Shaken But Not Stirred: Austin Stumbles, Remains #1

I was going to call this one “Holy Crap”.

Because that’s what I said in Little Rock after Austin fell to Dallas in the Central Regional final, as well as after Baltimore-Washington took down New York in Raleigh this past weekend.  The second exclamation was even louder because I figured a cataclysmic change was coming to the poll this week.

Well, there was a large shakeup.  Seventeen of the twenty positions changed hands to close the month of June, including the biggest gain – five places – in this Poll’s 2+ season history.

And yet, despite all of the shuffling and moving around following the two regionals held during this month, the team at the top remained unchanged.  Austin remained number one again for the 11th straight poll, going all the way back to September, 2015.

Chg Rnk Team (1st Place Votes) Points
-- 1 Austin Crows (6) 175
+ 1 2 Golden Gate Roos (2) 167
+ 1 3 Los Angeles Dragons 153
+ 2 4 Dallas Magpies (1)  153
- 3 5 New York Magpies 147
- 1 6 Denver Bulldogs 134
+ 1 7 Calgary Kangaroos 113
- 1 8 Orange County Bombers 108
+ 1 9 Quebec Saints 95
- 1 10 Houston Lonestars 95
+ 5 11 Baltimore-Washington Eagles 83
-- 12 Boston Demons 77
-- 13 Minnesota Freeze 73
- 3 14 Columbus Jackaroos 72
- 1 15 Chicago Swans 61
- 1 16 Sacramento Suns 53
+ 2 17 North Carolina Tigers 27
- 1 18 Portland Steelheads 22
- 1 19 Ohio Valley River Rats 20
in 20 Nashville Kangaroos 17

Others receiving votes: Seattle Grizzlies 15, Philadelphia Hawks 13, San Diego Lions (were 20th) 10, Tulsa Buffaloes 7.

Unanimous number ones no more, the Crows still remained top of the heap with six first place votes and a couple of seconds.  They were somewhat shorthanded in Little Rock for the Centrals – not to take away from Dallas’s win, as the Crows have arguably the deepest team in the league (though some others will question that, I’m sure).  They’ll be focusing on metro footy for the summer until August 26th, when they’ll host Leg 2 of the Texas Cup and look for revenge against the boys from Big-D.  By then, who knows where they’ll be, especially if the Roos have a good western regionals.

With both New York and Austin going down, and the Roos defeating Denver at home, Golden Gate surely thought they had a crack at the #1 spot.  They picked up two first place votes and moved up into the 2nd spot vacated by NYC, and will be licking their chops at the prospect of getting into first should they go 3-0 on the weekend (though that’s at the whim of the panel).

Los Angeles and Dallas ended up tied for third, with the Dragons getting the head-to-head panel tiebreaker 5-4 to get the nod. 

The Dragons went split-squad style (as opposed to dry fry style, which is my favorite) over Orange County and Arizona and were clear winners in both, continuing on the momentum that got them to first place in the SCAFL competition, and will play five lightning matches in July, including the Western Regionals and then the opening leg of the SoCal cup against OC and San Diego.  Four wins in July may put 1st place vote considerations in the minds of the panelists, five-from-five will definitely do it.

As for Dallas, they were a bit unlucky to only have moved up two spots considering they did end Austin’s 27-game winning streak, but to be up into fourth at this juncture of the season is a big deal.

As for the other Magpies, New York’s loss to Baltimore-Washington ended up dropping them three spots down to #5.  That might be a bit harsh considering the ‘Pies did go 2-1 on the weekend with hard earned wins against Columbus and Boston.  New York no longer has supreme rule as the beast team in the East region anymore, which is good for the competition, but also may be good for Sean Holmesby’s team as it should motivate them for the rest of the year.

Denver’s drop to #6 was a result of the displacement caused by Dallas moving up; they fell to Golden Gate on the road despite bringing a full side.  They’ll be looking forward to hosting the Western regionals, and will have two teams representing them.  Calgary had a successful weekend against Edmonton and Vancouver up in Kelowna, BC, and flipflopped spots with Orange County, who went down to #8.

Idle Quebec tied for 9th with the Houston Lonestars, but the position went to the Saints 5-4 on the voting tiebreaker.  The Saints didn’t play any USAFL football in June, but will head to Boston to try and sweep the season series with the Demons.  Houston went 2-1 in Little Rock at Centrals, and though Austin beat them thoroughly, they impressed the crowd in Arkansas with their consistent play.

And then we have Baltimore-Washington, whose triumphant victory over New York ended up boosting them the biggest ever jump, five spots, and into their highest ever spot – eleventh.  The BWEagles are for real, and Ian Payne and Sam Rowley have emerged as one of the best forward duos in the league, possibly rivaling Golden Gate’s Zac Taylor and Brian Dragus.

Oddly enough, the other two teams that stood pat in the Poll this month were in the middle of the Eagles’ jump forward, and Columbus’s jump back – more on that in a second.  Boston held 12th despite going 0-3 at Easterns, while Minnesota remained at #13 even though they defeated Chicago and Des Moines convincingly.

Columbus may be a bit hard done by as they fell three rungs to #14 after they beat Boston this past weekend and then fell to NY and BWE, being hobbled by injuries to their ruck, Mark McClure, and key defender Steve Raimo.  They’ll get a chance to redeem themselves against BWE this month at home.  Chicago and Sacramento were also spilled down one spot each in the wake of Baltimore-Washington’s big wave.

North Carolina was rewarded by beating Philadelphia and BWE’s B-team at home at Easterns by getting pushed up two spots to #17, which is their highest ever showing.  The Tigers are making themselves known as a contender for D3 at Nationals.  Portland and Ohio Valley dropped a spot, while Nashville, who played consistent footy at Little Rock, found themselves at the caboose of the Top 20 Train, but on it nonetheless, bumping out San Diego.


Just like Last year, Division 1 of the Western Regional Tournament will feature teams in the of the poll.  #2 Golden Gate, #3 Los Angeles, #6 Denver, and #8 Orange County.  Holy crap.  Division 2 will have six clubs: #13 Minnesota, #16 Sacramento, #18 Portland, Seattle and San Diego who just missed out on the poll, a second Denver side, and the resilient Arizona Hawks.  That will be July 8th in Westminster, Colorado, within spitting distance of Denver.

That same weekend, #7 Calgary will host Edmonton and #14 Columbus welcomes in #11 Baltimore-Washington.  That should be fun.

A week after that, July 15th, the battle of the Magpies renews itself in New York; the #5 ranked New Yorkers entertain the #4 Dallasonians.  The last time they met in Yonkers, the Texans came within four points of defeating the then-defending D1 champions back in 2015.  Wowee.  Columbus also has a three way tournament that day with #15 Chicago and the Indianapolis Giants.

July 22nd sees two Eastern rivalries renewed: North Carolina, ranked 17th, goes to Philly, while New York goes to Boston.  The month ends with Chicago v Des Moines, and the opening of the SoCal Cup, with LA hosting Orange County and San Diego in the first of three three-way lightning rounds.

Then comes the International Cup.  And hopefully by then, we’ll know the schedule for it.  Not that we’re anxious about it or anything.

See you all in Denver, if not Melbourne.  Enjoy the footy.

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