Twenty-six players started on September 1st in our inaugural PBEM Football Strategy tournament. Ten players were seeded by the number of laurels earned in this event at WBC. All those without laurels were randomly assigned the remaining spots. Of the 10 seeded players, 9 won their first round game, demonstrating that experience does pay off. The only upset in the first round was Chris Wildes defeating 2-time WBC Champion (and FBS GM) Bert Schoose in a 19-15 defensive struggle. Bert had the chance to win, getting the ball on his own 21 with 4 minutes left in the game, but turned the ball over on downs on a 4th and 7 with two minutes left.
With 13 people remaining, Bruce Reiff got the bye. The only upset in this round was former Avalon Hill Football Strategy League (AHFSL) member Andy Maly defeating another former AHFSL member and WBC player Jim Vroom 15-9 in another defensive struggle that also came down to the wire. Jim got the ball with 2 minutes left in the game and managed to drive down the field to put himself in position for a game-winning touchdown. But Andy managed to intercept Jim's 4th down pass in the end zone for the last play of the game.
Round three had six games played, with Doug Galullo getting the bye. The upset of the season was Bruce Reiff losing to Ray Stakenas 24 - 10. Bruce jumped out to a 10 - 3 lead early in the 2nd quarter, but those would be the only points he scored as Ray's offense took control of the game to score two TDs in the 2nd quarter to take a 17 - 10 lead at the half. The second half was dominated by both defenses. Ray's gutsy and very stingy defense clamped down, preventing Bruce from seriously putting up a threat, then managed to score his final TD early in the 4th quarter.
Round four was the final four - Doug vs Sean McCulloch and Paul O'Neil vs Ray. Doug defeated Sean 24 - 17 in yet another game that came down to the last drive. Sean got the ball with 1:15 left in the game on his own 39 - but with only 1 timeout remaining. He did manage to complete a long pass to get the ball to Doug's 31, but his last-play Hail Mary fell short - and into Doug's hands at the 1 as time expired.
The other Semifinal game, Ray vs Paul, was probably *the* game of the tournament. Paul was up 10 - 3 with 2 minutes left in the game, when Ray tied the game with a 30 yard TD pass with 1:45 left in the game. The 5th quarter was scoreless, with Paul missing a 52 yard field goal at the end of the first overtime. The second overtime was more of the same as both teams had two 3-and-out possessions. However, on Paul's second possession, his punt was blocked on his own 10 yard line. Rather than risk anything bad happening, Ray went for, and made the 28 yard FG for the win. This was yet another defensive battle, as the two teams combined for 17 punts and 3 turnovers on downs.
This set up the Final of Paul vs Sean for the Bronze Medal match, while Doug faced Ray in the Super Bowl. Again, Paul's defense was impressive, holding Sean to 3 points in the second half to win 27 - 13.
The Super Bowl started with Ray's offense dominating the 1st quarter - but only getting 6 points for their efforts on two FGs. Ray missed a third FG about half-way in the 2nd quarter, giving the ball to Doug on Ray's 34. Doug drove the length of the field to score a TD with 45 seconds left in the half, giving him a 7 - 6 lead. Ray's first drive in the second half ended with a punt to Doug's 4. Doug managed to put together a 7-minute, 15-play drive for 96 yards and the TD, giving him a 14 - 6 lead. Into the 4th quarter, and Ray kicks his third FG of the game to bring the score to 14 - 9. However, on the very next drive, Doug scores a touchdown - now it's 21 - 9. With the clock winding down, Ray throws two interceptions, the second resulting in another TD drive for Doug at the two minute warning. With Ray down 28 - 9 and 2 minutes to play, Ray lets the clock run out to end the game.
Congratulations to Doug!
The laurelists, in order, were: Doug Galullo, Ray Stakenas, Paul O’Neill, Sean McCulloch, Bruce Reiff, and Andy Maly