USAFL Top 20 Poll I: NY, OC Go 1-2

Treats from Oz

It's very rare you can get nine people to agree on very many things; dinner options, movie options, favorite AFL player, favorite Beatles song (or is that last one just me?), anything really.

But our expert panel, voting in the first USAFL Top 20 Poll of the season, agreed that the New York Magpies and Orange County Bombers, who finished 1-2 in Division I last season, are the two teams to beat as 2015 gets underway.

The Magpies took all nine first place votes, while the Bombers got eight out of nine second place votes.  This result was not surprising; not a whole lot seemed to sway the panel in thinking any different from how they finished in Dublin.

After that, though?  Things got a bit interesting.

Rank Club (1st Place Votes) Points
1 New York Magpies (9) 180
2 Orange County Bombers 166
3 Austin Crows 158
4 Denver Bulldogs 152
5 Minnesota Freeze 140
6 Golden Gate Roos 130
7 Los Angeles Dragons 128
8 Columbus Jackaroos 109
9 Houston Lonestars 106
10 Dallas Magpies 101
t-11 Chicago Swans 79
t-11 Baltimore-Washington Eagles 79
13 Nashville Kangaroos 77
t-14 Boston Demons 58
t-14 Sacramento Suns 58
16 Philadelphia Hawks 48
17 Des Moines Roosters 30
18 Cincinnati Dockers (Ohio Vly) 19
19 Portland Steelheads 18
20 Ft. Lauderdale Fighting Squids 11

Also receiving votes: San Diego Lions 5, North Carolina 5, Tulsa Buffaloes 5, Atlanta Kookaburras 1.

The Austin Crows, who have always head success when Nationals are played at home, came out a solid 3rd. The Crows offed Houston and Ft. Lauderdale in their first run out of the season in Florida to put some umph into their title hopes.  Denver, always dangerous with their combination of footy know-how and athleticism, placed fourth, while Minnesota curried enough favors with their impressive regular season last year to round out the top five. 

However, the biggest surprise, and perhaps the biggest statement, comes from spots 7-10.  Los Angeles, Columbus, and Houston, the top three Division II teams in 2014, all came ahead of Dallas.  While the Magpies are clearly still trying to regain their form since returning form their one year Nationals probation, the other three clubs have surged ahead into the Division I discussion.  DI is guaranteed for LA, but the fact that they were just two points behind Golden Gate signifies that our experts think they can make waves in their first year at the top level.

Meanwhile, the "Jackson Pollock" award for votes being scattered, well, all over the place, goes to the Baltimore-Washington Eagles.  Depending on who you ask on the panel, the Eagles are anywhere from 9th to 18th raked in the league, but they secured enough points to finish just outside the top ten, tied with Chicago for 11th.  Nashville and Boston finished lowest of last year's DII squads, though DIII premiers Sacramento got enough interest to tie for 14th with the Demons.  Philly, Des Moines, Cincinnati, Portland, and Ft. Lauderdale finish out list.

You may notice that the two Canadian clubs who participated in Nationals last year, Calgary and Quebec, are absent from the poll.  Well, they won't be for the next one.  Our apologies to our friends from the North for their omission from the ballot.  We'll blame gremlins on that.  (Or better yet, Eddie McGuire.  It's a lot more fun to blame Eddie.)

GAMES TO WATCH -- The Eastern Regional 18s kick off this Saturday in the magnificent thunderdome that is Central Broward Stadium, as New York, North Carolina, Ft. Lauderdale, and Tampa open up their schedules in earnest.  How much we'll learn from this tournament is anyone's guess.  Elsewhere, #8 Columbus heads up I-71 to take on Cleveland, while #9 Houston entertains Baton Rouge, and #10 Dallas takes on a hungry Tulsa club.  All of those games favor the ranked teams, but anything is possible this early in the year.

That's it for now.  Poll #2 drops May 3rd.

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