Still The One: Austin Tops May Top 20

Here we are, another year.  Another football season, another half a year around the big glowing ball of gas that gives us life to play said footy.

The season is well and truly underway, under the hot, hot heat of Texas, the liquid sunshine of New York, and whatever it is they’re breathing these days in California.

And of course, the USAFL Top 20 is back for its third season.  We didn’t make an announcement about it in previous years, because, well, there isn’t much in the way of change.  The only change from last season is the fact that this poll will now be done monthly, following the last weekend of the month.  With the IC coming up, and with the regionals packed together, it would only make sense to do that. 

So, from now until September, the panel will meet once a month to vote on their top twenty teams in the USAFL.  Each first place vote is worth 20 points, each second place 19, and so on down to 1 point for 20th.  That hasn’t changed. 

Is it perfect?  No.  Is it the end-all be all of who is better than whom?  Not quite.  But it drums up conversation, and that’s the best part.

You know what also hasn’t changed?  The Austin Crows are still the best bloody team in the country, for the 11th straight time we’ve done this thing.

Rank

Team (1st Place Votes)

Points

1

Austin Crows (9)

180

2

New York Magpies

165

3

Golden Gate Roos

164

4

Los Angeles Dragons

146

5

Denver Bulldogs

143

6

Dallas Magpies

123

7

Orange County Bombers

120

8

Calgary Kangaroos

114

9

Houston Lonestars

97

10

Quebec Saints

95

11

Columbus Jackaroos

89

12

Boston Demons

83

13

Minnesota Freeze

65

14

Chicago Swans

62

15

Sacramento Suns

60

16

Baltimore-Washington Eagles

54

17

Portland Steelheads

30

18

Ohio Valley River Rats

26

19

North Carolina Tigers

24

20

San Diego Lions

11

Also receiving votes: Nashville Kangaroos 10, Seattle Grizzlies 10, Philadelphia Hawks 5, Ft. Lauderdale Fighting Squids 4, Tulsa Buffaloes 2.

It’s not much of a surprise to see that, not only are the Crows still up at the top, but that they once again took all nine first place votes from our panel and got the maximum 180 points out of it.  After all, their wins in the Texas Cup opener extended the win streak of the two-time defending D1 champs out to 25 games.  It wasn’t without a bit of drama, as Houston came within five points and a compass of pulling off the improbable, but Kenrick Tyrell and company are still lonely at the top.

Other than the Grand Final, the biggest matchup in D1 on the weekend was New York and Golden Gate.  Though the Roos won that matchup to keep their then-unbeaten season alive, the panelists gave the ‘Pies a slight nod for 2nd to open the year.  Perhaps it was the fact that New York defeated up and comers Baltimore Washington on a field that may as well have been Michael Phelp’s training pool, while Golden Gate are still in their metro season.  The fact is, those two teams are still pretty evenly matched and that will change back and forth during the season.

The LA Dragons’ improvement from last year, and their potential this year, staked themselves into the hearts of the panelists (Buffy style) into 4th in the May poll, while Denver sit three points behind them in fifth.  The Bulldogs took a skeleton crew to Des Moines for the 9s tournament there and fell in the semi-finals to a very good home side, but 5th is a little closer to how they’ll perform during the season.

Dallas’s split in their home Texas Cup leg, as well as their thumping win at Tulsa, has them in sixth position, and a good start to open the year.  7th ranked Orange County has been off to a good start in the SCAFL, as their lone entry in that competition against LA’s three squads and San Diego has signaled a return to competitiveness for Chris Browne’s side.

Defending Division II champion Calgary arguably could’ve rattled some cages in Division I last year, but they played down due to Quebec winning first right of refusal as 2015 DII champs.  They’re always a strong side, and they’ve shown that strength in early season play North of the Border.

Previous years have shown that Houston, Columbus, Sacramento, Boston, and Quebec are always in a bit of a scramble for the spots outside the top eight.  Well, it’s the Lonestars that are on the top of that heap, off to a 3-3 start and two very, very good performances against Austin and Dallas two weekends ago, the ‘Stars are very much for real.  Quebec, who will most likely be playing in D2 next year, rounds out the top ten.

A heavy defeat at Boston this past weekend aside, the Columbus Jackaroos got started well with a win in the John Harrell Cup over Nashville and Ohio Valley, as Clyde Simpson and his Jacks begin in 11th.  Despite an easy advantage in numbers, the panel was impressed with the home win by the Dees and placed them just six points behind Cbus and in 12th.

The Minnesota Freeze, a team who had been treading water for some time in the lower part of the polls, went up to 13th, their highest showing in some time.  A 4-1 showing in Des Moines between their two clubs, with one of them winning the whole shebang, seems to be the impetus.  There’s a long way to go in the season yet, but you can’t ask for a better start than that.  Chicago, who fell to OKC before taking revenge on their Sooner brethren, are tucked into 14th, while idle Sacramento is in 15th.  The Suns are about to start their metro season, and you can bet they’ll be higher with good victories when we get to the Western Regionals in July.

The Baltimore-Washington Eagles may have lost the water polo match in New York, but they are still the team with the biggest upside this year among those likely to be back in Division 2.  They get Philly on the road this coming weekend, where they have won before.

Division 3 champs Portland saw their team split matches against Seattle at the Stumptown Throwdown, and they’re in 17th ahead of Division 4 champs Ohio Valley.  Both teams should move up this year at Nationals.  The North Carolina Tigers, who lost to the Steelheads in the D3 Grand Final take 19th, while the caboose is formed by the San Diego Lions, who just narrowly beat out surging Nashville and Seattle for the final spot on the poll.

WHAT’S ON TAP: JUNE

As more and more clubs get underway, teams will start jostling for position as we head into June, especially with two regional tournaments taking place.

JUNE 3RD: The Eagles and Hawks renew pleasantries in Philadelphia, where Philly is trying to win at home for the first time in two years; Nashville welcomes in Atlanta and St. Petersburg as the Roos try to break into the poll.

JUNE 10TH: Little Rock, Arkansas hosts the Central Regional Tournament and what may be the biggest of the summer series in terms of teams, with the top ranked Crows putting their winning streak on the line against the likes of Houston and Dallas.  Quebec hosts the Boston Demons in their annual scuffle, which will test the mettle of both sides.  Out West, Denver, Golden Gate, and Sacramento square off as Ed Manning and the Suns and Kyle Johnson and the Roos test their ambitions against the Doggies.  Calgary, meanwhile, gets a serious test at the hands of the Edmonton Wombats.

JUNE 17th: Local rivalries abound, as Max DePina and Seattle face Martin Coventry and Portland, while Brent Fischer and Minnesota take on Stu Nicol and the mighty Chicago Swans.  The semi-finals of the SCAFL are also this weekend.

JUNE 24th: The regionals scene moves east to Raleigh, North Carolina.  Mike Murphy’s Magpies will get their usual test, though in the past they have had their bumps on the road.  It’ll be a good opportunity to see where the Eagles, Hawks, Tigers, and Jacks are in their 2x20 games as well.  Elsewhere, Des Moines will get another crack at the #13 ranked Freeze, while #18 Ohio Valley takes to the road against Nashville, where John Freeman and company are usually hard to beat.

And that’s it for this month.  See you in Arkansas and Raleigh.

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