As I sit here in the early hours of Saturday morning anticipating the quarterfinal matchups that this morning will bring, I can’t help but put my thoughts into words.
The first, which will come as no surprise to anyone who reads my articles, is how Ironside will perform today. I said in yesterday’s Hard Cap that they have been relatively untested thus far, but to be honest that shouldn’t be true. In the last game of power pools they faced the notoriously firey Seattle Sockeye. This should have been the game where Ironside was forced to prove that they deserved that number 1 seed. Instead we saw Danny Karlinsky playing with a fish net in sandals on the sidelines and Ironside’s O-line having no trouble with Sockeye’s relatively unfocused defense. Granted, Sockeye needed nothing out of this game, and to be honest maybe they fancied their chances on Revolver’s side of the bracket, but the point remains that Ironside’s opponents have not given them a scare yet. That being said, Ironside was still getting solid reps through Friday. Their offensive line is so small that many starters had to stay in, and their defense line is so open that who we deem a starter or a bench player is almost moot. What I’m getting at here is that Ironside’s Saturday will be completely different than Thursday or Friday. They will face a team on fire – Chain Lightning – who is quite literally fighting for their season. Boston did a decent job of maintaining their energy throughout their pool play and power pool games, but it was nothing compared to an elimination game. While Doublewide, Sockeye, and even Revolver have had some tests, no one has even hit double digits against Ironside. They need to find a higher gear this morning, and fast.
After watching two days of play I think that Doublewide is extremely dangerous for reasons other than people expect. The offense no longer runs through Brodie and Kurt playing catch. Instead Cole Sullivan, Max Cook and Jeff Loskorn are running the show and doing a hell of a job (not that Cook/Loskorn haven’t done well in past seasons, just trying to illustrate their escalated roles). Will Driscoll is a scary matchup for anyone on defense and Kiran Thomas is still really, really fast. I think that they will manhandle GOAT and end their cinderella story. When it comes to Semis though, I will be interested to see how Doublewide handles their subbing rotation. I fear (on their behalf) that they will revert into their old style and put too much power in too few players’ hands. Even when they are winning, I do not doubt that they will put Kurt on some offensive lines, as they did on Thursday against Johnny Bravo. I like their new split line style and I think it will work if they let it. Their offense is effective because they have a number of weapons and their defense is stifling thanks to their depth and athleticism. If they change this up, I think that they will fail. If not, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Lastly, Ring of Fire. They have just that – fire. They out worked, out energy-ed and out passion-ed Johnny Bravo in an important power pool matchup yesterday. Matzuka and Saul can throw in any weather and that bodes well for the coming storm today. That being said, the rest of their lineup was subject to lapses, leading to some marathon points against Bravo. That can’t happen against Sockeye in Quarters. Ring has a bit of a smaller rotation and Sockeye’s defense is fearless. They will exploit any weaknesses and score if Ring doesn’t do what they know. Ring must be at 100% accuracy and precision today if they want the upset. Sockeye, on the other hand, need to control their tempers and stay cool when things go wrong. A number of players were visibly upset early in their game against Rhino and they only pulled away when calm, younger players (Spiedel, Zemmel, etc) started stepping up on the field. Sockeye is fundamentally and strategically more advanced, but Ring is riding high. Keys for Sockeye: be the smarter team, keep it easy. Keys for Ring: bring the energy, do your job.