June 29, 2023
By Daniel Cohen
Key games for the league’s top teams this week, as DC, New York, and Salt Lake will look for big individual contributions to keep momentum going into their respective playoff runs. Elevated roles, consistency when it’s needed most, and MVP-level play are the themes for this week’s watch list as we head into the third full month of the season.
Christian Boxley, DC Breeze (Pictured)
Last time the DC Breeze played the New York Empire back in Week 3, Christian Boxley set career highs in both assists (4) and receiving yards (311), as he was directly involved in over a third of DC’s total scores on the night. Seemingly always right where his team needs him, Boxley effortlessly glides between the backfield, midfield, and deep space as the offense’s most dynamic receiving threat; through the team’s first eight games of the season, Boxley leads the team in receiving yards by nearly 500 more than the next closest player, and he’s averaging over 50 more receiving yards per game than last year. He has the straight-line speed to take the top off defenses plus the quickness to operate underneath as a chain-mover, and he’s sure to be busy tomorrow night in another meeting with the Empire—he’s averaged over five scores per game in four matchups with New York since he rejoined the Breeze last year.
Travis Dunn, San Diego Growlers
In the five games he’s played so far this season, Travis Dunn has been an outright scoring machine. He’s averaging 8.2 scores per game and has thrown or caught the goal on 43.2 percent of all Growlers scores in the games he’s played. With several notable departures this past offseason, Dunn’s touch numbers have increased significantly in his eighth season, as the team’s been leaning on him more than ever when he’s been active. But with a more aggressive scoring mindset and higher volume, turnovers become the question; Dunn recorded three or more throwaways in four of five games this season, all losses, while his one turnover-free game was the Growlers’ 22-19 win over Portland. San Diego has a chance this week for a huge statement win at home against the first place Shred, especially with Salt Lake playing the second game of a back-to-back—it’s going to take a lights out performance from Dunn to pull off the upset.
Ben Jagt, New York Empire
Ben Jagt is on career milestone watch: Jagt is three assists away from becoming the first player in AUDL history to reach 300 career assists and 300 career goals. When he played DC earlier this year, he threw a season-high four assists, including a short dish following his highlight-reel towering sky in overtime. Milestones aside, Jagt’s presence in this game is likely going to be critical, seeing as these games typically come down to the wire and the two-time MVP has proven time and time again to be among the most clutch players in the league. A developing subplot to Jagt’s season has been his emergence as New York’s primary puller—his 84 pulls currently rank sixth most in the league, and he’s pulled 50 more times than Marques Brownlee, who’s led the team in pulling every year since joining in 2018. Whether it’s his ability to pin DC deep in their end zone, his free safety range on defense, or offensive playmaking on the counterattack, Jagt is sure to make plenty of noise in DC vs. New York Round 2.
Sean McDougall, Los Angeles Aviators
While Pawel Janas got plenty of hype as the Aviators’ biggest offseason addition, and deservedly so, Sean McDougall has been the team’s MVP through the first nine weeks in his return to LA. He just does everything for this team, and does it all so well. He’s the best deep receiver on the team, if not the division, he can unload beautiful continuation shots with his smooth step-out backhand, and he’s got the defensive instincts and athleticism to earn momentum-shifting blocks. He’s having arguably the most well-rounded season of anyone in the league right now and has been on fire through LA’s five-game win streak; McDougall is averaging nearly eight scores and over one block per game this month. He’ll look to stay hot against the number two power-ranked team in the league in tomorrow’s Free Friday Frisbee game.
Jacob Miller, Salt Lake Shred
We generally don’t see high scoring numbers for players that complete 98 percent or better with a high volume of touches—these are typically the reset or “pivot” handlers whose number one goal is to maintain possession—but Jacob Miller is an outlier; of the 37 players completing 98 percent of their throws or better this year, Miller is the only one with over 30 scores. And when you look at the league’s top 80 yardage-getters, Miller leads them all in completion rate while ranking top 20 in the league in total yards. His play has leveled up considerably this year, and he’s been the perfect complement to everyone else on the Shred O-line, whether he’s operating in the backfield with Sean Connole or serving as a midfield hybrid launching in-rhythm dimes to Jordan Kerr. Arguably their most important chemistry piece, Miller will look to serve as an important stabilizing presence for this weekend’s double header road trip, as the Shred look to maintain their 2023 perfection in SoCal.
Xavier Payne, Indianapolis AlleyCats
Xavier Payne has been flawless at home this year. Playing in Indy this season, Payne has recorded 40-plus completions without a throwaway in all three games thus far. After leading the team’s record-setting D-line offense last season, Payne switched over to the O-line for 2023 and is thriving alongside Travis Carpenter as a primary O-line handler. Ever since the first game of the season when he had five throwaways against Atlanta, Payne has taken great care of the disc, with five total throwaways in his last six games. He’s gotten a lot choosier with his shots, but still possesses the range to take full advantage of Indy’s talented stable of cutters; he threw the game-clinching huck assist against Madison last week and has completed 7-of-10 hucks this year (70 percent), up nine percentage points from last season. Rematching the Radicals at home this week, Payne will look to repeat another steadying performance at Grand Park, as the ‘Cats look for their seventh straight win.
Ray Tetreault, Boston Glory
After missing last week’s game against DC, Ray Tetreault returns to the Glory lineup to face the Toronto Rush in a battle for third place this Saturday. Boston will be without starting O-line cutters Orion Cable, Simon Carapella, and Tanner Halkyard, which should mean a larger-than-usual workload for Tetreault, who has really rounded out his game in Year 3. Known for his breakaway speed and goal-scoring ability, Tetreault’s throws have looked a lot more polished this year and he’s on pace to set career-highs in assists, throwing yards, and huck completions with four games remaining on the schedule. The three aforementioned cutters accounted for 13 of the team’s 25 goals in Boston’s first game against Toronto, so this could be a week in which Tetreault’s deep speed is on full display to fill that vacated production; the Rush also allow more huck completions per game than any other team in the league.
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