New England Football League Colonial Conference Championship Preview | New England Football League
New England Football League

Colonial Conference Championship Preview

2017 Colonial Conference Championship Preview

OVERVIEW

The 2017 season was one of the most competitive ones we’ve seen in recent years. We had five teams tally five or more victories while seven of the ten league teams earned a SOV ranking of over .300. Teams like the North Shore Generals played spoiler to top teams throughout the season and even the Somerville Rampage showed some clear signs of life and a sure future in the top level. That all being said, there were two teams that stood the test every weekend. Both the Rhode Island Wardogs and the Connecticut Panthers tasted defeat twice during the regular season but made their way as top seeds in the playoffs and earned a right to compete for a title. “Watching throughout the season you knew that these two teams had a shot to be here on win it all.”

The two teams matched up for what could be seen as the “BEST” regular season game of the year. The teams combined for over 800 yards of offense along with amazing individual performances. In the end, the Panthers defense made enough late game stands to defeat the Wardogs 47-35. “Every fan left that game wanting to see these two teams square off again.”
Below is a preview of what we expect to see Saturday night.

CONNECTICUT PANTHERS

Jason Manson has thrown at least 2 touchdown passes in each game started this season

Offensive Summary: The once “BIG PLAY” team has turned into a systematic balanced attack under Coach Mark Welch. The arrival of former Iowa Hawkeye Jason Manson at quarterback has secured the most important position on the field. Manson accurate passing has allowed running back Kevin Woolfolk to have his most productive season at the minor league level. Do everything- Jamie Bryant now can be utilized in smaller but more impacting doses to help his team reach a third championship game since 2013.

Defensive Summary: Always statistically a top ranking unit, the Panthers defense has drastically changed their personnel over the past years. The David Reese’s and Dustin Lindon’s are replaced by Josh Rhodes and Rashawn McKenzie. Former receiver turned defensive end Akwon Shabazz controls the edges and Jon Manning and Rueben Burger are tops in the secondary. The recent emergence of Mike Easley at safety has secured the middle of the field for the Panthers.

RHODE ISLAND WARDOGS

Marquem Moore will be featured on offense, defensive, and in the return game

Offensive Summary: By far the most dominate offensive unit in the league the past few seasons. MVP Jeff Costa has totaled over 60 touchdown passes collectively over the past two years. He’s the best passer since Jon Speidel in the early 2000’s. He’s aided by receivers Antonio Mena, Marquem Monroe, and Elliott Wright. “Best show on turf,” a fan said about the high-flying Wardogs, “they play so fast its’ hard for most defenses to keep up.”

Defensive Summary: Over-shadowed by their offensive teammates, the Wardogs have standouts on the defensive side also. Secondary ace Thomas Belin controls the airwaves for the Wardogs. Jared Coyle is a flexible linebacker that is strong against the pass and the run. “They have players on that side of the ball too.” Rotating multiple players on their defensive line, the Wardogs have 4 players with more than 3 sacks each. Giving up 21 unanswered points in last year’s championship game will clearly motivate these guys to play their best when the game is on the line.

“Saturday night will be a show,” said NEFL Representative Bernie Armstrong, “this was a great matchup during the regular season; now with all the chips on the table; this will be a special night for all in attendance.”.

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