Wow, almost as quickly as it started the inaugural season of LFL Australia is now over with the New South Wales Surge being crowned champions. We are now in the wake of the grand final between New South Wales Surge and the Western Australia Angels and I'm already missing it!
Now as you know, here at the Ballhawksnest we do not like to do a game by game season review, instead we opt for sharing our thoughts on the players that stood out this season along with our usual award winners and anything we think would improve the perception of this great sport.
I would like to start with a couple of players who have impressed me this year but unfortunately did not make it into our awards. First up is the offensive side of the ball and a player who is not only one of Western Australia’s great receivers but also one of their team captains as well. I am of course referring to Tammie West.
In the first two games of the season it seemed like every big play down field was being made by Tammie and she even chipped in with a few key runs including a four yard touchdown run in the Angels victory over the Surge. During the rest of the season Tammie continued to impress with her rushing plays and receiving skills. I truly believe that she has a great future ahead of her in the league.
Another player who impressed me this year is the Victoria Maidens running back Julz Parker. Julz is the very definition of a ‘thunder’ back, full of power and generally takes more than one person to tackle her. During the season Julz ran for 162 yards and five touchdowns proving she was very difficult to tackle around the goal line. In Parker the Maidens have a great foundation to base their offence on and with the continued development of their young quarterback Penelope Cula-Reid, I see them becoming a force to be reckoned with in the league.
Next we move onto the defensive side of the ball and the first player I would like to talk about is another Victoria Maiden and that is Tahli Greenwood. Greenwood is their strong safety and leader of the team. You only have to watch the video below to get a feeling for everything that she brings to this team:
As you can see from the clip, Tahli deserves the utmost respect for her performance and leadership. Greenwood went on to finish the season with 19.5 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.
The last player I want to talk about in this segment is one of the LFL US players who was brought in to assist the league with their progress. Known as one of the American imports which is ironic bearing in made she is an Australian native, Chloe Butler has had an amazing season for the New South Wales Surge.
During the season Chloe was constantly pressuring the opposition quarterbacks as well as being the first defender to the ball carrier most of the time. This is backed up by her stats with 22.5 tackles of which 21 of them were solo tackles, 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. If Chloe does not return to play for the Surge again next year she will be leaving very big shoes to fill of that there is no doubt.
Okay so now we move onto something that I would like to see changed slightly in order to benefit the game and that is a league wide clamp down on the scuffles after a play has finished. I understand that the game is played with intensity and passion but you do not need to be mouthing off and hitting each other after the play.
Granted in most of the games this season there were only certain periods of what I call unsportsmanlike conduct but if the league were to clamp down on it and ensure every time it happens a flag is thrown it would help the perception of the sport in some doubters eyes. I can’t stress enough that it does not happen constantly all the way through a game but when it happens, it does look ugly and not enough is done to stop it. I only saw a couple of flags thrown this season and ultimately I only want to see what is best for the sport to move it forward as a global entity.
Let’s get back to the positive sides of the game now as we have the annual awards to be given out. This year we have our offensive impact player or Megatron award winner, our defensive impact player or Mr Ray Lewis award winner and for the first time I am introducing a lineman award for outstanding performance in the offensive line or Mike Webster award. For those who are not familiar with Mike Webster I strongly recommend you google him right now! Well after you have read this review anyway.
We start the awards with our Megatron Award for the offensive impact player and our runner up this year is a running back who has taken the league by storm this year and that is Bonnie Gillespie. Bonnie has the power and speed of the likes of Marshawn Lynch and Frank Gore and in one game this season Bonnie rushed for 181 yards. Not a bad stat when you bear in mind that the pitch is half the length of an NFL field. Bonnie finished the season with 327 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns and an average of 8 yards per carry which is just simply amazing. Before I reveal this year winner take a look at this video of Bonnie Gillespie:
Now it is time to reveal our 2013 LFL Megatron Award winner and that is ………… Jacinda Barclay, quarterback for the New South Wales Surge. At the start of the season Jacinda was ranked the number one quarterback but after the first two games I wasn't sure if this was a fair reflection. How wrong I would prove to be as by the end of the season Jacinda proved that she duel threat quarterback and if she does not beat you through the air, she will beat you on the ground instead.
By the end of the season she helped the New South Wales Surge to the Legends Cup Trophy and finished with some outstanding numbers. Jacinda had thrown 299 passing yards and 6 touchdown passes, she also had 158 rushing yards and 7 rushing touchdowns. It was always going to take something special to beat Gillespie to this award but she certainly managed that. Congratulations Jacinda Barclay, you are our 2013 Megatron Award winner.
The next award is going to be our new award which is for outstanding performance in the offensive line or the Mike Webster award. It has taken a very special performance indeed for me to create this new award and I am sure you will agree that the winner is totally worthy of the praise coming her way.
The Mike Webster award goes to ………. Shari Onley of the New South Wales Surge. This season Shari has completely dominated the opposing defensive lines and I do not remember ever seeing her miss a block. As always to demonstrate my point we have a little clip below for you:
Oh yeah and for the record Shari is not a bad tight end either but I am sure you will all agree after seeing that clip that Shari has just had a remarkable year and is fully deserving of the award. Congratulations Shari Onley, you are our 2013 Mike Webster award winner.
The final award of the year is the Mr Ray Lewis award for defensive impact player. Again I would like to start with our runner up and when you think that she has only played the last two games of the year, it is scary to think what she will accomplish next year. Our runner up is Toni Tupuhi of the Queensland Brigade.
From her first snap on defence it was clear that she was a real predator who hunts down the ball carrier and tackles them with a monster (legal) hit. Whilst I was watching Toni this year I have to say that she would not even be out of place as part of the ‘Legion of Boom’.
The Mr Ray Lewis award winner this year is a young player who again plays for the New South Wales Surge defence but it just shows you how much talent they have on their rosta. This years winner is the young cornerback Bronte Zeiher who finished the season with 37.5 tackles, not bad stats for a cornerback and she also had an interception as well.
I have honestly not seen a tackling cornerback like this since Antoine Winfield who used to play for the Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings. Bronte is just constantly around the ball and you can tell that all of the offensive coordinators will be game planning against her next year to try and limit the impact she has on the game. Congratulations Bronte Zeiher you are our 2013 Mr Ray Lewis award winner.
Well that wraps up my Inaugural LFL Australia Season review and personally I can not wait for it all to start again in Australia at the end of this year and I look forward to seeing how the league expands over the next couple of years.
Until next time football fans, stay safe, take care and ‘Thanks for Stopping By’.