Shockers vs. Woodchucks – Championship Preview

JSGFFL Fall 2015 Championship Preview

#1 Seed Shockers (9-0) against #3 Seed Woodchucks (7-2)

11 AM, January 9th

Winding River Park Field, Toms River, New Jersey

The top two seeded teams of the previous season will square off in the Fall Season’s title game this Saturday, as the undefeated Shockers look to complete perfection against the storied Woodchucks, who are trying to build a dynasty of their own. The Shockers cruised through an unbeaten regular season, and then put an absolute whooping on The Untouchables in a laugher, 60-14. While the Woodchucks had a small midseason slump, losing 2 in a row at one point, they’ve won 5 straight and had The Shockers beaten in Week 3, only to see a prayer answered and a miracle granted. Bryan Soletto was rushed into action at QB with time expiring, and threw up a deep pass to the end zone. Jim Florimont went up and snagged the ball, pinning it to his shoulder to win the game as the clock expired. The rematch is this weekend, and while the first matchup was the best game of the regular season, the sequel could be even more of a classic. Are we due for another championship overtime game?

Game Preview

When The Shockers have the ball:

QB Joe Guiffre has the hips of a salsa dancer in the pocket, and the moxie of a proven leader. Whereas last season he was very entrenched in the statistical races, this season he has one thing on his mind: winning football games. The approach has put his team in the title game. His hard count is by far the best in the JSGFFL, as he routinely gets defenders to jump offsides and give up their right to rush the passer. He has no problem dumping the ball down to a short option if it springs open quickly, and his safety valve of Lineman Anthony Spanola was 1st Team All Pro for his receiving and blocking skills. Charlie Barbarie is as good of a wide receiver as anyone in the league and Guff will go deep to him without hesitation. The dual threat Devon Snead is a matchup nightmare for most teams when he gets his offensive snaps, showing top end speed and great run after the catch skills. Will Dan Calabrease get any offensive looks after his Week 7 explosion? The Woodchucks defense boasts an impressive secondary, and a dynamic pass rush. They pulled in 20 interceptions as a team, which is a byproduct of the man to man coverage they play on the outside with CBs Devon McEllen and Chris Jensen. The deep safety look employed by the ‘Chucks could be the answer to Charlie Barbarie over the top, and the defensive line duo of Garrett Lavaggi and Dave Pankow bring relentless energy all game long. They both are athletic enough to rush the passer and cover Shocker lineman Ryan Pharo and Anthony Spanola in the flats, so Joe Guiffre will need to find the holes in the defense and dissect them with precision. If the ‘Chucks blitz, don’t think for one second Joe Guff won’t test these corners one on one down the field to Barbarie. 

When The Woodchucks have the ball:

QB John Zitani had another spectacular season, and is one of if not the greatest JSGFFL passer(s) of all time. His on field skills are only surpassed by his leadership ability and competitive spirit. Sporting the best offensive line duo in the league (the dancing bear that is Chris D’Addario and the non-stop motor of Garrett Lavaggi), this offense routinely pushes the ball down the field on scramble plays. Billy Ballgame aka Billy Belford has become known for his spectacular catches, and Kyle Spatz is arguably the most slippery player with the football in his hands in the entire league. Dave Pankow is a big, athletic target that can block and stretch the seam. Zitani also loves to hit his tall target in the red-zone, James Tranz. He had better bring his scrambling shoes, because The Shockers vaunted pass rush is still ripping through offensive fronts. Lineman Steve Soletto dropped 21 sacks on the league in 8 games, then went on to have a strip sack that he returned for a TD last week in the Semi-Finals. At one point, he lined up in coverage over one of the best WRs in the league, Anthony Carlo. Coming from the other side, on nearly every down, is Dan Erickson. He had 8 sacks, but is just as much of a presence off the edge. Devon Snead, the best two-way player in the league, and Dan Calabrease play man to man on an island on most downs, with Bryan Soletto and Shannon Hill rounding out a playmaking secondary that thrives in man coverage. Whether it’s the rushers forcing the passer to toss up a duck into the ballhawking secondary, or the defensive backs covering everyone until the rushers can get the quarterback’s flag, this defense is downright filthy. 

Below is the complete roster and starting lineups for each team:

Woodchucks

QB: #18 John Zitani

OL: #51 Chris D’Addario

WR: #4 Kyle Spatz

WR: #3 Billy Belford

WR: #69 James Tranz

WR: #20 Dave Pankow

DL: #0 Garrett Lavaggi

DB: #28 Liam Dolly

DB: #29 Joe DeTroia

DB: #30 Dev McEllen

DB: #31 Chris Jensen

DB: #19 Casey Sirotniak

Shockers

QB: #15 Joe Giuffre

OL: #56 Anthony Spanola

OL: #48 Ryan Pharo

WR: #8 Charlie Barbarie

WR: #33 Devon Snead

WR: #84 Jimmy Florimont

DL: #4 Steve Soletto

DL: #9 Dan Erickson

DB: #33 Devon Snead

DB: #32 Dan Calabrease

DB: #10 Bryan Soletto

DB: #3 Shannon Hill

 

Mike Odom

#JSGFFL

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Fall 2015 All-Pro Team

QB

First team: Chris Angelini, Warewolves

183/282, 3029 yards, 43 TDs, 5 INT, 64.9%, 10.7 YPA, 133.1 Rating

While there will surely be people that poke holes in his pristine résumé, Angelini firmly sits atop the QB chart this season. It’s hard to dispute a passer that leads his team to a 7-1 mark while winning the QB “crown” by having the highest rating of any signal caller. He threw 5+ TD’s in every game but one, and also had a string of 196 passes without an INT between weeks 3 and 8. The Wolves had many mouths to feed, and Angelini spread the wealth around, connecting with 10 different receivers throughout the season.

Second team: Nick Venuto, The Untouchables

204/307, 3479 yards, 48 TDs, 10 INT, 66.4%, 11.3 YPA, 130.7 Rating

The John Zitani supporters will be outraged by this call, but Venuto earned his spot on this roster. He led the league in attempts, completions, completion percentage, yards, and yards per attempt. If that’s not what makes up an All Pro, I don’t know what is. His shining moment was his monster day Week 4, where he went 27-34 for 621 yards, 9 TDs, and 0 interceptions. He had three games that saw him throw for 7 TDs, and he is also riding a 5 game 400+ ypg hot streak into the playoffs.

OL

First Team: Anthony Spanola, Shockers

28 receptions, 432 yards, 7 TDs, 15.4 ypc, 36 targets

The muscle of the Shockers offense, Spanola also shows his underrated quickness and shiftiness in the open field as a dump off for QB Joe Guiffre. He finished with the second most catches on the team, and it’s safe to say the QB-lineman pair have formed a solid connection. He showed up big in the battle against the Woodchucks, snagging 6 balls for 83 yards and 2 TDs in their week 3 battle. Spanola has at least 1 catch in the last 7 games he has played in, and look for that trend to continue.

Second Team: Garrett Lavaggi, Woodchucks

27 receptions, 281 yards, 8 TDs, 10.4 ypc, 31 targets

The motor on this man never stops, and it’s his relentlessness in both the blocking and receiving/after catch aspects of the game that make him so valuable. He scored the then go ahead TD with 2 minutes remaining in the ‘Chucks heartbreaking loss to the Shockers, and went on to put up 2 TDs in a losing effort to the Warewolves the following week. Lavaggi capped off a great 3 week stretch in a Week 5 win over The Untouchables by posting a 5/116/2 stat line on the day.

WR

First team

Anthony Carlo, The Untouchables

59 receptions, 1540 yards, 20 TDs, 26.1 ypc, 92 targets

Where do you even begin with this monster season? Is it the record shattering 1540 yards receiving, or how about the second most TDs in a single season with 20? Don’t overlook his insane Week 4 performance that saw him haul in 11 passes for 347 yards and 3 TD’s, nor the fact that he combined for 22 receptions, 476 yards, and 4 TD’s against the Woodchucks and Shockers defenses. This truly was a season for the ages, and take into account the fact that he missed a game with a leg injury, it becomes even more of a modern marvel. He averaged exactly 220 yards a game in the 7 games he played, and nearly 3 TD’s a game.

Terron Maples, Spartans

47 receptions, 847 yards, 8 TDs, 18.0 ypc, 70 targets

After missing the first 2 games of the season, Maple Syrup exploded onto the scene with a 10 catch day in his first pair of contests. He also missed Week 8, leaving his Week 7 masterpiece as the final memory of the season. Up against the high powered Untouchables offensive attack, Maples tried his best to match them shot for shot. Despite falling short, he ended up with a monster day. 11 of his 14 targets were caught, resulting in 295 yards of offense and 3 TDs. Terron struggled to find paydirt often with the rotating door at the QB position, but still managed big plays by hitting on 5 50+ yarders. In 5 games, Maples averaged 169.4 yards despite drawing the oppositions top defender on most occasions.

Corey Feldman, The Untouchables

45 receptions, 772 yards, 16 TDs, 17.1 ypc, 59 targets

Not to be lost in all the rightfully deserved praise of Anthony Carlo is the tremendous season achieved by his running mate, Corey Feldman. After leading the league in receiving last season on a winless team, Feldman was out to prove he wasn’t a product of an ideal statistical situation. He did just that, catching 76% of the balls thrown in his direction and recording at least 1 TD in each game. While some people may point at the added attention paid to his teammate, Feldman had a #FeldmanFieldDay in the only game in which Carlo didn’t play. Week 2, Corey had 7 receptions for 120 yards and 4 TDs in a losing effort against the Warewolves stout D. His juggling, behind the back snag that was unfortunately not caught on film stands as one of the top plays of the season, and there is no denying Feldman is an integral part to The Untouchables passing attack that produced the most yards in the league.

Mike Lawrence, Rabid Squirrels

43 receptions, 771 yards, 15 TDs, 17.9 ypc, 69 targets

An addition from the disbanded Mean Machine, Lawrence carried over his receiving dominance with his new squad. Despite losing the title late, Mike was leading the league in catches for most of the season. His peak was a 2 week stretch in November which saw him go for 18 catches, 307 yards, and 5 TDs, including one of those games against the Shockers. He also began the season with a bang in a shootout loss, hauling in 5 passes for 155 yards and 3 TDs.

Second team

Maliq Black, Unwanted

44 receptions, 913 yards, 10 TDs, 20.75 ypc, 79 targets

Big plays were the name of the game for Black, as he broke off a play of 40+ yards in 6 out of the 8 games on the season. He also found the end zone in 6 out of 8 games as well. While he may have dropped a few more passes than experts would have liked to see, there is no denying the impact Maliq routinely had on a week to week basis.

Peter Torres, Unwanted

40 receptions, 879 yards, 12 TDs, 21.9 ypc, 69 targets

The other half of the highly touted Unwanted duo, Torres is not to be forgotten. 6 out of his first 8 career catches resulted in TDs, and he ended up tied for 4th overall in TDs. He was also the third leading receiver yards wise, and the resume will seemingly only grow longer and longer as Torres gains more experience.

Billy Belford, Woodchucks

38 receptions, 791 yards, 12 TDs, 20.8 ypc, 55 targets

Numbers don’t justify the season Billy Ballgame put together. Two of the most amazing catches of the season, including the catch of the year against SassaFrassa, were made by Belford. His diving, full body extension snag will be replayed for years. B2 started the season off with 4 consecutive 100+ receiving yard performances, and ended it with a 148 yard game Week 8. His shining moment was a 10 catch, 170 yard line against the Shockers.

Mike Sparrowe, Average Joes

37 receptions, 870 yards, 9 TDs, 23.5 ypc, 58 targets

While the Average Joes experienced some growing pains in their inaugural season, the same can not be said for the burner Mike Sparrowe. The Birdman was easily the best target on the team, recording 100+ receiving yards in 5 out of the 7 games the team played. His season high was a 7 catch, 204 yard day against the Spartans week 3, and managed an impressive 7 for 146 against the vaunted Shockers defense. 8 times he had a catch of 40 or more yards, despite the fact that his team only played 7 games due to a SassaFrassa forfeit Week 8.

Defense

Rushers

First team

Steve Soletto, Shockers

21 Sacks

No defense player terrorized quarterbacks more than The Shockers premiere pass rusher. Soletto doubled his closest competitor and then some in sack totals, boasting 11 more than Joe Ganzy’s 10. He sacked both John Zitani and Chris Angelini 3 times each, to go along with 2 other 4 sack performances this season. Couple that in with the fact that he had multiple sacks in 7 out of 8 games, and it’s easy to see why Soletto campaign is so highly thought of in league circles.

 

Joe Ganzy, Average Joes

10 Sacks

The Joes had impact players on defense, and the best of the bunch may have been the bull rushing hammer that is Average Joe Ganzy. His highlight of the season was his 3 sacks in 4 plays against The Unwanted, but numbers don’t tell the whole story with Ganzy. Play after play he would run his body into opposing offensive blockers, setting the tone for a very physical Average Joe’s defense.

Second team

Dan Erickson, Shockers

8 Sacks

The Shockers employee a 2 man rush on defense, and while there is no denying the elite talent of Steve Soletto, Erickson can be a force to be reckoned with as well. Ask QB Chris Angelini, who was sacked 3 times by Erickson Week One. Or Week Two when he took down the SassaFrassa QBs 2 times. The elite pass rush duo of the Shockers is only getting better.

Bill Budd, Rabid Squirrels

5 Sacks, 3 Interceptions, 1 Defensive TD

Versatility is the calling card of the tough and underrated Budd. His Week 5 performance sealed his spot on the All Pro team, when Budd recorded not only a pair of sacks but also a pair of interceptions against the Spartans. He also recorded 2 sacks in the following game.

DBs

First team

Devon Snead, Shockers

8 Interceptions, 3 Defensive TDs

While the pass rush up front was in quarterback’s faces all day, offseason addition Devon Snead was lying in the weeds waiting to capitalize on seemingly any mistake a passer made. He averaged 1 INT a game for the season, and also played blanket coverage on many of the league’s top receivers. Consider in the fact that he was playing heavy snaps on offense as well (6th in receiving yards), Snead’s energy is almost unmatched in the JSGFFL. Twice this season he recorded 2 picks, and in Week 5 he scored on a pick 6 and a fumble recovery to win Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Joe DeTroia, Woodchucks

6 Interceptions, 2 Sacks, 2 Defensive TDs

A great ‘Chucks secondary was led by DeTroia’s coverage ability and playmaking skills. He was the only player this season to record a sack, an interception, a pick 6, and a fumble recovery for a TD. He ended up second in the league in interceptions, and had a game with a sack and an interception to go along with a 2 INT game as well. While it’s hard to ever truly declare one of the ‘Chucks defensive backs better than the others, DeTroia was no doubt the best of the bunch this season.

Shane Capone, Warewolves

4 Interceptions, 3 Defensive TDs

One of the most athletic players in the league, Capone provided excellent coverage for the ‘Wolves as well as some big plays once he got the ball in his hands. He singlehandedly changed the complexion of the Unwanted/Warewolves game. Shane jumped a route at the goal line on the first drive of the game to go 80 yards to paydirt, then jumped another route later for one more pick 6. The offensive game plan also relies on Capone, and his stamina has allowed him to be heavy contributor to the team.

 

Dev McEllen, Woodchucks

5 Interceptions, 1 Defensive TD

The most passionate player in the JSGFFL, Dev brings an intensity and focus to the field every week that is unmatched. He backs up his confident talk with on field ability, routinely shutting down receivers he is matched up against. His sole defensive score this season was a huge fumble scoop and score against the Shockers in the game of the year, showing that Dev will rise to the occasion when there are high stakes on the line.

Second team

Vin Elardo, Warewolves

5 Interceptions, 1 Defensive TD

The combo of size, speed, and savvy is what makes Vin Elardo such a presence on defense. He ranges sideline to sideline making plays, knocking down passes and picking some off as well. Elardo opened up the season with 2 interceptions in the first game ever played at Winding River Field, and also had a pair agains the Average Joes. Elardo is also one of the best flag pullers in the league.

 

Jihad Castro, Rabid Squirrels

4 Interceptions

Castro was pacing the league in interceptions for a good portion of the season, only to see his turnovers dry up down the stretch. The coverage skills he possesses were still on display though throughout the season. Castro was a magnet to the ball in the early going, picking off a pass in the Rabid Squirrels first 3 games. Even though he didn’t find the endzone, his return ability still gave the team good field position.

Dan Calabrease, Shockers

4 Interceptions, 2 TDs

On a defense loaded with talent, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle sometimes. While the headlines have gone to Scott Soletto and Devon Snead (rightfully so), Calabrease had one of the better seasons of any player in the league. This writer thinks he may the most underrated player in the league if you factor in his recently revealed offensive ability and combine that with his coverage skills. The man also knows how to score, returning 2 of his interceptions to the house. Offenses have paid the price for trying to avoid Snead, and now Calabrease is starting to be recognized on his own.

Tim Vecci, Average Joes

3 Interceptions

Vecci beat out his Average Joes teammate and secondary partner Brett Maniaci for this last spot on the All Pro team. He has a knack for being around the ball, making a habit of knocking down passes. The speed he brings gives him great ability in coverage, and in Week 3 he recorded a 2 INT game, the first one in Average Joe’s history. He is a calming influence to a team that needs guidance on occasions.