August 19, 2021
By Adam Ruffner
3. Toronto Rush
The Rush held off the Outlaws at home to get their first win in four games of Canada Cup action. And despite the great individual play of Phil Turner, who has 11 blocks in four games, Toronto continues to allow an unprecedented amount of goals on defense, giving up nearly 22 per game. Nathan Hirst and Andrew Carroll are two of the quickest midfield cutters in the game, with Hirst unlocking an added throwing dimension in 2021. He has 11 assists and 139 completions (95.9 percent rate) through four games, while averaging nearly 330 throwing yards per contest.
2. Ottawa Outlaws
The Outlaws went down swinging against the Rush, completing 12-of-17 hucks despite missing main handler Nick Boucher for another game. Geoff Bevan, Greg Ellis, and Mike Lee have kept the Ottawa offense humming in Boucher’s absence, but the team has still lost three in a row after their hot 2-0 start in the opening weekend of play. The Outlaws play the third fastest tempo of any team in the league, and opposing offenses are learning to run-and-gun; Toronto completed 8-of-9 deep throws in their win against Ottawa last weekend.
1. Montreal Royal
After a seven-goal loss to the Outlaws to start their 2021 campaign, the Royal have reeled off three straight wins with the most balanced mix of offense and defensive play in the Canadian series. Since allowing 26 to Ottawa, Montreal has not allowed an opponent to score 20 during their winning streak, with André Arsenault and Christophe Tremblay-Joncas emerging as lockdown defenders. But the main attraction for this Royal team so far has been the young talent in their throwing backfield, with Jakob Brissette and Vincent Lemieux continuing their remarkable play. Montreal has a top 10 efficiency rating, but continues to employ the longball, going 17-of-27 on hucks during their 2-0 weekend.
2021 AUDL SEASON
19. Detroit Mechanix
With their loss to Minnesota at home, Detroit is one game away from the abyss: A 50-game losing streak to cement their third straight winless season, and fifth as a franchise. Andrew Sjogren has retaken the mantle as the league leader in goals (47) and receiving yards (3,733) entering the final weekend of regular season play, and is 11 goals away from doubling his previous career high; Sjogren has two different games with eight goals this season, so 11 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Bryan Walsh is one of only three players—the other two are Pawel Janas and Bobby Ley—to have 40-plus assists while averaging 300-plus throwing yards and 40-plus completions per game.
18. Indianapolis AlleyCats
2021 marks just the second time in the nine year franchise history of Indianapolis that the team finished with a losing record. Though the AlleyCats battled close with Chicago, Madison, and Minnesota, Indy’s only victories this season came against Detroit, a far fall from their place atop the Central as division champions in 2019. The ‘Cats retained only a scintilla of that roster this season, and though their youth definitely showed, there’s a lot of promise for a rebuilding Indianapolis squad.
17. Pittsburgh Thunderbirds
As is now customary for this Pittsburgh team, the Thunderbirds went down early in both their Week 11 road games, yet still remained punchy with offensive playmaking led by Max Sheppard, Thomas Edmonds, and CJ Colicchio. The first year ‘Bird Colicchio is having a particularly interesting season, as he now joins Ben Jagt in not only sharing the same height (6’6”), but as the only two AUDL players with 30-plus assists, 30-plus goals, and 10-plus blocks in 2021. Pittsburgh is a far cry from efficient on offense—they rank fourth worst in the league, ahead of just Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Detroit—but they can still be potent when they get in a rhythm.
16. Tampa Bay Cannons
Bobby Ley looks to be the next member to join the elite “5000 Yard Club”, currently occupied by Jagt, Janas, Walsh, Ben Sadok, and Travis Carpenter. Ley is currently leading the league in assists (46), despite playing in just nine games. In six of his past seven games, he’s thrown five or more assists, and has four 400-plus throwing yard games during that same stretch.
15. Seattle Cascades
The Cascades closed out their season on a five-game losing streak, averaging just 16.4 goals per game during that stretch. And while Seattle definitely has throwers, Manny Eckert finished as the only member of the team with more than 2,000 throwing yards in 2021; Eckert and rookie defender Garrett Martin were the only ‘Scades players with 20-plus assists; Cascades attacked the end zone from very few angles. But as one of the youngest rosters in the league, Seattle has their best ultimate ahead of them.
14. Philadelphia Phoenix
Greg Martin set the Philadelphia franchise record for goals in a season with one game still to play, tallying five goals and 283 receiving yards against New York last Friday. It’s the fifth time in 2021 Martin has had five or more goals in a game, and he’s on pace to break 3,000 receiving yards for the season. Maybe most impressively, though, is that Martin is also having a career year throwing, boasting personal bests in assists (12), completions (152), and completion rate (96.2 percent); his previous career bests were eight, 69, and 94.3 percent, respectively.
13. San Jose Spiders
After I said that Keenan Laurence had his best game as a receiver in Week 10, the second year Spiders standout went out and had his best overall game of his young career in Week 11, racking up nine total scores and over 500 yards of total offense without committing a turnover. There’s a definitive swagger to Laurence’s play, and when he’s rocking and rolling, he becomes one of the more potent individual forces out on the field, able to now beat opponents with both his legs and throws.
12. Los Angeles Aviators
The Aviators endured their second straight defeat to the Growlers, dropping their Week 11 game 21-17 at home, and ensuring LA of just their second losing season in franchise history. Rookie Brandon Van Deusen emerged as another potential playmaker with his best game as a pro, finishing with three assists, three goals, and nearly 500 yards of total offense. But as is common with much of this young Aviators team, Van Deusen also suffered his fair share of turnovers, committing six throwaways and a drop in the loss.
11. Madison Radicals
The Radicals are going for their 100th win as a franchise this Sunday in Minnesota, and would become the first team in AUDL history to join the century club. And though missing the playoffs for a second consecutive season might still come as a disappointment to this prestigious Madison team, the Radicals still have yet to experience a losing season in their eight year existence. Madison’s final game of 2021 may not mean anything in terms of this year’s standings, but expect the Radicals to take it as seriously as a playoff matchup.
10. Boston Glory
After their 26-20 throttling of the Thunderbirds at home, Boston now has the second highest scoring offense in the league, averaging just over 23 goals per game. Tannor Johnson’s reinsertion to the lineup has ignited Glory’s deep game, as Boston went 15-of-19 on hucks against Pittsburgh; Johnson, along with other Boston bigs Tanner Halkyard and Orion Cable, continually stretched downfield. Glory can only play spoiler from here on out, but there isn’t a better enemy than their two-game slate against a New York team still looking to lock up a home field playoff matchup.
9. Austin Sol
Though their season is already over, the Sol are still the league leaders in blocks per game (13.1), nearly a full block per game better than the number two team DC. To understand how large of a gap that is: The Breeze would have to get 36 blocks in their final two games just to tie Austin. Mick Walter’s league high blocks mark (23) was tied by Brett Hulsmeyer this past weekend, with Hulsmeyer still having one game remaining on his schedule. Walter was one of seven Sol players to finish with 10 or more blocks this season.
8. Minnesota Wind Chill
Minnesota took care of business on the road in Week 11, dispatching Detroit and Indy on back-to-back days to clinch their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons. And after nearly two months splitting time on defense, Bryan Vohnoutka slotted back into his normal offensive striker role and had his best performances of the season, finishing the two-game weekend with 10 assists, six goals, and 851 yards of total offense while committing just two turnovers. With Cole Jurek and Nick Vogt already having career years, Vohnoutka’s readdition to the offense gives Minnesota another weapon for a playoff push against Chicago.
7. Dallas Roughnecks
No team needed time in preparation for the playoffs more than this banged up Dallas team. Ben Lewis and Matt Armour were the only two Roughnecks that played in all 12 regular season games, and no Roughnecks player reached 30 assists nor 30 goals in 2021; Gabe Hernandez was the only thrower to finish the regular season with 300-plus completions; Dallas had four such high volume throwers in 2019. With the Roughnecks looking their healthiest they have all season heading into the playoffs, this Dallas team could still have its best ultimate of 2021 in front of them.
6. San Diego Growlers
The Growlers clinched their second straight West Division regular season title in Week 11, and are now one win away from their second straight 10-win season. San Diego hosts San Jose tomorrow night, a team the Growlers have not lost to since 2018. Travis Dunn is once again in the top 10 in the league in assists, having at least two in every game in 2021. Though his throwing numbers are stellar as always, Dunn continues to do work primarily with his legs, averaging a team-best 239 receiving yards per game.
5. Atlanta Hustle
Recency bias is a helluva drug. Up 16-11 on Raleigh in the third quarter of last Saturday’s “Game Of The Week” classic, Atlanta looked like a championship frontrunner, balancing effective deep shots on offense with their stout defense, while battling weather and a tough rivalry opponent on the road. Then an imperceptible momentum shift happened late in the third, the Hustle’s deep game went quiet, and the Flyers closed the game on a 9-2 run to take the win, and knock Atlanta one notch further down the standings. Now all the questions about the Hustle’s offensive inconsistencies are back just in time for the postseason. The real canary in the coal mine, though: Atlanta has given up 20 or more goals in four straight games, after not allowing a single opponent to score 20 in their first seven games of 2021.
4. Raleigh Flyers
Finally, mercifully, the Flyers got a much deserved win against a marquee opponent in a close game. Sol Yanuck and Allan Laviolette paced the Flyers offensively, but the difference maker in the game against Atlanta was Raleigh’s lineup versatility. Rookie Elijah Long has been excellent at leading defensive counterattacks in 2021, and slotted onto the O-line seamlessly, completing all 30 of his throws on a wet night; Long also had the key poach interception and ensuing break score late in the fourth to put Raleigh up one. Long’s adaptability allowed Eric Taylor to use his throwing power and field IQ to launch pulls and play spot time on defense for the Flyers, giving Raleigh an added defensive playmaking wrinkle heading into the playoffs.
3. Chicago Union
The Union are a top three team in both offensive and defensive efficiency, making this the most imposing Chicago team in the franchise’s eight year history. Pawel Janas may lose the league assists title for the first time in four seasons, but he could be on his way to picking up an MVP and league championship trophy for a slightly de-emphasized, if more efficient, role in the Union offense; Janas quietly nudged his completion rate up for the third straight season. And after four not-quite-complete seasons as a pro, Janas has already moved to fourth all-time in the AUDL with 307 assists; his 5.9 assists per game mark is second all-time.
2. DC Breeze
The Breeze stand to gain the most from Atlanta’s two straight losses, as DC now has the opportunity to lock up home field advantage not just for their Atlantic Division playoff game, but straight through Championship Weekend as well. They say defense wins championships, and this DC team is currently first in goals allowed per game (16.2) and second in blocks (12.1). The Bergeron brothers alone average four blocks per game between the three of them.
1. New York Empire
New York went 2-0 in Week 11, and now have six straight games of scoring 20 or more goals. In fact, against non-Breeze opponents, the Empire are averaging over 23 goals per game. Ryan Osgar and Ben Jagt remain the most dangerous offensive duo in the league; they rank third and fourth in assists, respectively, and both are averaging over 500 yards of total offense per game. But the difference of late for this New York team looking to defend their 2019 title has been their defense. The Empire D-line has quietly struggled with injuries, but their lineup inconsistencies have led to experimentations that are reaping results, as New York converted 12 break scores combined in their two Week 11 wins.
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