?" No, unless something goes horribly wrong, we're going to probably ask which seed they get.

T.J. Cunningham (94 TD 8 INT career) finally comes into his fourth OIFL season as the clear-cut starter; in past years he had to earn the job over someone else. Robert Auger is the clear backup. Dacarreay Peaches will be Detroit's running back again, with a tenuous backup situation there, though the team's high on Willy Wichert. Cunningham will have no shortage of weapons to throw to including James LaCourte (212 catches last 3 years), Shane Andrews, Jackson Matthews, a slew of backups at the position (as well we know, Detroit's going to have 26 players that can play at any time), and the ageless Deion Flanders (seventh in OIFL history with 752 catches, 9,000 yards, and 155 touchdown catches).

John Maurer anchors the Detroit line, and he's had quite the successful 7-year career thus far with the team. As is normal in Detroit, the line goes eight deep and could be deeper if the league allowed them to keep all 35 players they have. There might not be a Gary Boddy frightening presence, but they're going to be able to roll out any player on their roster, as usual, with little dropoff.

All of the offensive talk is nice, but everyone knows what Detroit's calling card is. Over the last three seasons, Chad Scott and Marlo Dadey have 50 interceptions, 8 returned for touchdowns (Dadey with 31-6). OK, maybe they're not as deep as a Cedar Rapids there. James LaCourte (6 more picks L3Y) is no slouch...and if you have even an aging (and he is) Scott, he's still Chad Scott and he still is the only player in OIFL history with triple digit picks (111, 11 housed)...and Marlo Dadey with his 57 in his career...look, you're not throwing the ball well on the Gladiators.

Detroit won OIFLCup V in Las Vegas because of the team's attention to every roster spot, and it's made every single playoff berth since 2002 for that same reason. You know they're going to be fine - obviously, if Dadey goes down the team's in trouble (Scott's not what he used to be, but he's still going to log a lot of minutes). The Gladiators will have trouble getting to 26 players because they feel they have a 35-man roster where all 35 could play - and they're right, most all 35 guys are good enough to.

As usual, the schedule's a gauntlet. The Gladiators by virtue of their AFC North placement get Evansville and Wisconsin twice. Detroit gets to travel to Texas, Vancouver Island, and Los Angeles. Tucson, St. Louis, and Corpus Christi come to town. There's a really good chance their first playoff game is a rematch.

The question, as noted already, is not "is this a playoff team?" No, the question is "is this team going to win a playoff game?" Detroit's best comparison is the 1990s Atlanta Braves, where they ALWAYS make it, but don't always win when they make it. Detroit has the 2005 OIFLCup and the magical run as a seven seed to the East final, but not much beyond that. They might need to make another move or two, but when you have a bona fide superstar on your team, you've always got a shot.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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D.C. CONSPIRACY

Coming off a big jump in result, the Conspiracy come into 2012 looking to continue the imporvement the team enjoyed last year with a playoff win and close battle in the second round with Tucson. The competition has improved in the NFC East, but the Conspiracy feel comfortable that they've improved, too.

Dan Jackson comes back for his second Conspiracy campaign, his 12th in the OIFL. Jackson will dance into Brinkhaven with a bust in the OIFL Hall of Fame, as he's #2 all-time in every major passing category (32,693 yards, 607 TD, 150.05 QB rating). His 159 TD and 13 INT in the past three years indicate he's not really slowed down much, either. Marcus Cribbs (306-3858, 82 TD last three years) adds the big time threat Jackson has always enjoyed. From there, Jackson's pass game is full of solid, if unspectacular, players such as Greg Tiebach, Shawn Kramer, Dewayne Webb (who the team is very high on moving forward in his third year), and rookie Rasheide Benefield.

Corey Palso (2,949 yards, 75 TD last three years) is being called upon to make everyone even better, and reports out of DC camp indicate he's looking to have a big year. Add his 67 catches in the past three years and there's confidence Palso could be an all-star this year. Conspiracy head coach Lenny Antietam agrees. "Corey's got every opportunity to really be the centerpiece of this offense, and our defense. He's got every tool you want, and it's now the year for him to put it together. We want him to be great, and think he can." His backup is Alex Anderson, who is 11th in OIFL history with 9,026 rushing yards.

The Conspiracy line will provide a lot of protection for Jackson and Palso, and will provide some worries for opposing teams. Stan Harlan could be as good as any two-way lineman in the OIFL, and linemates Jason Faber and Onterrio Bartek look to provide what could be a great tandem. The line isn't as deep as other teams, but Frank Miles and Harlan Gordon give it at least a 5-deep starter quality.

Palso's the centerpiece on offense, and as Antietam indicated, he'll be the centerpiece on defense. Great OIFL teams historically have had versatile linebackers, and Palso's as versatile as it comes. Antietam noted "Corey's able to cover the other team's top receiver, and he's as good a linebacker or safety in this league. If he puts it together, everyone's job is easier." Palso will be in the backfield with DS combo Peter Woodward and Edreian Kifer, both of which have the tools needed to give DC a defensive boost in addition to guys like Harlan and Faber.

That boost will be needed. DC will have major problems if a couple key players get hurt (most notably Palso...Anderson's 11th all-time, but his best years are well behind him, and John Marc Colombo is a DS, not a RBDB anymore). But the schedule is the reasoning. They're in a division with Tampa Bay and London, which means the defense is going to get tested a bunch. Add in road games in Omaha, Fort McMurray, Eugene, and home games with Rocky Mountain and Vancouver Island...if the defense falters, DC's going to give up a ton of points. If Jackson ever starts showing his age with that defense having trouble (not likely in 2012, mind you), DC's 12-4 season might be a one-year wonder.

DC expects to win the NFC East, and they should. They might not be as good as Tampa, but if they're right on the superstar status of Corey Palso, they already have an OIFL legend in Dan Jackson. Combining a legend with a superstar is worth a number of wins. Week 1 is the key from the gun, with the Conspiracy kicking off with Tampa. A win there, and the sky's the limit.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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EUGENE KNIGHTS

Coming fresh off a playoff berth in 2011, the Eugene Knights feel strongly that they've built a roster that can take the next step towards an OIFLCup. It may surprise some people before looking at the Knights roster, but that's a possibility. The organization has slowly built from within, and this could be the year to make a big step forward.

In large part due to the offense the team traditionally runs, no OIFL quarterback in the past three years has thrown for more than Damon Owens' 11,454 yards (Montrel Dilworth has more touchdowns). Eugene's going to run the ball more, but the team brought Owens in as a rookie to be the man, to build a system around him, and to have him lead them to the promised land. Given in three years he's already 32nd all-time in passing yards, there might be something to that. Owens will be joined in the backfield by Matt White, who's had a solid (if unspectacular) career with 2,730 yards rushing.

Owens gets plenty of help from a receiving corps who has a shot to be something. Brandon Smith is being called upon to be the team's #1 receiver, and his camp was such that he just might. He has 207 catches over the past three years; with the Eugene offense there are some hopes he has a chance to hit 100 catches. Willie Marck returns as the OS, with his 279 catches and 63 touchdowns in the past three years. Marck's on the downside of his career, but there's little doubt he's going to still be a major part of Eugene's pass game. Other receivers will include Jared Foutz, Bill Blind, J-Von Duvall, Mark Saunders, and backup OS Anthony Oliver. Effectively, Owens will throw for a ton of yards.

The line has taken a huge step forward with trades and a strong camp. Art James, D.J. Drake, and Jermaine Taylor are the likely starters, and they could really wreak some havoc in the AFC West, but the team goes six deep with starter-quality linemen. As Eugene head coach Tim Fuqua put it, "we cost ourselves playoff berths and many wins because someone got hurt and we're done. That's not happening anymore."

The defense is where Eugene will take a big step forward. James, Drake, and Taylor will provide a very strong defensive line, with the other three all being more than capable. While there are no superstar DS players, Shaun Bennigan and Harold LaCrosswell are both just fine, and some combination of White, Foutz, Blind, Duvall, and Smith will provide an exceptional defensive backfield. Injuries will slow this team down (especially if it's Matt White), but Fuqua and his defensive staff have just about as many options to move guys around as you could want.

One question will be who plays linebacker. Most would figure the RB (White) plays LB as that's normal, but normal has changed. Likely Harold LaCrosswell (who can cover as well) will be the LB, and with James/Drake on the line the LB could be more of a safety role. Unlike past years, Fuqua and his staff won't be tied down to forcing guys to roles because no one else can do it. It's a good problem to have.

The schedule is helpful. Because they didn't win the AFC West last year, Eugene avoids Texas and Evansville (while Fort Mac doesn't). Due to them playing the AFC East they get New England, but the game's in Oregon. The nondivisional road games are in London, Long Island, Buffalo, Dallas, and Wisconsin. Eugene fans have to be happy with that (Tampa and D.C. both come to Oregon).

Eugene has a lot of upside. While the history will indicate a lot of people will give Fort McMurray the favorite's role in the AFC West, Eugene fans feel they're the favorite, and could even get out of the 4 seed with their roster. If things roll right and Owens and the offense keep its improvement, with the defense playing up to its par - they have a real chance to.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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Yeah, you'll be scouring the FA wire pretty heavily.
It's going to be an extremely strong wire this year, dump half your team for FA's and you might double your win total
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EVANSVILLE FIGHTIN' SQUIRRELS

With most teams, there can be a range of expected and acceptable outcomes to a season. In Evansville, it's long been known the team only has one acceptable outcome. If they don't win the OIFLCup Championship, the past season was a failure. And while this team isn't as dominant as the 2010 Squirrels were (and they're not), an OIFLCup is never out of the question when you're talking about Evansville. They drafted well, they traded well, they signed guys in free agency well, and they, while expensive, have never outspent their means. "Oh, guys are getting old?" Sure, might be a problem elsewhere, but Squirrels fans aren't worried. Nor should they be.

Riley Pennington, who is now 9-1 in his playoff career with more passing yards than all but six guys in the playoffs, returns to resume a career that's quickly becoming an automatic invitation to Brinkhaven upon retirement. Regular season stats will never be a major factor in Evansville, because they go 26 deep, and everyone will play. Marshall Raybold, Zidan Hoover, and (to a lesser extent) Lewis Vogel form a deadly three-headed running back tandem that is as good as any in the league. The receiving corps is killer as well, with J'Ron Perry, Chevron Gamal Rastafari, Michael Djordjevic, and youngsters Joe Farda and Asaad Moore helping rotate around Jay Yerkes, who's averaged 101 catches a year over the past three years. Yerkes will be dancing into the Hall of Fame someday, and this year will just cement that. Never mind the OS combo of Stanley Isaacs and Dion Sanders (who had such a camp that he's going to make the roster, where he was an almost sure cut beforehand), who will provide relief.

Evansville's current OLDL tandem goes eight deep, with any three of the eight able to start on most teams. King James Boston hopes to continue a career that hasn't been as "Boddy-like" as had been hoped when he was drafted, but he's been very strong for the Squirrels. Jonas Wile, Leonard Zadovsky, Stephen Fox, Pat Rogers, Fidelis Ziemann, Tyler Heyl (who has not aged well)...a strong line for the Squirrels, and it makes everyone's job easier.

The Evansville defense will again be pretty strong. Rastafari may have found his sweet spot now here in Evansville, and he may still be a backup. Yerkes doesn't have numbers because no one throws to him...that's why Theo Kiwi (possibly a top-5 DB right now) gets them...because they do throw to him. Perry, Vogel, and Jerold Hayhurst will also cause headaches for opposing offenses, not to mention having Boston (38 sacks last three years) there to make just that much more noise. Maybe not the best defense in the OIFL, but they're pretty strong.

Oh yeah, Olin Cringle has 195 more points kicking in the regular season than any other player. So if the offense does sputter, they're getting a guy who hits on 59% of his field goals. Cringle also has 42 more points kicking than anyone in OIFLCup Playoffs history.

Squirrels head coach Eric Geno, who has four rings (two with the Detroit Gargoyles), knows what it takes to win. "Everyone can say nice things about us. Everyone can say how we're guaranteed ever...there's no guarantees. We screw up once in the playoffs, we're done. We did it against St. Louis last year. There's no margin for error, and these guys know it."

While Evansville will be favored more often than not, the schedule isn't exactly easy. Wisconsin and Detroit still live in their division, and they get to travel to Corpus Christi, Fort McMurray, St. Louis, and Tucson. Texas and New England also come to town. They'll be well tested when the postseason comes.

Yes, you can mark it down. Evansville's a playoff team. Maybe even the top seed in the AFC again. There's not going to be some let down like the old Gargoyles after they got popped in the round of eight (2005, Cleveland Thunderbolts). "They ended my first dynasty in Detroit," said Geno (Evansville beat Detroit in the 2006 first round). "We won't have that happen again."
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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FORT DODGE ROUGHRIDERS

On the heels of one of the more shocking OIFLCup Playoffs berths in recent memory, the Fort Dodge Roughriders look to make it two straight playoff trips.

No, Fort Dodge never got into the dance with guys like Perry Tuttle being their main weapon. They made the dance after an offseason where they had to cut their salary in half and get rid of just about every talented piece they had. If the league had such an award, Antonio Echevarria would have been GM/owner of the year, hands down. Thing is, it wasn't a one-shot deal. Yeah, they're older, but the playoffs again are not out of the question.

Faustino Borrello after a career resurgence in Central Iowa steps aside for Gerald Briggs to finally get his true shot starting. Briggs has some weapons, too. Raul dos Santos and Harry Shaw provide a fair run game, but Briggs gets to throw to guys like Chas Bryant, Raheem June, Felix Porter (don't laugh), Chris Rhea, Leonardo McKay, Kelvin St. Pierre...and while he's old...oh yeah, Kelvin Street's on the roster now. If there's anything left in the tank, Kelvin Street is the top receiver, by a long shot, in OIFL history, what with 1,060 catches, 15,470 yards, and 344 touchdowns to his name. The gas tank is nearly empty, but he knows how to pull the choke.

Basically, Gerald Briggs will throw the ball well this year. He's got plenty of toys, even considering the average run game.

The line, while not terribly deep (though second year guy Gilles Sunu had a great camp) ,has some staying power. Marc Horowitz has been good for some time, while Robert Kreig and Marcel Muddleston are no slouches. Very quietly, this Roughriders team has built a pretty good squad. For those complaining about only rich teams being able to win...Fort Dodge has the third lowest payroll in the OIFL (both weekly and for tax calculation).

The defense should be improved, too. Injuries will derail Fort Dodge more than other teams, but if not, Preston Street looks like a stud, Kelvin St. Pierre will be good, Raheem June can cover anyone, and Roger Brownings had such a camp that he's still around. Riders head coach Chuck Moon isn't accustomed to having such weapons on his team. "We have always had a star or two," he said, "but we've never had a team where we're pretty good from 1-26. This team is that, and we really have a shot to do something."

Depth will be Fort Dodge's concern, but it's not the crippling thing that they got quite lucky with last year. They can handle a couple big injuries much better this year, though certainly it'd derail any division title shot they might have.

The schedule will give the team some tests. Fort Dodge gets the AFC South and NFC West, but Tucson, Corpus Christi, and Rocky Mountain (#2 NFC North) come to Fort Dodge. They get to travel to Texas, DC, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and never-fun-to-see San Francisco. Never mind two Cedar Rapids games with the always-brutal Minneapolis rivalry.

The pieces are actually in place, with luck, for an improvement on last year's record. Isn't going to be easy, but Fort Dodge has managed things very well in the aftermath of last year's financial crisis. The fans have high hopes (and while the Redemption in the division make a division title hard, they still have high hopes), and the team has a real chance to meet them.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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FORT McMURRAY FATMEN

After winning what was probably the OIFL's worst division in 2011, the Fort McMurray Fatmen look to take another step forward under the Lincoln Lightning management team. Though Fatmen fans were plenty happy with getting that playoff berth (though losing a home playoff game was a bitter pill to swallow), Fort Mac management isn't satisfied with anything but an OIFLCup.

Tony Akins, who head coach Jose Jefferson calls "a man who can be a superstar in this league," returns to quarterback an offense whose clear star is eighth year OIFL veteran Morris Wallace. Wallace in his seven seasons has 8,816 rushing yards and 215 touchdowns, 13th all-time (and with Timmy North, Alex Anderson, Tom Ando, and Marion Stubbs ahead of him, being in the top ten after 2012 is most certainly not out of the question). "Our offense runs through Mo," said Jefferson.

But it doesn't really have to all the way this year. The Fatmen paid huge money to acquire the services of all-star OS Marse Fly, Jr., whose career has been derailed by constant placement on some of the OIFL's worst teams. Fly has 439 catches in his career, good for 36th all-time, though his raw skill set indicates he could be a 100 catch man in Fort McMurray. Akins will need to develop a rapport with some other receivers to avoid Fly triple teams, and third-year WRDB Keondre West could be that guy. David Rowley, ShanTell Moore, and Marle Hoper will provide more assistance in the pass game, though the offense will take a major step back if Fly gets hurt.

The emerging star lineman on this Fatmen team is Cyrus McPhee, a true mountain of a man who will seal the inside of the line on both ends. He's surrounded by a number of stronger linemen as Wally Anderson, Jon Hollingsworth, Brent Ungar, Mikal Bell, and Eddie Collins, but the story of this team will one more time be the OIFL's best-ever player, Gary Boddy. Boddy last year finally started to show signs of wear and tear on his frame, but according to Jefferson "he had a great camp this year. He looked as close to the Boddy of old as you could reasonably expect." Boddy has only led the OIFL in sacks once (2009) in the past four years, but with McPhee clogging the middle, it could be time for him to have a shot one more time. "We're not counting Gary Boddy out, for sure," said Jefferson.

McPhee and Boddy will lead the Fort Mac defense, but there's a number of talented players throughout. Wallace is one of the better linebackers in the OIFL, and his versatility has always been trumpeted and used by Jefferson. David Rowley is their best defensive back, though there's a large corps of younger players that can consistently rotate in pass coverage. With the division they're in, the defensive backfield will have to be stellar for Fort Mac to have sustained success. There may be games they give up big numbers, especially if McPhee (the anchor) gets hurt.

The schedule doesn't help much, either. The Fatmen start the campaign in Eugene and Vancouver Island, giving plenty of early tests for the young defensive backfield. Of the four division winners the Fatmen face, three are on the road (and the home game is against Evansville). Additionally, the Fatmen get D.C. at home. It's not the OIFL's toughest schedule, but the schedulemaker didn't do Fort McMurray any favors.

Owner Andrew Bienka only deals with OIFLCup Championships. Generally (and last year was an exception with the newness of the team), anything less than that just isn't good enough. The Fatmen aren't at that level right now. The core of the team is very young, and there's a very bright future, but an OIFLCup this year is too much to ask. Many people won't favor Fort McMurray even in the AFC West, though a team with an all-time great can't be discounted in that regard. They won't be happy at year's end, but the future is looking up, not down, in Fort Mac.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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KANSAS CITY TIGERS

Well, that was fun. Generally Lysoby teams are OIFLCup contenders. Financial issues caused the Tigers to finally take that step back to take future steps forward...and it was a step back. Well, it was more like being pushed off a cliff, but that's neither here nor there. The core they had wasn't ever winning a Cup, the team was broke, they did what they had to do. Now, are things better for the future in Kansas City?

Jamarco Angermeier was brought in to lead the Tigers from the pivot. He's started quite a few years in Baltimore, so while not a household name, the experience is there. Dave Madray will start at running back; very quietly, Madray has 5,815 rushing yards in his career (18th all-time). Depth is going to be a concern, but the Tigers are pretty confident in their RB backup corps of Byson Jones, Dustin Calderon, and Chaz Gerhart. Angermeier's arm will get tested with the receiving corps Kansas City has brought in. While there are no superstars, the team is very confident in Jeffrey Conner (221 catches last three years). To help ensure a potent offense, it'll be up to someone else to step up. OS Adolfo Geddinger looks to start, though there's any number of players that can get playing time. Brian Schmidt looks to start alongside Conner at WRD(L)B.

Last year, Kansas City's biggest problem was depth. They didn't have any. Things have improved on that front. Larry Zimmerman, Jacque JOhnson, Lawrence Bullocks, Lamont Jackson, Bohdan Chopko, Rueben Green, and the old man Frank Delighten combine for a line that goes seven deep - they didn't have this last year, and a strong and deep line is worth multiple wins. Tigers head coach Jacob Atwood agrees. "We play last year with this year's line and we have at least six wins. It's that important indoors."

One note - Kansas City took over a team with some horrible contracts. A lot was made of the money they did hand out in free agency, but they key will be that when the season kicks off, the weekly payroll (and there are no major bonuses on tap) will be just a shade over $1,000,000. It shouldn't be a problem, even with $90K a week going to Jacque Johnson, or $100K a week going to Larry Zimmerman.

The defense, always a staple of Lysoby teams, looks to be much improved. The line, while not world-beating, is deep enough that they'll always be fresh. Madray is as verastile a LB as the OIFL has (and Schmidt will be on the field with him, leaving Madray to move to safety). The defensive backfield goes plenty deep with strong cover men, including Conner, Frederick Pilarowski (who Atwood calls "a potential all-OIFL player"), Gene Lennox, and even Matt Mauller, who had the best camp he's ever had. "Teams will have to be more creative against us," said Atwood. "You can handle some inefficiencies on your offensive front. If your defense is inefficient, you're going to be 2-14. We have fixed that."

The schedule plays out pretty nicely. The division isn't terribly fun, given Cedar Rapids and Fort Dodge twice. That said, their nondivisional road games are in Dallas, Corpus Christi, Tucson (OK, those two are rough), Venice, and San Antonio. Other teams have things a little worse. Los Angeles, Texas, and St. Louis all come to Kansas City.

Last week was a rare instance where James Lysoby was "OK" with not being very good. Given the circumstances, it was an opportunity to see what the team needed to fix. They've fixed a lot of it. There's a combination of guys in the twilight of their career and guys whose careers are just getting started. If things fall right, a division title is not out of the question, though likely most fans would be happy if they're just fighting for a playoff spot by the last three weeks of the campaign. One can never discount just how good head coach Jacob Atwood has been at strategizing...now that he has real tools to work with, playing this team is always going to be tough.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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LONDON MONARCHS

London followed up a rather successful 8-8 campaign last year with a good offseason, and more development of a young roster that should provide for a strong run down the line (a'la Texas and their drafting/development). They also were the proud recipient of the OIFL's "well, you're easy to move" award with a relocation from the NFC West to the NFC East. New rivals and a roster that might actually work better against the NFC East styles give Monarchs fans a lot of hope.

Kidd Gunn was drafted last year at a point that was fairly early, from discussions with numerous draft scouts. He earned his stripes in his 2011 rookie campaign, though, throwing for 3,590 yards, 64 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. The roster around him is helpful, too, with Michael Loughman entering his third year of all-star calibre running, and a receiving corps that includes Earl Peoples, Louis Clarke, Juan Olson, Owen Rogers, and a number of younger players that will log a few minutes. Depth will be an issue at the skill spots, given the youth that is sitting on the bench. A couple well-placed injuries will cripple this offence. Jonas Mouton will be a key for the depth of the run game, as Loughman tired out as last year went on.

The line is a little deeper. Nate Bianco, Tremaine Mack, Dan Pollock, Theo Olivares, Matt Lindsey, and Matthew Mann will combine on a line that goes six deep, but there's no superstar lineman that scares everyone. They're stronger than advertised and it will work well to protect Gunn and give Loughman running lanes, but there won't be any 25 sack players here. Depth is solid, and they'll depend on the depth to continue to make plays for four quarters.

London's defense was torched pretty often last year, but they look to be better. The run support is strong with the linemen and Juan Olson hovering behind. Management's goal for Loughman includes him being a superstar defencive back (he did not intercept a pass in 2011, something that must change given his skill level). Monarchs head coach Gary Imlach echoed that thought. "Michael is our key. He is our best player on offence and defence. He must be a superstar this year or we will have trouble."

The defencive backfield goes solidly seven deep, with Loughman, Earl Peoples, Craig Pierce, Jonas Mouton (who can also backup Olson at linebacker as necessary), Owen Rogers, Dandray Wingate, and rookie DS Blake Blaze. Future OIFL Hall of Famer Milo Bell (67 interceptions, fourth all-time) will play some, and his contributions will be major to the London effort. Imlach noted how important veteran players are. "Milo and Anthony (QB LaPetri) are keys to our success. They're not going to make huge plays all year, but they've been there, to the tops of their profession. Our young guys, and we have a lot of them, can learn an awful lot from that kind of experience."

London's schedule is certainly different from their 2011 campaign, given the divisional change. Getting D.C. and Tampa Bay twice is never fun, though the rest of the schedule is manageable. The only other 2011 playoff teams that appear are Rocky Mountain (away), Eugene (home), Washington (home), and Fort McMurray (away). Other games with Vancouver Island and Los Angeles are also home. Monarchs fans couldn't reasonably ask for a much better schedule.

The goal for the Monarchs absolutely has to be a playoff berth. Are they an OIFLCup contender? Probably not yet, though the youth on the roster indicates the team's well on their upswing still. The keys are going to be the development of Kidd Gunn and Michael Loughman; if they can move onto the next tier of stardom - and both are that kind of player - London's ceiling becomes awful hard to find.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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LONG ISLAND MEAN MACHINE

After a season that saw Long Island at the very least win the Gravy Bowl, Mean Machine fans are demanding better. One fan noted in an email to your humble editor "there's no **** reason a team in New York City should be running out of money." But they did. And, owner Jeff Rosenberg has learned from it...I think. Never can tell, and signing Francis Anthony to a $180K/week contract might refute that claim. Unsure at this time.

Gary Blackwell returns for his second Mean Machine campaign as quarterback, and expectations have heightened for the fifth-year player, as well he knows. "I've not played on a team that had expectations like this since high school. It's a lot of pressure on me, but I'm up for it." Blackwell will have perennial all-star Marlin Otis behind him in the backfield (4,513 yards last three years, fifth in the OIFL), with all-everything RB Kevin Mintz in the fold. Blackwell, who can also run (1,724 yards in his career) also has a fair receiving corps to work with, including E1-1 pick Kevin Sherman, Jeffrey Bradley, Deondre Alexander, Willie Berry, and a couple backups the team will depend on for significant minutes. Depth will be an issue in the skill spots this year, but the offense should be solid.

The Mean Machine line is where the team has improved by leaps and bounds. Anthony comes in to anchor a line group that includes Daniel Beard, Donta Ellis, Sydney Weisgarber, Clifton Rhodes, and Michael Dubroff. Mean Machine head coach Fred Vanderbilt, who knows a thing or two about winning in the OIFL, said how important the line was. "Especially with how we can run the ball with the QB and backs, we gotta have a good line, and we do. It'll make life easier for Gary (QB Blackwell) and Marlin (RB Otis), no doubt about it."

Defensively, the Mean Machine will be improved. If they want to use OS Brad Goodalle as a receiver, Marlin Otis will have to play LB, and that's not terribly positive, but he can do it if he has to. Berry and Mack Jacobs will probably be the team's corners, but they have some depth in the defensive backfield. They won't be world-beaters, but last year's terrible defense will not repeat itself. Hershcel Blessig is going to likely start at linebacker, and his ability to be pretty good at every single thing defensively will provide versatility for an improving unit.

The schedule plays out OK for the Mean Machine. They open the season in Buffalo, but New England and Norfolk are at home. Long Island misses Evansville and Texas by virtue of the AFC East playing the AFC West, but they do have to travel to Detroit, Rocky Mountain, and Fort McMurray. Eugene, Washington, and Corpus Christi come to the Island. Certainly, the Mean Machine schedule could be worse.

Management knows the OIFLCup isn't happening in 2012 without an unbelievable amount of luck. But the playoffs are a stated goal; another double digit loss campaign will not be tolerated by this management group. An 8-8 season probably won't be good enough, but after last year, fans would probably at least be able to handle it. Blackwell's development on a team with real goals will probably be the key to the campaign; time will tell if he can live up to it.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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LOS ANGELES PREDATORS

After a disappointing 8-8 campaign that saw the Predators miss the playoffs for the first time since they were the Barracudas, Los Angeles come into their 2012 campaign with higher hopes, helped by a few key acquisitions. Colin Schraeder-Bidwell has always been aggressive in working to improve his team, sometimes to a fault. Given the way last season went, the moves were probably necessary.

B.J. Rayburn comes in to likely be the starter for a team that's actually pretty stocked at quarterback. Of course, the three-deep at QB costs the team $270,000 per week, so that's a little looney. If something happens to Rayburn, either Stephen Weeks or future hall-of-famer Tommy Maddox can easily step in. Jeff Porter and Otis Linton will tandem at RB for the Predators, with Roxwell Logiovino likely coming in for two-back sets as the OS (translation - if he has to play much defense, LA's in trouble). Rayburn, one of the more protective quarterbacks in league history (222 TDs and 31 INT in his career), has a reasonably strong receiving corps that includes Kyle Vidoteca, Paul Rose, Shelton Warren (who was once a sleeper), Achilles Byron, and rookie Bernhard Schraeder. Given Rayburn's ability to run as well as throw, it could be a wide-open LA offense.

The line is improved over 2011's group as well. Orlando Rodriguez and Kadeem Davis lead a line group that goes seven deep (eight with rookie Magellan Weingardner, though he's probably not going to see the field much). 11th year veteran Anthony Smith will stick around given his history in the OIFL (60 sacks, 25th in league history), but he'll be on the bench. Chris Wier and his 114 career sacks (6th all time) will also be on the bench, creating a team whose bench might scare some people more than the starters on the line.

Given the pressure the Predators will create, and a defensive backfield that's going to be pretty strong, Los Angeles might just be able to stand toe to toe with that division. Greg Blatenberger will be a strong corner with any number of guys (but probably Ron Ritter) starting alongside him. The defensive backfield reasonably goes eight deep, which provides all the depth the team should ever need. Rookie Daekwon Drummer is being groomed to be a long-term answer at DS as well. Maddox, who doubles as Predators head coach, noted "I've obviously thrown some on our defense in practices. This is going to be a strong group top to bottom; no easy nights here, and we'll need it with the teams we see weekly."

The schedulemaker didn't do the Predators a whole lot of favors. In one sense, there was a little help in that the team opens with San Francisco at home, and then has Tucson at home. But the return trip to Tucson always looms, and the team also gets to travel to Kansas City, Evansville, and London. Wisconsin and Detroit come to Los Angeles, as does Fort Dodge. The Predators do avoid Tampa Bay in the NFC, at least in the regular season.

Things can line up with some help for a playoff berth here. As you've read so far, most OIFL teams should at least think "hey, things go right we've got a playoff team here." Same's true in Los Angeles. Rayburn has always had success when he's quarterbacked, and the team's hoping for the same here. A division title's going to be awfully hard to procure given they share a division with OIFLCup Champions Tucson. But as we saw last year, if they can get into that five seed, there's a good chance they'll be favored when the playoffs begin.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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MINNEAPOLIS MUSTANGS

An organization that traditionally was mostly rudderless and directionless (save one surprise playoff appearance) was able to get to a surprising 8-8 campaign last year. The difference? A star quarterback. Even though most fans and a lot of the front office was pretty happy with Jeff Loria (who also led Minneapolis to that lone playoff berth), the organization felt they could get a star quarterback, especially given Roberto Albertini was sitting there in a dispersal draft.

So, they pulled the trigger. Then, in the third round of the entry draft, a little-known OS in Darren Silverstein was on the board. Even though Shawn Hunter-Little was on the roster, the Mustangs felt maybe this kid would be something. So, they took a risk. Smart move. Albertini threw for 3,464 yards, 62 TD and 5 INT in 2011, and then ran for another 765 yards and 22 more touchdowns. Even though they missed the playoffs on tiebreakers, without Albertini 8-8 is suddenly 3-13 or so. Silverstein also cemented his place as a star, catching more touchdowns than all but two players (26, tied with Marse Fly and one fewer than Orlandis Tidwell). Silverstein's 99 catches is the most for a rookie since Dan Kimbar.

So, basically, good drafting, Minny.

Albertini is the key to the Minneapolis run game, though Georges Simmons had a solid rookie year. Albertini has Silverstein, as well as rookie Billy Cooper, backup Hunter-Little, and other players who he's worked with now in Jamie Waldron, Pat Benney, Steve Duncan, Keith Bynes, and Cyrell Daoust. It's not the OIFL's best receiving corps, but as good as Albertini was last year, he's going to make this offense hum. There's just no other way to put it.

Jay Thiel anchors a line that should be improved over last year, with guys like Danny Eisenhart (making his Minneapolis return; oh, he can catch, too!), Lawrence Bishop, Sampson King, Greg Langley, and the poorly named Speedy McGee. Thiel had 17 sacks last year (third in the OIFL), and could cement his status as a bona fide star lineman with a similar 2012 effort. Likely, Minneapolis will need it.

Why? Other than Thiel, basically no one on defense scares anyone. It's a standard Mitch Browning team, where 73-67 isn't as uncommon as you'd like. Duncan, Waldron, and third-year DS Zack McGentry are just fine as players, but there's no guy Browning can put on the other team's top defender and say "OK, you're not going to do much today." If Thiel gets hurt, this defense is in a pile of trouble; even if he doesn't, it might be.

Why? The schedule is not terribly fun. Not fun at all. In addition to rival Fort Dodge and in-state rival Cedar Rapids, the Mustangs get to travel to Texas, Los Angeles, and Venice; they get Tucson, St. Louis, and London at home. Yeah, Albertini's going to have to be great again if Minneapolis wants a playoff berth for the third time (2003, Oklahoma City) in franchise history (second under Charlie Nelson).

Fans will get their money's worth. The team will revolve around their studs. Albertini, Silverstein, and Thiel must be great, or Minneapolis isn't coming close to the playoffs. Depth isn't as bad as last year, but it's concentrated; if the stars are healthy, the team can shine. If they're not, the team simply won't. There's enough youth on the team, though, that they're not on a downswing. Just hold the course and see if Albertini can't will Minneapolis to a playoff berth.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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NEW ENGLAND SNO-DOGS

The Sno-Dogs come into the 2012 campaign as the true OIFLCup Contender no one is talking about. Traditionally New England has always been that team that was close, but something always happened to keep them from winning. Some pegged them last year going into the playoffs as the AFC's best team, but they were unable to overcome a road playoff game in Texas. Is this the year when the Sno Dogs finally get over the hump?

In Sno-Dogs history, the team has thrown for 24,753 yards and 401 touchdowns in their pass game. Payton Dumont has 21,728 of the yards and 353 of the touchdowns (Logan James 36, Mike Cranston 8, Byron Arledge 1). The other three touchdowns were thrown by second-year QB Jason Stackhouse, who in camp has won the job from Dumont. New England coach Brian Kelly noted about how Dumont, who will remain on the roster, has been the consummate professional. "Payton knew last year when we brought in Stackhouse that his job was eventually going to be to mentor him from the bench. This camp has proven that time is now."

Stackhouse will be aided by the ability to hand the ball off to Paulie Reynolds, who in the last two years in New England has over 2,500 yards rushing. In the last three years, his versatility has shown, as he's recorded 6 sacks defensively and has 109 catches and 13 receiving touchdowns. Depth is key here as well, with Odell Frey and Stephon Fleming backing up Reynolds. Even with an injury, the run game is going to be solid.

Stackhouse's arm will get plenty of work, too, with a strong starting receiving corps that includes Chris Downs, Terry Osbown, and Gaige Momon. Vonn Tompkins can backup Momon, but the WRDB corps will be in trouble with even one injury. Hugo Rosenthal had 17 catches in his first Sno-Dogs campaign last year, but he's the top guy off the bench. To aid in fatigue, he's going to have to do more than that. With him backing up are rookies Rolly Tucker and Mikyell Castro. New England might be well-served to find someone on the waiver wire for that group.

The young quarterback will also be aided by what's going to be a strong line. Bob Danylchak returns for his 10th OIFL season, and Kelly noted "I've never seen him this strong and focused." Danylchak will have Juan Cairo (who looks like another superstar lineman) and Clayton Ruble. Backing them up is a strong group that includes Eric Thomas, Saul Kaufusi, and Bartley Bolin. A six-deep line, especially when two of your starters would start on just about every other team in the OIFL, is going to bode well.

The strong line will be key in 2012, because the linebacking corps is not great. Jeff Paul is their best pure linebacker, but he's lost a step such that he won't play much RB. Reynolds is probably the LB by default, though his best position is safety. Rookie Chris Dueker could play LB, but given the DS corps of Samuel Haverman, Raji Hajj, and Eric Spadafore, there just aren't that many snaps. Downs and Osborn, with backup RBs Frey and Fleming, will match up well with most any team they'd face defensively.

The schedule lines up about as nicely as they could reasonably hope for. The AFC East plays the AFC West, so that means New England avoids Detroit, Wisconsin, St. Louis, and Corpus Christi (by virtue of winning last year's division they get Evansville, Texas, and Fort McMurray regardless). Evansville's on the road, but Texas and Fort McMurray are at home. NFC North champs Washington are on the road, but they host Rocky Mountain. The Sno-Dogs have a very favorable route to a pretty good seed if they stay healthy.

Owner Bob Lamb feels this is the year the Sno-Dogs finally get over the hump, and really - it needs to be. There's enough guys that'll start aging soon that there could be a step back next year after this campaign. While the WRDB corps is a little iffy when you get past the starters, this team's loaded. New England has every reason to believe they're playing 20 games after the preseason. Will they? Well, that's why you play the games.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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NORFOLK HAWKS

This time last year, your friendly prognosticator was explaining how Norfolk was easily going to be the OIFL's worst team.

Well, they went 8-8. So much for that.

Now, the question is this. Can they improve on that? Can they build further with this roster, who was one of the oldest in the OIFL last year (and is currently the second-oldest roster in the OIFL today, behind only Fort Dodge)? And the answer is, actually, it's possible. Norfolk had a strong offseason, and while they're the OIFL's 31st youngest team, they've got a fair amount of younger players in key spots.

Van Nostran comes in to take the quarterbacking reigns from 12th year veteran Cory Cross, who is still on the roster. Nostran traded time with Faustino Borrello in Fort Dodge last year, and in his career has 19 TD passes to 1 INT; a good ratio, but not exactly the body of work. Running back is going to be manned again by Cody Harbaugh, who very quietly is the fourth leading rusher in OIFL history (12,244 yards, 333 touchdowns). Nostran has weapons to work with, including an exceptionally quick WR combo of Drew Concepcion and Charles Soludo (between then 447 catches in the past three seasons). Jetta Shanklin, who in limited work has added 108 catches in his career, combine with Anthony McDaniel and Ed Trenholm to give what's going to be the type of offense you expect from a Robert Cole team.

Before you say much about "WAIT THEY CAN RUN," Jamaal Kramer ran for 25 touchdowns one year for the Riptide. They've always run the ball when it made sense strategically. Harbaugh ran for 1,173 yards last year in Norfolk; the offense will be balanced. And it'll be explosive. Even if Harbaugh gets hurt, RB/OS Tommy Rogers is there, and the team's high on his potential (he ran for 89 yards last year).

The line doesn't go as deep as many teams, but Leslie Peine, Wayne Pratch, Anthony Reight, and Bryant James is a strong 1-2-3-4 punch. Bryant LiPetri has plenty of experience, while likely hall-of-famer Chris Mace (86 career stats, tied for 11th all-time) is still there. Youngster Henri Lansbury looks to earn more playing time as well.

Defensively, and this is where it changes a little from standard, the Hawks might actually be pretty good. The James addition is going to be very important for the line, while Lansbury is better as a DL than OL. Soludo and Concepcion will at least have the makeup speed you need to fix any issues, while Pat Govan in his seventh season hopes to become the shutdown corner that this team probably still needs. Depth might be a concern, but it's not as bad as last year.

The schedule isn't horrible this year. Obviously, Norfolk gets two New England games, including a Week 16 matchup in Barre that might decide a playoff berth. Norfolk travels to Fort McMurray and St. Louis, but Rocky Mountain, Wisconsin, Vancouver Island, and Washington all come to the Tidewater Region. They couldn't ask for a much more favorable schedule.

They missed the playoffs last year by a game. The goal is clear, that they'll make it. No guarantees they will, but the organization does have two playoff berths in its four OIFL campaigns. And Cole's put together a solid team in pretty short order here, though the time this group must win is now. If they fall apart this year, there's no way they can make it next year without another massive roster shakeup.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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NORTH DAKOTA NIGHTHAWKS

Jimmy Graham hasn't been in the OIFL long, but we've learned from his time here that he's about as big a risk-taker as the OIFL has. As he once said "being traditional guarantees we'll not win a title with the roster we started with, but being reckless guarantees nothing."

Three seasons...3-13, 11-5, 3-13. Correct. Nothing guaranteed. What we did see was a late-career resurgence for forgotten QB Danny May, who had that help him finish his career eighth all-time in passing yards. What we now see? Jamie Graham, who has 103 pass attempts in his career (12 TD 1 INT, though, so that's good). Possibly a minor step down.

Given Graham's obvious inexperience, the Nighthawks are going to do everything they can to develop a run game, though Zaquan Starks and Jeff Cochran don't scare too many people. It'd be nice if Graham could run, but he's about as fast as I am. Even considering his inexperience, though, Graham's going to throw the ball. And they have weapons. Jim Kennedy, Vance Simecka, Zach Degan, Ben Stern...really, the OIFL doesn't have many four WR tandems as explosive as this one. There's no depth (Jonathan Oakley, John Sheets, GM Gerber, the defense-challenged Jimmy Little), but so long as everyone stays healthy for once, North Dakota's putting up points.

The line is slightly improved over last year's group, too, with Mark Loiselle, the ageless TwoTon Henry, Dan McMasters, and Devin McElroy rotating with a few backups that can log minutes. It'll be key to keep Graham upright given his status as the OIFL's slowest starting quarterback; if teams can start getting kill shots on Graham the Nighthawk offense stalls.

And you don't want it to stall. Starks will start at RB because he's at least competent as a LB (unless the team goes four wide on offense with John Sheets being the fourth, but that's not likely), but unless the DL plays well over their skill level, the question mark at LB is going to cause problems. Degan is as good a cover guy as the OIFL has, but Kennedy/Simecka are exploitable; no one's throwing at Degan. DS Delmonico Montgomery looks to make the next step towards greatness, as he hasn't done a whole lot since being a sleeper two years ago. What little depth the team has at the skill positions will be tested early and often, just so the starters don't have to log 100 plays a game. Teams will be watching when Oakley or Gerber have to come in on defense; injuries that cause both to be on the field at the same time would make a Jake Zychick offense look good.

The schedule isn't a killer. North Dakota got about as much luck as they could reasonably expect, with not a single 2011 playoff team on their nondivisional road schedule (Washington and Rocky Mountain, of course given the division, are the only two road playoff teams). Now, the home schedule has some rough games, what with Tampa Bay, New England, and D.c. coming to town. North Dakota may have trouble winning games, but there are wins on the schedule.

This was a reasonably quiet offseason for the usually reckless Nighthawks. Finances, which are always a question in Bismarck, were a major factor causing that. They hope with one of the lower payrolls in the league to be able to sit back, amass a few bucks, and then make a big splash in the future. If the team's 5-5 and looking to possibly make a run, you never discount Jimmy going reckless and making a huge trade. But this is probably a "step-back" season to see who's going to be a part of the future going forward. There are questions to answer, what with Kennedy and Simecka on the downsides of their careers.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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OMAHA XPLOSION

Certainly Chris Miller's teams have had some trials and tribulations. For his first few years in the OIFL, Omaha rotated from 1-15 to 5-11 and right back again until last year, where they broke through that pattern to make it to 7-9. Hopes are pretty high in Omaha that they can continue the uphill climb, but the team was old last year, and they're still old in a lot of very key spots. Things have to fall perfectly in place this year for the Xplosion to do a whole lot, but if you have the right guys, they can.

John Kaleo might not be the best quarterback to ever play, but there's never been a guy who specialized as a master of teams with nothing outside of the QB and a couple receivers. Kaleo is seventh all-time with 25,083 passing yards, and has at least one more year left in his arm. Bill Long has found a late-career resurgence in Omaha (#8 all-time with 10,309 rushing yards) and looks to provide cover for the old gunslinger; unlike past years, there's some depth at RB with Jack Ruffin and Justin Lofton. Kaleo's got people to throw to again, including Larry Peterson, Mark Garbinsky, Alcus Smith, and Danny Boll. Smith could be a star OS this year, and given he's making $150K a week, he better be. Depth is as big a concern for Omaha as it is for any team in the OIFL at the skill spots. Allowing Boll to back up at WRDB is going to be huge; after him there's just not much there.

The line is Miller's best, with it going six deep easily. Lenon Allison looks to take the next step to stardom on the line, while $100K/week guy Jim Annette was brought in to show the other linemen "hey, I know how to win here." R.A. Dalbey, Joe McKennon, Michael Mahoney, and Larry Slagle round out the six-deep.

So yes, the offense looks good. The line on both sides is solid, no real concerns. The defensive backfield? Might not be as good. Long, Ruffin, and (but he'll blitz 100%) Lofton make a fair enough linebacking corps. The defensive backfield is stocked with guys who are good, but not great. Percival Persampieri, Derrick Vickers, and Craig Kettlewell will rotate the two DS spots; Peterson, Garbinsky, and Boll are solid cover guys. Better passing teams will torch this defense, but it's not nearly as weak as past Omaha teams were.

The problem? Omaha's not going to be favored much. All 26 roster spots are important, and Omaha's not too strong after about 16 or 17. The schedule isn't too bad when you consider the 10 nondivisional opponents, but the problem is that while D.C. and London are at home, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, and New England (the three toughest by a lot of accounts) are all away. The opening game in Bismarck could be one of the most fun of the year given both teams' predisposition to not be all that defensive.

The Xplosion are better than they've ever been, but as you've read these previews, you're going to realize most of the OIFL is a lot better than it has ever been. This Omaha team would kick Orlando 2006 (5-11) up and down the field to the tune of a 50- or 60-point win. But the OIFL's a lot tougher than it was in 2006. A team that's going to have some trouble defensively (as Omaha will, especially when you see Rocky Mountain and North Dakota's pass games twice) will struggle in 2012, even if they're eight touchdowns better than their 2006 team. But, even if the record doesn't show it (this schedule is tougher than last year's), this is Chris Miller's best team by a long shot.
Edited by Commissioner, May 15 2012, 11:35 AM.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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PORTLAND PIONEERS

Since a 14-2 campaign in 2007 that ended prematurely for the Pioneers, it's been mostly downhill for the franchise, going to 12-4, 11-5, 9-7 (though in their defense that was a division sewed up in Week 14 and they rested everyone in the last two weeks), and 3-13. Is this bottom? Given the team's financial condition and the salary, and what the salary is used for? It might not be.

Aaron Morrow, who has thrown for 291 touchdowns in a Portland uniform, returns for his eighth campaign. He better be great, because the team around him needs it. Grayson Norman comes in with Andrew Fox, Jr., John Welker IV, and rookie Takuya Furutani to try and get a ground game going that hasn't been too great since Joe Peoples (who is actually retiring, but it hasn't been noted yet) was a star. Morrow's arm will be tested, playing with the deck stacked against him on some nights. K.W. Lawrence (646-7447,117 in his career) has been solid in his career, but he traditionally needs a second stud around him to be successful. Ken Hartsock could be that guy, but he's usually been best when he's also the #2. Malcolm Grant (60-604, 9 TD in his 2011 rookie year) will be called on to step up for the team to be successful. Rookie Shoei Hasegawa, third year WRDB Jyunpei Yoshimoto, and fourth year WRDB Miles Coolidge will also log significant minutes. But the keys will be Lawrence and Hartsock.

The line is anything but deep, but when you're led by Demarcus White (106 sacks in his 7-year career), you can handle things. Blake Webb was the top prospect in last year's draft, and to help avoid teams triple-teaming D-Mack, he better play like it. Other linemen include Nick Chiricosta, Tony Mana Loa, Mike Singh, and Daiki Takechi. Morrow will have to get the ball off quickly; teams with strong pressure fronts will be able to beat this line around.

White makes everyone's job easier, because of his Boddy-like ability to get to the quarterback quickly and efficiently. If someone else steps up (and it could even be Welker at LB blitzing), the complete lack of real depth in the secondary will be neutralized. Hartsock is a very strong cover guy, but everyone else is generally some form of average. Nakotu Shito could be great, but he needs a little more seasoning; Andre Wray (21 career picks, five returned for touchdowns) will line up across Hartsock. This team has talent, but they can not afford injuries, especially to Hartsock. Rookie Diamante Right will be called on to make a difference early-on, too.

The schedule really isn't terrible, though all of Portland's tough nondivisional games aren't in Oregon. London, Long Island, and Buffalo come to Portland, but the Pioneers travel to Tampa Bay, New England, Norfolk, and D.C. Long-time OIFL head coach Marc Bonar noted his schedule, saying "You gotta play the games. Last year wasn't good enough for us, not by a long shot. We hope to be better this year, but I don't think the schedule's going to say if we can or not."

The issues Portland has had with "related entities" are well documented, and there's going to be a distrust from some owners because of it. Despite this, it might be time for the Pioneers to just blow the roster up and see what they can do. Even with a full blow-up, there's NO reason to trade Aaron Morrow; he's still great and has many years left in his career. White is a guy who understandably has earned a spot to stay in Portland as long as he wants. There's some solid young depth there. It might be time to try and find trading partners for guys like Hartsock, Norman, Wray, maybe even Lawrence, Burt Greenwald...if the team's not going to go 10-6 anyways, why not let the young guys see what they can bring?
Edited by Commissioner, May 15 2012, 12:40 PM.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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ROCKY MOUNTAIN REIGN

So, last year was the year pegged for Rocky Mountain to get over the hump, win the division, make a high seed, win, get to the OIFLCup Game, maybe bring a title, have roses for the lady fans, and to bless every child in Denver. Instead, the team fell apart, and yet they still made the playoffs as their traditional low seed, albeit at 9-7. Quarterback Dan Schultz, about the tough year, "Hey, nothing went right, and we still made the playoffs. We're hoping it goes better this year." It better; they might be running out of shots.

Schultz, who is quietly sixth all-time with 27,020 passing yards, returns for another campaign in Denver. For awhile it was thought he would relinquish his spot to Jeremiah Cooper, but Schultz won the job again in camp. The Reign are a finesse team to the core, but Jerrod Wise is an extremely strong runner who can also catch...and if needed, throw. He'll throw some; that's what they do. Schultz' receiving corps is solid, with do-it-all OS Quaeavion Greene (he's second in team history with 2,509 passing yards, third with 898 rushing yards, and second with 243 catches, 3,046 yards, and 62 receiving touchdowns), receivers Paris Schroeder and Doc Garrett, Wise (who's first in receiving in team history), and a backup corps that goes five deep (Gerald Clarke, Lloyd Hilton, Leodis Jenkins). Greene scares everyone because he's so versatile, but all four starters, including Wise, have the ability for an 80 catch season. It'll be a wide-open offense again.

There is very little on the Reign line that *scares* teams, but they go six deep with very little drop off between Lynn Byers, Tyler Bell, Columbus Weingardner, Joe Thompson, Denver Johnson, and Rees Daville. They'll rotate in and out and not get tired, but no one's getting 25 sacks or anything like that. Strong running teams (I'm looking at you, Washington) will be able to have success against this defensive line, but it's not like they're bad.

Linebacker has always been a chore in Denver, but Tim Meyers will get the job. He can also play safety, adding to the team's versatility. Will Church is the star DB (and given in his career he has double the interceptions of anyone else in team history, 24 to Doc Garrett's 12; no one else has more than 5...), and Schroeder and the aforementioned Garrett will flank him. Wise is the safety, and really, every offensive backup is plenty solid defensively (Clarke, Hilton, Jenkins). That's a key for this team - while there aren't 10 superstars on this roster, injuries in 2012 won't cripple the team like they did in 2011. Might be the difference between a division title and home game(s) in the playoffs, and 9-7 and a trip to Cedar Rapids. Key difference there.

The schedule wasn't too nice to Rocky Mountain. While there's no Evansville or Tucson on it, the Reign travel to New England, Tampa Bay, D.C., Norfolk, and Fort Dodge (four playoff teams and an 8-8 team), while Venice, London, Long Island, Dallas, and Buffalo (one playoff team, one 8-8 team, Gravy Bowl champs, and two expansion teams) come to Rocky Mountain. With the Reign likely to be favored at home with Washington, Omaha, and North Dakota, 8-0 at home really should be expected with that slate.

If you're 8-0 at home, you have every reason to expect a division title; yes, they lost the division last year, but were 7-1 at home. Get the injury issues out of the way, perhaps an upset or two on the road (though they might be favored for some of those), and the division's in reach. This isn't the last year for contention (though Schultz and perhaps Wise are near the downward slope) for the Reign, but failing to make more real progress towards an OIFLCup this year might be the end of the line for this core.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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SAN ANTONIO RATTLERS

Well, that was unpleasant. The 2007 OIFLCup Champions fell on hard times in 2011, putting together an abysmal 2-14 campaign that probably finally underlined why the team's old way of business isn't going to work anymore. Traditionally, the Rattlers ran with four linemen, the running back, two receivers, and (of course) a quarterback. Given six guys play both ways, that means the Rattlers were putting defensively-challenged Dave Bomner and a lineman in coverage spots at all times; putting their defensive backfield consistently on an island. They finally got smoked, giving up nearly 50 points a game in 2011. Rattlers head coach Jim Phillips said after that campaign "clearly, we need a cultural shift, because what we did for success isn't giving us any success anymore."

While John Wildman is still on the roster, the Rattlers brought in Ronnie Marshall to lead the team in its future. Marshall comes in with some dual versatility (Wildman can evade pressure, but he's no runner) that the team will try to take advantage of. Dave Bomner, seventh all-time with 10,558 yards rushing, returns for his eighth Rattlers campaign. Bruce Malloy (himself #2 on the team's rushing list) will again back up Bomner, with youngsters Carac Johnson and Rod Newman looking to get playing time. Marshall will have a number of weapons the Rattlers aren't used to in Charles Stanley, Perry Lambert, Orval Vernon, Dwayne Hunt, and Renato Gentili. While there are no superstar threats, it'll be a welcome change to Rattlers QBs to have four guys to throw to (Bomner's never done it much, but he can catch).

The line will be San Antonio's biggest issue. Part of the reason the 4 OL set worked so well in the past was that their 4 deep was better than anyone else's. Part of the reason it didn't in 2011 was...well...it wasn't very good. Depth is still a major problem, but Greg McConnell, Lloyd Fair, and Vob Ollie are better than what they used last year. There's rook for growth on most of the linemen, and someone like Len Czarniecki could really make a step forward in 2012. They'll need someone to both for now and the future.

Given Charles Stanley's presence on the roster, Dave Bomner can't move to RB/OS full-time; if he could, that'd make the defense a lot better, though it's not like the Rattlers have a true linebacker on the roster. Bomner translates much better to defensive line, but he's not good enough to do that much anymore; they'll have him do it, but his tackling ability would afford him better as the 100% blitzing LB. Lambert is as good a DB as anyone in the league, and second-year Bruce Rodgers will clearly start. Noble Jones and Laray Schmyik will also make a strong tandem (really, the Rattlers have enough quality DS guys they could look at trading some of that for help on the line). 12th year veteran Tyrone Jones is back for one more go of it.

The schedule is not terribly kind. In addition to Corpus Christi, St. Louis, and Texas twice, the Rattlers also get to travel to Evansville, Cedar Rapids, Fort Dodge, and Wisconsin. Detroit comes to San Antonio, though there's a bit of help potentially with Minneapolis, Chicago, Kansas City, and Buffalo all coming to town (the Rattlers were 2-2 against the NFC last year, but 0-12 against the AFC).

Certainly San Antonio isn't going 2-14 again. Their stated goal is to win the AFC and be an OIFLCup contender again (as their goal is perennially, even last year, though that went away quickly). It's not going to happen this year, but the team's better. The playoffs aren't out of the question, though the schedule might make it tough to get there.
So this doesn't get updated often. I changed it 2/25/2018, and it said "who wins OIFLCup XI?" Tucson won OIFLCup XI, 58-55 over the Texas Terrors...in 2011...
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