Tuesday Toss: Early 2021 Power Rankings

August 18, 2020
By Evan Lepler

Are you ready for a blindfolded behind-the-back darts exhibition? Please pay close attention and stay on alert for wayward projectiles and even more questionable projections. The reality is that even with great lighting and plenty of practice, pre-preseason prognostications—pre-offseason, really—rarely result in buckets of bullseyes. 

Perhaps this story should more accurately be characterized as purely contemplative content, a preliminary pondering not meant to offend or injure but rather a simple speculation about the possibilities that exist for the upcoming AUDL season, tentatively scheduled to begin in about seven and a half months. Either way, please don protective eyewear and put personal enmities aside. There’s no need to sign a hardship waiver before you continue, but consider this your warning: there’s potential for bruised ego by the end of this exercise. 

As history has repeatedly shown, the guessing game is a precarious activity even when approached with a solid foundation of context and insight. Presently, however, there is virtually no official information on which to firmly base these suspicions. But hopefully my institutional knowledge, 2020 reporting, and years of experience will pave the way for notions that are, if not double bullseyes, somewhat in the vicinity of the target. 

Without further adieu, here are my way too early 2021 AUDL Power Rankings.

22) Detroit Mechanix

With no opportunity to end their excruciating multi-season losing streak in 2020, the Detroit Mechanix still carry the brutal burden of 38 consecutive defeats, a stretch that dates back to April 29, 2017. If the Mechanix do not record an April victory in 2021, then Detroit disc will have gone more than four full years between wins. With some promising young talents like Joe Cubitt andAndrew Sjogren, the franchise was far more competitive and respectable in 2019 than year’s before, but Cubitt’s celebratory All-Star Game exclamation, “This is my first AUDL win!” was not exactly a strong indicator that Mechanix triumphs will flow early and often when play resumes. 


21) Austin Sol 

Following the franchise’s first playoff appearance in 2018, the Austin Sol stumbled into last place in their division in 2019. Their schedule will take a totally new feel in 2021 as they move into the West, but the gap between them and the Dallas Roughnecks certainly appears to have grown, thanks to the seeming retirements of Jeff Loskorn and Jerrod Wolfe and the defections of Chase Cunningham and Kyle Henke. Always the affable underdog among the two Texas teams, Austin now needs to be wary about regressing from little brother into forgotten cousin. There’s plenty of ultimate talent in Texas to for Austin to capitalize upon, but strong leadership will be absolutely critical or order to keep the Sol from settling in the cellar again. 


20) Ottawa Outlaws

Despite having won just seven games over the past three seasons, the Ottawa Outlaws have cultivated a strong core of superb players who are just now entering their prime. Alec Arsenault, a top 10 goal scorer in the league since 2017, is 29 years old and probably Ottawa’s top star, but 27-year-old Nick Boucher and 25-year-old Jeremy Hill are also key complementary contributors as the Outlaws strive to build a winning culture. Leadership has consistently raved about the organization’s next generation of prospects as potential game-changers, but until we see them coalesce confidently and create something more than solid, competitive, and ultimately falling short efforts on a weekly basis, the potential will remain unfulfilled.


19) Chicago

Perhaps the first real shocker on the list, considering this was a franchise that made the playoffs in 2019, but you better believe I am deducting a few Power Rankings points for Chicago’s bewildering rebranding process that has left me more confused than enthused. Look, I understand the less than ideal situation of locals mixing up the Wildfire and the Fire, the latter being a Major League Soccer franchise that has existed since 1998. That confusion can sew frustration for organizational leaders, and they wanted to make a change. Fine, I’ll acquiesce to that, but I must admit being underwhelmed by the eight new nickname options that the team initially released. I think Chaos is the best of the bunch, but good luck shaking free of all the heckling hanging chads out there. Moving on, there’s a more pressing issue for Chicago. The fact is, way more important than the logo on the jersey is who will be wearing the jersey, and if the Wildfire had suited up in 2020, they would have been without Matt Rehder, who signed with Minnesota after registering the only 15/15/15 AUDL season in 2019, Kurt Gibson, the two-time AUDL champ who decided to rejoin the Roughnecks, and Michael Pardo, who led the team in goals in two of the past three seasons and was planning to take a year off. These losses will be tougher to overcome, especially from a depth standpoint, if none find their way back to the Windy City. With Pawel Janas, Ross Barker, and up-and-comer Seth Weaver, the Wildfire still have excellent foundational leaders, but after their top 7-10 players, will they have enough experience to survive 48-minute battles against deeper opponents? 


18) Montreal Royal

The Royal would rank higher if not for the global pandemic, but the reality is no team relies more on international talent than the Montreal Royal. This also extends to the coaching staff, and the Royal recently announced that Stève Bonneau—a former player from France who became the franchise’s head coach in 2020—would no longer be able to continue in that role. Furthermore, there are a half-dozen or so other imports have been gigantic additions in recent years, and even though the league’s goal-scoring king, Quentin Bonnaud, remained in Canada this past spring, several of his countrymen may have gone back to Europe, or may have to go back to Europe, or may not be able to return from Europe, depending on a variety of unknown variables. Whatever the travel restrictions may be when ultimate is set to resume, they are a lingering uncertainty that has to factor into the Royal’s 2021 outlook. Additionally, Montreal has cultivated one of the best home-field advantages in the league since the franchise was founded in 2014, and it’s reasonable to wonder how the world will feel about large crowds congregating inside a stadium eight months from now. 


17) Los Angeles Aviators

It’s definitely impossible to know exactly how the SoCal situation will shake out, considering the past player movement between Los Angeles and San Diego that has frequently seen important contributors bouncing back and forth. But a streak of four straight playoff appearances for the Los Angeles Aviators could very well come to an end in 2021 if this gloomy prognostication proves to be correct. At the moment, the Growlers feel like the SoCal team with far more positive momentum, coming off a trip to Championship Weekend in 2019. The Aviators’ made the final four in 2018, but they have since lost many of the key players from that team, and their potential to remain a West Division contender could very well come down to the Landesman family. Danny Landesman caught 28 goals in nine games as an 18-year-old rookie cutter in 2019, and he will presumably be a cornerstone leader for the foreseeable future. The most important leader at the moment, though, is his father Jeff, an icon in the Los Angeles ultimate community who was named the Aviators’ new head coach this past offseason. 


16) Tampa Bay Cannons

We know that Andrew Roney is a worthy frontman and Andrew Roca is a solid manager, but this Tampa Bay Cannons band needs some other strong musicians who can hold down their parts and and even dazzle with an occasional catchy solo to give Roney a rest. Unfortunately, the Cannons have never really replaced on-field anchors like Chris LaRocque, Mischa Freystaetter, Cole Sullivan, and Bobby Ley, all former Florida stars who have moved away from the Sunshine State. Brad Seutnjens has stepped up, and Nathan Vickroy’s a difference-maker when he’s available, but Tampa Bay could really use a jolt of talent to transform them into a bona fide contender. At the moment, they feel like a team that can be competitive with anyone on any given day and will absolutely be in the mix for a playoff spot, but there remains a significant gap between that level and the Championship Weekend conversation. 


15) Indianapolis AlleyCats

Fact: The Indianapolis AlleyCats are the reigning Midwest Division champs. Also true: The AlleyCats season-long point-differential ranked them fifth out of the six Midwest teams in 2019, and forecasting a slight regression to their record feels not just reasonable, but inevitable. Historically, it’s fun to both appreciate and rag on Indy for their unique perspective in the AUDL, being a locale without a longstanding ultimate tradition that predated professional ultimate. On and off the field, they always carry themselves with a chip on their shoulder, bearing an admirable determination to make their mark. And to their credit, they have been player development masters, elevating Rick Gross from unknown nobody to stardom status, and Alex Henderson very well might be the next Cat on the Gross trajectory. They also deserve tremendous credit for finding ideal roles for Cameron Brock and Keenan Plew to excel into their 30s, along with giving Travis Carpenter a platform where he has blossomed into an All-AUDL threat every season. But Eric Leonard has departed after a three-year stint where his head coaching leadership helped put Indy in a position to compete at Championship Weekend, and new Head Coach Will Drumright, assuming he sticks around for 2021, has the unenviable task of trying to duplicate a divisional title. The good news is Pittsburgh’s now in a different division, but Madison’s ravenously hungry, Minnesota’s free agents signings have been the splashiest in the entire league, and even Chicago could tame the formerly first place Cats in 2021 if there’s any drop-off. 


14) Atlanta Hustle

Let’s get one thing out of the way: the Atlanta Hustle are not one spot above the AlleyCats solely because Atlanta defeated Indy in an interdivisional contest in 2019. That’s just one data point in the mountain of information I considered in crafting these rankings. It’s not entirely insignificant either, for it’s also reasonable to acknowledge that the Midwest’s top team lost at home to the South’s fourth-place franchise. (Note: when we last saw frisbee, they were the Midwest and South Divisions; now, Indy and Atlanta are in the Central and Atlantic, respectively. Ok, carry on.) The Hustle are an interesting group at the moment, perhaps one of the deeper teams in the league in terms of having 25-30 players that they can count on, but lacking the half-dozen or so stars that can elevate them into next level challengers. They are like the opposite of Chicago, who has a handful of stars but has struggled to flesh out the complementary pieces around them. If you took Chicago's top five with the Hustle’s bottom 15, I would really like that team. There’s no question that Matt Smith and Christian Olsen are very good players and excellent leaders, but it’s a guy like Eli Jaime who has the potential to rise into an even larger role, building upon his explosive 52-goal outburst in 2019. 


13) Philadelphia Phoenix

There’s a chance that Philly could be the biggest winner of realignment. Of course, there’s also the possibility that the Philadelphia Phoenix will finish last in the new Atlantic. How’s that for equivocation? The bottom line is I think this team is ready to take a leap, not necessarily toward the postseason, but at the very least to being a .500 club. Remember, the Phoenix went 2-0 against Toronto last year! For several seasons now, Philly has gradually improved its depth, flanking All-Star Sean Mott with athletes like Mike Arcata and Himalaya Mehta. Losing Ethan Fortin to DC is not ideal, but Alex Thorne is a very important addition, and young phenoms like UPenn product Paul Owens and former Raleigh Flyers/UNC-W contributor Matt Ellis should add playmaking depth. One of the reasons I think Philadelphia’s in a good spot in regards to realignment, though, is its location. Bad weather home games early in their season should be an advantageous opportunity against former South foes like Tampa, Atlanta, and Raleigh. As the unofficial league leaders in weather delays over the past five years, the Phoenix have plenty of experience battling the elements, and if they can embrace the chilly, windy, potentially snowy early season conditions, they could thrive against their more tropical opponents who aren’t nearly as accustomed to the cold. 


12) San Jose Spiders

So I am leaning toward the idea that 2019 was rock bottom for the San Jose Spiders and they will bounce back toward a much more competitive outfit in 2021. Since winning back-to-back titles in 2014 and 2015, the Spiders have missed the postseason in three of the past four years, with owner Andrew Zill expressing a willingness to sacrifice some short-term success for the sake of long-term development. With such a long break from ultimate, though, my hunch is that a good chuck of Bay Area talent will rejoin the San Jose cause and recalibrate expectations when we do retake the field. Health-wise, the Spiders should also benefit from the layoff, having endured plenty of key absences due to injuries over the past couple seasons. If San Jose can bolster the roster with a few reinforcements, it will be cool to see Keenan Laurence have a little more around him. The Spiders’ 3-9 record may have prevented more folks from noticing, but Laurence was named the team’s MVP as a 19-year-old rookie, positively impacting the team in major ways on both sides of the disc. He’ll be a 21-year-old leader the next time he takes the field, and he should be a cornerstone of the franchise over the course of the next decade.


11) Seattle Cascades

The Seattle Cascades might be a year ahead of the Spiders. They have endured more lumps over the past couple seasons, but they’ve gotten valuable reps for many of the city’s tantalizing young talent, and up-and-comers like Shane Worthington, Peter Geertz-Larson, and Marc Munoz should only keep getting better. Adding more vets into the mix, I believe, would have lifted the Cascades into playoff contention had we enjoyed a season in 2020, and there’s no reason to think that Seattle won’t continue its rise in 2021. This is partially assuming that Mark Burton will again delay retirement and give it another go, but even beyond Burton, it’s hard not to like the key out-of-town additions from the past couple seasons, like Toronto’s Jay Boychuk and San Jose’s Zach Sabin. Former Madison Radical Tarik Akyuz could also become a key goal-scorer for Seattle when play resumes. Furthermore, if the Cascades can retain veteran presences like Joe Sefton, Sam Harkness, and Ben Snell, Seattle should have the right mix of pieces to challenge San Diego for top spot in the Pacific time zone. With that said, they may need a few more game-changers to upend Dallas, the West Division’s new dynamo. 


10) Madison Radicals

It sure is bizarre how the Madison Radicals will seemingly forever be in close contact with the Seattle Cascades, but this feels like the right spot for Madison, a positive nod toward the remaining infrastructure that won six consecutive division titles, but also a recognition that many of the main Rads who orchestrated that extended string of divisional dominance are no longer walking through that door. After experiencing magical championship glory in 2018, the 2019 Madison season was a humbling few months of disappointment, mixed with an understanding that the team was in the midst of a transition. Kevin Pettit-Scantling, Andrew Meshnick, Kevin Brown, and Thomas Coolidge are all still around, but by and large the rest of the core that anchored the team from 2013-2018 has moved on, leading owner/coach Tim DeByl to confront the rebuilding process directly. Throughout the canceled 2020 season, DeByl continued to sew chemistry by maintaining regular Zoom film sessions, hoping that the team would learn lessons virtually before capitalizing on them physically. While stalwarts like Peter Graffy, Pat Shriwise, Dave Wiseman, and Ben Nelson are gone, the University of Wisconsin pipeline remains strong, with Colin Camp, Sterling Knoche, and Avery Johnson all poised to claim even more responsibility. Younger talents like Jeff Maskalunas and Dylan Power have each had moments in seasons’ past, but the Radicals view each of them as potential game-changing forces in the future, and they will need to be if Madison’s gonna have any chance to rise to the top again. 


9) Boston Glory

For an expansion team that is still waiting to play its first AUDL game, the Boston Glory are in a relatively strong position. Their Head Coach, Sam Rosenthal, already possesses championship experience having led a pro team to a title in the now defunct MLU, and their inaugural roster included plenty of players who achieved a bevy of accomplishments at every level of ultimate. The toughest part for organizational leadership is to keep waiting for a chance to publicly unveil the on-field product for the first time, but that challenge may also be the greatest blessing. With another seven-plus months to prepare, the Glory still have an eternity to hone their arrival. Obviously, the current climate is a difficult marketplace in which to introduce something new, but Boston leadership should be able to orchestrate their entry to perfection. If there was any worry about feeling rushed heading into 2020, the build-up toward 2021 provides a comfortable window to not only organize, but potentially enhance the roster prior to the opening pull.


8) DC Breeze

You could write a nostalgic folk song about all the excellent players the DC Breeze have lost over the past few seasons—mentioning Nicky Spiva, Alan Kolick, and Brett Matzuka just scratches the surface—but DC continues to contend by infusing its team with splendid role players and relying on the unquantifiable brilliance of its two main leaders, former league MVP Rowan McDonnell and Head Coach Darryl Stanley, both of whom regularly showcase their crafts with a wizardry that often does not seem human, to the point that it feels like as long as the Breeze have Rowan and Darryl, they have a chance against anyone. But the Breeze are deeper than just that duo. Jeff Wodatch and Max Cassell are the ultra-steady vets, while returning talents like Delrico Johnson and Tyler Monroe further enhance the experienced supporting cast. Garrett Braun, AJ Merriman, and Jacques Nissen were all revelations in 2019, each with the potential to assume more responsibility in 2021, while Ethan Fortin (from Philly) and Zac Schakner (from Los Angeles) add even more depth into the DC bubble. The Breeze have another dozen or so players that are worthy of mention, but the fact remains, this team’s foundation is Rowan and Darryl, and that’s an enviable place to start. 


7) Pittsburgh Thunderbirds

With four playoff berths in five years as a franchise, the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds are the organization that represents the biggest wild card in the league heading into 2021 for a few different reasons. Firstly, they are the only team who will have a completely new slate of opponents—obviously not including Boston—with Philly and DC (formerly of the East) and Atlanta, Raleigh, and Tampa Bay (formerly of the South) joining the steely Birds in the new Atlantic Division. Going along with that novelty, one wonders how their adversaries will strategize to try and slow down Max Sheppard and Thomas Edmonds, Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo who collaborated for dozens of thrilling highlights over the last half of the 2019 season. Together, Sheppard and Edmonds found an uncommon chemistry, and it’s a partnership that’s hard to completely understand just by watching film. I truly think it will take some time on the field against them to fully comprehend how they maneuver, and as we saw in the Midwest, there still is no guarantee that they can be consistently stymied. Like DC, of course, Pittsburgh is far more than two-person team, with a university pipeline poised to churn out new and impactful Thunderbirds that will only enhance the team’s limitless potential. Pitt alums Jimmy Towle, Sam VanDusen, and Dylan Best all hold important responsibilities for this team, and their presence should encourage future members of the college program to matriculate into the pro scene in time. Meanwhile, anyone ready for a Sheppard-McDonnell, Pitt-DC showdown? Yes, please. 


6) Minnesota Wind Chill

The Minnesota Wind Chill have never harbored loftier expectations, and how they handle this type of super preseason praise will go a long way into determining whether or not they have any chance of fulfilling their final four hopes. On the surface, though, their roster has a whole lot to like, from veteran local leaders like Josh Klane and Bryan Vohnoutka, to Winnipeg imports like Cam Burden, Jesse Greenberg, and potential superstar Quinn Snider, to marquee free agent additions like Matt Rehder and Brett Matzuka, to experienced playmakers who are returning after missing a season or two like Colin Berry and Brian Schoenrock. The Wind Chill have all that and more when it comes to intriguing puzzle pieces that ooze potential. Now, do all the pieces fit together? That’s the million dollar question. But it’s hard not to become transfixed by the landscape of possibilities that Coach/GM Ben Feldman has put together. Rocco Linehan, Nick Vogt, and Josh Poterack are three more athletic dudes in their early-mid 20s who enjoyed successful college careers at the University of New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Iowa State, respectively, and now will seek impactful roles with the Wind Chill. I would not be surprised if there’s an early season stumble or two, but the accruing of talent in the Twin Cities gives Minnesota its highest ceiling in franchise history. 


5) San Diego Growlers

I like the San Diego Growlers core, with a good mix of talented vets and rising young potential. I like their consistency, emphasized by their only having one coach (Kevin Stuart) in franchise history. I like their mojo, appreciative of their first final four opportunity but fueled by the memory of losing what in their eyes was a very winnable game against Dallas at Championship Weekend. Add all these things together, along with the new reality that the Roughnecks are now a divisional opponent, and there’s a clear and obvious mission and narrative building for these Growlers. League-wide, there was no more tantalizing new budding rivalry heading into 2020 than San Diego and Dallas, both recent semifinalists who then made key additions to their team in the offseason to get even better. Barring some new and unforeseen developments, the Growlers still feel like pretty sizable underdogs against the Roughnecks, though that may not be a bad thing for them to embrace. Travis Dunn, Goose Helton, and the rest of the surging San Diego organization can relish that mentality and continue to hone their chemistry, which already ranks among the best in the league. Tim Okita and Michael Tran, if they’re not there already, will continue to rise into the conversation for the AUDL’s top handling duo, and I curiously wonder how the Growlers will utilize former Cascades standout Khalif El-Salaam, whose versatile athleticism and confidence could fit well into any number of roles. It’s also worth mentioning, and this goes for all teams throughout the league, that signing a player for 2020 does not necessarily mean that they will remain signed for 2021; but in that context, recognize that after bouncing from Los Angeles to San Diego and back to LA again over the past half-decade, the Growlers had brought back Jeff “National TV” Silverman for the season that ended up getting canceled. Wherever Silverman goes, highlights follow. 


4) Toronto Rush

So the Toronto Rush went 7-5 in 2019, dropping almost as many games as they had in their previous six regular seasons combined. (Toronto went 78-8 in regular season play from 2013-18.) So why am I still ranking the Rush, seemingly trending downward, among the top four? It’s mainly a nod to the enormous potential of their young cadre of athletes, combined with the institutional memory of success possessed by sturdy veterans like Thomson McKnight, Cam Harris, Isaiah Masek-Kelly, and Andrew Carroll. But mostly, it’s the young guys that will either carry Toronto back into contention or submerge the Rush into the middle of the pack. You know what was a problem in 2019? The fact that Mike Mackenzie and Bretton Tan, two budding stars who registered a total of 14 blocks in the 2017 postseason, only played a combined six games. They were not the only missing pieces throughout the uncharacteristic Rush campaign. Connor Armstrong, who compiled nearly 800 completions over the previous two seasons and looked like the organization’s center handler of the future, also was mostly missing, appearing in only two games. Mix and match these absences with other injuries and less than ideal circumstances, and suddenly Toronto was barely an above .500 outfit, compared to the team that won more than 90 percent of its games previously. But with the aforementioned individuals presumably returning, along with a bunch of other Canadian National Team personnel, including the dynamic Jason Huynh, the Rush, under new Head Coach Adrian Yearwood, feels poised to quickly rise back into the top crop of contenders. 


3) Raleigh Flyers

While there’s clearly a high level of mystery with every single roster when projecting this far out, the Raleigh Flyers possess some of the greatest certainty in regards to how competitive they can be in the coming seasons. That’s an obvious byproduct of the systems and styles that Coach/Owner Mike DeNardis has cultivated over time, fostering a pipeline that has already reaped major dividends and will surely continue to do so. Even if and when some good players step aside, there exists a hungry foundation of eager 18 to 23-year-old talent throughout the state that is likely already familiar with a the Flyers’ typical game plan. Furthermore, neither of Raleigh’s All-Stars will even be 25 by the time next April rolls around, as athletic towers Jacob Fairfax and Henry Fisher bring nearly 13 feet of goal-producing prowess back to the Triangle. Bobby Ley and Allan Laviolette should still be wearing red and white after formerly functioning as top players for Raleigh’s divisional rivals, while Terrence Mitchell and Justin Allen could also erupt for All-AUDL caliber seasons without any major surprise. I’m also quite intrigued to see 2019 Callahan Award winner Matt Gouchoe-Hanas hopefully make his AUDL debut in 2021, one of several University of North Carolina rookies who could help the Flyers return to the final four for the first time since 2015. 


2) Dallas Roughnecks

Although it went unmentioned in the Flyers section, it’s certainly a major change to not have Dallas standing in Raleigh’s way down South. With the Dallas Roughnecks moving into the West, new challenges will arise, but nothing that should be overly daunting to a Dallas franchise that has competed in the championship game three times in the last four seasons. Veterans like Dalton Smith, Jay Froude, and Abe Coffin make up the core of this juggernaut, but adding leadership responsibilities for young studs like Carson Wilder and Kaplan Maurer is a subtly wise maneuver to increase and substantiate their personal ownership over the future of the organization. As insane as it sounds, Connor Olson, seemingly a one-man Championship Weekend highlight factory, will still be just 22 years old throughout the 2021 season, and there’s no indication that other Roughneck staples like Henry Furuta, Matt Armour, or Zach Marbach have any desire to quit their quest for an AUDL title. For good measure, Dallas poached prime-age Chase Cunningham and Kyle Henke from the Sol, expanding the chasm between them and their Lone Star rival. Oh, and if the remarkable core of 20-somethings was not enough, Dallas was slated to add Kurt Gibson and Chris Mazur in 2020, both of whom have helped lead multiple organizations to Championship Weekend in the past. If just one of that duo hangs around for 2021, the Roughnecks look like a good bet to be back in the finals again, determined to avenge the disappointing memories of falling short every year since the perfect season in 2016. 


1. New York Empire

Making Dallas the favorite would be entirely reasonable, but neither Gibson nor Mazur live in Texas, and their status for future seasons feels more tenuous. The New York Empire may be considerably older than Dallas overall, but the experienced core that went undefeated in 2019 figures to be just as hungry after a long layoff when ultimate resumes in 2021. Reigning MVP Ben Jagt, along with Grant Lindsley, Jack Williams, and Jeff Babbitt are all decorated game-changing superstars, with Williams or Babbitt perhaps positioned to follow Jagt and submit a potential MVP caliber season of his own. Ben Katz and Harper Garvey are diabolical distributors, both capable of taking over the game with their arms and minds. And despite all this acclaim, I might have been tempted to move Dallas into the top spot if not for the realization that Chris Kocher would have returned to the Empire in 2020. The versatile and gregarious cutter, who arguably was New York’s top player when he suited up sparingly for the Empire in 2016 and 2017, gives Head Coach Bryan Jones another lethal weapon to deploy throughout the 2021 season, in which Kocher will only be 29. Signing Ben Nelson from the Radicals was another sneakily savvy move, further bolstering New York’s depth and ability to withstand injuries or absences. Then there’s the legendary Beau Kittredge, who will be 39 by the time we arrive to another Championship Weekend. It certainly feels like Beau’s best days are behind him, but he will undoubtedly arrive to the new season in superb shape and somehow figure out a way to make a difference like only a five-time AUDL champion can. We’re seven and a half months away, at the earliest, from seeing the New York take the field, but in these WAY TOO EARLY projections, the Empire reign continues.