Grid Iron Mind Games ...
The event was a combination of old and new experiences with
a different day and time for the second heat. The emergence of
Dave Rynkowski, who was the first player ever to reach both heat
finals on his way to a 3rd place finish, and a flip in the most
heavily attended heat which changed from the Wednesday 1800 heat
of 14 to the Friday 900 heat of 18.
Wednesday began with this writer taking the bye as the most
recent champion present and then holding on in the second round
when Dan Dolan missed a 50% field goal with a minute to go in
the 4th quarter. My run then ended against the defense of Mr.
Rynkowski, who had previously beaten assistant GM Stuart Tucker.
Down by 4 points in the 4th quarter ,I failed twice on 4th down
calls inside the 15-yd line. Bill Cleary, a former champ, also
had a bye and then started off against the only female to ever
enter the tournament, Debbie Bell. (A requested match) Cleary
won quite handily and after dispatching his next opponent, faced
Dave for the heat final. Talking after the game, Bill stated
he had some trouble against Dave's defense before finally going
ahead in the fourth quarter, only to have Dave come right back
at him and drive down the field. Remembering on an earlier drive
Dave liked to call play 2, Bill played defense B and was rewarded
with the turnover when Dave went to the well once too often.
Bill then scored again to put the game away.
Bills opponent in the second game had just learned the rules
at the demo and then won the first game he ever played against
a more experienced player. Speaking for myself, it's always the
rookies who give me a harder game, as they are so unpredictable.
It has been a pleasure to see the Dolan brothers (Tim and Dan)
as well as Dave, to name only three folks who continue to learn
the game by playing in the tourney and advancing.
Friday saw 18 coaches. Defending champ Bruce Reiff, and former
champ Gordon Rodgers made their entrance to the field, as well
as the familiar faces of a few AHFSL players, such as Ken Whitesell.
Bruce won his game, took his second round bye and then played
Dave Rynkowski in the third round. Dave continued his good play
from Wednesday night by knocking off Bruce and going into the
heat final. In other games, I took the first round bye when Bruce
passed it to me. I defeated my opponent in the second and then
dropped out of the field when I realized I messed up the brackets
and that two players would have to play an extra game if I continued
in the field. This heat also saw me put players on a game clock,
when a first round game went into OT as all the other 2nd round
games were already started. Ken had entered this heat as one
who had never won a tournament game, partly because of his kamikaze
play style which goes for it on 4th down, NEVER kicks a FG and
will often try onside kicks. This year he had the hot hand, defeating
his three opponents to face off against Dave Rynkowski in the
final. (Note this was played while Ken was acting as GM for Dinosaurs
of the Lost World. <grin> It was a close game for a
half, but as on Wednesday, Ken took advantage of Dave's turnover
play calling to run up a lead in the second half.
The final game thus pitted two former members of the Baltimore
AHFSL. The game was not close as Bill was able to take advantage
of Ken's missed 4th down attempts to score three times in the
3rd quarter on the way to his second tournament championship.