Marvin Birnbaum (left) and Bert Schoose
are a couple accomplished wargamers who dabble on occasion in
In a year when Bert won his first
three WBC shields, his karma wasn't srong enough to deny Reiff
his seventh Football Strategy crown.
News Flash: Bruce Reiff lost the Final this year. Unfortunately,
he also won. Confused? Allow me to elaborate.
The first heat was, as usual, on Wednesday evening at 6:00
and drew 26 participants. Due to the high number of entrants,
the early rounds took longer than usual and it wasn't until after
midnight that it was narrowed to the usual four contenders. Bill
Cleary faced off against Bruce Reiff, while Kevin Keller and
Joe Powell battled for a spot in the semi-final.
Bruce dominated the first half, racking up 31 points to Bill's
14. It seemed all over by halftime but Bill came out of the locker
room with a vengeance and scored 17 unanswered points. It came
down to the final minutes and Bruce nneeded a field goal with
15 seconds left to advance, but due to the late hour, Kevin and
Joe postponed their game till Friday. This posed a dilemma for
Bruce, who would normally enter the second heat only if he lost
the first. Not knowing what the outcome would be, he had no choice
but to enter the second heat and risk being the winner of both.
The Thursday heat drew a much more efficiently manageable
16 players. At the end of the evening, Bert Schoose and Marvin
Birnbaum were playing for the privilege of facing you-know-who
in the semi-final game of that heat.
Bert dispatched Marvin 23-16 and advanced to play Bruce for
a spot in the final game. In the second quarter Bert was able
to call upon his kicker to put two through the uprights, giving
him a 6 to 0 lead at the half. Bruce came out strong in the third,
finally able to punch one into the endzone giving him the narrowest
of leads. He followed it up with another in the fourth quarter
putting him up 14 to 6. Bert wasn't ready to quit just yet, and
marched down the field to set up a TD of his own. On the ensuing
play he went for two and tied it at 14 with minutes to go. Bruce
had one last shot before time expired but the wind was blowing
a little too hard and his 45 yarder went wide. It was sudden
death overtime and the exhaustion was beginning to set in. Bruce
was able to find a wide open receiver, and a 44 yard pass ended
the game. Bruce advanced to the final where he had the distinct
possibility of facing himself.
On Friday, Kevin and Joe finally found time to play - a rematch
played out many times in the past as these two longtime adversaries
in the AHFSL went at it again. Kevin jumped out to an early lead
with a touchdown on his first possession, but Joe chipped away
at his lead with a pair of field goals. By the middle of the
second quarter Kevin found himself leading 10 to 6, but back
to back touchdowns by Joe, one off of an interception, gave him
the lead 20 to 10, going into the half. During the third quarter,
Kevin managed to tie the score with an early TD and a field goal
off of an interception. Joe started the fourth quarter driving
hard and with ten minutes left in the game he punched one into
the endzone. For the rest of the game Kevin couldn't get his
offense moving and as the last minutes ticked off of the clock,
Joe's kicker scored a field goal to seal the game.
Joe advanced to play Bruce, knowing that if he defeated the
Titan of the WBC Gridiron, he would have to play him again for
the championship. The two managed to squeeze some time around
their schedules on Saturday for the last game of the first heat.
During the first quarter Joe's offense turned the ball over twice
on 9G.He was unable to capitalize and the quarter ended 0-0.
The momentum shifted during the second quarter when Joe pulled
his offense together and managed to go up ten points, but Bruce
tied it at the half. The third quarter was all Bruce. His defense
denied Joe first downs while his offense ground in a touchdown
and his kicker nailed a field goal. On his first possession of
the fourth, Bruce slipped another one across the goal line, putting
him up 27 to 10. Joe knew he had little time and a lot of ground
to cover, so when Bruce's defense, for the fourth time in a row,
held his offense to three and out, Joe thought it was over.Final
Since he was the winner of both heats, Bruce technically faced
himself in the championship game. While some may consider his
behavior unsportsmanlike at worst or grandstanding at best, I
am willing to cut him some slack. After all, due to the first
heat not finishing till Saturday, he does have a valid excuse.
So, if you must, feel free to give him grief, but I for one am
happy for Bruce. I really am rooting for the guy. Heck, nobody