Bert Schoose (left) survives Ken Whitesell's
kamikaze puntless style while a different brand of football -
Paydirt - fills the stadium behind them.
Ray Stakenas sweats against Nicole
Reiff ... yes that Reiff. Now the truth can be told, Nicole made
her father the player he is today by practicing with her dad.
Dan Dolan Jr. had a dazed look in his eyes as the first quarter
of the Football Strategy Final ended. Bruce Reiff had
just made mincemeat of his team and looked poised to run away
with yet another WBC title. Dan leaned back in his chair and
ran a hand through his hair. "That was brutal," he
quipped, "like a manatee getting hit by a motorboat."
The road to the title match started on Wednesday evening as
twenty grid-iron warriors arrived to match wits with one another.
By evening's end, the field had been narrowed to seven-time champ
Bruce Reiff (of course), and an unlikely Ray Stakenas. Ray usually
doesn't make it past the first round, but that's fine with him
as "one game of FBS is enough for the year." This year
though, Ray decided to take in enough games to last him for the
rest of the decade.
Ray started things off by taking on Nicole Reiff (yes, she
is Bruce's daughter) and advanced after defeating her 16 to 10.
Next he faced Bert Schoose, whom he pounded 38 to 17. His
next victim was Kevin Keller's aerial offense which fell 19 to
Bruce's march to the semi-final saw him besting Craig Yope
24 to 21 before taking on Jeff Mullett, his teammate. Jeff made
an attempt at competing before throwing in the towel and handing
Bruce a 23 to 14 win. Next Bruce faced Josh Cooper who gave Bruce
quite a scare as it took four quarters before he relinquished
Ray and Bruce faced off for a spot in the Final with Bruce
quickly gaining the upper hand with two first quarter touchdowns.
Ray was unable to advance against Bruce's strong defense and
as the first half ended Bruce was up 17 to 0. In the third quarter
both teams found the endzone leaving the spread still at 17 going
into the final 15 minutes. Ray had made a terrific run, but he
sensed it was at an end. A safety by Bruce sealed the game and
he moved on to the Final with a resounding 26-7 win.
On Thursday evening, only eight coaches appeared for the second
heat, a disappointment, to be sure, but at least it made bracketing
easier. This semi-final match-up pitted Dan Dolan Jr. versus
Bert Schoose. Dan's climb had been over the bodies of Bruno Passacantando,
whom he defeated 20 to 16, and Michael Schoose. The victory over
Michael was an exceedingly tough one as the game dragged on into
sudden death overtime. Neither Dan nor Michael seemed able to
get within scoring distance and as the game dragged on and on
and on Dan finally kicked one through the uprights giving him
the victory 24 to 21.
Bert had not been daunted by his defeat at the hands of Ray
the preceeding evening, and made his way to the semi-final game
by winning over Ryan Myslinski 20 to 13 and Erik Arneson 17 to
10. In both games, Bert had the lead by halftime and never relinquished
it, surrendering only a single field goal after halftime.
Dan, coming off of his narrow victory over one Schoose, now
prepared to play another. In the first half of the game, neither
player could penetrate the endzone and they had to settle for
field goals. As the half closed, Dan led 6 to 3. On the opening
kickoff of the second half, Dan fumbled the ball, setting up
Bert for an easy 9 TD yard pass with 12 minutes to go in the
third. The rest of the quarter again saw tough defense by both
teams and two missed field goal attempts leaving the score at
Dan 6 and Bert 10. In the opening moments of the fourth quarter,
Dan's offense finally came together and managed to punch into
the endzone with 13:25 to go, putting him up 13 to 10. Neither
player was able to make much headway the rest of the quarter
and as the final seconds ticked down, Bert set up for the longshot,
a 49 yard field goal. The dice were kind and with 15 seconds
left Bert tied the game. The miracle kick only postponed his
demise though as Dan won in overtime on a field goal of more
Dan was obviously nervous, having to face the best FBS player
at WBC, Mr. Reiff, and his nervousness showed. The first quarter
was a romp for Reiff, who scored a touchdown on his opening drive,
intercepted Dan on the next series and threw a 35 yard pass for
a second touchdown. As the seconds of the first quarter ticked
away, Bruce led 14 to zip and it looked like it was going to
be an easy win.
Another steady drive by Bruce in the opening minutes of the
second gave him another score, putting him up 21 to nothing.
Then, for whatever reason, Dan decided that he should start playing
football instead of ogling the cheerleaders on the sidelines.
In an impressive display of play calling, he managed, with five
minutes left in the half, to score two touchdowns and cut the
lead to 7 at the intermission.
During Dan's first possession of the second half he fumbled
the ball on the power off tackle play setting Reiff up for an
easy field goal. The rest of the quarter was a see-saw battle
with neither team able to make much headway. An interception
by Dan with 3 minutes left set up some momentum that carried
him into the fourth quarter.
Reiff still led 24 to 14, as the 4th quarter started but Dan
was driving and managed to add a field goal with 10:45 left.
On the following kick-off, Bruce's special teams gave him excellent
field position on the 50, but Dan's defense only allowed another
field goal. Dan's offense then marched down the field to cut
the lead to 3 with only 2:30 left on the clock. The ensuing on-sides
kick was recovered by Bruce who tried to run out the clock. Dan
managed to stop him but in the process used all of his time-outs.
There was only 1:15 left in the game for Dan's offense, who got
the ball one final time. The tension was palpable as Dan set
up his team for a passing play to cover the distance needed to
get in field goal range. Bruce, however, anticipated his move
and intercepted the ball on the down and in pass, effectively
ending the game. The final score was 27 to 24 and Bruce had yet
another FBS plaque to add to his collection of coasters.
Kevin Keller is in cheesehead uniform
for the game - right down to his Favre jersey.
Jim Vroom and Joe Powell, a couple
Football Strategy League veterans, relive past battles.