“This team is ready,” says Johnny Bravo co-captain Josh Ackley. Johnny Bravo, undefeated thus far this season and the top seed heading into this weekend’s Labor Day Ultimate Classic, is looking to prove itself as a top contender after nearly a month without tournament action. “This year’s rookie class is talented,” he says, “but the most exciting attribute they’ve all shown is the desire to put in the work. There were guys we weren’t able to take for the team this year who remarked that they could see during tryouts that they weren’t quite at the fitness level of our returners.”
Two-time Club Championships winners Revolver are seeded second. Not quite two months removed from a World Championship, Revolver will have players step into new and shifted roles, as the team takes the field without a bevy of notable defenders. “If you have a game plan for us,” says Revolver assistant coach Josh Greenough, “You might want to throw it out at Labor Day.”
Bravo is in it to win it
Labor Day has traditionally been a roller coaster for Johnny Bravo, with the Colorado squad recently notching quality wins against Revolver and Doublewide along with disappointing losses against PoNY and Emerald City Ultimate. This time around, boasting a perfect record and two 2012 home tournament wins, Bravo heads into the Labor Day Ultimate Championships as a top title contender and the tournament’s top seed. “We’ve worked hard to change our identity and grow into a team that plays at one level level every game,” says captain Josh Ackley.
Bravo has not played since Colorado Cup at the end of July, but captains Ryan Farrell and Ackley are confident in the team’s preparation leading up to this weekend. “Our approach since Colorado Cup,” explains Farrell, “has been the same as it has been all year. We get as many quality reps together as possible. Coach Bob Krier has made a huge difference during the past 2-3 years in keeping us focused during the long August month. Coming out slow is always a concern after a long break from competition, but we pride ourselves on the ability to simulate tournament intensity while training.”
Bravo is also excited about the continued integration of its newer talent, which has had more time to strengthen and gel in the month between tournaments. Second year cutters Jesse Roehm (formerly of Madcow) and Ethan Pollack (formerly of Replicants) have meshed more comfortably with the explosive offensive line. Farrell adds, “Jake Juszak has continued to blossom in his second year. He’s got tremendous athletic ability, and his game is significantly more polished than in year one. We use Jake on the D side, and he’s a big, bouncy defender who can throw and catch goals on the turn.”
This season has seen NexGen All-Star Jimmy Mickle operate in a primary cutting position on the offensive side of the disc–a departure from his D-line role of other seasons. New captain Jack McShane has adeptly stepped onto the D-line and helped it move at a breakneck pace on the turn.
Revolver focuses on Nationals title defense
Revolver heads into Labor Day in the throes of striving toward another elusive “double-peak,” where the team attempts to capture World and Club Championships in the same season. As Revolver took some time between its World title and an impressive ECC performance (where the San Francisco team dropped just one game to top-ranked Ironside), the team leadership understands that it has serious work to do to prepare for the Series.
Recent losses to Ironside and NexGen are Revolver’s only losses in nearly a year of play. “These games were a great reminder of what it feels like to be on the other end of the field when a team is celebrating,” explains assistant coach Josh Greenough. “If the team had played [what it felt was ‘its] best game’ there might be a different attitude but this was not the case so it will fuel the fire going into this next stretch. The team is focusing on the journey of the season and the mental toughness has been kick-started into high gear after the break from WUGC. Everybody is working. We will be no exception.”
Revolver will be taking the Santa Cruz fields without Mark Sherwood, Mac Taylor, Russell Wynne, Joel Schlachet, or Eric Greenwood. “We have a couple of additional banged up folks who will play a limited amount,” says coach Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere, “but we are focusing on being 100% for Nationals and will try not to take any chances with players at Labor Day. The players on the field certainly will be going all out, but the long season so far has taken a toll and we need to adjust our goals and expectations for recovering guys.”