St. Gallen (Playoffs? Playoffs!?!?)
If first impressions count for anything, the NFFL can expect a tour de force from the 2016 Zurich Intruders.
In their season opener, the Intruders dispatched the ever-rebuilding Basel Barbarians by a mercy rule invoking 61-6 hammer drop. A brace of long distance TDs from gunslinger David Cipullo to Jonathon "Beast" Boroski sealed a pole to post victory for the Grau Orangen. The Barbarians quarterback by committee failed to solve the new look Intruders defense, whose Rex Ryanesque disguised looks and pressure packages kept Basel out of the end zone all day. Game (and postgame BBQ) MVP Francis Guay marshaled the secondary expertly, playing a hybrid safety-cornerback-linebacker role that stymied Basel's attack. First year quarterback Chad Yazzie debuted with a pair of scores, and only a late game pick six by Cipullo prevented a clean sheet for Zurich.
The second game against the upstart Luzern Pikes began much like the first, with a long distance catch and run by Arvind Srinivasan to open the scoring. Unfortunately, the ghosts of missed tackles past haunted the Intruders defense, as the Pikes returned the favor a play later to tie it up. Both teams traded scores until Guay picked off a Pikes desperation heave, setting up the Intruders offense for another touchdown and much needed breathing room. Shortly before the half, rookie CB Matthias Pfiffner’s highlight reel interception ended another Luzern drive and Zurich went into the locker room up three scores.
Second half struggles plagued last year’s Intruders and looked to resurface again as their defense surrendered a quick score and the offense sputtered to open the second half. However, rotational depth and veteran leadership righted the ship, with Cipullo coolly leading the Intruders down the field for back-to-back TDs. A Yazzie to Haidari two-part touchdown pass closed the curtain on the Balsinger trilogy, as the Intruders went home undefeated, leading the league in both points per game and total points allowed. Asked after the game about the team’s hard fought 52-32 victory, game MVP Srinivasan simply said “No pressure , no diamonds.”
Rumors have surfaced in the week following that a raucous party may have taken place at Guay's Zurich loft directly after the game, making some wonder whether he may be taking after Deion Sanders both on and off the field. As the Intruders administration has embraced talented athletes with character concerns in the past, one only wonders whether off the field issues will impact performance going forward. When reached for comment, "Fourth-And" Juan Sanchez blithely responded, "You can't take the ribs out of the cribs," and sent these pictures, along with others less suitable for public consumption.
Undoubtedly the quality of competition will increase as the season wears on, but barring injuries and absences related to adult responsibilities, the Intruders certainly have the makings of a playoff contender.