Blitz Fall to River City on the road By: Matt Gabrielson
ST Charles MO-The Chicago Blitz suffered its second loss of the season to the River City Raiders by a final score of 47-34 on Saturday April 23, 2016 at the Family Arena in St. Charles Missouri. Saturday night’s game was truly a game of two halves with River City pulling away late in the game. At one point late in the second quarter the Blitz rolled off twenty one straight points and had a two score lead early in the third quarter before the Raiders took over. This was not a typical indoor football game as both teams scored in bunches with the Raiders scoring three straight touchdowns after the Blitz twenty one straight points. When asked to evaluate his team’s performance Chicago head coach Mike Oliver recalled ““The first and second half were two completely different games, we came into half time and went up two scores which was our plan and we didn’t play so well in the second half.” Wide receiver James Walton had a similar explanation on the Blitz performance “We played hard and honestly they made more plays than we did, we had a two score lead and didn’t do enough as an offense to hold onto it.”
The Blitz offense got off to a slow start in Saturday night’s loss but that is to be expected with Andre Locke starting his first game of the season. However after a slow first quarter Locke did a tremendous job in the second quarter leading his team to twenty one unanswered points. “Andre did a great job and this was his first start he took quite a bang but bounced back from that” explained Coach O when evaluating his quarterbacks performance. The Blitz wide receivers made life a little easier for their new quarterback with their performance against a very tall and talented Raiders defensive backfield. “They had some holes in the zone that we were trying to exploit, Boobie (Brian Miles)and Speedy (Bryant Pascascio) did a great job of taking the top off allowing the underneath routes to come there” explained wide receiver James Walton on the wide receivers performance. The Chicago offensive line did a solid job of protecting Locke in the first half. However the Raiders began blitzing more often creating more pressure on Locke. “They blitzed us pretty heavy and we had a hard time with that and it knocked him out of his vision and lane “explained Blitz coach Mike Oliver on the offensive lines second half performance.
The Chicago Blitz defense is currently the top ranked defense in the AIF and they showed why in Saturday night’s game despite falling short on the scoreboard. Defensively the Blitz continue to force turnovers game in and game out with interceptions by defensive back Deshon Conley, defensive end/linebacker Deandre Mosley and one fumble recovery by defensive linemen Karl Grant against the Raiders. When asked what makes his defensive unit so strong defensive linemen Karl Grant explained “We are all hungry to be the best defense in the league, I give the credit to the rest of this defense for all of us playing strong, and coach Stone for getting us ready up front every week.” The Blitz also had another very strong game up front getting consistent pressure on the Raiders quarterback throughout the game. Grant also had this to say about why this unit continues its success “The fact that we all bond well as players and teammates.”
Special teams were a bit of a mixed bag in the loss. Blitz defensive back/kick returner Jorrick Calvin had a solid game returning kicks and setting up the offense with good field position for the majority of the contest. The kick coverage unit struggled a bit against a very dangerous returner for the Raiders they were awarded some very good field position much of the game on some long kick returns. Blitz kicker Igor Materic evaluated his game saying “The Open high ceilings helped a little bit but I could have been better.” It was an onside kick that was returned for a touchdown that sealed the victory for the Raiders. It was a bit of an unusual onside kick as Materic barely kicked the ball letting it dribble the ten yards in an attempt for the Blitz to recover and give their offense the ball back. The ball ultimately went off of a Raiders player’s foot into the endzone and River City recovered the football for a touchdown. When asked about the onside kick Materic explained “We worked on it with the semi pro team I played with, we tried to get it ten yards down the field while trying to get the point guys to create the opening for me to recover it. Unfortunately the ball took a bad bounce and went backwords instead of forwards”
This loss was a very difficult one for the Blitz on Saturday night. With a short eight game schedule this loss will make it a much tougher road for the Blitz to make it back to the playoffs. “We are 2-2 and we could still qualify mathematically so we have to pick up the pieces, move on to our next game and get right back to work” explained Blitz head coach Mike Oliver about where the Blitz goes from here. The resolve of this Blitz team is going to be strongly tested over these last few weeks of the AIF regular season. That being said this Blitz team has shown every game they do not back down no matter what the situation presents. Running the table and making the playoffs is not out of the question for the Chicago Blitz.
The Blitz returns home for their next game on Saturday May 7, 2016 for a 7 PM kick versus the Memphis X Sounds at the Odeum in Villa Park
Blitz Come Away With Hard Fought Victory over the Nightmare By: Matt Gabrielson
Villa Park IL- The Chicago Blitz (2-1) bounced back this week with a solid 36-24 win over the North Kentucky Nightmare (0-4) on Saturday April 9, 2016 at the Odeum in Villa Park. Getting off to a fast start was the goal for the Blitz and ultimately it was the key to getting the win over the Nightmare for the second time this season. Chicago exploded out of the gates outscoring the Nightmare 20-6 in the first quarter. However the Nightmare would not go away clawing their way back into the game and giving the Blitz everything they could handle in what could be best described as a slugfest right until the final seconds of the game. Ultimately a interception returned for a touchdown by defensive back Deshon Conley with less than a minute to play in the game sealed the victory for the Blitz. “This win gets us back on track, we really need to win out to make sure we make the playoffs, we have our work cut out for us but we are back on track” explained Blitz head coach Mike Oliver on the importance of this victory. When asked about his team’s resiliency for a second straight week a beaming Coach Oliver responded “They are warriors there’s no give up in these guys, there are some things we need to work on but these guys just never give up”
The Blitz offense was really able to find its openings early on in this game putting up 20 points in the first quarter. Chicago’s offense did a particularly good job of running the ball at the goal line as evidenced by running back Keenan Miller’s back to back rushing touchdowns in the first quarter. Not to be left out of the scoring party receiver and team captain Bryant “Speedy” Pascascio found the end zone late in the first quarter. In his second game with the team and first full start of the season Quarterback Tony Powell put another solid game together spreading the ball around and not allowing the Nightmare defense to key on any particular receiver. A key piece to the Blitz offense the last two weeks has been the return of wide receiver Brian “Boobie” Miles. When asked how he has been able to make such an impact Miles explained ““The anxiousness of getting back to the team and really missing it, and really having a passion of being back with the guys it has just been really great.” The second half however was not as kind to the Blitz offense as they were only able to muster three points for the entire half.
Defensively the Blitz put together yet another strong outing. “The talent and the comradery, we play great as a defensive unit and it is all working in our favor right now” explained defensive back Deshon Conley about the strength of his defense. The defensive line continued to impress with constant pressure on the Nightmare quarterback. The Blitz defensive line was able to continue to play well despite losing defensive end Ryan O’Neill and defensive end Deandre Mosley playing linebacker this week. Defensive back Jorrick Calvin continued his strong season with an interception with just under seven minutes to play in the game. The Nightmare were knocking on the endzone door with less than a minute to play in the game when Blitz defensive back Deshon Conley read a passing play intercepting the pass and taking it all the way back for the game sealing touchdown for the Blitz. When asked about what he saw on the play Conley reminisced “I knew from when we played them in week one what they like to run in the goal line situation, so I read it and just broke on the flat.”
The Chicago Blitz special teams had a strong bounce back game with this week’s win. New Blitz kicker Igor Materic had a very solid outing going 4-5 on extra points and 1-2 on field goal attempts. Kick returns were another area of strength for the Blitz giving the Chicago offense good starting field position for the majority of the game. Brian “Boobie” Miles had a very impressive kick return for a touchdown early in the second quarter. “Everyone keeping composure and just keeping that next play mentality, it’s not always going to happen and be in our favor we always have to have that next play mentality and keep moving and going” explained Miles about his thought process on the kick return touchdown. Chicago’s kick coverage teams had a much improved game not giving the Nightmare returners any room to work with.
While this game was not a perfect one, it was a win and in the end that is all that matters. The Chicago Blitz refusal to get rattled by any situation continues to loom large in every game they have played this season. Adversity continues to knock on the door of this team and continually the Blitz refuse to answer that door, and that is the mentality that champions are made of. The Blitz have played in 3 fairly close games scoring wise to start 2016. With only eight games played in the AIF (American Indoor Football league) schedule the Blitz are already near the midpoint of the season. With River City and West Michigan each suffering one loss already this season it is a tight race for who will make the playoffs. The mental makeup of this team will continue to be important moving forward as it could be the difference in making the playoffs or not. If the showing by the Blitz the first three games is any indication it would not be wise to sleep on the 2016 Chicago Blitz.
The Blitz are off this coming weekend but return to action on April 23, 2016 with a road game versus the River City Raiders in St. Charles MO.
Blitz Fall in Final Minute in First Road Game By Matt Gabrielson
Photo Courtesy Briane Amodeo Chicago Blitz/BriAmo Photography Inc.
Muskegon MI-The Chicago Blitz (1-1) lost a heartbreaker to the West Michigan Ironmen (2-1) by a final score of 34-30 on Saturday night April 2, 2016. Though the Blitz trailed for a majority of the game they were able to take 30-28 lead over the Ironmen with 45 seconds remaining in the game. Unfortunately West Michigan returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown taking back the lead with 28 seconds remaining. A late interception in the end zone with just 14 seconds remaining ended the Blitz comeback hopes. When asked about his team’s resiliency Chicago head coach Mike Oliver explained “I thought we battled back real well and that was evident when we took the lead late in the game with 45 seconds left.”
A big story in this game was a hand injury to starting quarterback Demetrious Jones just before halftime. Recently signed back up Tony Powell stepped up very admirably nearly leading the Blitz to a victory. When asked about his backup quarterbacks play Blitz head coach Mike Oliver had this to say “”That’s the reason we brought Tony in and he came in on real short notice, and you can’t really replace a guy like DJ (quarterback Demetrious Jones) Tony brings in his own set of skills to the table and he did a heck of a job for us.” Powell did a tremendous job of spreading the ball around never allowing the defense to key on any one receiver. “It’s tough but it’s not but it’s not because I know my teammates have my back and they help me with their play” explained Powell when asked how he played so well despite coming into the game cold.
The Blitz had tremendous success converting fourth downs as the game wore on. All three Blitz wide receivers getting in on the action making solid contributions throughout the game. Bryant “Speedy” Pascascio, James Walton, Brian “Boobie” Miles and running back Keenan Miller all making key catches in crucial moments for the Blitz. Blitz quarterback Powell had nothing but praise when discussing his wide receiver core “I just tried to make a play and I have some great receivers that helped us keep the ball moving on those fourth downs”
Despite coming out on the losing end of the scoreboard the Blitz defense played a really solid game only allowing 2 touchdowns the entire game. The defensive line had constant penetration never allowing much time for the West Michigan offense to develop any kind of rhythm. “We only gave up 28 yards total in the first half and continued to make plays in the second half and unfortunately they scored on some fluky plays” explained Blitz linebacker Lorenzo Hood. Defensive back Jorrick Calvin had another solid game with one interception and also had an interception returned for a touchdown that was unfortunately called back on a penalty. Blitz coach Mike Oliver praised his defense “Our defense did a real good job of keeping us in the game, they made some big plays that allowed our offense opportunities and kept the game from getting out of control.”
Chicago’s special teams units had a very difficult time in this game. Kicker Julie Harshbarger had an uncharacteristically off night in a very difficult kicking environment. The Blitz coverage units struggled mightily giving up two touchdowns. The first on a missed field goal attempt late in the second quarter and the second on kickoff return with 45 seconds left in the game.
There are no moral victories in football, but the Blitz have much to be proud of despite this loss. The character this team displayed in their refusal to give up despite so much adversity thrown their way throughout the game is what champions are made of. Despite being down 28-12 at one point in the third quarter the Blitz battled back to take a 30-28 lead with less than a minute to play. It is so important in the indoor game to keep battling like that as the momentum can swing so fast like it did in this game. One loss does not define a season and no team is going to exemplify that more than the 2016 Chicago Blitz!
The Blitz are back home this Saturday at the Odeum in Villa Park for a 7 PM kickoff