Season v2.0 Week 1 Full Recap (and an early look at the budding MVP race)
Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)
It happened, we made it, power to the fans, after around a year of waiting, the FCF is back for real. It’s been so long, I nearly forgot what to expect, and yet, the second the game began it was like it never left. The historic Pullman Yards acts as a better venue than I had ever thought, few experienced Infinite Energy Arena, and yet as electric as they made it there, this somehow topped it. The morning and afternoon sessions both provided two wildly different experiences, those who went at night got a full Steve Aoki set, and those in the morning got fresh defenses ready to play ball before they hit their second games. It was fantastic, no way around it, the week 1 jitters quickly evaporated and it was real.
Before we dive into the individual games, let’s recap a few of the finite things you may not have caught, or things that have changed from last season, and the general nuances of the game that have shifted.
To be completely clear, it feels much more serious this time, there’s a sense of urgency, and the pace has picked up significantly. Defense, as some (and even I) had claimed needed to turn a corner the next season, absolutely has. Scores this time around were absolutely not as high as the last time, and it circles back to entire defensive play that makes for a much more complete experience. Maybe it’s the legitimate rumble of the field you can feel as you sit in the seats at the yard, maybe it’s the louder hits, the pumped up trash talk, or maybe it’s a new era already for the FCF, but whatever it is, everyone should be here for it. It feels new, it feels fresh, it feels better than it did before. The combination of enhanced camera work and equipment, a completely revamped approach to the stadium and how it operates, and a much improved broadcast, all makes the experience just that much better. Yet above all of that, it’s important to not forget that there was indeed football played, and it’s time to pick it apart, from Francois to TO to the Kidd, opening week was as good as it could have been.
Game 1 – Glacier Boyz (20) v Beasts (36)
The season opened with a classic showdown, the new look Boyz against the new look beasts set a great tone for the rest of the day, with a few unfortunate notes.
Early in the first half, Dalton Oliver the expected franchise QB for the Boyz, went down with what looked to be an ankle injury. We saw him leave the field under 2 people’s help, and at the end of the game he walked over to us on crutches to the side of the field and let us know that it appeared he had a partially torn ligament somewhere. You never want to see that happen, and everyone is hoping for the best for Coach O. This injury would leave QB, Vidal Woodruff, with the keys to the ship for the rest of the game.
It was a bit of a rough day for Vidal, some of which can probably be chalked up to the fact that in practice as the QB2, you game plan and practice differently than a QB1, yet suddenly there he was, thrown into the gauntlet.
This all set up for a game that let defense run the show, and in the end, Cornerback Qwan’tez Stiggers was the difference. In a game of back and forth scoring, at the 6:12 mark, Stiggers would pick off Vidal for the 2nd time and take it to the house, which would be followed by a game sealing pick 6 later by fellow cornerback Lee.
Jason Stewart did a good job spreading the ball in a unique way, completing only 3 of 10 passes, but compiling a touchdown on every completion he tossed, each to a different receiver. The time of possession battle was an overwhelming 44 minutes to 10 in favor of the Boyz, yet the beasts walked out with a dominant win. The defense kept the offense working, and multiple scoring opportunities set up quick scores for the beasts which they capitalized on.
Notable Performers –
QB – Jason Stewart – 3/10 CMP / 3 TDs / 0 INTS (Beasts)
WR – Andrew Jamiel – 8 CATCHES / 3 TDS / 107 YDS (GBZ)
CB – Qwan’tez Stiggers – 4 TACKLES / 3 INTS / 92 YDS (Beasts)
Game 2 – Knights of Degen (32) v Bored Ape Football Club (36)
The last half of the morning session for opening day had an FCF headliner QB duel on deck. In the people’s championship in season 1, Deondre Francois. QB for the apes, and Ed Crouch, QB for the Knights, dueled till the end against each other for a ring. Today? They’d face each other again, starting for 2 new teams both with different motivations to fulfill. For Francois, it was a chance to redeem himself and the lost lead that cost him a title a year ago, and for Ed it was another chance to cement himself as that guy to those who still had doubts.
While some may have expected the Francois show on the apes, it was instead the Jakobie Baker breakout game. The 32nd pick in the first draft of this year did not disappoint, busting 55 yards on 8 carries while adding 3 scores to an impressive debut. It looked like the birth of a new running star for the league, which is always exciting. For Francois, he started off a bit slow, even throwing an uncharacteristic interception late in the first half, he looked uncomfortable in the pocket. Credit where credit is due, the pass rush this year is revamped and fresh and it’s apparent, the QBs are under real pressure for the first time in awhile.
Ed struggled similarly for the Knights, throwing a slightly shocking 3 interceptions and only tossing 1 score in the air. But, he compensated with 58 yards on the ground and 2 rushing scores, which to be fair is how he sent Francois and last year’s Glacier Boyz packing in the game that really mattered.
Yet, with the game on the line, down 4 points to the knights, Francois shut his previous woes behind a door and locked it up. Keeping himself collected, he drove down the field with 2 decent rushes, and a 7 yard completion, which after a Baker set up run, he would launch a 20 yard bomb to Baker himself for the go ahead score leaving 8 seconds on the clock. Although the FCF is one to have a storybook ending, for the knights, it didn’t come about, and Ed would seal the game with an interception on a down field heave that would lock the game up for the Apes.
Notable Performers –
RB – Jakobie Baker – 55 RUSH YDS / 3 RUSH TDS / 20 REC YDS / 1 REC TD (BAFC)
WR – Yeddiah Louis – 3 CATCHES / 47 YDS / 1 TD (KOD)
Game 3 – Shoulda Been Stars (20) v Zappers (12)
Game 3 was marked as the GAME for a lot of fans, 48 year old TO would take the field with Johnny Manziel and let it sling against Slade Jarman and Ladarious Galloway, yet early on it struggled to live up to the billing. Manziel for undisclosed reasons was out on the practice field before the game but didn’t suit up for the game, which led to 40 year old QB, Danny Southwick, to the starting job this week for the Zappers.
Possibly the most interesting QB matchup of the day, it felt like a prove yourself level outing for both guys. For Slade, proving his draft stock as a first round pick was backed by talent and not just a man up power up was important. And for Danny, nicknamed the Tom Brady of the FCF, it was about showing that Father Time was held at bay, and that there was still ball to be played. There were most definitely two sides of the coin tonight.
For Slade, a night punctuated by an essential game sealing touchdown followed by an emphatic run to the sideline in which he’d yell up to team owner, Austin Ekeler, “I TOLD YOU, I TOLD YOU MAN” was exactly what he had hoped for. He played exceptionally, weaving through the pressure and slinging the ball with authority, he led drive after drive with a coolness to him, and looked confident while doing it. The worth proving night he had hoped for was most definitely there, and the win he grabbed after was more than worth it.
For Danny, a night of what seemed to be miscommunication, and a tendency to lean on the “well, TO is out there somewhere” philosophy plagued his performance. He pushed the ball well, his arm talent wasn’t what seemed to be putting him at odds with successful outcomes, it felt like at times, his routes he had in his mind weren’t being run. There were times he’d lead a receiver forward and the receiver would snap back, or wouldn’t go where he thought they would. A few of these came on TO routes, and this can probably be attributed to the fact that he showed up…like 5 days ago. There’s no rapport, there’s no connection yet, it happens. It may not look statistically pleasing but there’s no reason to curtain call on Danny yet, give it a week or two, there’s obvious talent, sometimes you just need to settle in.
The game itself was a defensive struggle, as the only 2 scores in the second half came in the last 15 seconds of game clock. The Zappers couldn’t get it going, and all the Stars needed to do was execute and they were going to walk out with a win. Danny’s 1/13 outing combined with Laquan Horton’s ¼ outing means the only 2 catches of the night came from the TO touchdown as the clock expired and a Tyis Boykin catch earlier.
The Zappers have work to do, it’s obvious TO won’t be a blatant cheat code so finding a good supporting cast will be crucial, and the QB room will be a very very interesting topic they will look to address very soon. The Stars will also need to take a look into their offense and make sure it can compete against a team that’s scoring more than a league-low 12 points. So many conclusions can be drawn from this game, yet at the same time, can any?
Notable Performers –
QB – Slade Jarman – 5 CMP / 2 TDS / O INTS (SBS)
WR – Terrell Owens – 1 CATCH / 1 TD / 48 YRS OLD (ZAP)
Game 4 – 8oki (28) v Kingpins (26)
The final game of the day came after the Aoki set with an amped crowd as it crept into later hours of the night. It did not disappoint, not at all, in fact I don’t think many people expected this game to be as good as it was. In an intense QB battle, we unexpectedly saw the best QB play we’d seen all day, between Mitch Kidd of the 8oki FC, and Tirri Jones of the Kingpins.
D-Block for 8oki showed up, putting intense pressure on Jones and sacking him twice while also keeping the passing from getting too out of hand. In a game where it felt like 8oki nearly blew it, yet had 10 less minutes of possession, it felt like it was leading up to a big big dramatic ending. After entering the half down 12-8 to the kingpins, Mitch Kidd flipped an internal switch and took over completely. He only got one chance at offensive in the first half, which he scored on in 4 plays to Boykin (remember this, it gets a little ridiculous).
After deferring and receiving the ball at the half, Kidd would use 7 minutes of clock to drive and feed Tito a score to put 8oki up 16-12, and minutes later the defense would force a fumble to put Kidd back on the turf for another opportunity. In just 3 game minutes, and 3 plays, Kidd would lift another score to Boykin on a deep 25 yard lob over the shoulder. These passes at that level were falling every play for Kidd, every ball was on the money and his incompletions were generally dropped balls. It was a clinic.
However, the FCF has rules that never quite allow a team to be out of the game. With 1:31 on the clock, Tirri Jones would need just one play to launch a 40 yard dagger that would put the game at 22-20. Jones would scramble to convert their onside kick, and then yet again would score with 47 seconds on the clock to put the Kingpins up 26-22, and that’s game…or not.
Mitch Kidd, the man of the night to that point, walked onto the field with a look in his eyes, showtime. He would go 2/6 on his first 6 plays of the drive, launching catchable deep balls that were just slightly too tough to grab at times. With the clock at 0:02, one play to go, Kidd dropped back, looked at 6 men in coverage and sent up a prayer. He threw a missile through 2 defenders and although not even visible at first, it sailed right into the arms of a waiting Joseph Boykin for the 3rd time that night. Walkoff, 8oki wins, 47 seconds was too much for the Kidd.
Notable Performers –
QB – Mitch Kidd – 8 CMP / 118 YDS / 4 TDS / O INTS (8OK)
QB – Tirri Jones – 7 CMP / 109 YDS / 3 TDS / O INTS / 1 RUSH TD (KPN)
WR – Joseph Boykin – 6 CATCH / 93 YDS / 3 TDS (8OK)
WR – Elijah Rogers – 6 CATCH / 100 YDS / 3 TDS (KPN)
Way Too Early MVP Ladder
- Mitch Kidd (8oki, QB) – The unquestionable best QB of week 1, Kidd is electric, he’s commanding, his presence is quite literally felt. 8oki got the ball back with about 47 seconds to make something happen, and the only thing I had to say was that they gave him too much time. And when the clock winded down to 2 seconds, a last gasp play with a throw put into a tight TIGHT window, punctuated and epitomizes exactly who Kidd is, QB1. His touch on the ball was impressive, not in a wow that’s good football way, in a wow that’s elite quarterback play way. His WR1, Joseph Boykin, was gifted 3 of some of the best touchdown passes we’ve seen in awhile, by the same man, over, and over, and over again. 8oki is simply not winning the game without Kidd, and I’m not sure any other QB could have been put into their roster and ended up walking out with a win besides Kidd, and that to me is the definition of Most Valuable Player. To the victor go the spoils, Mitch Kidd is #1 this week.
- Andrew Jamiel (Glacier Boyz, WR) – For AJ, it really did feel like just another day in the office, yet it’s important to remind ourselves just how great he is. AJ, is still probably the best receiver in the FCF, it’s just something you have to see to believe. The grabs he makes are still ridiculous, his routes and his moves off the line as as awe inspiring now as they were last season. It’s arena football mastery, and it’s hard to put into words, but I’ll sure try. His 3 scores are exactly why the fans franchise tagged him before he even hit draft boards, he’s invaluable, and there’s a great chance in a redraft of all available players? He’s first off the board. You cant replace what he does as a play maker at his position, and his ability to give his team a chance regardless of the surrounding play is MVP worthy.
- Qwan’tez Stiggers (Defense, CB) – It’s time to break down football boundaries, a cornerback is indeed an MVP candidate. Quantez is ridiculous, he’s a monster in pass coverage, and in his first game of the day he had 3 interceptions to show each and every viewer that he’s top end talent. We asked for better defense, and guys like him responded. He presses off the line, he can drop back and make the smart play, he isnt a zone hawking interception hunter, he’s a complete game changer. And player who gets his team 3 extra possessions is truly irreplaceable, and in turn, MVP worth.
- Honorable Mention – Jakobie Baker (BAFC, RB) – An absolute breakout performance for the new guy on the block sees him just outside of the top 3. Its tough to evaluate DB performance this early, but 4 TDS speaks for itself, he balled and there’s no way around it. Look out to see how his next game with a possible different offensive line ends up, but regardless as of now, Jakobie is solidly in the very early conversation for league highest honors.
Please keep in mind the ladder above is my personal list, not a committee of voters or anything more official than anyone but myself.