The Dallas Magpies triumph in the MAAFL as the competition hots up
Friday, September 23 2005 @ 02:18 am ACST
Contributed by: Wayne Kraska
The 2005 Mid American Australian Football League season is over with first-time Premiers the Dallas Magpies taking the title after going through the season undefeated. Dallas in their third year in the MAAFL thrived this year with some excellent recruiting drives, a strong administration and certainly some great leadership on the field. Their qualities of play a fine example to the marked increase in skill and fitness of players throughout the league. Runners Up this year were the Chicago Swans, or was it the CAFA? (Chicago Australian Football Assoc.) - more on that later.
The Mid American Australian Football League completed its sixth official year with several teams pushing up the ladder and few falling by the wayside. It was a year of consolidation with the same seven teams making up the league from 2004 but there was no doubt an increase in the standard of play. Inconsistent games by Premiership champions the previous two years, the St Louis Blues, left the door open for improving clubs to show their stuff.
Although Dallas had most of the season covered they did fall over the line once against second place Chicago at home when the Chicago lads could not kick straight, the final score of 8-11 to 6-18 telling the story there. That was the only hiccup in the Dallas Magpies' year - as well as hosting the East v West game the club improved its player stocks all year with a solid Metro League season. Dallas head into the USAFL Nationals next weekend ranked #2 in country behind the Denver Bulldogs and quietly confident they have the team to go all the way.
The Chicago Swans completed their first full season now under the Chicago Australian Football Association banner with the joining of the Chicago Swans list with that of the Chicago Sharks late last year. All reports are the transition was smooth with only some minor hiccups. Now simply known as the “CAFA” the Chicago teams season was consistent and reports are their training attendance and local games have been far improved from 2004 where they struggled all year. The Chicago lads join Dallas in Division 1 at the Nationals and are quite capable on their day to put up a good showing.
The Milwaukee Bombers had an indifferent start to the year and lost two of their first three games, however they came home with a wet sail and finished with a 4-2 record in third place with big wins at home and solid wins on the road. The Bombers are hosting the USAFL National Championships next weekend and that for sure would put a strain on the club. However the Bombers report their Metro League has never been stronger and will field two full teams at the Nationals one in 1st and one in 3rd Divisions.
The St Louis Blues finished fourth in the MAAFL this year in what to them must be a disappointing year. The Blues relying heavily on young college aged players perhaps were found out for depth through injuries and several players traveling overseas. They started the season in high spirits with a win away against Atlanta and at home versus Nashville but struggled from there on, their other win coming via cellar dweller in Cincinnati. The Blues are a young group and if they regain some players will be a force again.
From the remainder fifth was Nashville who have not much progressed in 2005. It was apparent their numbers were down early and they never really recovered. Their wins coming at the expense of Cincinnati and Atlanta on the road. The emphasis on their own local Australian Festival does take its toll and for the first time in memory they will not be represented by a team at the National Championships. Along with St Louis falling back Atlanta were probably the other surprise of the year failing to win a game other than a forfeit v Cinci. The Atlanta Kookaburras coming off big year in 2004 of hosting the USAFL Nationals and the East-West game got off to a bad start beaten by St Louis first round at home and went down hill from there. Injuries and probably a need for a lot more younger players played a part in a disappointing year for the Kookaburras. Cincinnati could only have been described as in a rebuilding phase in 2005, their lack of numbers on the road reflected in their scores. They have a great core group of players that are passionate for the game though and brighter days are ahead for the Dockers no doubt.
The 2005 MAAFL season was a great success, four teams are now running regular local games often referred to as ‘Metro Leagues’ and the player development in skill and knowledge is on a steady curve upwards. There are other clubs in the mix like Kansas City, Louisville and Baton Rouge who have all shown their own improvement in 2005 and points to the fact the MAAFL could possibly grow to 10 teams within the very near future. That can only be great for Aussie Rules footy in the USA.
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