Category Archives: Football (US/Canada)

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Saskatchewan Roughriders Training Camp Battles

After a very long off-season that consisted of everything from a wild free agency period, a tutorial in provincial labour laws thanks to the CBA negotiations and everything in between, football season is almost here. Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp battles will be the consuming the headlines in the weeks to come, below is a primer of who will be competing at what positions before week one. Under the watch of new head coach Craig Dickenson, there will be plenty of positions up for grabs.
Back-up Quarterback
Last season around this time, it was a battle for the starting quarterback position that was dominating headlines. Zach Collaros and Brandon Bridge duked it out for the starting spot. Collaros ended up winning out but Bridge saw plenty of time in Collaros’ absence, including the West Semi-Final.

That brings us to 2019, after striking out on Bo Levi Mitchell, Mike Reilly and Trevor Harris, the Riders brought back veteran pivot, Collaros. But it didn’t stop there, Saskatchewan brought aboard journeyman quarterback Cody Fajardo to compete with David Watford. Many fans will remember Watford getting his reps during Chris Jones’ infamous quarterback carousel in Collaros’ absence.

Fajardo brings with him three years of CFL experience but just 414 yards passing to show for it. His rushing stats are what stand out, however, with 437 yards and 13 touchdowns to show for his work.
Wide Receiver
The receiver position has overgone an overhaul over the last number of seasons. Back in 2017, Duron Carter, Bakari Grant and Naaman Roosevelt led the way. All three eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards that season. The up and coming Caleb Holley also put up 600 yards of his own. Now, two years later, just Roosevelt remains.

In the CFL’s off-season depth chart series, second-year player Shaq Evans appears to have the boundary receiver position held-down. However, opposite of him there’s a battle of Nationals at the field receiver position between Cory Watson and Mitch Picton. Watson was added this past free agency to provide a veteran presence on what is otherwise a young receiving corps.

Watson appeared in 18 games last season for the BC Lions, hauling in 38 catches for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Picton, on the other hand, has been biding his time on the Riders practice roster over the last two seasons. With Collaros firmly supplanted as the team’s starting pivot, both receivers should have equal opportunity to build rapport and prove their worth over camp and pre-season.
Offensive Line
The Riders have an interesting mix of young and old on the offensive line, which may come as a benefit. Left tackle is presumed to be anchored by Takoby Cofield, though Terran Vaughn started the first seven games of the 2018 season. At left guard, Brendon LaBatte will enter as the starter. However, it certainly helps that the Riders signed Dakoda Shepley who can step in if needed. Injuries hit the Riders offensive line in waves last season. Dan Clark will hold down the center position.

The most intriguing battle in the trenches may come at right guard. 33-year-old Philip Blake and former 11th overall pick in 2017 Dariusz Bladek appear to be vying for the starting spot. Both are nationals. At right tackle, Thaddeus Coleman will likely hold his spot as he did in 2018.
Again, citing the CFL’s off-season depth chart, it appears Crezdon Butler will be moving outside after spending a few seasons at defensive halfback. The emergence of Nick Marshall last season at least ensures one of the two cornerback spots are solidified. However, Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post reported May 20th that slotback Kyran Moore was going up against Butler in various drills. Assuming Ed Gainey and Loucheiz Purifoy hold onto their spots, Butler with his experience would be a good fit opposite of Marshall.
Middle Linebacker
Finally, at middle linebacker, an interesting battle is taking place. Let’s pretend for a second that Solomon Elimimian is pencilled in at the weak-side linebacker spot and Derrick Moncrieff is on the strong side. That leaves Cameron Judge and Sam Hurl to compete for the middle linebacker position. Hurl has the experience of having been in the league since 2012 and has also been a major contributor on special teams. Judge, on the other hand, is a former second-overall selection from the 2017 draft. He burst on to the scene last season with 41 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Both Hurl and Judge are nationals. This may be the most interesting battle at Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp.
The Last Word
Needless to say, there are plenty of more battles that are going to take place at the Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp. Players mentioned above may be surprise cuts or perhaps traded. Others may emerge as dark horses that many did not see coming, such as Marshall last season. No matter how you look at it, competition brings out the best in others and the Riders have plenty to offer in 2019’s training camp. Rider fans will hope it all translates to on-field play come kick-off June 13th against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

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Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators

Rivalries are meant to last forever, or at least a very long time. That is why the Orlando Predators have returned to the arena football business. Them and the Jacksonville Sharks look to hook back up this weekend and continue their great rivalry. Things were started in the Arena Football League (AFL) and are continuing in the National Arena League (NAL).
Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators
The Sharks enter this week with a 3-1 record and are tied with the Carolina Cobras and New York Streets for first place. The Predators are in fifth place with a 1-4 record, but had a very close, but good game against the Streets last week, falling short 53-54 with just seconds on the clock.

Brandon Russell and Connor Ferguson collaborated to remember a pair of Jacksonville-Orlando matchups from their lifetimes to remember what was once and what could be again a great rivalry.
Brandon’s Flashback
One of the most memorable games between these two is, quite ironically, the final meeting between the two. The Sharks made the quick trip to Orlando to take on the Predators in the first playoff game of the year. The Sharks came into this week as underdogs with a 7-9 record and an interim head coach while the Predators were looking strong at 12 wins and only four losses.

In the course of the game, the Sharks never saw the lead until 10:53 to go in the third quarter. From there, it was a back and forth scoring battle. In the fourth quarter, the Sharks were up 61-55 with just seconds to go in regulation. The Predators pulled a quick one and scored right as time ran out. Before the PAT, everything was all tied up at 61. Orlando felt good about their odds, sending out a victory tweet on Twitter. They missed the PAT, which sent this dramatic game into overtime.

Orlando received the ball to start OT and scored in less than five minutes. In arena football, both teams get the chance to score. This gave Jacksonville the chance to score and keep their playoff hopes alive. In a time of three minutes and 18 seconds, the Sharks scored a touchdown on a goal-line run from Fullback Derrick Ross. Interim Head Coach Bob Landsee had a difficult decision to make: Point After Touchdown or 2-Point Conversion Attempt? The city of Jacksonville is known as “The Bold City”, so Landsee decided to go for two. A very gutsy call was made to run the ball, even though Orlando knew what was going to happen. Ross got the ball and gave it his all, bulldozing right through the offensive and defensive lines to convert on the 2-point attempt.
Connor’s Flashback
I remember coming home from a hockey game when I was a young kid to turn on the TV and see an Arena Football League game. I was about 12 years old so the memory of it is a bit blurry, but I remember watching Aaron Garcia and the Predators take on Jacksonville in the 2010 playoffs.

It was the Barnstormers first year back in the league, but Garcia and that Predators team was one of – if not – my favorite to watch.

The pair of teams scored 60 points combined in the fourth quarter including 31 from the Predators as they escaped with a 73-69 win in Jacksonville.

Like I said, I don’t remember a ton from the game, but my family and I watched it in our living room. The only reason my Mom let me keep it on the TV was because of how great of a game it was and because she could tell neither of the teams liked each other all that much.

Hopefully, this Saturday when the teams match up for the first time as NAL franchises, we will get half as good of games as we’ve seen in this series in the past. That game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be live streamed on YouTube. As always, we’ll have updates on twitter at @LWOS_IndoorFB.The post Rebuilding a Rivalry: Jacksonville Sharks and Orlando Predators appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Norling: IFW – Teams on the move, possibly to the Graveyard

This week in indoor football saw the news of a pair of teams on the move, spanning multiple leagues.
The Games (Home Team in Bold)
Champions Indoor Football:
Sioux City Bandits 70, Wichita Force 30
Salina Liberty 29, Duke City Gladiators 22
Omaha Beef 42, Oklahoma Flying Aces 23

Champions Indoor Football is in quite a fix right now, but we’ll touch on that a little later.The league did surprise us on field as well in two separate games. In Sioux City the hometown Bandits took the ball out of the air and ran with it against Wichita. The Bandit defense allowed no more than 10 points in a quarter and scored two pick sixes two rouges. The offense also had a great night scoring double digits in three of four frames.

In Salina with the Liberty hosting the Gladiators, Duke City came out hot and had a 22-7 lead over the Liberty with 10 minutes left in the third. After holding Salina scoreless for 28:54 the Liberty would go on a roll for the rest of the game scoring 22 unanswered points to win at home.

The Oklahoma/Omaha game was very similar as the Beef started the game with 5 unanswered points and kept that into halftime. In the second half they fell flat and allowed the Flying Aces to take off with 23 unanswered point, Omaha would score once more to end the game and hang on to a 42-23 win.

Indoor Football League:
Arizona Rattlers 56, Nebraska Danger 46
Green Bay Blizzard 48, Bismarck Bucks 39
Iowa Barnstormers 43, Cedar Rapids River Kings 18
Sioux Falls Storm 59, Quad City Steamwheelers 46
Tucson Sugar Skulls 54, San Diego Strike Force 34

After a scoreless first quarter the Rattlers offense went into high gear taking a lead of 42-26 over Nebraska after 45 minutes of play. The Danger attempted a comeback but fell just short losing by 10 in Phoenix.

At Green Bay’s Resch Center another game was closer than expected as the Blizzard hosted the Bucks. Bismarck held a 20-13 lead in the 2nd Quarter before giving up 28 unanswered point to Green Bay. The Bucks stopped that streak and scored 19 straight of their own before Green Bay scored a final TD to cap off the game.

My words deceived me again this past week. Last week, I touted the close games that Iowa and Cedar Rapids have played this year. Well that was not the case this past Saturday night.

The Barnstormers struggled to start losing the ball on the opening kick return but held Cedar Rapids and then proceeded to pummel the River Kings.

Daquan Neal led the Barnstormers offensive attack with 186 passing yards, 43 rushing yards, and 5 touchdown’s (4 passing, 1 rushing). Ben Wilkerson struggled against the Barnstomers defense going 8-20 with 93 yards throwing 1 TD and 3 INT’s.

The $2 Beers weren’t needed as much as I thought they would be as the Steamwheelers played a tight game against Sioux Falls. Quad City’s defense never really was able to stop the Lorenzo Brown led offense as he went 20-26 with 294 yards passing.

Quad City’s offense was no slouch either as QB E.J. Hillard went 13-24 with 186 yards and five players combined for 58 rushing yards. The lack of defense is what kept tQC from winning and pushing them up in the playoff hunt.

Tucson hosted San Diego in another closer game with a really unsurprising result. The Sugar Skulls dominated most of the game against the Strike Force. San Diego had some spurts but weren’t able to pull off the W, In fact I doubt they win again this year.

Columbus Lions 63, Orlando Predators 22
Jacksonville Sharks 55, Massachusetts Pirates 36
Carolina Cobras 48, New York Streets 33

On the NAL side our own Brandon Russell did a great recap of this weekends games you can check out here.
The “News” – Teams on the move
On a lighter note as we reported earlier this week that the Arizona Rattlers will be moving for the next two seasons due to arena renovations.

It’s about time they renovate that place, hopefully it’ll be better for Indoor Football when they’re done with it but I doubt it. Besides, only the New York Streets absolutely need a new arena.

On more of a dark side the Texas Revolution have one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel. As we reported here yesterday the Revs are no longer playing at the Ford Center and are likely to either fold or become a travel only team.

This is the second straight year this has happened in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the CIF. At this point the CIF is on f****** life support and probably won’t make it into next year unless they pull a miracle out of their ass like the IFL.

Duke City has had ownership controversy and may have issues financially based on what was reported before the season. Oklahoma is awful on field and plays in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma so who knows if they’ll be back.

Salina always seems to be a coin flip if they’ll come back, while their Kansas rival Wichita also has been reported to have financial issues.

Sioux City, last year, was also said to be folding if Omaha went to the IFL. My understanding is there is still a personal rivalry between the Sioux Falls and Sioux City ownership.

That really only leaves Amarillo and Omaha as stable franchises both of which, if possible, should join the IFL. Omaha would be natural with the Midwestern teams in the league while Amarillo would be a good fit in the IFL’s Southern/Western expansion.

So, CIF fans man the lifeboats and prepare to abandon ship or be ready to pull of a miracle like we’ve never seen.The post Norling: IFW – Teams on the move, possibly to the Graveyard appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory

Week Four of the National Arena League (NAL) wrapped up last Saturday night as three games went on all night. There was a close game and some not-so-close games.
NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory
The game that everyone was waiting for was the battle of the two remaining undefeated teams. The Carolina Cobras hosted the New York Streets and did not disappoint.
New York @ Carolina
Coming into this week, both teams were undefeated, but the Cobras had one major concern hanging over themselves.

Quarterback Charles McCullum was suspended a game because of him being ejected from a game.

Thankfully for Carolina, they had plenty of time to find a quarterback since they were entering their Bye Week.

The team ended up trading for Quarterback Patrick McCain, who eventually refused to report. After that, they traded McCain back to Orlando and picked up Adrian McPherson, bringing him out of retirement.

Both quarterbacks refused to report for Carolina on game week, leaving the team in a little bit of a panic to find a quarterback.

Just days before the game, they signed former Lehigh Valley Steelhawks Quarterback Matt Foltz, who had a solid game, but didn’t play good enough to finish.

With Foltz unable to finish the game, this put Jordan Jolly as the remaining starter. He did a solid job, throwing 9-of-17 (52.94%) for 98 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions.

The Streets, on the other hand, had Quarterback EJ Nemeth throw 25-of-44 for 251 yards, three touchdowns, and four interceptions.

The Cobras ended up winning that game with a 48-33 score. If Nemeth wouldn’t have thrown those four interceptions, the game likely would’ve had a much different outcome.
Orlando Predators @ Columbus Lions
The Jungle Wars continued last weekend, but this time was in Columbus, GA.

The Lions showed no mercy against the Predators, racking up the score to ensure the victory 63-22.

Quarterback Luke Collis for Columbus played lights out, completing 15 passes on 25 attempts for 169 yards, five touchdowns, and only one interception. BJ Hall, the Predators starter ended up not finishing the game due to a lack of performance.

He was 15-of-26 for 153 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. His stats are very similar to Collis’ stats, except for those three interceptions. Garry Chouloute finished 5-of-8 for 25 yards.

The Lions were the only winless team, but they crawled out of that hole after a dominating victory over the Predators to show who really owns The Jungle.

Now the only determining factor is who will win on the road? The winner of that game should take the rights of “The Jungle”.
Jacksonville Sharks @ Massachusetts Pirates
The Jacksonville Sharks left the Bye Week with a promising victory over the Columbus Lions to advance to a 1-1 record. The Pirates also won their first game against the Orlando Predators.

The Pirates looked like their 2018 selves against the Pirates but failed to look the same way against the Sharks… unless you take into consideration that Jacksonville beat Massachusetts two out of three times last season.

Quarterback Jonathan Bane ended up winning the Week Four Player of the Week, completing 24 passes on 34 attempts for 223 yards and six touchdowns. Bane also rushed for one additional touchdown.

The Sharks advanced to a 2-1 record and will host the undefeated Carolina Cobras, who are now 3-0 this Saturday in Jacksonville, FL.The post NAL Week 4: A Miraculous Cobras Victory appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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BREAKING: Texas Revolution done at Ford Center

This past weekend, the Texas Revolution officially stated they were trying to reschedule their game against the Amarillo Venom that had been set to take place May 4 at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, TX.

That game has not been rescheduled and the team website states it has been cancelled while Champions Indoor Football’s (CIF) stats site shows it was only postponed.

The Revolution have since deleted all of their upcoming games on their Facebook page. Shortly thereafter it appeared that the Ford Center had done the same, deleting the remaining games off their website.

We at Last Word on Sports reached out to the Ford Center and Texas Revolution for comment. While, as of publishing this piece, the Revolution have not gotten back to us, the Ford Center has.

“Thank you for reaching out to us here at Ford Center. The remainder of the Texas Revolution season will not be played at Ford Center. For any further questions about their season, you would need to reach out to their front office.”

This absolutely confirms speculation that the Revs are completely done playing at Ford Center this season and no longer have a home arena.

There are a few arenas small enough to hold the team and while nothing has been said about what will be done with the team it is possible that the Revs either fold or become a travel only team to finish out the rest of the 2019 season.

If this situation seems eerily familiar to you, that’s because it is. This happened last season with the CIF’s Dallas Marshals.

Last year the Marshals moved from the Mesquite Arena to the State Fair Coliseum and eventually were removed from playing their and folded before the completing the year.

LWOS will keep updating this story as more details become available.The post BREAKING: Texas Revolution done at Ford Center appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Rattlers on the Move

On Friday an email was sent out to Arizona Rattlers season ticket holders stating.

“As you may have heard we will be relocating for the next two seasons, however, we are confident with the pricing changes and benefits we put in place you will be  very happy.”

This seemed to come at a shock to some Rattlers fans who were not expecting this move to happen, however it seemed likely due to the Phoenix City Council approving a $230 million renovation to the Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The renovation will take place in the Suns off-season, which is the Rattlers and WNBA club Phoenix Mercury’s regular season, meaning both teams will need to move to a new facility for two seasons (2020/2021).

LWOS did reach out to the Arizona Rattlers for comment and as of publishing this piece we have not received comment from the club. So that brings us to speculation of where they could play for the next two years.

To strike out one place immediately is ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe, the facility is large enough but is expected to start renovations on the main arena and building an adjacent 5,000 seat hockey arena this fall.

The Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum is the first real option for the Rattlers, it’s fairly close (compared to other options) to downtown Phoenix and their current home. It also holds a good amount with a capacity of 13,730.

It comes with some massive drawbacks, however. First off it is massively outdated, being built in the 60’s and not truly renovated. The other is it hasn’t held a full time sports team (of this level) since the Phoenix Mustangs left after the 2000-01 season.

Grand Canyon University Arena was also mentioned by fans in their discussion about this, however that isn’t a realistic option as it only seats 7,000 for basketball and would require the removal of around 1,500 seats (similar to the CFE Arena when Orlando played a season there). This would mean only having 5,500 seats for a team that routinely draws double that.

Lastly is Gila River Arena in Glendale, AZ. While it is not close to where the Rattlers currently play, and the Coyotes have issues with the building due to it’s location and want to leave it, this is the most possible option of where the Rattlers end up.

It has a high capacity (17,125 for hockey), is a newer arena, and also has experience hosting the Rattlers as they played ArenaBowl XXIX there.

We’ll keep you updated at LWOS on more details as this story progresses.The post Rattlers on the Move appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Norling: IFW – A full week ahead

There’s a full week ahead when it comes to indoor football across the four leagues that we cover. Ashle Norling has it taken care of in another edition of Indoor Football Weekly.
The Games (Home Team in Bold)
Champions Indoor Football
Amarillo Venom 88, Duke City Gladiators 62
Omaha Beef 48, Texas Revolution 34
Wichita Force 61, Oklahoma Flying Aces 34
Salina Liberty 51, Sioux City Bandits 49

Indoor Football League
Nebraska Danger 66, Cedar Rapids River Kings 42
Arizona Rattlers 63, Sioux Falls Storm 50
Iowa Barnstormers 61, Tucson Sugar Skulls 58
Bismarck Bucks 51, Quad City Steamwheelers 48

National Arena League
Massachusetts Pirates 45, Orlando Predators 12

My words betrayed me this week, a few weeks ago I touted the competitiveness of most CIF games and that really wasn’t the case this past week. Starting in the second quarter the Venom manhandled the defending champion Duke City Gladiators ending with a 26 point victory for Amarillo.

Omaha had a slightly more competitive game with Texas only winning by 14 but had defensive dominance shutting out the Revs in the 1st and 4th quarters. Wichita took the biggest win of the night, 27 points, against the hapless Oklahoma Flying Aces.

Last up in the CIF was Sioux City/Salina, a game that ended in weird fashion when the Liberty QB Andrew Jackson threw a pass that the Bandits Henry Livingston picked off but lost the ball before he hit the ground. Easy call that should have been an incompletion but was called intercepted by the officials with 11 seconds remaining. The oddities didn’t stop there as Bandits QB Dillon Turner was sacked by Salina’s Travis Taylor with 6 seconds left on the clock to give the Liberty a W.

The IFL on the other hand had two and a half fairly competitive games that started out with Nebraska owning Cedar Rapids the entire first half en route to a 24 point win. Arizona would outscore Sioux Falls 37-21 before having a dogfight in the second half leading to a 13 point Rattlers win.

In Tucson the Sugar Skulls held the defending Champion Barnstormers down for three quarters, leading 31-20 at the half and 37-20 in the middle of the third quarter. Tucson couldn’t hold on and gave up 34 points in the fourth to the high powered Iowa offense who took the game by 3 points.

Last up in the IFL was a game that I personally thought was a safe bet as the Steamwheelers traveled to Bismarck to take on the Bucks. The Bucks kept the game close the entire night and with 6 seconds left (seems to be a good time to win a game last week) Bismarck QB John Gibbs hit Eric Lauderdale with a 25 yard TD pass to not only win but put the Bucks on a 2 game winning streak.

On the NAL front our own Brandon Russell did a great recap of the Pirates/Predators game that you can check out here.
Quick Hits
In the CIF kicking off on Friday Night it’ll be the battle of the bottom (of the North) as Sioux City (1-3) looks to break a two game losing streak against Wichita (2-4). Saturday sees three games in the CIF starting with Salina (3-2) looking to extend their winning streak to three games hosting defending Champion Duke City (3-2) who also looks to break a two game skid.

Omaha (3-1) travels to Enid, OK to take on the Flying Aces (0-4) in an attempt to keep themselves at the top of the Northern Division, while Oklahoma will look to gain it’s first win in franchise history over a very good Omaha Beef team.

In the Indoor Football League all 10 teams will be in action this week and all will kick off around the same time. Arizona (8-0) hosts Nebraska (5-4) at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. The Danger are pushing for a playoff spot in the last half of the season and a win would much help while the Rattlers will defend their unbeaten record and the Snake Pit.

The Green Bay Blizzard (5-3) host the Bismarck Bucks (2-6) at the Resch Center on Saturday night. Bismarck will head into GB looking for a third straight win for a team that two weeks ago was 0-6. Green Bay on the other side looks for win number six, which will tie the most wins they’ve had (2015) since they went 11-3 back in the 2012 season.

The third and final game of the 2019 Iowa Bowl series finishes up in Des Moines on Saturday night as the hometown Barnstormers (7-1) take on their arch rival in the Cedar Rapids River Kings (1-8). In the two earlier games the River Kings gave the Barnstormers a scare in almost beating them before dropping the game in the 4th quarter each time. This time they look to get over the hump in Des Moines. The Barnstormers haven’t been the most polished team this year but always come out with a strong second half and look to keep winning at home where they play 5 of their final 6 games.

In Moline, IL the Quad City Steamwheelers (3-5) host the Sioux Falls Storm (6-2) on $2 Beer night. The ‘Wheelers look to give the QCA something to cheer about as massive flooding has wreaked havoc on Downtown Davenport, IA across the river. Knowing the how the Storm are, especially after losing, the Quad City fans will probably need a lot of those $2 beers.

Last up is an 8PM kickoff between the Tucson Sugar Skulls (3-5) and the San Diego Strike Force (1-7) in Tucson, AZ. Sugar Skulls fans are not happy with a no call on the play that Iowa won the game on last weekend and the team will attempt to redeem themselves from that. San Diego on the other hand, well head coach Burt Grossman probably doesn’t give a f*** about what happens.

The CIF games can be caught on Pluto TV while the IFL and NAL games are available on YouTube.The post Norling: IFW – A full week ahead appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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Ranking the First Overall CFL Draft Picks since 2010

Lost in the shuffle amidst the CBA negotiations (or lack thereof) is the fact that the CFL Draft arrives on May 2. Over the years the CFL has been doing more to promote the young Canadian talent that moves in through the U Sports program.

But before we dive into the 2019 draft, this seemed like a good time for reflection on the impact former number one overall players have made on their respective teams since the turn of the decade.
9. Mark Chapman (2018) – Receiver – Central Michigan: Hamilton Tiger-Cats
It goes without saying but Chapman’s placement on this list has little to do with his level of talent. In 2017, Chapman put up 59 receptions for 875 yards and five touchdowns at Central Michigan. Stalled contract negotiations with the Tiger-Cats have prevented Chapman from seeing action in the CFL. It would be great to see an agreement come to fruition but until that happens, Chapman lands at nine here.

Mark Chapman(85) WR #Denver #Broncos hauls in 2 receptions #MinnVsDen #NFL #BroncosCountry #OrangeAndBlue #DenverBroncos
— Fred Weinrauch (@Proplayersagent) August 12, 2018

8. Faith Ekakitie (2017) – Defensive Tackle – Iowa: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
After a disappointing rookie season, Ekakitie was released from the Bombers just 13 months after being selected first overall in the 2017 draft. He played just 14 games and registered five tackles. After signing with the Montreal Alouettes, Ekakitie suffered a devastating Achilles injury causing him to miss the entire 2018 season. Montreal released him in January and has yet to find a new home.
7. Shomari Williams (2010) – Linebacker – Queens: Saskatchewan Roughriders
Shomari Williams came into the league with much fanfare. Largely in part due to the lengths the Roughriders went to get him. A day prior to the draft, Saskatchewan traded punter Jaimie Boreham and the second and fourth overall picks for the first and eighth overall picks. After largely playing special teams his first two seasons, Williams registered 59 tackles his third season.

That subsequent offseason, Williams would sign with Hamiton for the 2013 season but played in just six games. After being traded back to Saskatchewan in 2014, he resumed his role on special teams before playing in Calgary for the final season of his career. Williams is now an assistant coach for the Queens Gaels.
6. Josiah St. John (2016) – Offensive Lineman – Oaklahoma: Saskatchewan Roughriders
After a dismal 2015 season, the Roughriders were awarded the first overall selection in the 2016 CFL draft. Chris Jones and his new regime opted to select standout Sooners lineman, Josiah St. John. However, a contract impasse held St. John to the sidelines to begin 2016. He started six games his rookie season. Unfortunately, St. John started just one game in 2017 and began 2018 on the six-game injury list. The emergence of last year’s first-round pick Dakoda Shepley may be a reason why St. John is still on the market.
5. Linden Gaydosh (2013) – Defensive Tackle – University of Calgary: Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Gaydosh tried his hand with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers first before signing with the Tiger-Cats in 2014. An Achilles injury in 2015 sidelined him that season but since 2017, Gaydosh has found a home in Toronto that allowed him to capture the 2017 Grey Cup. Gaydosh’s longevity in the league despite his injury setbacks ranks him in the middle of the pack.
4. Pierre Lavertu (2014) – Offensive Lineman – Laval: Calgary Stampeders
Lavertu likely would have been top three, if not number one on this list, if not for unfortunate injuries. Lavertu was instrumental to the 2014 Grey Cup winning Stampeders and earned himself West Division All-Star honours in 2015. However, injuries cut Lavertu’s 2016 season to just eight games and he was sidelined the entire 2017 campaign before deciding to hang up his cleats.
3. Ben Heenan (2012) – Offensive Lineman – University of Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Roughriders
Ben Heenan was an anchor on the right side of the line throughout his first three seasons with Saskatchewan that included a Grey Cup victory in 2013. His stellar play allowed him the opportunity to sign the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. However, it was there where he suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee during Colts training camp.

Despite speculation, his decision to retire wasn’t injury related but rather a curiosity for life outside of football. Despite just three seasons playing in the CFL, Heenan’s dominance at his position allowed him to finish top three on the list.
2. Alex Mateas (2015) – Offensive Lineman – Connecticut: Ottawa Redblacks
These last two selections were quite tough to come to a conclusion to. Mateas has been nothing but spectacular for the Ottawa Redblacks who selected him after coming off a 2-16 inaugural season. Since then, Mateas has not played in less than 17 games in his CFL career, anchoring the centre of the Redblacks line.

His play gave him the nod as a East Divison All-Star the last two seasons. Truly a home run CFL Draft pick for a young franchise that has fielded some potent offences since its inception.
1.Henoc Muamba (2011) – Linebacker – St. Francis Xavier: Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Though his CFL career has been twice interrupted by NFL stints, Muamba has been a contributing factor for every team he’s played on. Starting with the team that drafted him,  the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Muamba put up 61 tackles, three sacks and five forced fumbles in just his second season. In 2013 he would post 93 tackles while holding down the Winnipeg defence.

Muamba then tried out for the Indianapolis Colts, who waived him in September of 2015. Joining the Alouettes mid-season, Muamba registered just 14 tackles. In 2016, the Roughriders signed the star linebacker after the Dallas Cowboys released him in September. As 2017 rolled around Muamba would play his first full season in the CFL since 2013. Again, he displayed his full range of talent racking up 82 tackles, two interceptions and three forced fumbles.

Stopping Henoc Muamba (@HenocMuamba) is NOT easy, and he has his first sack of the day! #CFLGameDay
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) October 28, 2018
Though the Alouettes weren’t able to put together many wins in 2018, the newly signed Muamba played in all 18 games, registering a career-high 108 tackles and five sacks. The star middle linebacker has contributed everywhere he’s gone in the CFL, earning him the number one spot on this list.
The Last Word
The CFL Draft is being held this Thursday, May 2 at 8:00 pm EST on TSN, & TSN Direct. The Toronto Argonauts hold the first pick in the 2019 CFL Draft as the Montreal Alouettes forfeited their pick to select offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone in the 2018 supplemental draft. As can be seen above, there’s the opportunity for the Argonauts to draft a franchise-altering player. With the NFL to compete with, contract negotiations and scheme fit, there’s always a risk involved — but that’s what makes it so much fun.

Main image credit:
Embed from Getty Imageswindow.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’JaV0oNXYSKd3rsNu3CzR0Q’,sig:’k0TiVfV3JoIYvCByVHEvthSWU96et9ycWs_UGYAiQiw=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’988456112′,caption: true ,tld:’ca’,is360: false })});The post Ranking the First Overall CFL Draft Picks since 2010 appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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NAL: Pirates Tame Predators

In the lone Week Three National Arena League (NAL) matchup, the Massachusetts Pirates (1-2) tamed the Orlando Predators (1-2) with a 45-12 score. This brings the Predators losing streak to two while the Pirates found their first win of the 2019 season. This shakes up the NAL standings tremendously, as the Columbus Lions are the only winless team and this brings the Jacksonville Sharks to third place with a 1-1 record.
NAL: Pirates Tame Predators
Things statistically worked out well for the Predators, but didn’t have quite the outcome they wanted.
Pirates Stats
The Pirates showed up all game, and the stats showed just that. Quarterback Sean Brackett was 14-of-24 for 107 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He rushed three times for three yards and two touchdowns. Massachusetts spread the ball all night long, as Wide Receiver Thomas Owens caught seven passes for 62 yards. Lavon Pearson had two receptions for 14 yards. Ishmael Zamora had two receptions for nine yards and one touchdown. Mardy Gilyard had quite the night, having 26 yards and one touchdown on three attempts as well as 44 return yards on two kickoff returns. Fullback Quayvon Hicks rushed five times for 16 yards and one touchdown. Kicker Tyler Rausa likely earned himself Special Teams Player of the Week, converting on five PAT’s out of six. He also made two deuces.

On the defensive side of the ball for the Pirates, they were all over the quarterback, having multiple quarterback rushes but only coming away with one sack, which was by J.D. Griggs. Linebacker Kavika Luafatasaga had an incredible night, having multiple pass breakups and coming away with an interception.
Predators Stats
For Orlando, they evened out the receivers and their receptions for the most part. Quarterback Kyle Israel was 21-of-44 for 198 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions, and had one fumble of which was recovered by the Predators. In the second quarter, the Preds decided to go with backup quarterback Garry Chouloute, who threw an interception on his very first throw. Israel returned to the field on the next play. Wide Receiver Prechae Rodriguez returned to the Predators for the first time since the Arena Football (AFL) days. He totaled nine receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown. Keith DeVeaux finished with four receptions for 51 yards. Fullback Desmond Maxwell had three rushes for five yards, one reception for 14 yards and one touchdown. Wide Receiver Edward Victorian had a decent night, have 34 yards off of four catches.

For the Predators defense, Defensive Linemen John Brown and Cory Henry had one sack.

Pirates First Quarter Dominance

Things started off very slow for the Predators, as they started the game with the ball and threw an interception in the first four and a half minutes in the game. The Pirates weren’t all that quick to score, but they did find the end zone with just over six minutes to go in the first quarter. A missed PAT from Rausa made it a 6-0 lead for Massachusetts. Fortunately for the Pirates, Rausa was able to redeem himself after a successful deuce attempt, putting the score at 8-0. To close the first quarter, the Pirates were able to score a touchdown, as Zamora was able to catch a high pass in the end zone for his first ever arena touchdown. A successful PAT made things 15-0 in favor of the Pirates.
Turnover Galore Second Quarter
Nothing major happened in the second quarter except for turnovers. Israel for the Predators threw one interception while Chouloute entered the game and threw an interception on his first attempt. That interception on Chouloute’s first attempt ended up going all the way to the Orlando one yard line before DeVeaux was able to smack the ball out of the DB’s hands and recover the ball in the end zone for an Orlando touchback. Lots of empty possession drives killed the clock, but not before Brackett ran for his second rushing touchdown of the night. This put the Pirates up 22-0 with just 13 seconds to play in the first half. Orlando got the ball after the Massachusetts touchdown, but instantly threw his second interception with seven seconds to go. The Pirates ran two plays to kill the clock to go to halftime.
Third Quarter
The Pirates got things going real quick to start the second half, as they took over and almost instantly scored. This gave Massachusetts a 29-0 lead. The Predators looked to strike back, as their first touchdown of the night was from Israel to Rodriguez from 15 yards out. After a missed Jakelsky PAT, the Predators were still struggling with a 6-29 score. Thankfully for the Predators, Brackett went down the field all the way and was intercepted to give them another chance to find the end zone. On fourth and goal from inside the Pirates one yard line, Israel rushed for no gain, giving the Pirates First and 10 from inside their one yard line and no Predators score.
Game-Securing Fourth Quarter
To start the final quarter of the game, the Predators were down 6-29, needing 23 points to tie things up. After a missed 58-yard field goal from Rousa, this gave the Predators yet another opportunity to put up points on the board, which they did just that. On a 14-yard play from Israel to Maxwell, the Pirates found the end zone but failed to convert on the two-point conversion. This put the score at 12-29 with the Predators in desperation mode with 9:38 to play. The Pirates just about sealed the after scoring a touchdown, forcing a turnover on downs, and scoring yet another touchdown. The game was 45-12 for Massachusetts with just one minute to go. Orlando failed to do anything with the ball with that one minute to go, which ended the game. The Pirates found themselves victorious for the first time since August 4, 2018.The post NAL: Pirates Tame Predators appeared first on Last Word on Sports.

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NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins

Two of the worst teams in the National Arena League (NAL) are ready to kick off Week 3 of the NAL season.

The Massachusetts Pirates (0-2) host the Orlando Predators (1-1), who had the worst game in the NAL this season. What can they do to bounce back? What must be done for the Pirates to seal their first victory of the season?
NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins
Who: Orlando Predators @ Massachusetts Pirates

When: Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 pm (E.T.)

Where: DCU Center, Worcester, Massachusetts

The worst-ranked team in the league hosts a struggling 1-1 team this week. The Massachusetts Pirates look to get their first win of the season while the Orlando Predators need to dig themselves out of a hole after a Week Two embarrassment.
Pirates Sketchy Offense
2018 NAL MVP, Sean Brackett enters Week Three with a huge monkey on his back, as the Pirates have been held to a franchise low of 22 points in their first two weeks, having an 0-2 record, and throwing 32-of-68 for 288 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. Those aren’t exactly MVP numbers, so what is going on with this offense?

First off, the Pirates lost their top receiver, Bones Bagaunte, to the Columbus Lions. Bagaunte shredded the league last season with 54 receptions for 524 yards and an impressive 14 touchdowns. Lavon Pearson, Mardy Gilyard, and Devonn Brown all have returned from last season, and were the top three receivers for the Pirates last year, but they aren’t seeing nearly the numbers they are used to. There is only one group of people to blame for this: The Offensive Line. Before getting into how bad the Pirates O-Line has been so far this season, we must remember that O-Linemen Cornelius Lewis and Fred Ruff have left for the Arena Football League (AFL). All of this happened well before the season kicked off, so the team knew what they needed to do and who to get for this season, but have still failed to do so.

Not only is the Pirates O-Line playing sub-par, they have starting lineman Mitch Bell suspended during this game for multiple unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on him against the Carolina Cobras last week. With a struggling line and a suspension, this has “DANGER” written all over it. Don’t be surprised if the Pirates give up the game simply because Brackett doesn’t have enough time to throw the ball.
Unsure Defense
Allowing 54 and 50 points respectively is not necessarily a bad thing in arena football. That is typically an average score for most arena leagues. This means that the Pirates defense is doing what they need to do in order to give their offense some sort of chance. They have forced only two turnovers, which is their main area of concern. Their defensive line hasn’t touched the quarterback a single time this season, which is another area of concern.

If the Pirates don’t want to be looked at as a team like the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks, Corpus Christi Rage, or even Dayton Wolfpack, they have to get their stuff together, and it all starts now, when it should’ve started two weeks ago. Not a single team in the NAL has made the playoffs after an 0-2 start to the season. Some have become close, such as the Maine Mammoths last year, but close and almost doesn’t mean anything in football.
Sticky Quarterback Situation
The Predators look solid on offense. They don’t look great, but they definitely don’t look bad. They have great receivers who find ways to get open, but can’t seem to do anything. Both quarterbacks looked strong, yet sloppy at the same time last week in New York. Starting QB Kyle Israel was 16-of-27 for 245 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions before getting benched by QB Gary Chouloute. He ended the night 4-of-9 for 51 yards and one touchdown. Neither quarterback looked impressive, but those numbers look pretty good, except they don’t matter when you can’t put points up on the board. The run game was not existent for the Preds until Chouloute entered the game and rushed for 27 yards, the most rushing yards a player had in the entire NAL last week. Nevertheless, the Preds have a sticky situation at the QB position.
Unpredictable Defense
The Predators looked like they missed the flight from Orlando to New York. It was all non-existent, allowing 70 points, the most of any team this year. They forced no interceptions last week and only got to the quarterback twice. This will not win a single game in arena football.
Conclusion and “Winner”
Both teams look like the worst teams in the league right now. The Columbus Lions may be 0-2 right now, but at least they somewhat put up a fight last week and stayed in the game, unlike the Pirates and Predators last week.

Both teams have no defense and can’t do much on offense. If it comes down to an offensive battle, the experience that Massachusetts has will win them the game. If it comes down to which defense will step it up, there is no telling who would win that one, which is why the Pirates should be able to travel the length of the field on numerous occasions this week and bring home their first win of the season.The post NAL: Bad vs. Worst; Only One Wins appeared first on Last Word on Sports.