It’s all come down to this. The D.C. Conspiracy and Texas Terrors are here, and we shall have a first-time OIFL Champion. Now, not everyone’s new to the OIFLCup Game. Texas has been to the top twice, only to see failure. The Conspiracy both haven’t been here, nor have very much in the way of players that have. Everyone’s hungry. Two franchises with long-time RB stalwarts (Corey Palso & Markelle Cox) are looking to get their guys to glory in the twilights of their careers.
Conspiracy offense vs Terrors defense
The D.C. Conspiracy have built an offense around consistently operating a strong read option run game, and the ability to throw it all over the field just in case. Adam Kruse learned how to do this via top-5 all-time QB Dan Jackson. Now, unlike Jackson, Kruse can run. His legs knocked the Squirrels out of the playoffs, and his arm helped knock the Rush out of the playoffs. Kruse has all the weapons you could want. Corey Palso is still a top-5 back in the league, and he has another top-20 back in Jonas Mouton backing him up. Cornell Sarvas, Alex Emmons, Tommy Fairchild, Rasheide Benefield, Kway Richardson – plenty of options. While DC doesn’t go four-wide ever, they could. And Palso’s effective enough catching that they can afford it. Jason Faber, Erik Brooks, and Trevor Bruttenholm form one of the top starting lines in the league. Depth is not the strength if someone gets knocked out, but that’s not going to be a huge concern in this one-off game. Play till your legs fall off – this is the OIFLCup Game!
Texas provides an effective counter-punch. The defensive line is perhaps the OIFL’s best with Bill Christoff, Leslie Peine, and Antoine Calp. Depth is strong here, as Tremaine Mack and Joey Weinstein will both play plenty. Markelle Cox is one of the OIFL’s all-time best linebackers, and the backfield of Brook Crawford, Norm Whittington, Shaun Bollings, Emerson Kalp, Ja’Mario Reese, and Frederick Pilarowski provide cover for all DC wants to do. And they get the added boost of Achilles Byron returning from the concussion early. Based on this side of the equation, we may be in store for a very low-scoring OIFLCup Game.
Terrors offense vs Conspiracy defense
Of course, not if these guys have anything to say. Van Nostran is no stranger to wild offensive games – after all, he was trained in the Robert Cole style. Brook Crawford and Markelle Cox combine for a strong run game, while Whittington/Bollings/Tywon WIlliams/Byron/RiQuan Peck – the Texas offense has weapons. Add that Christoff/Peine/Calp line that may also be the OIFL’s best on this side, and Texas can score with anyone.
But, the Conspiracy also have something to say here. Palso is every bit Cox’s equal at linebacker, and the defensive backfield of Sarvas, Emmons, Nevil Haze, and Blake Blaze has caused teams fits all year long. Where DC has struggled is against power run teams, as the secondary isn’t the league’s best tackling group. Of course, against Faber/Brooks/Bruttenholm, you have to get to that second group, which has been the issue. This may well be another chess match on both sides.
The special teams battle
Tommy Fairchild for the Conspiracy and Tywon Williams for the Terrors provide all the kick return strength you could want. D.C. has gone with Rasheide Benefield at times as well, but in a game like this, I suspect they keep with Fairchild.
Rookie Stephen Smyka may be the OIFL’s rookie of the year, despite a rookie class that’s gotten a lot of play (relative to others). Smyka’s 46-yard field goal sent DC to the OIFLCup Game, and he’s hit numerous other big kicks. Gary Hoffert, however, is the 12th-year veteran kicker that has helped Texas get this far as well. Slight edge here to the Terrors.
This shapes up to be another fun OIFLCup Game. The only thing for sure is that the long-time running back that’s the face of their franchise will be the first guy to hoist the OIFLCup when their team wins.