Title at Last!
Larry Hiemenz records a huge upset
in knocking off nine-time champ Bruce Reiff.
Dan Dolan Jr took fifth place laurels
in his annual pigskin pursuit to climb into the top ten.
With apologies to the folks of Sunday Night (or is it Monday
Night?) Football telecasts on the networks, we started the 2011
tournament with a demo asking the participants, "ARE YOU
READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?" The response was a very solid
yes. To this first year GM's surprise, we had eight gamers show
up for the demo that preceded the tournament. Several of the
participants had never played this old classic and a few others
just wanted a refresher. Fortunately, the game itself is easy
to explain if you understand how "real" football works
- minus the bruises and the pestering sportswriters, so all of
the participants were able to really learn the game to the point
that they could sit down and play. Of all the games at WBC, Football
Strategy is probably the easiest to learn and the hardest
to master. It is definitely one of the few games where the world's
worst player could beat a master.
The demo participants were very engaged and asked several
great questions that indicated that they were understanding how
to play the game and also that they understood some of the nuances
of the game as well. Taking this slightly off topic but one of
the great things about WBC is the demos that are provided for
many of the games by knowledgeable and passionate GM's that are
happy to teach their games to folks that want the primer to get
them started into the demoed game. As with many things, this
is another thing that the WBC does wonderfully.
The tournament is run in two separate single elimination heats
with the winners of the two heats squaring off against one another
in the championship match. The 2011 tournament saw 28 gamers
participate in the opening heat. Perennial champion in this event,
Bruce Reiff, squared off against our convention director, Don
Greenwood, in the third installment of their much publicized
grudge match. The game was tight but the dice were not and Mr.
Reiff added to his grudge match winning streak as he was able
to pull out a 24-17 victory with the cruel aid of three TD/turnover
dice rolls. This was not the only thing that he pulled out--
as a vintage can of "whoop-*ss" made an appearance
on the table.
Jonathan Lockwood won his first game with an overtime TD and
Nick Page secured a 2-point win, but that was it for nail biters
as the rest of the first round saw 7-point margins or more. The
protégé Reiff, Ms. Nicole; rolled up 41 points
in a 28-point first round victory that was more representative
of the opening week of the collegiate season than the NFL.
With most of the neophytes dismissed for another year, Round
2 became closer. The older Reiff bested 2004 champ Kevin Keller
14-12 in the headline match-up of this round. On the other end
of the spectrum, the younger Reiff saw a reversal of fortune
as she lost by 28 to Jim Vroom. 2009 champ Bert Schoose and Ray
Stakenas II won their second round matches by 20 and 24 points
respectively to set up a third round game against one another.
An awesome game if you like offense ensued with Ray pulling out
a wild 38-34 win with a last minute TD. Bruce Reiff and Jim Vroom
won the other two Round 3 games over Doug Galullo and Joe Powell
Because some winners dropped out at this point, a bye was
awarded to Bruce as the previous champion so Ray and Jim squared
off in the only semi-final match of the first heat with Ray advancing
in OT 26-20. This set up a heat final of Ray versus 9-time champion
Bruce and a rematch of the 2010 Final. Ray showed that he could
play some defense as he knocked off the heavy favorite 14-11
for his fifth win of the heat.
The second heat, which is always more lightly attended if
not just a second-chance loser's bracket, was contested by only
eight players - all of whom were back for a second bite of the
apple, making it a far easier road to the Final. Our rookie of
the year, Larry Hiemenz, showed that he had learned from the
demo and his first heat experience by scoring a HUGE upset in
knocking off Bruce in the first round. There would be no tenth
title for the WBC's plaque master this year! And, with this defeat,
the possibility of breaking Bruce's perpetual WBC wood winning
streak loomed much larger. Dan Dolan Jr., Joe Powell and David
Rynkowski were the other first round winners. Larry's winning
ways came to a 22-7 end vs David and Joe knocked off Dan 24-3
in the other semi-final. The heat finale saw Joe take a late
21-20 lead. David responded by driving to within chip shot range
for the winning field goal which he promptly missed - those fickle
dice - allowing Joe to advance to the championship match by the
narrowest of margins.
The Stakenas offense could not muster much in their sixth
contest. Joe, playing in just his fourth game with this second
team, built up a 13-9 halftime lead despite missing a field goal
and an extra point attempt. Missed kicks often come back to haunt
the spurned advances of lady luck. Undaunted by his poor special
teams play, Joe extended his lead to 11 points with a third quarter
touchdown and then played keep away with nine minutes of possession
to protect his lead. Ray was shut out in the second half on only
five possessions. In the end, Joe captured his first Football
Strategy title ever after more than 20 years of competing
in that game! The joy in his accomplishment was evident as it
is with everyone that walks away with their first WBC shield
after years of trying. Ray played great but his back-to-back
second place finish will only make his first title that much
Soon-to-be champion Joe Powell tramples
Jon Lockwood as ex-league cohort Kevin Keller scouts the opposition.
Joe Powell won this match with another
league veteran, Jim Vroom, on his way to his first football title
after decades of trying.