CIF Power Rankings, March 21
If there is one thing any fan of Champions Indoor Football can tell you after this week, it’s the fact that anything goes in the CIF. Besides Wichita outlasting Chicago at the UIC Pavilion on Friday night, Texas prevailing over Mesquite at home and Duke City taking care of San Angelo on the road on Saturday, the three remaining games last Saturday were decided by a combined seven points.
So far into this season, even I couldn’t tell you could hoist the Champions Cup in the tail end of June. That’s a testament to how exciting the CIF is for fans, and how high the level of competition is for the players and coaches.
After the Law dropped a heartbreaking 49-48 loss to Amarillo, the new top team in the poll is the Wichita Force. Despite needing a late score to keep Chicago winless, Wichita’s victory on the road was the main component to bumping them to the top of the CIF heap.
Sitting at number two is the Texas Revolution (2-0), who finished out their early season home stretch with a 41-31 win over the Mesquite Marshals.
The “jump of the week” definitely goes to the Amarillo Venom, who took down an undefeated Dodge City squad and unseated the Law from the top of the CIF Southern Division. Using Nate Davis’ legs, Amarillo leapt three spots to capture fifth spot on the poll. While Amarillo is trending upward, Salina dropped four spots due to a 43-41 loss to Omaha at home.
Before Liberty fans riot on me, I want to say that there is very little separating Salina from the likes of the squads above them. They just need to win one for the Liberty faithful in the Bicentennial Center sometime soon.
Without further ado, here is this week’s Champions Indoor Football Power Rankings…
Wichita Force (3-0): The Force captured the top spot, mostly by virtue of a win in hostile territory. Quarterback Steve Panasuk had another stellar outing this past weekend, going 17-of-21 for 161 yards, four touchdowns and a pick. However, the Force should be thanking their defense for stopping a late two-point conversion attempt by Chicago and wide receiver Brett Soft for closing the Eagles out. Wichita will now take a week off before returning to action against Bloomington on April Fools’ Day at the INTRUST Bank Arena. Last Week’s Ranking: 2 (+1)
Texas Revolution (2-0): It was only natural to give the Revs the courtesy bump to the number two spot. After giving up a pick six with 5:16 left to play, the Revolution replied with a 10-play drive that ate more than four minutes of off the clock and led to a late score by running back Darius Fudge. The real test for Texas will come on Saturday, where they will not be in the friendly confines of the Allen Event Center. Instead, the Revs will travel to Dodge City to take on the Law. Last Week’s Ranking: 2 (+1)
Dodge City Law
Dodge City Law (3-1): Dodge City’s last offensive play last week against the Amarillo Venom, a two-point conversion that saw quarterback Derrick Bernard’s pass go in and out of the hands of offensive lineman DeAngelo McCray. Other than the tough ending, Bernard and the Law proved to be quite the road warriors. The Law will have a chance to redeem themselves at home, hosting CIF Southern Division-leading Texas Revolution on Saturday night at the United Wireless Arena. Last Week’s Ranking: 1 (-2)
Omaha Beef (2-1): Down 41-40 with no time left on the clock, kicker James Kazalski nailed a 35 yard field goal to defeat the Salina Liberty and double up on the 2015 win total. After missing his first four attempts, Kazalski made his fifth and final shot count. After a dark two seasons, the long-running franchise in indoor football will look to continue its newfound momentum by hosting the second and final season meeting against their historic Interstate 29 rival in the Sioux City Bandits, beginning at 7:05 p.m. on Friday at the Ralston Arena. The Beef fell 43-38 to the Bandits on Feb. 27. Last Week’s Ranking: 6 (+2)
VENOM graphic - colorAmarillo Venom (1-1): The Venom captured their first victory in nail-biting fashion, defeating Dodge City 49-48 last weekend at Coors Light Field inside the Amarillo Civic Center Complex Cal Farley Coliseum. It was the legs of quarterback Nate Davis, who rushed for four touchdowns, and a stout defensive unit that forced two Law turnovers and five sacks to seal the deal. However, the Venom will begin a three-game road trip, going up against their archrival, the San Angelo Bandits on Saturday at the Foster Communications Coliseum. Last Week’s Ranking: 8 (+3)
Sioux City Bandits (2-2): Oh Sioux City, you’re continuing to slide down the poll. But this isn’t to say that the Bandits are completely out of the picture yet. They had sat at a 2-3 record with a two-game skid before, which was on April 10 of last year. It was then that Sioux City went on a nine-game tear and captured the inaugural Champions Bowl. Could the Bandits pull off the same magic when they cap their season series against their heated rival to the south in Omaha? Last Week’s Ranking: 4 (-2)
Bloomington Edge (1-1): An 18-yard connection between quarterback Caleb Holbrook and wide receiver Ryan Pahos was the ticket to upsetting Sioux City 45-41 this past Saturday in hostile territory at the Tyson Events Center. However, Holbrook tossed three interceptions in the victory. To beat their Chicagoland rival on Saturday evening, the Edge need to play mistake-free football against the winless Chicago Eagles. Last Week’s Ranking: 9 (+2)
Duke City Gladiators
Duke City Gladiators (1-1): The Gladiators got just what they needed to right the ship on Saturday, soundly defeating San Angelo on the road. The only thing preventing Duke City from jumping up the rankings? They beat San Angelo. Look for the Gladiators to potentially continue their ascent up the CIF ranks, as they will host the Mesquite Marshals at the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque. Last Week’s Ranking: 9 (+1)
Salina Liberty (1-2): I hate doing this to Salina, but they have been up-and-down so far in their 2015 campaign. Should this trend continue, the Liberty could very well recover in due time. To recover, the Liberty will need to find a way to win in front of their home crowd. What would be better? They can do make their way up the CIF poll while they’re idle, all before traveling to Sioux City on April 2. That meeting will surely make or break the Liberty’s season. Last Week’s Ranking: 5 (-4)
Mesquite Marshals (1-2): Mesquite hung tough with the Texas Revolution, trailing by three with five minutes remaining of last Saturday’s game. To make their presence known in the loaded CIF Southern Division, however, the Marshals will need to keep the link between quarterback Kolton Browning and wide receiver Eddie Johnson strong and healthy. That could be a tall order when Mesquite heads to New Mexico to face the Duke City Gladiators this Saturday. Last Week’s Ranking: 7 (-3)
Chicago Eagles (0-3): In all three instances, the Chicago Eagles have been beaten in the closing moments. Therefore, there’s not much separating the Eagles from being winless to being undefeated. While everyone will expect the Eagles to give Bloomington a heck of a battle, it will be put on quarterback Anthony Iannotti’s shoulders to give Chicago their first triumph of the season, or continue to see the Eagles stuck in the CIF Northern Division cellar. Last Week’s Ranking: 11 (None)
San Angelo Bandits (0-3): While Chicago, the other winless CIF squad, has been fighting tooth and nail against their competition, San Angelo is struggling to break out of an opening slump. They have one more game left in their three-game home stand, hosting the Amarillo Venom. Until the Bandits are able to find answers, San Angelo could very well start their 2016 season on rough terrain. Last Week’s Ranking: 12 (None)