RAFL Season Update
Augustine Dashiell August 26 2009
As we enter the midway point of the Regional Athletic Football League’s third season, in front of us we have the best playoff race in the history of the league developing. In some divisions, the expected scenarios have played out, while in other divisions there are complete surprises. All roads will cross in the playoffs as the race for Atlantic Bowl III is on.
This is the toughest division, on paper, with three playoff ready teams.Surprisingly, the New Jersey Buccaneers (5-1) are leading the way without a blemish in divisional games. The bruising style of defense by the Buccaneers leads the way. A kinder second-half schedule will help the New Jersey Wolves (4-3) whose three losses have come against the Buccaneers, twice, and the Mariners. The NEPA Miners (3-3) situation is a little different, still on their schedule are games with the Mariners and Wolves in Plainfield. The New York Stallions (0-7) are taking their lumps in their first season in the ultra-competitive RAFL.
Metro North Division
In Usain Bolt-like fashion, the defending champions have wrapped up the division title. Behind league rushing leader, Raheem Ridley, the Brooklyn Mariners (6-0) represent the only team in the division with a winning record as the Long Island Seahawks represent the only other team in the division with wins (2-5). The Kings County Blackhawks stand winless at (0-6). The Mariners upped their out-of-division schedule, with impressive road wins over the Wolves and Battle their status as team to beat is legit.
Metro East Division
A division deemed “up for grabs” at season’s start has gone that way. The Long Island Tribe (6-1) sits in the drivers’ seat for division superiority. Two games in the rear view mirror are the Long Island Panthers (4-2) still clinging to a playoff birth and an outside shot at the division crown. The Empire State Demon Knights (3-4) started strong, but three consecutive losses have dampened their playoff aspirations. The first year Long Island Lions (1-5) bring up the rear and would need an improbable run just to squeeze into the playoff picture.
Metro West Division
Even though the New York Predators (5-2) have lost a couple of regular season games, they remain the team to beat in the division. This year won’t be a runaway for the Preds as the Hudson County Bounty Hunters (4-2) have kept pace thus far, but a grueling slate remains (games against the Wolves and the Predators) to test the mettle of the team repping Hudson County. The Brooklyn Blue Devils (4-3) started strong, and are still in position to challenge
for the playoffs, but need to get it going to do so. The much-improved Brooklyn Bull Dawgs (2-5) have an outside chance at a playoff spot, more than likely will have to play spoiler.
New Jersey Division
One of the surprising teams in the entire RAFL is the New Jersey Lions (6-0).The Castillo family has the offensive machine rolling in Old Bridge, behind a dominant offensive line the Lions lead the league in offense and have steamrolled the competition thus far. Its gut-check time for the second place New Jersey Battle (5-2) as quarterback Mike Pernell diagnosis of a broken ankle places pressure on Jason Crutchfield to step in and hold it down as the Battle reach for the postseason. The disappointing New Jersey Spartans (2-5), a playoff team from a year ago, have taken a hit this season and started slow. They need to win out to have a chance at a playoff spot. The Woodbridge Bull Dogs (1-5) bring up the rear also would need to win out to have a shot.
Delaware Valley Division
Somebody has to go to the playoffs, but at this point of the season, there is no clear-cut leader. Last year’s division champions, the Philadelphia Braves (3-3) have lost a couple of tough games while enduring an injury-plagued season. The Braves struggles allow the surprising Delaware Bison (3-3) a shot in their first division fight as a third year franchise. The Philadelphia Mustangs (0-6) have been a major disappointment.
One of the toughest divisions in the league is currently lead by last years final four team, the Baltimore Warriors (6-1). The Warriors will try to hold off the Virginia Kings (4-3) and the Metro Nemesis (3-3), both quality teams. The Baltimore Broncos (2-4) aren’t dead, and look to take a run at a playoff spot if they can string together a couple of wins.
Mid Atlantic Division
This is somewhat a surprise, as the division is lead by the Virginia Vipers (6-1), who are in the driver’s seat to get into the round of 16. As the Virginia Thunder (4-3) try to keep pace with the leaders, the Prince William Monarchs (2-3), a team that has been in the RAFL Championship game two straight years, stumbled through the first half of the season. They have a tough schedule the rest of the way, but the Monarchs are a tough team that never give up, expect them to be a factor. The first year Northern Neck Rivermen (0-5), have played tough and are looking for a win.
Adam Turkel contributed heavily to this report.
Article courtesy of plainfieldsportsnews.com