Roos, Crows 1-2, Chaos at Bottom of July Poll

The summer of 2018 has been an utterly hot one.  Anyone who was part of the travelling road show that was the USAFL Regional Championship Series can tell you that.  Even in Philadelphia, where the Eastern Regional was played under pewter grey skies and the occasional downpour, it was like playing in a sauna.  Funny how that works.

Heading into regionals, the question would be how the top teams would fare, especially against each other.  Golden Gate, Los Angeles, and Austin, the top three teams in the league, would be under a lot of pressure to keep up their form, and the teams below them would fight to stay in their spots.

When the dust settled amidst the cool NorCal breeze to signal the end of Regionals Series 2018, the Golden Gate Roos had remained the number one team in the country, followed by a hungry Austin side and the still powerful Los Angeles Dragons.

But as can be the case sometimes, teams’ performances at regionals will shiver and quake the lower part of the poll, and in the end, the pollsters’ wild variation on who is outside the top ten led to the closest bunching of teams in the four year history of this here thing that we do on a monthly basis.

The Austin Crows swept so deftly through their Central Regionals docket en route to their third local crown in four years, that many thought they would appear back at the top of the list.  Allowing just one point in six stanzas of footy in Nashville, followed by their Texas Cup sweep of Dallas and Houston at the beginning of the month, figured to put them at the number one spot no matter what Golden Gate did.  Nolan Cox and the Crows are playing this year with the drive of last year’s disappointing loss to Los Angeles in the group stage, and considering them to be the best in the country is not a stretch.

But the Golden Gate Roos also won their regional title, their third straight, and did it against arguably better competition.  San Diego, Seattle, and Los Angeles are in form teams, and while they didn’t suffocate them the way that Austin did to their opponents, Kyle Johnson and company put together three precision tested victories, including a handsome one over a very good Dragons team.  What’s scary is that the Roos had a handful of players in Ireland for the Revos tour, and they’ll be back in the lineup for the stretch run.

Still, the Crows managed to close the gap to ten votes, down from twelve a month ago, and they will wait for the slightest slip to move back up to the summit.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, stepped one spot back to third after being in a tie with Austin last month.  Los Angeles split their opening SoCal Cup games in San Diego at the beginning of the month, but looked very good in Sacramento, going 2-1 and getting a memorable performance out of Julian De Vizio. 

After that, spots 4-through-8 remained the same.  Dallas parlayed a disappointing third-place finish at the Central regionals into a hold of fourth; they beat Denver, who held onto fifth this month.  New York, despite losing twice to Philadelphia in the month of June (they had only last to them once since 1999), managed to hold onto the sixth spot, and might find themselves lucky to have done so.  The Portland Steelheads (with the help of the Arizona Hawks) were victorious over the Orange County Bombers for the Western D2 title, but it was the Bombers who retained seventh spot.  Portland did manage to trim the gap from twenty votes down to six, however, and it’s possible Portland may go up higher before the season’s out.

Houston, who made it all the way to the Central D1 Grand Final against Austin, managed to lose two spots, going to 11th and being passed by Calgary and Quebec.  The Lonestars lost three games in July, all to the Crows, but their wins over Nashville and Dallas weren’t enough to impress the panelists.  A good side with good American players, the ‘Stars simply seemed to be the victim of shuffling the teams around them.

And this is where things get interesting.

Spots number 12-through-16 were each separated by a vote, with 12th and 17th gulfed by just seven votes.

Defending D3 champions Seattle went 0-3 in the Western regionals, and fell to Portland at home earlier in the month.  But there is something that the panelists saw in the Grizz that bumped them up three spots into twelfth, their highest ever position.  Minnesota, who sent just three players to regionals and played alongside Des Moines, dropped two spots in the process down to number 13.  Sacramento’s 1-2 showing at home in the Western regionals was good enough for them to be the only team among the bottom twelve to remain rooted in their spot, holding at number fourteen.  Chicago, who finished fifth in Centrals D1, fell three spots into sixteenth.

Philadelphia shook up the Eastern Regionals with their first ever regional title, including a good win over a fully loaded New York side, and moved up two spots into 17th.  One might argue that they deserved to be a bit higher, but it was a move nonetheless.  Eastern D2 champs Columbus make their first appearance in the poll at eighteen, while Boston and the DC Eagles round out the list.

NEXT POLL: AUGUST 30

Photo: Raymond Kwan Photography

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