ARC West Outlook
Pioneers, Voyagers, River Hogs, and Red Dragons
We will explore several moves made by RFL teams throughout the offseason, in an effort to get you caught up on what’s to come for Season 6. We’ll briefly touch on moves made through Free Agency, Trading, and The Draft. We aim to highlight key acquisitions and departures, who may impact the future of a team. We will take a statistical approach to analyzing the teams’ Season 5 performances. And, we will look to analyze a team’s avenues to success for the upcoming RFL Season 6. We hope to touch on each team and their endeavor to obtain an elusive Relo Bowl.
The Pioneers finished Season 5 at 4-12, which is winless in RFL play. The Pioneers struggled on all sides of the ball, and the offense was the weakest part of the team. They were last among the ARC in offensive yardage, total yardage, and points per game (the only team to score less than 20 ppg). Meanwhile, they faired slightly better on defense, notching the 3rd most yardage allowed behind the Aviators and Bisons, as well as the 2nd most points allowed. For a team that has been at the bottom of the league for some time now, the Pioneers have yet to develop their talent into a competitive unit. Looking to improve in many areas, the Pioneers elected to move their first overall selection in exchange for a quantity of key contributors (Star RE Roland Kaiser, 24-year old LOLB Harvey Ishmael, veteran LG Conor Busing, as well as the London Bulldogs' 2nd and 5th round selections. They would go on to utilize the 2nd round pick to add standout Notre Dame safety Cody John and the 5th round pick Ole Miss Kicker, Elliott Holmberg. While many questioned the move of the Pioneers to not select a building block player, the team felt it was best to address multiple holes at once. With so many additions at key positions, the Pioneers may finally be in position to build a competitive team around young QB George McAfton and the various playmakers already under contract (HB's Andre Tomlinson and Bryce Witherspoon, WR's Carrington Crowell and Pharoah Reignz II, ROLB Jesse Newhauser, and SS Claudeson Ramsey). The Pioneers are still on the outside looking in, until proven otherwise, but Season 6 may finally show us a team with an established direction.
At 11-5, the Voyagers missed out on playoffs due to tie breakers. An exciting team, with the 4th best offense in the ARC, the Voyagers were lead by a host of elite playmakers in QB Glenn Haye, WR Douglas Drayton, TE Nacho Cheeze, and WR Zay Wright. For having a group of highly touted defenders (CB Sheldon Rhinehart and LOLB Carter Delahart chief among them), the Voyagers' established only the 8th ranked defense in the ARC. Many expected the Voyagers to utilize the offseason to bolster their defense, and they did so by trading their first round pick to the London Bulldogs in exchange for a 2nd and CB Karlos Ghent. They then took the opportunity to double down on the offensive side of the ball, understanding their lead signal caller is now 31 years old, and the team is in their contention window. The Voyagers utilized their 7 draft picks to select 7 offensive players (ranging from RG Tramon Eckel to QB Brian Johnson). The Voyagers are certainly an intriguing team with a lot of firepower, and we are on the lookout for this team to make a postseason run during Season 6. They key for this team appears to be getting a small increase in defensive productivity.
The River Hogs finished Season 5 with a 10-6 record, missing out on playoffs by a small margin. With a strong defense, which ranked 3rd among ARC teams in yardage allowed and points allowed, the River Hogs will need to show improvement on their ARC 10th ranked offense in order to get over the hump. Having elite playmakers like HB Dre Shivers, WR Sylvester Leach, WR Angel Rosemond, and TE Rainey Shropshire, there's no excuse for veteran QB Hunter Mackey or 22-year old Jamea Kause not to flourish in the coming seasons. Whichever direction the River Hogs decide to go in Season 6, the team hopes to maintain a stout defense, but they must improve offensively if they hope to make a run. With many of their top players nearing the twilight of their careers, the River Hogs need to come up with an offensive game plan that will allow them to capitalize on the talent they've brought together. We expect the River Hogs to be somewhat competitive throughout Season 6, but only time will tell if they have what it takes to make a playoff push.
The Red Dragons ended the Season 5 regular season with a record of 13-3. As the three seed, they fought their way through fierce competition, inevitably clinching a Relo Bowl appearance. The Red Dragons went on to dominantly secure victory over the Columbus Explorers (40-24), proving to be the best team in Season 5, and becoming the first and only team to win two Championships in the RFL. Rookie QB Anthony Savoy became the 3rd rookie QB to win the Relo Bowl, and this team proved that a strong defense wins championships with the number 1 ranked ARC defense, but 12th-ranked ARC offense (yardage and ppg). Retaining primarily the same roster heading into Season 6, the Red Dragons made efforts to improve their depth, such as their first round selection of TE Tyler Henderson. We expect the multitude of elite playmakers on this team, in example CB Evonte Celestin (Relo Bowl MVP), LOLB Charles Raymond, ROLB Jack Higgins, and SS Alex Stone, to keep them on track for yet another deep playoff run in Season 6.
Keep an eye out for more division write ups as we get closer to the RFL regular season!