New England Football League Southern Semifinal | New England Football League
New England Football League

Southern Semifinal

The Militia’s offensive line will have to play a big part in this weekend’s semifinal                

WEST HAVEN, CT- As the 2015 season closes with two games left on the schedule, the semifinal match-up for the Southern Division teams has the two same clubs from last year with a few definite differences.

WESTERN CONNECTICUT MILITIA
– 9-1 Regular Season; #1 Seed in the Division – Most Points Scored in AAA

OFFENSE: The headline is clearly the injury to Western Connecticut Militia’s quarterback Kevin Oberg. “He’s arguably the best player on the best team in the NEFL” said Representative Bernie Armstrong, “it’s a blow to any team to lose their quarterback; he did so much for his team it will be impossible to replace his impact.” Oberg is the passing leader of the team along with being the second leading rusher in team history. “He hurts you both with his arm and his feet; he’s one of the top duel threat guys around.”

The Militia’s hopes are in the hands of a young Nick Kimball and a massive offensive line lead by 6’4, 350 pound Mike Swartz and 6’6, 325 Brian Ostaszewski. “We have to put Nick in a good situation regarding our play calling and running game” said Head Coach Lonnie Young, “we have the hogs and the backs to get it done”. Lead by Lionel Assie, the Militia have been boosted by veteran runner Aaron Taylor and the quick-footed Moquan Dickens. “We will move the ball around in a couple different ways; we have a clear plan on what we want to do on offense.”

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Jovan Wilkens (16) could be the difference in the game for the Militia

DEFENSE: Defensively the team is maybe the best they’ve ever been. A great front seven for the past few years, the improvements made in the secondary changed the fortunes for this team. Longtime defensive backs Eric Forde and Tyrone Breece were joined by 6’3 Dwight Franklin (5 interceptions this season), Darrel Carter, Anthony Lucas, and Rookie of the Year Candidate Jovan Wilkins.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Great kick coverage teams helped the Militia secure field position. First year player Louis Moore established himself as one of the top special teamers in the league averaging 4 tackles per game. Wilkins doubled as a spectacular kick and punt returner all season. The key may be kicker Tyler Kurjiaka. The strong legged All Star puts most kickoffs in the end zone and puts the Militia in scoring position as soon as they cross mid-field.

CONNECTICUT PANTHERS
– 9-1 Regular Season; #2 Seed in the Division – Least points allowed in AAA

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Snowden (above) and the Panthers are looking to make their third consecutive trip to the NEFL Finals

OFFENSE: The Panthers have started three different quarterbacks this season. However, the combination of both Richie Snowden and Jamie Bryant has led this team to two consecutive NEFL Championships and two National Championship crowns. “They work well together and feed off each other’s success” said Head Coach Mark Welch. The two combined for 20 touchdowns in ten games and are caring double-digit game winning streak into this weekend’s battle. Akwon Shabazz and Kareem Robinson were the team leaders in receptions but both Kyle Watkins and Ziggy Bailey have chipped in to become threats as the season has progressed.

DEFEENSE: What else can be said about the Panthers defense. The top rated group for the third consecutive year, they have been fantastic run stoppers along with limiting quarterbacks with success in the air. All Stars David Reese, Dustin Lindon, and Moose Welch all demand a double team on the front line on a given play. A void left by the retired Courtney Sutherland has been picked up admirably by Rashawn McKenzie. Shante Wynn and Sir Snowden are still stoppers in the secondary. Probably the most underrated of the Panthers defensive All Stars would be Andrew Pratt. A linebacker with the speed of a corner back, Pratt could be the most versatile player in the division. “In theory he can do it all” said Snowden, “he can cover, tackle in the open field, and without a doubt get the quarterback; his skillset allows us to do so many things”.

SPECIAL TEAMS: People have questioned the Panthers attention to the kicking game this season as they’ve allowed some big returns in the latter parts of some games. Expect that to tighten up this time of the year. Few returners have had the success that Bryant has had in the post season. Without a special teams score this year look for him to break the slump when the game counts the most. The Panthers did however bring in one of the most accurate placekickers over the past 10 years this offseason with Andy Benzicewicz. The current Dallas resident flies in on game day in hopes to win his third NEFL Championship (2010 and 2011 Connecticut Bearcats). “This is a great group of guys” said Benzicewicz, “I’ve won with them in the past so what better group to try to make another run with”.

WRAP UP: This is the fourth consecutive year that these two teams are meeting in the semifinal round with the Panthers winning the previous three. “It was a great year in the South but most people knew that these two teams would probably be in this spot at the end of the year” said Armstrong. “I’ve seen the both offenses control this game and in last year’s game the score was 6-3; all we know for a fact is this game will come down to the fourth quarter as it always does”.

Week 12 PreviewD

Few players have had more success in the playoffs then Jamie Bryant (above)

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