SUPER 16 – Opening weekend in the Super 16 and the action all around the league was intense from the opening kick. In the Game of the Week, bitter division rivals from the North Division took to the field to fight like……well, like cats and dogs as The Dawg Pound faced Motor City Kitties in their 2018 opener. This pair of franchises has accounted for the last 3 North Division titles – MCK in 2015, Dawgs in ’16 and ’17 – and the road to the division crown stands a good chance of going through one of them again this year. The league’s Cleveland and Detroit franchises had faced each other 7 times (going back prior to Motor City’s relocation from St Louis), and the Kitties enjoyed a slight edge, winning 4 games to the Dawgs’ 3, but the Dawgs had won 3 of their last 4 meetings, and league insiders have already made early predictions that this might be the year – at last – in Cleveland.
The Kitties were decked out head to toe in Honolulu Blue for their opener, and boy did those unis look sharp. Unfortunately their play on the field didn’t. Motor City struggled mightily in the second half, committing 5 turnovers to only 3 offensive touchdowns scored through the whole game; the one shiny nickel in their pocket was an absolute gamebreaking performance by defensive captain Myles Jack who put up a defensive touchdown and 33 points for the cats. The Dawg Pound, on the other paw, looked like a well oiled machine from the opening drive, and when their safety, Bradley MacDougald picked off MCK’s Matt Stafford at the start of the second half, they took a lead they never relinqueshed, coming away with a 209-144 victory. Cleveland’s Dawgs had 9 of 15 starters reach double digits, and 5 of those were north of 20 points each. After playoff runs in each of the last two seasons, and hardware that includes a Special Teams of the Year Award, a Defense of the Year Award, a League Scoring Award, and two North Division Trophies over that span, The Dawg Pound could very well be ready to take it to the next level.
Outside of the league’s Game of the Week, there were monster match-ups all over the S16 for opening weekend. The defending 2017 League Champion Arizona Firebirds locked in battle with stiff division rival 1 Eye Til I Die and lost by a dime, 147-157. The Firebirds’ Super Bowl winning coach was lured away in the off-season by the cross-town Arizona Thunderbirds of the World League for the challenge of a massive rebuilding project in the dynasty franchise, and his replacement for the 2018 season is a much more defensive minded coach. That would explaiun the Firebirds’ defensive draft strategy and the 56 offensive points Arizona left on the bench as 1 Eye’s hometeam stars propelled them to a 4th quarter vivctory late on Monday night. The 2017 Super Bowl losing team, Birds of Prey, meanwhile came away from week 1 with a win, beating Eagle has landed 197-159. The two will now be 0-1 and 1-0 in week 2, letting the air out of what would have been a widely anticipated rematch of the 2017 overtime Super Bowl.
The biggest story of opening weekend might’ve been the show put on by perrenial cellar team Geno’s Jaw Breakers and their 258 point – 9th all-time in league history – performance against Steel Curtain. The Pittsburgh franchise put on a show of their own in the 258-234 match, with both teams being led in scoring by their respective defensive captains – 43 points from the Jaw Breaker’s Darron lee and 40 from Curtain’s TJ Watt. The Jets franchise’s record breaking score, though, was then eclipsed by the Who Dats 262 point afternoon – 7th best all-time – in their absolute steamrolling of divison foe WTF HOUSTON, 262-141.
After relocating to the Vikings, the old BEARMINATORS franchise got a win, 217-182 over SF’s BowMen in their debut as THE WRATH OF ODIN, as did North Division rival The Indy-structibles who outlasted Dem Bucking Broncs, 224-211 in a close one. The Northern Fins, the 2016 Super Bowl Champs and 2017 East Division winner, got things off to the right start, beating BIGDOGINTEX 196-180 as they set out for another run at the post season, setting up an unexpectedly important week 2 meeting with the 1-0 Jaw Breakers.