“It’s hard to start playing in the middle of the day heat”
-Joe Crinkley, Florida United
Despite the torrid heat at times, many local folks are happy Terminus went forward in the first place. The forecast for the entire week leading up to the tournament was a pattern of lightning, thunder and rain which had the capacity to submerge the fields if the weather gods so desired. With some luck though, the rain stayed away at the important times leading up to the weekend and bowed to sunny skies throughout most of the day on Saturday and Sunday. Only a smattering of lightning Saturday evening had any effect on the format, pushing the showcase games back to Sunday morning, leaving Truck Stop and Chain Lightning to exchange a few joking tweets about Chain’s home field lightning advantage.
Beyond the weather, the competition was challenging and parity was the theme of the weekend. Bolt Cutters, a local Atlanta team, lost all of their pool play games yet beat the number one team from Pool B, O-Men from Orlando, in the Saturday crossover game that advanced them directly to the quarterfinals. Reckon, the Atlanta masters team who won Pool C, nearly lost to Queen City Thunder in the same round, holding on for a close 14-12. Only Truck Stop and Chain Lightning were a cut above the rest; the field as a whole was extremely competitive.
Florida United has yet to win anything and lost in the quarterfinals to Cash Crop, who picked up Stephen Puolos for the season, but this team has all the pieces of an elite open team. The major ultimate hubs of central and south Florida have come together to field a squad that resembles the old Vicious Cycle teams of old. Open heavyweights like Will Moore, Brandon Perales and Cameron Amey are lining up with young guns Travis Catron, Mischa Freystaetter and Bobby Ley. This team lacks the polish of older teams but will only get better with time.
Tanasi has once again reloaded for another season at the top of the region and have gained a few returners from 2010 who opted to go elsewhere in 2011. Chris Browning, Gray Lloyd and Tim Brady are back for some instant firepower. Lloyd uses his gangly 6’4” frame to rule the skies while Browning and Brady are two of the quicker handlers in the region. After two consecutive trips to the show, Tanasi carries the swagger of a reigning heavyweight. They know what to expect and have the mindset to remain near the top of the elite scene. Ray Davenport and Jake Wright are heading up a determined group of guys that hang with the best of them. Whether that will earn an extra bid for the South or not remains to be seen.
Truck Stop and Chain Lightning were the anticipated matchup of the weekend, and as word spread through the fields on Sunday morning that Truck was victorious in pool play, excitement built for the final. With all other divisions finishing up, shade tents along the sidelines and hills of the main field formed an unofficial stadium atmosphere to watch a couple of teams who will surely cleat up in Sarasota later this fall. With many of Terminus’ attendees hailing from Atlanta, the final was also a chance for the local community to root on the home team. Chain brought a loaded roster, missing only Nick Lance, Asa Wilson and Jason Simpson, with Joel Wooten and Will Lokke walking along the sidelines without cleats on. Truck Stop was missing Brent Bellinger, Eric Miner, Frankie Hazera and Ben Hamilton.
Starting off, Chain looked good in their new purple unis, which replaced last year’s blue kits. Truck on the other hand could have bought matching Walmart T’s and it would be easier on the eyes than their grey jerseys from last year. Their new maroon, cobalt and steel diamond plate designs are a welcome improvement. Chain took command of the game from point one and rattled off multiple breaks before Truck got on the board. 3-0 quickly became 6-2 before both teams lost their sharp edges. Sean Keegan got up huge in the endzone, skying several Atlantans, but failed to stay in bounds. Alan Kolick was more fortunate though, making an impressive grab in the air to bring the score to 7-3. Without missing a beat, Chain took half with a commanding lead, 8-3. While the second half score was 7-7, Chain remained in control. Truck would force break chances but couldn’t convert while Chain’s deep game was incredibly efficient, converting a high percentage of their hucks. 10-5 became 13-8 became 15-10 in favor of the hometown team. Despite leaving town with a runner up finish, Truck Stop had some bright spots. Keegan dropped a deep bomb to David Cranston later in the second half, who is turning into a dominant big man cutter for Truck. Justin Norden, a Carleton senior who joined Truck in Atlanta after playing for Team Canada Mixed at Worlds, looked like he had been playing on the Truck D line for years. Chain capped off the afternoon with a short series of showcase sprints. The running was for their own personal training, but the lack of shirts was for the fans.