Top Ten Games of the 2019 USAFL Season

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The echoes of the 2019 USAFL season are still ringing in our ears, and this year brought us some memorable matchups across the calendar, not to mention the country.

From the travelling summer road show that is the Regional Championships Series onto the National Championships in Sarasota, Florida, this season had some exciting matchups, huge wins, and nail-biting finishes.

I should know, I saw most of them.

From the 200 or so games played during the season, this writer has narrowed the list down to the ten best as captured by our volunteer broadcast crew, and our partners at Go Live Sports Cast.  Considerations from the rankings include the magnitude of the match, the closeness of the match, and some good ol’ fashioned rivalries, as well.

Each weekday from now until December 13th, we’ll reveal one game and link it to the replay on our YouTube channel and this very website.

To tide you over until Monday, December 2nd when the countdown kicks off (and I get to put on my Casey Kasem hat), here are our honorable mentions that just came up short (or would have made the list had we’d been able to film them.)

Now on with the Countdown!

HONORABLE MENTION: Ohio Valley River Rats/Arizona Hawks 5.2.32 def. Des Moines Roosters 4.4.28
USAFL Nationals Men’s Division 4 Grand Final – October 13, Sarasota, Florida

A year after the River Rats came up short in the D3 Grand Final, they teamed up with the Arizona Hawks to win their fifth flag in D4, and their first as an official USAFL entity.  For the Hawks, around since 1999, this was their first men’s National title.

HONORABLE MENTION: New York Magpies 3.1.19 def DC Eagles 1.2.8
Eastern Regionals Women’s Division – June 15, Raleigh, North Carolina
Watch: Magpies v Eagles (

A year after falling to the ‘Pies on a rainy afternoon in Philadelphia, Kim Hemenway and her New York cohorts got revenge in Raleigh to clinch their fourth regional crown.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: San Francisco 0.2.2 def Seattle 0.0.0 and New York 2.4.16 def Minnesota 2.3.15
USAFL Nationals Women’s Division 1 Semifinals – October 12, Sarasota, Florida

Each team had already punched their tickets for the semifinals, but that didn’t stop all four from going toe-to-toe for their second win on Saturday afternoon.  The Grizzlies kept the Maidens from the major score tally, and the Magpies staved off the Freeze by a point.  Both matches set up a red-hot Sunday to determine the Division 1 champion.

NUMBER TEN: Denver Bulldogs Reserves 3.1.19 def Nashville Kangaroos 2.2.14
Central Regionals Men’s Division 2 Grand Final – July 27, Westminster, Colorado

If it’s one thing that the Denver Bulldogs are known for – besides all the winning – it’s the depth of their club.  They had a busy season from start to finish, including a strong run at Nationals out of Division 3.  But their crowning achievement was at home, when they skipped through pool play and met the Nashville Kangaroos in the Division 2 Final.  The ‘Roos, who were enjoying one of their best seasons in recent memory, were bolstered by Arizona Hawk loanee Jason Wilhelm.  And the decider was a bruising encounter that saw every ball needing an armed guard around it in order to be won.

The Doggies, led by veterans such as game MVP Brent Dowling, held off Nashville by five points to become the first home team to win a Central Regional Championship in the tournament’s five year history.

WATCH: Denver B vs Nashville (

NUMBER NINE: Texas Heat 3.7.25 def Denver Lady Bulldogs 3.4.22
Central Regionals Women’s Division – July 27, Westminster, Colorado

The growth of women’s football in the Central Region of the USAFL continued this season.  Minnesota would take home the chocolates on the day, but the best game of the hot. Steamy Colorado afternoon pitted two teams with emerging talent.  Hailey Rebar and the Texas Heat had a number of players from the Nashville Kangaroos with them, including eventual Freedom call-ups Natalie Smith and Alexa Roncancio.  This Denver team was one of two wearing the tricolors on the weekend, and this one saw players from North Star, Des Moines, Ohio Valley and a handful of newcomers and veterans from the home squad.

A physical game with the ball constantly in dispute saw the Heat keep the Doggies at arm’s length.  Des Moines rookie Hannah Bailey kicked a goal early in the fourth to cut the gap to one point, but Heather Serpico and the Texas defense kept them off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

WATCH: Heat v Lady Bulldogs (

NUMBER EIGHT: San Francisco Iron Maidens 2.2.14 def Seattle Grizzlies 0.3.3
USAFL Nationals Women’s Division 1 Grand Final – October 13, Lakewood Ranch, Florida

A year after they met in the Grand Final for the first time, and less than 24 hours after a bruising encounter that ended with a 2-0 scoreline, the Maidens and Grizzlies duked it out for the women’s title.  The Grizzlies had a full complement of players, unlike in 2018 when their bench was razor thin.  Valerie Barber-Axthelm and Seattle would go toe to toe with the Iron Maidens, trying to win their fourth straight premiership.  San Francisco’s lineup had remained mostly intact from their last three flag winning teams with two key exceptions – Carly Smolak was now calling the shots from the sidelines, and the omnipotent Katie Klatt was patrolling the back half.

The emerald-and-black through everything they had at the champs for forty minutes; they didn’t back down when Savannah Green opened the major scoring in the first half, and they didn’t give up when Nikole Makenzie salted the game away with a late goal of her own.  Though the Maidens wrapped up that fourth title – now trailing mighty Denver by two on the all-time list – Seattle and the rest of the field showed through the weekend that no victory, or title, will come easily at this level.

WATCH: Video through GoLive SportsCast/ESPN Coming Soon

NUMBER SEVEN: Nashville Kangaroos 4.1.25 def Houston Lonestars 3.3.21
Central Regional Championships Men’s Division 2 – July 13, Wesminster, Colorado

On the road to the D2 Regional Grand Final, the ‘Roos tangled with the Houston Lonestars in what was the best game of the day in Colorado.  The Lonestars have always boasted talent and drive, and on this occasion found themselves going back and forth with Logan Monday and Nashville.  Jesse Carcamo played one of his best games of the season for Houston, helping to splinter the defense and set up two of their goals.  

But for Nashville, who had solid performances from up and down their lineup over the course of that Saturday, it was left to two Revolution players – John Freeman, and Arizona Hawk loanee Jason Wilhelm.  "Freo", as he was known, has been a revelation since his rookie season in 2017, and has become a key forward on a team that jumped up two divisions at Nationals.  Wilhelm, who is regarded as one of the best American ruckmen in the league, came in handy in the dying seconds of the game, booting home the game winning score.

WATCH: Lonestars v Kangaroos (

NUMBER SIX: San Diego Lions 6.2.38 def Philadelphia Hawks 5.0.30
USAFL Nationals Men’s Division 2 Pool A – October 12, Lakewood Ranch, Florida

It seems that accurate kicking in the AFL has become a bit of a lost art form.  Well, those guys can take a lesson from the Lions and Hawks playing on Saturday afternoon on a Windy Cooper’s field.  The LionsSan Diego came to Florida as the favorites to take out Division 2.  The D2 favorite Lions and the defending D3 champion Hawks each kicked five straight goals in the game’s opening 35 minutes as the gulf breezes played tricks with the ball.  The Lions kicked four straight goals to one in the opening term behind Justin Valley’s marking and kicking.  Then it was Philly’s turn to play the role of the Wright Brothers, turning turnovers into chances and harnessing the wind from every conceivable angle and reeling off four major scores in a row of their own, including two from John Hinchen, to pull ahead by six points.

Philly’s momentum looked insurmountable.  But that fifth Hawks goal seemed to wake the Lions up, because they immediately worked the ball down to Valley who kicked the game’s tenth goal to even the scores.  San Diego eventually won the battle of wills by eight points en route to their Division 2 premiership.

Watch: Lions vs Hawks (GoLive SportsCast)






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