Playoff Picture: The Path to a Back to Back Title is Open for the Shoulda Been Stars

Written by: Kevin Kardasz (@kevinn_up on Twitter)

Aces history is Stars history as well, and I think it’s time we truly recognize it as such. The Stars won the title last season, behind a unified, dominating fan base led by the most involved ownership group in the FCF. When the Kinda Funny group left the FCF, some thought the potent power of involved ownership would evaporate along with the hopes of a second title. They were wrong.

Austin Ekeler, one of the Stars owners, stepped up big time. Austin has spent nearly every single game, streaming to fans on twitch calling plays and giving advice similar to the way Greg and his group did last season. It was extremely effective in weeks 1 through 3, they went undefeated and looked to be the team to beat as the season reached the midpoint. 

Weeks 4 and 5 saw a bit of a slide as the Stars lost back to back games in sloppy fashion and dropped out of the “wow these guys are the ones we need to look at to win it all” tier. However, the 2 in the loss column wasn’t exactly the biggest loss taken by the Stars. Ladarius Galloway, the season 1 MVP and star running back of both last season’s Aces and this season’s Stars, had to leave early due to personal matters. With a hole at running back, the Stars walked into week 6, and clinched their playoff spot with a win. They lost a meaningless week 7 matchup all things considered, and are now in position to make a run for their second straight title.

Slade Jarman #15 gets rid of the ball just in time (Getty Images)

This run is a little different from last time, the Stars will look to ride on their franchise QB the entire run this time, there’s no Ed Crouch hiding on the depth chart. I’ve questioned Slade Jarman at times this year but he’s been able to make the plays needed to win this season. This team in general has made the plays needed to win, it’s how they’ve won each of their games, by committee. 

Keys for the Stars advancing to the Championship

  • Keep Slade out of trouble. There’s been some games where Slade’s taken obscene amounts of hits in a weak pocket, and taken too many drop backs into failed pass plays. Keeping the RPO game on top will ultimately lead to less pressure in Slade’s face, and will preserve him for the long run if you plan on winning it all.
  • Explore Travalle Calvin at running back as a more consistent option. While Tyis Boykin has 20 carries as a slot receiver, Calvin has nearly the same yardage, with 2 carries to his name. His explosive speed off the line could prove to be a dangerous offensive weapon running off the edge, and hitting timely holes in the offensive line. 
  • Tyis Boykin has deadly hands, we know this, but so does another Stars receiver, Antonio Turner. Antonio hasn’t been as consistent of an offensive option in the Stars passing attack, but with 7 receptions he’s averaging a freakish 16 YPR. With a possible Calvin in the backfield, and Tyis already being a high value target in the air, Antonio can be looked to for the big play ball that has sent teams to the next level this season.
  • Defensively, the Stars benefit from what in my opinion is the best corner group in the FCF. Marquill Osborne, Roman Tatum, and Marquis Cain, make up a trio that few have had success against  in the air this season. They press, they drop, they swarm man ups, let your defensive playmakers open your playbook offensively, take risks knowing your defense will back the offense up.
Stars defense swarms an offensive player (Getty Images)

They’ve been here before, they know what it takes to go all the way and win a championship. The team has drastically changed, new owners, new players, and completely new offensive cornerstones, but the fans? This is far from new for them, let the experience calm the nerves, and enjoy this second run, good luck to the Ekeler-led Stars.

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