Boston Ironside’s performance at the Emerald City Classic was impressive. They bested long-time nemesis San Francisco Revolver, drubbed a short-handed yet still potent Austin Doublewide, and avenged a pool play loss to Portland Rhino with a 15-7 finals victory. This coming weekend will bring the best of the east coast to Chesapeake as Ironside will be joined by Atlanta Chain Lightning, North Carolina Ring of Fire and Washington, DC Truck Stop, among other Nationals-level competition.
It will be particularly interesting to see whether Ironside can maintain the confidence that they have built and display composure on the field. After losing their first game to Rhino at ECC the Ironside offensive line was only broken five times over the rest of the weekend. Handlers Matt Rebholz, Jacob Taylor and Alex Cooper navigated a number of different defensive looks with ease while the cutting unit succeeded without captain George Stubbs.
Stubbs returns this weekend, and while his presence will be welcomed, the Ironside O-line has proven that they can be effective with or without the star cutter. “Having [George] out on the field takes a little bit of pressure off of everyone else in virtually every aspect of the game, and enables me to give the rest of the O-Line cutting core a little extra breather over a tournament,” said Coach Josh McCarthy.
“But ultimately, whether George is in the lineup or not, I have all of the confidence in the world in this O-Line rotation from top to bottom.”
The D-line is where the majority of the shuffling is going on, with many players getting an opportunity to shine. With Jacob Goldstein injured and Dan Forseter absent, handlers Brendan Nichols and new addition Alex Simmons got significant reps at Emerald City Classic. Miles Montgomery-Butler showed his stuff with a big layout block that led to a break against Revolver, while Jon Hirschberger was a strong cutting presence throughout the weekend. Building cohesion is now the name of the game for this group.
With so many strong players available, Coach McCarthy finds himself working hard to spread the playing time around. “Having a deep (27 person) roster is a huge luxury over the course of a grueling three or four day tournament, but it does present other challenges that are important to manage in order to maintain good team chemistry,” he said. “Everyone on the team is aware of this dynamic and I believe has fully bought into our system.”
Chesapeake will bring no shortage of Nationals-level competition for Ironside. They will likely get a chance to match up against Chain Lightning and Ring of Fire for the first time this season, teams that are always present in the late rounds of Nationals. Going into the weekend, the goal for Boston is to maintain momentum and dominance as they approach the Series.