WORLD LEAGUE – After a dominating season with just 3 regular season losses, the AF#8 Old England Patriots (12-3-0) have captured their first ever Atlas Trophy, winning World Bowl VII to be named World Champions. It was the second consecutive season of 10+ wins for the Patriots, and their second year in a row as the World League’s Eastern Conference #1 seed, but after getting knocked out of the playoffs last season by the eventual champion Scandinavian Stars, the Patriots took no prisoners this year, first defeating rival AF#21 London Falling in the Conference Championship, 106-97, and then completing a convincing victory over the Cinderella AF#11 City of Champions, 130-95 in the Championship.
Held in Stockholm’s Friends Arena, it was the first ever World Bowl appearance for City of Champions, and England’s first return trip to the big game since a poor showing in 2013’s World Bowl II. The Patriots struck first, taking a slight 4 point lead from WR Keenan Allen’s 58 yard Thursday night performance. Sporting the most talented trio of receivers in the league, Old England’s pass catchers accounted for just 1 touchdown, combined, in the match, although both Michael Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins did top 100 yards each. Still, the air game was a bit of a draw, England’s QB Matt Ryan throwing for 3 touchdowns, but just over 200 yards and giving up a costly turnover while City of Champions’ Drew Brees was perfect on the day with over 300 yards, but scoring just a single TD. In the end, the teams’ NFC South rival signal callers finished within a point of each other at 18 and 19 points each.
That left the ground game, and most of game was classic trench warfare as the score remained close all through the day on Sunday, sometimes within decimal points of each other. City of Champions got a touchdown each from 2018 #1 overall pick Saquan Barkley and from Jordan Howard, and double digits (12 points) from each of them as well, along with almost double digits from lead back Dalvin Cook (9.63 points), but the Patriots kept pace and ground out a touchdown of their own and 9.67 points as well from their RB2 Marlon Mack, an unlikely success story this season. It was late in the contest, in the Sunday night game, that England was finally able to break the back of CoC when their stud, second year lead back, Alvin Kamara opened up a 10 point lead for the Patriots with 2 touchdowns and an ironic 87 yards receiving from CoC’s Drew Brees passes. Monday night, Old England continued to flex their run game muscles as flexback Chris Carson posted another 26 points in garbage time with a hundred yards and a pair of touchdowns, putting an exclamation point on the Patriots’ decisive World Championship win.
Officials from the defending champion Scandinavian Stars were on hand to present the Atlas Trophy to the victorious Patriots before a sold out crowd, while millions more, in pubs spread throughout England cheered the live event. The Patriots, the World League‘s winningest franchise, with a career 63-36-0 record, now adds their name to the prestegious World Championship Award that has eluded them for so many seasons, and will play host to 2019’s World Bowl VIII, giving English fans even more reason to celebrate. A week after the week 16 World Bowl Championship, UK World League fans were still celebrating the win and were able to double down on the party when London Falling’s Coach Kev, representing the Eastern Conference, won the first ever East-West All Star Game. Facing a Western team selected and coached by the Buenos Aires Blue Dogs’ Coach Alexander, Coach Kev secured a lopsided 133-86 victory, in this first ever extended portion of the World League season. Each coach chose a roster of players from within their own respective conferences to compete in this exciting new league finale that insiders say was designed to extend fan support in competition with rival league IFFL’s 2-week Championship Exposition. The rosters for both the Eastern and the Western All Star Teams were comprised of at least 1 player from every league team, although that wasn’t a prerequisite, and were chosen by the coaches on the basis of their week 17 viability, so they do not neccessarily represent the 2018 All Conference Teams that will be based on season performance and will be released by the league later this month. Still, it’s the Eastern Conference that gets to own bragging rights through next season when the series returns for a rematch.