WORLD LEAGUE – The AF#11 Old England Patriots (8-3-0) had no trouble ending the AF#24 Scandinavian Stars’ (5-6-0) 2 game win streak and extending their own to 5 in the World League’s Week 11 Premier Match. The last time these two clubs – the winningest pair in World League history – met was last year in the 2017 Eastern Conference Championship Game, a close 116-103 affair where the Stars ended the Partriots’ 7 game win streak and playoff season on their own way to winning World Bowl VI. Last week’s match-up couldn’t have been more different. England took an 11 point lead in the Thursday night game before the Stars could even take the field, and never relinquished that lead. Scandinavia played a close game through the early games on Sunday, but once the Patriots’ all-star receiving corps went to work, along with star halfback Alvin Kamara, it was all over. Though they had been rising in the standings, the defending World Champions fell flat on the scoreboard this week – with just 2 double digit performances among their starters, and also 2 negative scorelines – at the worst possible time, while England, on the other hand, enjoyed double digits from 6 of 10 starters and a touchdown scored from all 8 offensive starters.
The win will likely end Scandinavia’s hopes of competing for a repeat title in their home stadium, site of this season’s World Bowl VII, while it secures a playoff spot for Old England and brings them just 1 win away from securing the #1 seed and first round bye. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference last week, the Jerusalem Cheeseheads (6-5-0) and Dublin Bay Prawns (6-5-0) went at each other in a thrilling head to head, with the resulting 113-101 Dublin win leaving them with matching records, both 2 games back from the Patriots with just 2 weeks to go. Each of them will have to play Old England over those final two weeks, and the stakes for both of those matches will be high as the two are likely competing for the same, single playoff spot. Because of the World League’s playoff format, awarding each Conference Wild Card slot based on points, London Falling (5-6-0) looks to have the inside track on that playoff spot, just as they did last season. With 1,235 season points after Sunday’s 108-97 squeaker with Milan, London is fourth in the league (2nd in conference) in total scoring, 100 points ahead of Dublin and 150 ahead of Jerusalem, meaning the Cheeseheads and Prawns will need to get in on standings alone with just one slot open.
Across the water in the Western Conference, the AF#8 Buenos Aires Blue Dogs, the AF#16 City of Champions Rollers, and the AF#23 Mexican Aztecs all went into week 11 with identical 7-3-0 records. Buenos Aires struggled in a back and forth battle with Cali Rox (1-10-0), needing a late game, come from behind drive to get a 104-97 win, while City of Champions looked absolutely dominant in their 142-89 steamrolling of the Arizona Thunderbirds (2-9-0). Mexico’s match with the league rookie Youngstown Mafia (6-5-0) was thrilling for anyone watching, but particularly so for Youngstown fans who watched their team come from behind to secure the 128-110 victory. The week 11 action sets up what should be a climactic final two acts of the regular season, beginning with a head to head showdown between the 8-3 Blue Dogs and the 8-3 Rollers as both teams try to get ahead of each other in the standings looking for that coveted #1 seed and first round bye. Mexico is now a game back from the leaders at 7-4, but gets a soft home stand against Arizona in week 12 for a chance to even up against the winner of the BA-CoC game, before a season finale at City of Champions. Youngstown, with their take down of the Aztecs, has now moved into the playoff conversation with a 6-5-0 record and, more significantly, with their 1200 total season points, they are 5th in the league in total scoring – 3rd in conference – and if the season were to end today, would steal the Points Wild Card from Mexico by a 33 point margin. Youngstown has scored a hundred points or more in their last 5 games – including a high of 182 in week 7 – and will finish the season with road trips to Cali and then Buenos Aires with the goal of keeping the peddle to the floor to make the post season based on scoring. (NOTE: AF Because of the holiday, rankings used in this article are based on prior week rankings, not current week)