By Sean Dochney
9 AM – Clam Slammers 6-2 (4th Seed) vs. Gladiators 5-3 (5th seed)
The Clam Slammers take on the Gladiators in the 2nd game of the first round on Saturday. The two teams previously played each other in Week 4, and the Gladiators won that contest 28-18. Both teams have come a long way since that first meeting, and both played the Shockers in the final week of the season. The Gladiators lost the tough battle to the Shockers 24-28, which was the Gladiators first loss since Week 2. The Clam Slammers wound up beating the Shockers in their second game of the Shockers double header, 36-32, giving the Shockers their first regular season loss in years.
The Clam Slammers have the lowest ranked offense out of all the playoff teams. They rank 7th in the league in average yards per game at 239.5. This is almost a 40-yard difference between the Gladiators, who rank 6th at 278.5. The Clam Slammers do have a great defense that have carried them this far, and helped the Clam Slammers to be tied for the league lead in interception differential at +8. Frank Ritacco of the Clam Slammers led the league in interceptions with 7. Kenny Colicchio also pitched in another 4 interception for the defense that would have 15 as a team during the season.
On offense, Kenny Colicchio was their biggest play maker on the Clam Slammers with his 23 catches for 491 yards and 8 TDs. Brandon Frustieri also had a nice year moving the chains for the Slammers with his 26 catches for 347 yards and 6 TDs. QB Brian Lee did not put up sexy numbers, but he was efficient and protected the ball on the way to throwing for 1698 yards, 26 TDs, and 7 interceptions.
The Gladiators offense is much more dynamic than the opposing Clam Slammers. Terron Maples had a phenomenal year in his first at QB. He had the 4th highest QB rating in the league at 122.22 on his way to throwing for 2157 yards, 33 TDs, and 7 interceptions. He also picked up 226 yards and 4 TDs on pitches back to him after throwing the ball. Terron also led the Gladiators in both sacks and interceptions with his 2 sacks and 3 interceptions. Terron has a couple of playmakers at his disposal at WR. Kenny Bass (28 rec. 358 yards 4 TDs), Paul Wickwire (31 rec. 321 yards, 3 TDs), and Kyle D’Autorio (20 rec. 331 yards, 8 TDs) all put up solid numbers for the Gladiators.
This will be another tough game for both teams in the first round. Clam Slammers have a better defense, but the Gladiators have the better and much more explosive offense. The Clam Slammers have only beat one team in the regular season with a record over .500, it just so happened to be the team no one else could beat in the regular season, the Shockers. This game will come down to the Clam Slammers ability to slow down the Terron Maples led offense of the Gladiators, which will not be easy to do.
10 AM – Warewolves 6-2 (3rd seed) vs. Rabid Squirrels 4-4 (6th seed)
The Warewolves take on the Rabid Squirrels to kick off the playoffs for the Fall 2016 season. This will be a tough battle just like the first time these teams squared off back in Week 5. The Warewolves walked away the winners in Week 5 in the 27-24 battle. The Warewolves won this game with The Commissioner out and Ryan Dooley at QB. The Commissioner will be back for the playoffs, but the Warewolves may be missing star player Shane Capone, who is questionable to play in the playoffs because of injury.
The Rabid Squirrels had themselves a solid season. They are tied for first in the league with the Warewolves, Woodchucks, and Clam Slammers in interception difference at +8. As a team, they averaged the 4th most yards per game with 279.75 yards. QB Sean Collins had himself a great year that saw him have the 3rd highest QB Rating in the league at 123.87. Sean completed 65.9% of his passes, for 2230 yards, 29 TDs, and 6 interceptions on the season. Mike Lawrence (21 rec. 550 yards, 8 TDs), Joe Andress (32 rec. 329 yards, 5 TDs) and newcomer Andre Snead (25 rec. 389 yards, 6 TDs) were the top receivers for Sean and the Squirrels. Lawrence’s stats were good enough to rank him 9th on the WR leaderboard.
The Squirrels have a solid defense that forced 14 interceptions this season. Bill Budd had himself a great season on defense as he leads the team in sacks with 4 and chipped in 4 interceptions. Phil Cupo was 2nd in the league with 5 interceptions, and Jihad Castro also had 3, including 2 that were returned for a TD.
The Warewolves always seem to be in contention for a JSGFFL title, but the Commissioner is much like his idol, Tony Romo. They are both great in the regular season but can’t seem to get it done when it counts in the playoffs. It is going to be even harder this season if Shane Capone is sidelined and can’t play. Shane missed a game this season, and still led all WR categories, some by a decent margin. He had 40 catches for 869 yards and 15 TDs on the season.
This will be a hard-fought game that will be greatly impacted by how much Capone can play, and how effective he can be when in the game. Dave Pankow will also be a big x-factor in this game, who just returned to action from a dislocated elbow and gives the Warewolves a legitimate pass rush. If Shane can play and be effective, I believe the Warewolves will win this one and take on the Shockers in round 2. If he can’t play, the Rabid Squirrels may be pulling the upset and playing the Woodchucks in the second round.
Woodchucks 7-1 (1st seed)
The Woodchucks will start the defense of their Summer championship with a first round by after securing the number 1 seed in the final week of the regular season. They did this by blowing out the Assassins by 63 points in Week 7. The Woodchucks will play the lowest seeded team that advances out of the first round on Saturday. Having the first-round bye will prove to be huge for the Woodchucks who will be playing their game on fresh legs, while the other team will be playing their second game of the day.
As a team, they had the 2nd most yards per game at 321.38, and were tied for first in interception differential at +8. John Zitani put up a MVP-type season for the Chucks as he had the highest QB rating in the league at 131.96. He also led the league with his 71.6% completion percentage and tied for league lead with 44 TDs. He threw for 2489 yards and did all this while only throwing 6 interceptions. Billy Belford had a monster season in his return to the Woodchucks. Billy caught 37 passes for 558 yards and 11 TDs. Chris D’Addario (33 rec. 538 yards, 8 TDs), Anthony D’Addario (28 rec. 336 yards, 3 TDs), and Steve Dalrymple (26 rec. 322 yards, 10 TDs) all had great years at WR for the Woodchucks as well.
They have some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball as the Woodchucks had 10 sacks and 14 interceptions as a team. Their biggest pass rushers are Kevin Kastner (5 sacks), and Jose Ortiz (4 sacks), both players also chipped in 2 interceptions on the season. Garrett Lavaggi led the Woodchucks in interceptions with 4, 2 of which were returned for TDs. Nick D’Addario also added 3 interceptions himself.
Shockers 7-1 (2nd seed)
The Shockers are the other team with a first round bye that will benefit from having fresher legs in their game on Saturday. They will be looking to reclaim the JSGFFL title as they lost in the Summer championship game to the Woodchucks. The Shockers have one of the more talented rosters in the league, but have not looked as dominant this season like they have in the past.
They have the top ranked offense in the league that average 338.13 yards per game. Joe Giuffre threw for the most yards in the league with 2705 passing yards and was tied with the Zit for most TDs at 44. The Guffslinger had a problem with interceptions this season as he threw 11 in 8 games. The Shockers received big years at WR from Charlie Barbiere (38 rec. 695 yards, 13 TDs), Devon Snead (40 rec. 715 yards, 7 TDs), and Mike O’Neil (30 rec. 372 yards, 10 TDs). All 3 ranked in the top 10 for the WR leaderboard this season.
The Shockers also have one of the best defenses in the league. They led the league in team sacks with 28, and had 14 interceptions. Steve Soletto’s 18.5 sacks not only led the league, but was more than every other team had in the regular season. Danny Erickson was second in the league in sacks with 8.5, which was more than some of the teams around the league had. Shannon Hill and Devon Snead led the Shockers in interceptions as each had 3, but Shannon returned 2 for TDs.
The Shockers will play the higher ranked seed out of the first-round winners. They are favorites to get back to the championship game no matter who they play. The key to the Shockers success will come down to Giuffre’s ability to limit the turnovers for the playoffs. If he can do this, the Shockers may be back on top of the JSGFFL.