Blitz start the season off on the right foot with a win! By Matt Gabrielson
Villa Park IL- The Chicago Blitz took the field for the first time on Sunday March 13, 2016 defeating the North Kentucky Nightmare with a final score of 33-22. Early on in the game it was a back and forth battle between two solid indoor football teams with the experience and depth of the Blitz proving to be too much as the game wore on. The Blitz were particularly solid on the defensive side of the football making it very difficult for the Nightmare to get into any kind of a consistent rhythm offensively. On the offensive side of the ball the Blitz overcame some early struggles to put together a very solid performance. When asked about his team’s performance Blitz head coach Mike Oliver said “We got our glitches out of the way, the guys clicked pretty well, we are pointed in the right direction and got the W!”
First games can be particularly tough to prepare for especially on the offensive side of the football. The Blitz offense had some growing pains early on in the football game but really found their grove as the game progressed. Blitz quarterback Demetrius Jones improvement throughout the game was the catalyst in getting the Chicago offense clicking and was named offensive player of the game for his efforts. Jones had this to say about how the offensive game plan was working “Once we found some rhythm with the passes everything else began to fall into place.” When asked how his offensive group overcame the early struggles Jones explained “We had some guys making some great catches on some bad balls putting us in better position”. The Chicago offensive line did a particularly good job of not only keeping Jones clean but opening up some big running lanes in a game where running the ball is not particularly easy. A beaming Coach O had this to say about his running game “I really liked what I saw out of our running game, with these rules it is a passing league but if you’ve got a running game here that’s a real big plus.”
Defensively the Blitz dominated the North Kentucky offense from the opening whistle to the final buzzer of the game. The front five of the Blitz gave consistent pressure on the Nightmare offense never allowing the North Kentucky quarterback much time to find an open receiver. Holding a team to only 22 points in the indoor game is very impressive and the Blitz defense surely opened some eyes with Sundays performance. With two interceptions Blitz defensive back Jorrick Calvin was named the defensive player of the game. When asked what made it look so easy for him on the field Calvin explained “We have a great D line, and a great linebacking group that put great pressure on the quarterback and just makes our job as DB’s very easy.” Sunday was Calvins first game in two and a half years due to an injury Calvin talked about his motivation “It has been 2 and a half years since I have been on a football field, so I really came out there with a chip on my shoulder.”
Special teams for the Blitz looked very good in the season opening win. Longtime Blitz placekicker and back to back special teams player of the year Julie Harshberger had a strong game despite the difficult conditions that kicking in the indoor game presents. In what may have been the most exciting play of the game Blitz wide receiver/kick returner Bryant “Speedy” Pascascio returned a missed field goal the entire length of the field for the game’s first touchdown. The Blitz kick coverage teams had a very solid game giving up very little to the Nightmare in the return game.
You never quite know what to expect when it is a team’s first game of the season, but the Blitz definitely answered the bell in this victory. While there were a few wrinkles that had to be ironed out early on, those wrinkles became less and less as the game progressed. The offensive growth throughout the game became more and more evident with every drive. There was already a buzz heading into the gam about what would be seen from the Blitz defense and they looked every bit the part in the victory. The Blitz next game is not for another 3 weeks. So if the team showed that much growth throughout a game imagine what they will do with an additional couple weeks of practice. If Sunday was any indication this Blitz team has the pieces in place to do something truly special in 2016.
The Chicago Blitz next game is Saturday April 2, 2106 7:05 PM at the Western Michigan Ironmen