By Peter Lewis
FRAUENFELD - Last week, the Intruders stormed back to hand the ASVZ Mockingbirds their first loss of the season. Down 13-12 at the half, the Intruders dropped a 25-7 second half hammer on their hapless cross-town foes. Sadly, the tired Intruders lost their second game to the Midland Bouncers, leaving them once again to wallow in mid-table mediocrity.
It’s been that kinda 50/50 season.
As advanced metrics and Next Gen stats slowly conquer the modern sporting world, you’d hope for better odds than an errant coin toss. Coming into Week 5, it was the Intruder’s home tournament and the Sun God shone brightly on the Kleine Allmend sport’s field in Frauenfeld. Thanks to the wives, girlfriends and other supporters the day’s events ran smoothly. Without their help, tolerance and hard work, we simply couldn't do what we do week in and week out.
For the second year in a row, the Intruders family welcomed hungry visitors from across Suisse/Schweiz/Svizzera thirsting for the non contact pageantry that is SAFV Ultimate flag football. Once 11:30 rolled around, the Gray and Orange left behind the concession stand griddles for the familiar confines of the gridiron to battle the Yverdon Ducs in game 1 of a double bill.
The Ducs, now in their second league year, are breaking the surly bonds of the league’s underbelly to challenge the most seasoned opponents. Although the hobbled Intruder’s defense held up well for first few possessions, relentless slants and pinpoint throws by the Ducs QB kept the game close. The return of franchise QB Cipullo, fresh off his European tour of soccer matches and stadium filling dad rock concerts, marched the offense up and down the field like a well-tuned machine, leaving green clad defenders grasping at flags.
As the game wore on Zurich racked up 47 points over 40 minutes, their QB continually dropped dimes and rainbow bombs into the outstretched arms of veteran receivers Guay and Boroski, racing into the end zone like deliberate poetry in motion. Birthday boy Craig #18’s hands stayed solid all day, earning heaps of respect from both sidelines and sealing a 47-34 shootout victory.
With the midday sun piercing deep into Thurgau, beer sales rose and hydration once again became our mantra. Lining up against the younger, tougher opponent in the shape of the Winter Red Lions, the Intruders’s injuries and a lack of depth with many absentees loomed large. Still, the offense picked up where it left off, at least for the first three drives. Zurich found pay dirt on each of their first three drives, with Archie twisting and turning downfield leaving a host of Red Lions in his blingy wake.
Still, Winterthur, ever well prepared and drilled, learned from last season's failed aerial bombardment a year ago against these same Intruders. In the game's early stages, QB Hug leaned on the short passing in a first half performance that can only be described as Bortles-esque. The Red Lions feasted off a steady diet of quick strikes across the center using 7 yard gains to either move the ball or break long gains, matching the Intruders score for score.
Trailing by just 4 points at the half, the Intruders mustered to fight for the last 20 minutes before the long summer break allowed weary bones and shabby hamstrings to rest. The 4 point lead couldn’t be overcome, as the game slipped away following successive unfortunate picks in the red zone. The Red Lions, smelling blood on the well manicured field, unleashed their long passing game and won going away.
As the U13 & U16 seasons came to a crescendo surrounded by a mixed crowd of proud parents and Ultimate warriors, the Intruders closed the first half of their season at 5 and 5. The remainder of the 2018 campaign promises two manageable games and two very tough contests, though you'd be hard pressed to find a Vegas betting house offering straight odds on a 7-7 finish. Rather than employing cunning play calls and strategic doses of verbal encouragement against our foes, the Intruders will be forced to rely on the kindness of strangers and the inherent unpredictability of other outcomes for any chance of postseason glory.
Which is a shame. On a good day with a full squad, Zurich can mix it up with virtually any team and come away with a great result, as evidenced by their silencing of the Mockingbirds almost a fortnight ago. This team stands at a crossroads: do they want to run around for fun, or rededicate themselves to being truly competitive.
The choice is fairly simple. Sure, they can draft newer and younger players to bolster the roster, but the Intruders still need more commitment, that dirty “c” word that has different meanings across the squad. It's whether you juggle the team schedule released far in advance with adult responsibilities, find a dog babysitter or postpone that champagne brunch or mixed doubles bridge competition to Sunday. Each week, we've had teammates pull double duties as player and ref, play through broken bones, sore muscles and patchwork connective tissue, show up on their birthdays or go straight to work after the final whistle. This Zurich squad has a nine week layoff to heal up before their final two, possibly three games in late August through September to show the NFFL their true colors beyond their signature Orange and Gray.