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