Skyline and Sunshine - Previewing the Summer Series Week 1

After 22 months, tournament football returns to the USAFL.

The USAFL Summer Series, a set of six subregional carnivals (try saying that ten times fast), kicks off this weekend with tournaments in Cincinnati and Sacramento, two cities with strong Aussie Rules football histories.

We’ll have live coverage on each of the tournament home pages, as well as our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.

Here’s what’s on tap for this weekend:




First game 11am EDT
Miami Meadows Park, Milford, OH
Tournament Home Page and Schedule
Live coverage on Cincinnati Dockers FB Page

Men’s Division: Cincinnati Dockers (1-0), Columbus Cats (2-1), Nashville Kangaroos (0-0)

The Queen City officially opens the USAFL’s lightning style carnival series with three teams triangling off in a round robin of familiar foes.  Columbus and Cincy have already met this year, with the Dockers stealing a two point win in Cbus.

Cincinnati is a keystoned by venerable veterans, and will be accompanied by speedy rookies and more experience from Louisville.  Scott Schroeder has the tenancy to lay defences flat in the offensive half, and acceleration from players like Derrick Shotwell and Jack Jacobs could help the Dockers take this one home.

Columbus bounced back from their opening loss to take two in St Louis a couple of weeks ago, turning aside both the hometown Blues and the Wisconsin Wombats.  The Cats are chock full of American experience, led by Revo players Mark McClure and Clyde Simpson, and surrounded by more unheralded players such as Matthew Beeghley, Justin May, and Dean Panik.

Nashville makes it’s debut for 2021 this Saturday, flanked with players from the Indianapolis Giants.  The ‘Roos are another team that has experience in droves, from David Harris and Evan Ling, to Roos Medal Winner Logan Monday.  John Freeman keeps getting better with every game, and his midfield and forward play should trouble defenses throughout the afternoon.  Shane Branscum leads the Indy contingent that brings more athleticism to battle.


First game 9am PDT
Nugget Field, Davis, CA
Tournament Home Page and Schedule

Men’s Division 1
Golden Gate Roos (0-0), Los Angeles Dragons (0-1), Denver Bulldogs (0-0), San Diego Lions (3-0)

There are some heavy hitters that will take to the hot sun in a four game round robin on Saturday.  All four teams have played in Grand Finals within the last three Nationals, the barring anything unforeseen, all four will be playing Division 1 at Nationals this year, so this may hold a preview or two.

We begin with the Golden Gate Roos, who are looking to rebound in 2021 after being derailed by Denver en route to their fourth straight D1 decider two years ago.  Most of the talent that has been the hallmark of their success is back, from tall timbers Ben Dowdell and Tim Lindfelt, to forward tough men Zac Taylor and Jack Lucas.  Colby Campbell comes across from Sacramento to add more muscle to an already strong roster.

The Los Angeles Dragons made it to the 2016 Grand Final on the backs of deft skill and being able to successfully link up consistently.  Gun rover and longtime Portland Steelhead John Kim joins the LA attack, which is bolstered by a number of local footballers who have gotten better with each year.  Sam Murphy’s WAFL experience compliments Donald Lee’s nearly flawless ruckwork, and the ever dangerous David Dollar is slippery as the proverbial eel.

Runners up in Men’s D1 in 2019, the Denver Bulldogs have the glimmer of that dominant team that ruled the league for more than a decade toward the beginning of the league’s existence.  They bring an equally strong team to Sactown, noted for their ability to get the high ball in contests.  Tom Crameri, who took home the Roos Medal back in Sarasota 22 months ago, paces the Doggies alongside veterans such as Nick Garcia, Alex Mayberry, and defensive specialist Tim Wilson-Humphries.

Playing the Hanshin Tigers to Denver’s Yomiyuri Giants for nearly a decade has hardened the San Diego Lions into a determined club that is now once again towards the peak of the league.  The defending D2 champs have three wins in their belts, and have the rest of the west in their crosshairs.  Michael Coffee dunked his way to the Geoff Cann Medal in the Grand Final in Florida, and he and his pride will have a handful of Suns reserves and players from Portland and Arizona.

Women’s Division (Single Game)
San Francisco Iron Maidens (1-0) vs West Coast Sunnies (0-0)

Four quarters of footy will test the four time defending women’s D1 premiers against a composite side of “Sunnies”.  That’s a core of Sacramento Suns players, accompanied by some solid additions from Denver, Arizona, Orange County, Seattle, and Portland.

The Sunnies will bring a ton of skill to the match from the flagship side.  Former Liberty players Makenzie Adamo and Lauré Kwoka excel defensively, while Ashley Green will be a primary target up front.  Brandy Machado’s (PDX) continual improvement over the years has her among the best rucks in the league, and she’ll have plenty of speed flanking her, including former lacross player Amanda Mora (AZH), former soccer goalie and Freedom callup Amanda Boe (SEA), and fellow national teamer Leilani Silvio (DEN).  Orange County’s triple thread of Aileen Yoon, Michelle Hotta, and Delphina Delgadillo will be key kogs across the ground.

The Drive for Five was deferred by a year, but after a straightforward win against expansion Centennial, the San Francisco Iron Maidens look primed for another title run.  Katie Klatt almost single handedly preserved cup number four in the Grand Final in 2019, and her return is vital in helping a new crop of Maidens defend the crown.  Now they have former Collingwood Magpie and Portland Sockeye Jess Blecher to advance the ball in support of multiple Nationals medal winners Nikole Makenzie and Ellise Gallagher.  There’s a ton of other familiar talent on this list, but keep an eye out most for Savannah Green, who is an absolute weapon on the forward line, and Tongan rookie Seini Moimoi, who joins fellow volleyballer Meg Leone as tall targets.

Men’s Division 2
Sacramento Suns (0-0), Seattle Grizzlies (0-0), Orange County Giants (1-0), Arizona Hawks (0-2)

Set to defend their home (and literally scorched) turf, the Suns begin their 2021 season having kept nice and limber throughout the pause.  Their long runup to the season may yield another regional title yet.  Toby Simmons leads from the back, his veteran leadership and marking skills spreading momentum up front.  Kendall “Rabbit” Hutchings is fast as all h*ck, and there is a plethora of ball winning hard nosed footy in the middle via Traxel Towe and Ramish Bahramand.

The Seattle Grizzlies come off of a D1 season in 2019 and have, on paper, one of the toughest defenses in the country.  Much like a rear-wheel drive Camarro, the Grizz have big wheels in the back, with Johnathan Achelles and Saleh Tyebjee capable of intercepting the pill and then driving forward in the counter attack.  Austin Cox’s height is always a plus, and former Olympic rower Robert Munn works hard both on and off the ball.

A strong D2 performance in Florida arrears, the Giants now look to build on an opening game victory and a return to the glory that they found in the middle of the last decade.  This year’s OC side is balanced and effective, with Tim Ellis providing smart defense.  There is some newfound speed from former Minnesota Freeze rover Tatsuro Tanioka, and he joins veterans Trevor Osterholm and David Lasezkay in helping the G-men pull a minor upset.

Flanked by members of a resurgent Las Vegas Gamblers outfit (with a slick new logo), the Arizona Hawks look for their first win of the year after dropping a couple of hard fought matches against San Diego.  Barry Mullen and Alex Fernandez are dangerous anywhere on the oval, and Ismael Moreno is one of the first year players that will be looking to make their mark.  Brett and Matthew Anderson headline the Gamblers group that is looking good despite a loss of their own to the Lions last month.

Houston Lonestars (1-1) vs North Texas Devils (2-2)
11am CDT - Bendwood Park, Houston, Texas

The lone standalone match of the weekend pits two Lone Star rivals, as the Lonestars host the Devils for the first time ever.  Both teams are coming off wins, with the Devils knocking off Oklahoma and the Austin reserves, while Houston scored a win over a Dallas/Baton Rouge combination.  There will also be a women's clinic, hosted by the Texas Heat.


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