A bid-rich North Central battles it out this weekend.
September 11, 2015 by Charlie Enders in Preview with 1 comments
What most had written off as an obvious “three teams & two bids” situation went off the rails after the closest final ranking margin in documented history. Kansas City Prairie Fire managed to eke out a coveted strength bid over the Santa Barbara Condors by three-tenths of a point, to the delight of the entire North Central region. That third bid, while certainly Prairie Fire’s to lose, makes this Regionals particularly interesting.
- Date: Sept. 12-13
- Location: Appleton, WI
- Number of teams: 10
- Number of bids to Nationals: 3
- Score Reporter
Minneapolis Sub Zero
Despite coming in as the two seed, Sub has to be considered the favorite here, but they certainly wouldn’t be had they declined their invite to the Bro Flight Finale. Sub’s season to that point was mediocre at best. They finished 10th at the Elite-Select Challenge, losing to both of their chief in-region rivals (Mad Club and Prairie Fire) along the way. They followed that up with 12th at the Pro-Elite Challenge, despite a good win over Boston Ironside. The team that beat Ironside, not the team that lost to Prairie Fire, took the field at the Bro Flight Finale and promptly beat all of its US competition.
As previously profiled, Sub looks to run their offense through Simon Montague, Nick Stuart, and Grant Lindsley. The trio have been playing together for so long they often appear to be speaking telepathically on the field. Meanwhile, the Sub D is stocked full of young talent, and while there may not be one particular defender who stands above the rest, their depth is intimidating.
Also of note: Sub picked up a few players midseason, including collegiate studs Ben Jagt (Minnesota) and Conor Kline (UMass). Both will make their presence felt.
Mad Club has quietly had a pretty successful season. After winning San Diego Slammer, they went 3-3 at Elite-Select, with a disappointing loss to Phoenix Sprawl but a redeeming win over Sub Zero (both on double game point). Madison then hosted the Bro Flight Finale, where they managed wins over Temper and Doublewide en route to a 5th place finish. An easy Sectionals win and Club finds itself as the number one seed this weekend.
The return of Dave Wiseman and Pat Shriwise from Machine is huge for Madison, in both on-field play and height. Tall, athletic defenders that can guard more or less anyone on any opposing team, they’ve had a monumental impact on the Club D-line. Brian Hart, Colin Camp, and Andrew Brown lead the Club offense with patience (until Hart uncorks a 30 yard bullet-hammer for a score).
Note: If you’re looking for players that will make an impact in college this season, look no further than Nick Ladas. A lanky and tenacious defender, Ladas will be playing his senior year with the Wisconsin Hodags this season.
Kansas City Prairie Fire
After last season’s unparalleled success, expectations were high for 2015. For all intents and purposes, the same team was back, one year wiser and now with Nationals experience. Prairie Fire even brought in a bonafide superstar. So what happened? To be perfectly honest, disappointment. Brett Matzuka happened. A 4-13 thrashing from Philadelphia Patrol happened. And, oddly enough, another strength bid to Nationals happened.
Prairie Fire did just (really, just) enough to secure an extra bid for the NC. And while each and every player must have breathed a sigh of relief, they also know that it isn’t just going to be handed to them. Other NC teams are salivating over the extra bid as well, and have PF locked in their sights.
But remember: this is largely the same team from last year. They know how to win when it counts, and absolutely caught fire at Regionals last year. With young studs like Abe Coffin and Jay Froude, Prairie Fire can hang with anyone athletically, while veterans like Valley Renshaw give them the knowledge and experience required to succeed at this level. It’s not going to be a cakewalk, but that PF will secure the final bid. It is their bid, after all.
Twin Cities Imperial
Ah, what could have been. Imperial had quite an intimidating roster to begin the year. And then midseason, big names started abandoning ship. Ben Jagt and Conor Kline went to Sub, while Tristan Grovender and Tyler Mahoney went to Minneapolis Miller in the Mixed division. But Imperial isn’t the kind of team to lay down and accept this as a lost season; instead, they’ve used it to develop some younger players into valuable contributors. Led by Ian Andre-Knudsen and Luis Caballero, Imperial is almost certainly the youngest team at Regionals, but perhaps also the one with the most potential.
St. Louis CaSTLe
The champions of the West Plains, CaSTLe is filled to the brim with St. Louis talent. Although they had a disappointing Huckfest, they’ve only lost one game since. While their competition might not have been up to the level of Mad Club, Sub, or PF, their success has undoubtably built some confidence, as they cruised through Sectionals unscathed. With no results against top competition, CaSTLe is a wild card.
Mad Men, MKE, Smokestack, Doobie Brothers, Wisconsin Hops
Teams from Milwaukee, Kansas City, Minneapolis, and Steven’s Point, respectively, each will simply be trying to break seed. Players to watch are Mad Men’s Avery Johnson (the rock-solid Wisconsin handler), Doobie Brothers’ Saurav Dubey (the team’s namesake), MKE’s Jake Hoffman, and Smokestack’s Sam “Swampy” Nichols.
Who’s it gonna be: Sub Zero or Mad Club? It’s all going to come down to momentum. Sub is prone to highs and lows, but their victory over Temper (in which, after being down 7-12, they came back to win on double game point) unquestionably shows mental toughness.
I’m taking Sub, but, then again, I’m from Minnesota. Go Twins.