CIF Power Rankings, May 26
Author Note: Apologies for the lateness, battling an illness is never fun.
With the 2016 regular season coming to a close within the next few weeks, there are a few battles to be had for spots in the postseason.
While Texas, Wichita and Sioux City are playoff locks, the final spot in the CIF Northern Division and two berths in the CIF Southern Division are still very much up for grabs. In the northern six, there’s Omaha (6-4) and Bloomington (5-5). The Beef currently have the inside track, but both teams will have challenges ahead in their upcoming schedules, as Omaha will face Wichita on the road in their regular season finale (on June 4) while the Edge have Sioux City coming into the U.S. Cellular Coliseum on the last regular season weekend.
But both teams have to get past Salina and Chicago respectively this week, as the Beef travels east to the UIC Pavilion and Bloomington heads west to central Kansas.
In the Southern Division, you have Dodge City, Amarillo and Duke City, who are still very much alive. Nobody has an easy road getting into the postseason, but Amarillo could potentially steal a home playoff game – should the Venom defeat Duke City on the road and Dodge City at home. The Law and the Gladiators, could vault past the Venom if they win out as well.
Should Dodge City and Duke City win out, there could be a matchup between the Law and the Gladiators at the United Wireless Arena. Should the Law win out and the Gladiators drop out, it would an Amarillo-Dodge City rematch in southwestern Kansas. There’s quite a few possibilities that can happen, but let’s worry about that next week.
For now, onto the poll…
Texas Revolution1. Texas Revolution (9-1): Was there any doubt with this one? The “Red Hot Revs” made easy work of the Mesquite Marshals this past weekend by the score of 92-43. Quarterback Robert Kent Jr., who was named the CIF Offensive Player of the Week, went 13-of-21 for 176 yards and six touchdowns. The defense also shined against Mesquite, grabbing four picks all together, along with a fumble recovery by Cody Berry. The remaining schedule, should there not be any problems, sees the Revs face off against the bottom tier of the CIF Southern Division in San Angelo and Mesquite. This starts with a road date against the San Angelo Bandits, following this week’s bye. Honestly, it’d make plenty of sense to see Texas finish the regular season with an 11-1 record and home field advantage all throughout the postseason. Last Week’s Ranking: 1 (None)
2. Wichita Force (8-2): Wichita showed why they are a Champions Cup-caliber squad, using two late turnovers to vault past the Amarillo Venom 59-51 at the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Cal Farley Coliseum last Saturday. Wide receivers Clarence Anderson and Brett Soft led the Wichita receiving corps, capturing 10 of quarterback David Olson’s 13 completions for 128 yards and three trips to the endzone. Linebacker Jason Catchings also sealed the Force victory with a late pick-six. The Force’s road to a division title and home field advantage won’t be easy, as Sioux City comes in for a visit at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the INTRUST Bank Arena. Last Week’s Ranking: 2 (None)
3. Sioux City Bandits (7-3): After their bye week, Sioux City is looking for some redemption. Even with three losses to the season, Sioux City’s defense has been the best in the league, allowing just 34 points per game. This is thanks to a stellar secondary led by Cliff Stokes and Rahn Franklin, ranking first in Champions Indoor Football in defensive pass efficiency, letting their opponents gain just 1,288 yards through the air. That’s quite low, especially in the high-paced game of indoor football. The Bandits will battle for at least a shared division title against the Wichita Force (as the CIF hasn’t shared how tiebreakers are done just yet – which I’m sure they’ll do should Sioux City pulls off a win), at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the INSTRUST Bank Arena in beautiful, downtown Wichita. Last Week’s Ranking: 3 (None)
Dodge City Law
4. Dodge City Law (7-3): In resounding fashion, Dodge City returned from their bye week to hang 90 points on the San Angelo Bandits last Saturday at the United Wireless Arena. Quarterback Derrick Bernard is continuing his stellar 2016 campaign, tossing for five touchdowns and rushing for three more against San Angelo. On the other side of the ball, defensive back DeWayne Autrey led the Law with 11 solo tackles and recovering a San Angelo fumble. Definitely worthy enough to earn Autrey the CIF Defensive Player of the Week honors. Dodge City may have a shot to cement second place in the CIF southern six and host a first round game, traveling south and east to Mesquite to face the struggling Marshals at 7 p.m. Saturday evening at the Mesquite Arena. Last Week’s Ranking: 4 (None)
5. Omaha Beef (6-4): With two games left in the regular season, the Beef are in a great position to earn that final playoff spot in the CIF Northern Division. Omaha took care of business at the Slaughterhouse last weekend, defeating the Salina Liberty by the score of 35-18. Quarterback Joshua Floyd Jr. did quite well against the Liberty, going 10-of-21 for 150 yards and three touchdowns. Defensive lineman Kewan Alfred, who is now second in the CIF in sacks with 7.5, nabbed one and a half on Salina quarterback Keahn Wallace. The Beef will now look to lock in a spot in the postseason, as they head east to battle the Chicago Eagles at 7 p.m. on Saturday the UIC Pavilion. Last Week’s Ranking: 6 (+1)
VENOM graphic - color
6. Amarillo Venom (6-4): Just when they had the Force where they wanted them, the Venom “laid an egg,” according to Head Coach Julian Reese. On the bright side, veteran wide receiver Raymond Johnson Jr. anchored the Venom receivers with six receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown, along with taking a 50-yard kickoff return to paydirt against Wichita. Also, “The Flash” leads the league in all-purpose yards with 184 per game. On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back Jemichael Williams tabbed his fourth INT in the past three games. In the thick of the CIF Southern Division playoff race, the Venom can get back into the swing of things by traversing west to face the Duke City Gladiators on Saturday night at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. The two rival squads share one victory apiece so far this year. Last Week’s Ranking: 5 (-1)
7. Bloomington Edge (5-5): With two more games left in the regular season, Bloomington is gaining momentum at the right time. In their 55-33 victory over the Chicago Eagles on the red turf, quarterback Caleb Holbrook went 17-of-30, with 180 passing and three touchdowns. Rookie linebacker Dontae McCoy also thrived against the Eagles, picking up a fumble and taking back a pick-six early in the fourth quarter. From here on out, it will make or break for the Edge’s postseason hopes, starting with a road trip to central Kansas to take on the Salina Liberty on Saturday evening at the Bicentennial Center. The Edge currently owns a one-game lead in the season series, defeating Salina 61-29 on May 14. Last Week’s Ranking: 7 (None)
Duke City Gladiators
8. Duke City Gladiators (5-5): On the outside looking in, as of this moment, is the Duke City Gladiators. Coming off of the bye week, the Gladiators will look to make that final playoff push, whether Taylor Genuser or Bryan Randall will be under center. Wide receiver Dello Davis will be able to lend a helping hand to either of the two signal callers, hauling in 74 catches for 28 touchdowns and 168 points over the course of the 2016 season. Definitely good enough for second place in scoring in the CIF. Duke City will look to gain some momentum into the final stretch, battling the Amarillo Venom for game three of their season series on Saturday evening at Tingley Coliseum. The three-game season series between the two squads currently sits at one game apiece. Last Week’s Ranking: 8 (None)
9. Chicago Eagles (3-8): After hanging on the fringe of attaining a playoff spot, the Eagles are now officially out. In the Battle for Illinois, the Eagles fell to Bloomington by the score of 55-33 at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum. Running back Calvin Phillips led the Eagles on the ground, gaining 96 yards and two touchdowns against the Edge. However, for the Eagles to play spoiler, they need to take care of the football, as they lost one fumble and saw quarterback Anthony Iannotti toss two picks in the loss. Yet after a very long road stretch, the Eagles will be able to head back home to the Windy City. That’s always good news. The Red, White and Blue will host the Omaha Beef this Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion. Last Week’s Ranking: 9 (None)
10. Salina Liberty (2-9): Despite trailing by eight points for a majority of last week’s game against Omaha, Salina wasn’t able to narrow that gap in their 35-18 road loss against the Beef. While quarterback Keahn Wallace connected with wide receiver Joe Kassanavoid on seven occasions for 74 yards, it was not enough in the low scoring affair. But you can’t fault Wallace or the Liberty offense either, as Salina played a very clean game until the closing moments with a late interception. Salina could still be a factor concerning the postseason race though, as the Liberty could have the opportunity to play spoiler with a chance to knock out the Bloomington Edge at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Bicentennial Center. Last Week’s Ranking: 10 (None)
11. San Angelo Bandits (2-8): So, it’s best to not say anything after taking a 90-46 road loss to Dodge City. For an early part of the game against the Law, the Bandits hung in there, trailing by 35-34 mid-way through the second quarter. Quarterback Chris Mitchell played a solid game as well, going 18-of-32 for 179 yards and six touchdowns. Mitchell also led the Bandits on the ground with 40 yards rushing. Sadly, it was the defense that couldn’t keep San Angelo close, allowing 43 points in the second quarter alone. Even though it’s too late, the San Angelo coaching staff may need to address that issue. However, the Bandits could throw a monkey wrench into the CIF Southern Division, starting with hosting the league-leading Texas Revolution at 7 p.m. Saturday night at Foster Communications Coliseum. Last Week’s Ranking: 11 (None)
12. Mesquite Marshals (1-9): Sometimes, life isn’t easy being an expansion team. Look no further than that of the Marshals. In the face of a 92-43 loss to the CIF Southern Division-leading Texas Revolution, quarterback Kolton Browning accumulated 205 yards and five touchdowns in his 17 completions. In those 257 yards that Mesquite put together through the air, wide receiver Cordell Roberson caught eight tosses for 162 yards and six scores. Still, the Marshals rank on the bottom or near the bottom in just about category. Here’s hoping that Head Coach Larry Hendrix uses this year, which was quite tough, as a building block for a solid sophomore campaign. Mesquite will host Dodge City at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the Mesquite Arena. Last Week’s Ranking: 12 (None)
Tyler’s Playoff Projections (as of May 23):
*Parenthesis denote projected record
CIF Northern Division
First Round Bye – Wichita Force (9-2)
Omaha Beef (7-5) at Sioux City Bandits (8-4)
CIF Southern Division
First Round Bye – Texas (11-1)
Amarillo Venom (7-5) at Dodge City Law (8-4)