MAAFL season starts in Atlanta

The new MAAFL season started as the old one ended, with defending MAAFL Premiers St. Louis handing the Kookaburras a defeat.  The game was a see-saw ripper with the Blues gutting through 10.10.70 to 9.7.61.  With so many players gone from last year's championship side, there is no telling whether the Blues can manage a third straight league title, but they started out with a tough win on the road at the renowned Horsey Park in the-overly-tittered Cummings, GA.
The Azure Archers got off to an uncharacteristic quick start and a few minutes into the contest the venerable D-1 scrapped down on the ground, got his leg stomped, but managed to knock the ball to young Phil "Ice-cream" Brereton, who craftily avoided a Kookaburra or two then fed a beautiful hand pass to Steve "W.C.416" Aderholt, who slotted the footy for the game's first major.  The unselfish move by Ice must have caused a blood vessel to pop, because he could be seen all over the field as the game wore on, rather than ensconced in his normal cherry-picking spots.
During the first five minutes or so the Blues controlled the ball.  "No doubt the Kooks were thinking they sure could have used one more week of practice before the game, the way things started," St. Louis stalwart Matt "No" Hans said.
With the game ending with less than a two goal difference, maybe that's so, but Dr. No must have been watching a different game than your humble correspondent because Atlanta seemed to get control and the ball spent a good deal of time on the Blues' half of the field for next ten minutes or so.  As the quarter and, indeed, the first half wore on two things became clear: (1) the Boys Who Wear The Color Of The Deep Sea are neatly groomed and have well-rounded educations (and, frankly, can sew their own clothing) and (2) they can't kick straight.
St. Louis rounded out the first half losing by a pair of majors or so, having kicked three goals and nine behinds.  Three-nine.  What are they, Adelaide?  Ok, ok, let's not bicker over who missed what.  Rather, let's come together in a celebration of the defensive and mid-field play.  It's been oft said that footy games start with the ruck.  Maybe yes, maybe no, but the Cambozola's two-headed ruck tandem of Brad "New Guy" New Guy and Sam Ingram Award Winner Dan "Quiet Riot" Sergot had outstanding games, and not just rucking, where they faced formidable opposition from some guy who's dead to your most gracious servant and scribe.  With Quiet Riot, such play is no surprise, but New Guy is new to footy, and this was his first game.  Nevertheless, he took quite a few marks, spoiled others and scored two sixers on the day.
As good as the ruckmen were, one man did them one better.  Dan "C.J.'s Chapel" Sarbacker earned Match Report Best On Ground honors (and, someone mentioned, the much less meaningful MAAFL BOG vote) by seeming to be everywhere and do everything.  His most amazing work, though, was not done alone.  One of the great difference-makers in the game was the way in which the half-backs, wings and on-ballers moved the ball- not just forward, but side-to-side and back when necessary to keep possession.  It seemed that anytime a man was hot, Starbuck or Matt "IRL" Jagger got in a position to take an easy hand-pass and keep the ball cradled lovingly in the bosom of a Blue Bowman like Charlotte having her eighth meal of day swaddled in Ali's arms.  Consistent play like that is what makes teams great, and the Guys Whose Alternative Mascot Is Another Guy With A Thing That Shoots Arrows showed the first flashes of what may lead them to a wider world.
And when CJ and IRL couldn't be there, Chris "What, No Punch For Me" Cicci was.  WNPFM took countless marks, spoiled others, and came streaking through the forward line for a tipped ball that he scooped up and put through for a goal in the second stanza to keep Atlanta from running away with the game.  CC's play earned him the most coveted award in all of sports, The Match Report One-Percenter Award.
IRL not only provided important outlets, but he had a great day spoiling charges by the Atlanta forwards.  And he wasn't alone.  Adam "Ads" Ellison continued his solid, consistent play from the half back line.  He won numerous balls all over the ground, repeatedly serving balls to the wings and half forwards to start the attack.  "Sister" Christian Andrade showed he wasn't afraid to stick his nose in the action.  Sister probably had 10-15 possessions on the day, not bad for a newcomer.  The full back line was phenomenal.  James "Beat System" Martin, returning to his roots in the back pocket was a shut-down defender all day, and at the most crucial time (late in the 4th quarter), when Atlanta an Atlanta forward seemed set to kick his 4th goal from 3 meters out, a crushing smother forced a behind, and preserved the Blues lead.  Mike "Where's The Meat" Gaffney had the challenging task of containing one of the craftier forwards in the league.  IRL told Gaffo at three quarter time, "if he doesn't get a goal this quarter (4th), we'll win this game."  The FF would not post a goal in the final term, and the Blues went on to victory.
But the win wasn't as easy at is sounds.  Atlanta was a few goals up in the third term when the "bacon flipping incident" occurred.  A late hit spawned a fracas on the field, and, whether coincidence or not, after the brouhaha the Old Dark Navy Blue took their game up a notch, pouring in three quick goals to get control of the game back.  But the fourth quarter still saw the lead change a few times.  And the entire second half was a manic affair, with both sides running their feet off and playing their hearts out.  The Blues left nothing on the field, and after Atlanta took a final term lead, the Blues got goals from D-1 and Dan "Hey, I kicked One Straight" Kocka to match those put in by Atlanta, and then the Blues defense shut things down to finish off the game.
The polo fields of Atlanta never looked so sweet to Blues as they did when the final horn sounded.  Blues utility man Nathan "Zen Calm" Zenser pointed out, "the polo fields of Atlanta never looked so sweet to us as they did when the final horn sounded."  In the end, CC's One-Percenter Award could have gone to 100% of the team.  More so than in any game they've played, down in Atlanta everyone on the Blues team stepped up when called upon to play some sparkling football.  Footy- yeah, that's the game.
Best on Ground:
Dan Sarbacker, Brad New Guy, Matt Jagger, Christopher Cicci and Dan Sergot<p/>
Steve Aderholt (2), Dan Kocka (2), Benjamin Lipman (2), Christopher Cicci and Dan Sergot

- Benjamin Lipman

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