By Jonathon Boroski and Arvind Srinivasan
Last Saturday in Witikon the Zurich Intruders got everything they deserved from the football gods. The good, the bad and the ugly.
A shrewdly managed game against cross-town rival Renegades sewed up the fourth seed for the Intruders by way of a nail-biting 48-46 win. Hell bent on besting last year’s shoot out loss to the eventual champions, the Intruders matched their opponents blow for blow, including repeated strikes to Touchdown Toddy and Haidari to temper the Renegades’ west coast attack.
With minutes to go the Intruders sat 5 points away from glory. Like clockwork, the Intruders marched, as they had all day against the forgiving, ticklish underbelly of last year’s champs. Unlike last year, the Intruders finished their last drive with a touchdown, perhaps too quickly. All of the Intruders caught passes, but Haidari's last put the Intruders up with :14 seconds to play, leaving the Renegades time to mount a game-winning attempt of their own.
Who would be the defensive savior on the season’s last day? Would the Renegades’ hopes crash on the shores of Matthias Island? Would the outstretched arms of French Canadian fury snatch victory from the long arms of defeat? Gamblers would have bet on either those (or a Renegades victory), but on this sunny fall day in September, it was the shortest of odds that hit big on the final play from scrimmage.
2016 League MVP, Attila the No-run, took the snap and surveyed an array of down field options. Alas his receivers were blanketed by a sea of orange and white. Retreating deep into the pocket, the signal caller set up for a desperate final heave as the crowd fell silent. Nary a sound could be heard in Witikon, save for the rustling of autumn leaves and veteran Jim’s sideline banter. And then, a faint pop, followed by a shrill whistle to signal the end of regulation play. The only person more shocked by the whistle than Atti was Juan Sanchez, who had come up with the game winning sack. His teammates stormed the field, hoisting the oft maligned veteran on their shoulders, symbolically placing him in the rarefied air of Frauenfeld flag football greats. This marked the Intruders first regular season win against the Renegades, and summed up a magical season.
Sadly, the final game of the day was marred by blown coverages, incomplete passes, poor clock management and reckless abandon. Fighting for their playoff lives, the Soly Rhinos came out swinging (not literally, though that almost came later), scoring on their first drive with relative ease. While the Intruders answered, any hopes of a clean sweep in Witikon started to slip away as the minutes ran and tempers flared on both sides.
The piston pumping touchdown machine from the first game was slowly replaced by the frustrations, fatigue and ill advised plays that once seemed so 2013. Guay and Cipullo, like the hottie and the nottie of a mid-90s teen rom-com, could never quite hook up on the day, with many a bomb flittering harmlessly through the Rhinos secondary.
An inexcusable horse collar tackle by #81, who was promptly tossed from the match for unsportsmanlike contact unbefitting a non-contact (or contact for that matter) game. Like the tackle, the game got out of hand and the Rhinos booked their playoff ticket to Winterthur with relative ease, 29-20.
While the Rhinos game served as a bitter end to a magical season, the Intruders look ahead to playoff redemption in Winterthur. One game is guaranteed, but the glory filled promise of two more motivates this Intruders team to wade through injuries, controversies and ill timed vacations to wake up for Saturday’s 10:15 Wild Card tilt.
To help you sift through the who’s who and relevant Next Gen stats, here is a play-off preview to get you up to speed for Saturday’s action.
Zurich Intruders Playoff Preview EXTRAVAGANZA®
Players to watch
The multi-talented WR/CB/QB/Safety runs schemes on the field like he runs combs through his hair off the field.
Fun fact: Only uses conditioner imported from a the Balearic Islands, airlifted to his posh Altstetten abode every morning
The Intruders' hopes certainly hinge on their veteran QB, who has attributed his success this year to finally upgrading from sneakers to cleats.
Fun Fact: Improves his hip flexibility and evasiveness by dancing to early 90s R&B.
The "teddy bear" of the team reminded us this week that sometimes you get the teddy bear, and sometimes you get the grizzly bear. And sometimes the grizzly bear corrals the receiver from behind, and is banned from the play-offs.
After a season marred by absences and injury, he is listed as questionable in every category except taco recommendations, where he is listed as on point.
Also in this category since he was found sleeping on picnic tables after the end of the Witikon tournament.
Controversy abounded when it appeared he was kneeling for the national anthem, turns out he was just short.
The cornerback has established Matthias Island as the top destination for NFFL receivers looking to take a break from catching passes. He has been stealing hearts and play books (from the Swiss NT) in preparation for the playoffs. In classic Intruders style, the team has refused to practice them.
Given the Intruders' recent injury woes, the stalwart has been doing agility drills in his at-home custom American ninja warrior setup.
GOOD TO KNOW:
The Playoff games have been designated as Throwback Saturday, meaning that any Intruders fans rocking the OG fade jerseys are entitled to free entry (but have to watch Dave's kids).