The 8 Man division of the Monster Energy Classic was a day of action packed football. Quality 8 man teams from all over the state traveled to the Triad to lay claim to the championship. Even two teams from Atlanta, Georgia came down to get in on the action. Let’s take a look at each team that came out to Jamestown.
Thundercats (4-1) : The Thundercats were the ones holding the trophy at the end of the day. Albeit the circumstances were a little odd, a paid national bid was won by them none the less. The Thundercats ramsacked their opponents with ease until facing the RDU Assault in the semi-finals. Led by Quarterback Tim Kilpatrick and WR/DB Corny White, the Thundercats would sneak away with a 12-6 victory over the Assault with a late score. CB Dom Willis would have a very big interception to help get the lead. The Thundercats would face the QB-less Assault in the Championship. Assault would have to double dip them if they wanted to win the tournament. Assault would take the 1st game but would forfeit the 2nd game. With the sun going down, without their QB Steve Bergman, and with a couple guys with intentions to leave, they threw the white towel in, believing they probably couldn’t defeat them twice with what they had. The Thundercats had another very impressive showing in Greensboro and for the 2nd time, hoisted a championship in the Triad. The rush of Marlon Petty and Tomocus Alston was fierce!
Assault (4-2) : Just 1 day off winning the 4 man division, the Assault would get back to work. The Assault would rattle off two shutout victories over the Lions and the Eagles before facing the Thundercats for the first time. The Assault were on point all day long. Most impressive was how well Steve Bergman’s team performed with so little subs. Most teams brought 20+ guys and the Assault had to have had less than 15 guys. By the time the championship game started, with Bergman injured, they had around 10. DeFonte Coleman and Charles “Stix” Futrell balled out all day long with many big catches. Brandon Shelton, one of the fastest men in flag football, had a great day as well. Assault brought a small roster and did big things with it!
Carolina Eagles (3-2) : The Eagles had one of the toughest defenses we’ve seen in awhile and it was all without safety Jayson Bookhart. Dee Hodges’ Eagles got to work early sending Gang Green to the losers’ bracket in their first game. After a loss to the Assault, they would rattle off two very impressive wins over the Regulators and Nu Nation. The Eagles had the play/game of the day easily. In a 0-0 game against Nu Nation, Kicker William Field nailed a 30 yard FG to put his team up 3-0 with 30-40 seconds left in the game. Michael Kee of the Eagles would catch a pass down the right sideline for the game winning score. It was about as epic, as epic can get. The Eagles are always going to make noise and they barely dropped a game to the Assault or they would have been the ones to face the Thundercats in the championship.
Nu Nation (2-2) : All the way from Atlanta, Nu Nation came to the Triad to make some noise and they did. They were 30 seconds away from a shot at the championship. The last second defeat by the Eagles was one of the most shocking plays of the day. Nu Nation left their mark in the Triad though. They defeated the Greensboro Predators 20-6 and effectively contained TFFL Season 1 MVP DF Littlejohn at QB. Patrick Hendersons’ team brought a physical play that was new to most teams in North Carolina. I am not familiar with the names of the players but the QB really impressed some folks with his ability to find the open WR. Also the secondary was very impressive as well. Patrick Hendersons’ A ranked team lived up to the hype.
Lions (3-2) : The Lions had a very impressive day. Both of their losses came at the hands of national contending teams in Nu Nation and RDU Assault. They would start out the day with a shutout win over Burlington Bombsquad but then would receive the same treatment from RDU Assault. From the losers’ bracket Kyle Belkoski’s team would make some noise by sending home the Whittsett Sabercats and Gang Green back to Atlanta. The Lions always bring a very competitive team to all TFFL tournaments and they impressed a lot of teams. The Lions are one of the top teams in the Triad and they showed everybody why.
Regulators (3-2) : Early on it looked like the Regulators very well could have gone 0-2. For their 1st game they had 2 subs on the sideline. D’Nodrick Hicks’ team showed up with more and more firepower as each game went on. Eventually Tar Heels QB Travis Allred would step in and take over the QB position and put his team to work! Antonio Hall impressed the TFFL staff with his play on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Regulators had they had their entire team for the whole tournament probably would have faired a lot better. They lost a close game to the Eagles in a very competitive match. The Regulators faired well despite being short handed early on.
Blitz (1-2) : The combination of Blitz and Stick of Butter faired pretty well in the 8 man game. Although QB Wesley Jackson is more suited for small ball the athletes of Blitz kept them in it all day. Dexter Russell and Dominique Powell gave them a big advantage with speed. Alan Swartwoods’ flag pulling ability and the overall play of the defense made Blitz a tough draw for some teams. They barely lost a game to Gang Green and then they edged out the Predators in Overtime before losing at the hands of the Regulators. Blitz was without Eric Plunkett who possibly could have forced some much needed turnovers in those close games. Blitz had a good showing and defeated a great team in the Predators.
Gang Green (2-2) : After seeing Gang Green play, I can honestly say I have now seen it all. Charles Battles’ team came out from the get go in the I-Formation and RAN THE BALL. I have never seen that in Flag Football and they did it very well. They had an older QB who knew what needed to be done to get the ball going. The I-Formation/Play-Action combination was lethal. Coupling a tough, powerful run game with a stingy defense, Gang Green brought the noise. I am unfamiliar with names since they are out of Atltanta but specifically they had one WR that was absolutely balling ALL DAY LONG. Gang Green sent the Knights home and took a close win against Blitz. Every single game they were in it, even both of their losses. A couple plays fall differently and there could have been different results.
Predators (1-2) : Possibly the most athletic team in the entire tournament had different results than what many were expecting. Rodney Beasleys’ team combined with several House Dawgs, athletically were very very impressive. Being new to the 8 man USFTL game hurt the Predators somewhat. They had a very impressive win against the Knights to start things out and QB DF Littlejohn and Andreas Platt had some highlight reel plays. In the Predators 2nd game they faced a TOUGH Nu Nation defense that contained Littlejohns’ speed. They would lose 20-6 against a top 15 ranked team in the country in the A division. They faired well. They would lose against Blitz in overtime 19-13 to be sent home. They lost to two teams well versed in 8 man and have nothing to be ashamed of. If they stuck with the 8 man game, after some practice and more tournament play, they could very well make some SERIOUS noise down at nationals in Florida.
Whitsett Sabercats (0-2) : In this case a record isn’t reflective of how well Whitsett played. Josh Moreheads’ squad came out with a new attitude and some new faces and really changed the opinion of a lot of people. The 8 man game seemed to fair well for Whitsett. Josh Severns and Chris Bray gave Whitsett the lift they needed at QB. This allowed Josh Morehead to get the ball into his hands. Both of their losses were close games against two teams that advanced far into the tournament in the Regulators and Lions. They are a couple moves away from edging into the top tier of teams in the league.
Burlington Bombsquad (0-2) : The Bombsquad would star the day by being shutout by the Lions. Without All Star QB Jeremy Davis, Marcus Walker couldn’t get much going against a very solid defense in the Lions. Walkers’ running was a flash at times but the Lions defense sniffed it out. Earl Wallaces’ team seemed to have a little discord among the ranks but, has been addressed for Season 2. I was surprised to see the 0-2 result as the Bombsquad is a very good team. I can promise you that Earl Wallace will right the ship and get the cavalry right for season 2.
Winston Salem Black Knights (0-2) : Another team new to the tournament game that COULD do some damage down the road. Rob Creasons’ squad came out ready to ball and in time they very well could. They lost to two VERY good teams in the Predators and Gang Green so they also have nothing to be ashamed of. With continuity and the more they play together, this team could be among the top teams in the TFFL. Rob Creason as a big man on the line impressed the TFFL staff. A couple of Knights have been in discussion about being picked up by other teams for Season 2. With time, if they continued to play together, the Knights would be a contender for the championship.