NRC South Outlook
Wizards (FKA Marshalls), Lancers, Desperados, Diablos
After the RFL season comes to completion, each organization creates a blueprint for their future. Whether a team is looking to rebuild, retool, or anything of the sort, each team has a design for how to get there. The RFL Offseason, encompassing free agency, the draft, and all of the small details in-between, is the tool used to bring those blueprints to life. One of the most compelling aspects of the RFL is watching how each team's blueprint fluctuates and culminates in a final product at the start of the next season.
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.
Orlando Wizards (FKA San Antonio Marshalls)
The Orlando Wizards (FKA San Antonio Marshalls) laid claim to the NRC South with a commanding 13-3 performance during Season 5. The then Marshalls would go on to lose 27-13 to the NRC Relo Bowl representative Columbus Explorers. Returning the majority of their starters in Season 6, less perennial pro bowl DE Rashard Sippio (Now a member of the Thunderbirds), the now Wizards are preparing for another run at a Relo Bowl. Following an offseason rebranding, the now Wizards will look to continue their run of elite play on both sides of the ball (4th in ppg and 3rd in ppg allowed). Second-year MLB Raysean Berry will lead the defense following his Rookie-Of-The-Year campaign in Season 5. Berry is joined by elite, veteran playmakers LOLB Levi Mack and CB Jarrett Whiteside on the defensive side of the ball. From an offensive perspective, the Wizards will look to HB Cornel Mickens, TE Jarrett Funchess, and veteran signal-caller Tyler Agramonte to lead the charge. Young WR Sean Acosta will also look to improve upon a great performance going into his second season (101 catches, 1,184 yards, 5 TD's). With their draft picks of WR Devon Flores of Notre Dame and LE Morris Wright of Alabama utilized to bolster their roster, the Wizards are primed to retake the division in Season 6.
The OKC Lancers ended Season 5 with an 11-5 record, narrowly reaching a playoff berth. In the wildcard round, the Lancers would win a tough bout with the Steamers 24-21. Advancing to the next round, the Lancers were then eliminated in dominant fashion as they were blanked 23-0 by the Thunderbirds. The Lancers' playoff elimination proved one thing: If they want to be able to compete with the best teams in the NRC, they need to improve upon their offense in Season 6 (4th worst in the NRC). Having a top 5 defense, lead by stars ROLB Tim Pennington, RE Chase Schilling, and FS Cole McAnally, the Lancers were expected to bolster their offense during the offseason. They added LG Deontae Cates of Nebraska via the RFL draft, but were relatively quiet otherwise. If the Lancers can implement a game plan to squeeze more production out of their offensive playmakers (HB's Risean Gary and Nare O'Quinn III, WR Colt Cruise, and QB Trey Maison III), they could look to return to Relo Bowl Contention. For having this level of firepower, the Lancers' hopes of success lie with their ability to improve upon their bottom four offense (yardage and ppg). It seems as though the major obstacle that is standing between this team and a Relo Bowl would be the right game plan.
The Austin Desperados also managed and 11-5 record in Season 5, but were unable to punch a ticket to the playoffs. Tied at 11-5 with their division rival Lancers, the Desperados missed playoffs due to tie breakers. With a disappointing end to Season 5, the Desperados may have also met a disappointing end to their championship window. As starting QB Chase Mason turns 36, and many other veterans on the team are trailing off at the end of their careers, many see a rebuild coming from the Desperados. Along with the aging and significant regression of key players at QB, TE, LT, LG, C, MLB, and CB, the Desperados parted way with elite SS Ethan King. This team will look to build around HB Te'Veon Hall, who won Best HB in the NRC and is only 25 years old. While Te'Veon Hall always gives this team a chance at contention, the holes in this roster may prove to be too significant to surmount. In addition to the obstacles noted, the Desperados have a crowded QB room. Incumbent starter Chase Mason will look to fend off 23-year-old Eric Fisher and rookie Kevin Crockett of UCF. The Desperados are an extremely intriguing team to watch, because we seek to determine which direction they're going to take to reform the team, and they did have the number one offense in terms of yardage and number 2 in terms of ppg in Season 5.
The Mexico City Diablos rounded out the NRC South at 9-7 in Season 5. With chances to capture a playoff spot, the Diablos failed to capitalize on their opportunities. Seeking a playoff spot in Season 6, the Diablos field an excellent core group of players, lead by 36-year-old veteran QB Aaron Pritchett. Though the Diablos have multiple aging veterans, they are supplemented by a tremendous amount of young talent. From 23-year old WR Pic McCullough and 25-year old WR Rashaad Williams to CB Gianni Shiloh, HB Madison Axel, and RE William Yost, the Diablos have a lot of upside as they continue to seek improvement. They did just that in the offseason with their draft selection of LE Timothy Staton, SS Greg Pounds, and TE Lonnie Poole - all players who could foreseeably make an impact in Season 6. If the Diablos can capture another solid year from Pritchett, they will certainly look to compete. Ultimately, this team's hopes lie with the development of their young supporting cast in an effort to improve upon their 7th-ranked offense and 2nd worst defense behind only the London Monarchs (2nd most yardage allowed). The Diablos made additions to their team at many key positions, but Season 6 will give us a good indication if their remaining gaps on the roster are still too much to overcome.
Keep an eye out for more division write ups as we get closer to the RFL regular season!