|MUDBOWL XIV: DECEMBER 17,
For the first 13 years of its existence Mudbowl was a tackle football game. Other than the occasional bumps and bruises and two concussions, no one ever really got hurt. But, Bob Confer thought we were tempting fate, especially now that most of the players were nearing - and passing - the magical 30 years of age mark. More so, he was worried about an injury sapping somebody's livelihood, which means more and more as the years go on with the Mudbowlers having more responsibility in life with their jobs and families. He did not want to have his conscience riddled with guilt for hosting a tackle game that could legitimately put someone off work on disability, bringing little money to the injured persons' family.
So, starting with Mudbowl XIV the Big Game became a flag football game.
Some past attendees didn't see the logic and figured the game was going downhill so declined to attend.
It was their loss.
ALL of the MB XIV players thought this was the most fun Mudbowl ever! Quite a few of the players had been there since the earliest days in Mudbowl, having participated in some truly awesome football over the years, so their "thumbs up" really means something.
The field was covered with about 2" of snow and the temperature was hovering around 30 degrees which made the pigskin very slick. Despite a lot of dropped passes (Team A had 11 alone), the game was very exciting, an up and down battle that wasn't decided until the very last play when this year's "Team A" finally proved victorious. No team got way ahead and were within two TD's of the other over the course of the game, proving how competitive it was.
Adding to the excitement, the game proved to be a study in contrasts, as the teams had entirely different offensive philosophies. Team B's Dan MacNeal engineered a methodical West Coast offense that slowly and deliberately picked apart Team A with short passes and runs-after-the-catch. This proved frustrating to Team B as it was difficult to contain the system, with many clutch grabs from Josh Peters and his dad Jim keeping drives alive.
Team A, on the other hand, chose a gunslinger mentality as starting QB Bob Confer heaved passes downfield. Back-up Scott Leffler followed in this mindset, tossing a handful of bombs to Tim Herriven who was the big-play machine of the day. This wide-open offense allowed RB Chris Kelley to easily prove that a running game can still exist in flag football, adding a good mix to Team A's assault.
The game was entertaining and without tackling and over-aggressive hits the anger and rage that appeared in past games was gone. It truly was a family event with sons and fathers playing. This game showed that Mudbowl will definitely be vital for years to come.
|Game Notes: Team A
Scott Leffler, a Mudbowl rookie, was one of the most versatile players of the day. He was Bob's safety valve, catching four 3-or-4 down passes and a pretty cross-field bomb down the sideline where he toasted his defender....he was a great back-up QB, too, showing great touch on a few deep fade patterns to Tim..on defense he batted down a dramatic drive killing pass on fourth down
Corey Perry had the catch of the day (and one of the best in MB history) as Bob threw a laser through three defenders which Corey impossibly grabbed with one hand (!) and then ran in for a TD...Corey dramatically kept three drives alive with key fourth-down grabs
Bob Confer started at QB for the first time in his Mudbowl career...relying on his quick wrist, he whipped balls into heavy traffic and downfield with no regard for risk. This aggressiveness paid off, his average completion going for over 16 yards
Tim Herriven was arguably the MVP of Team A...he posted ridiculous receiving stats, feeding off Team A's big-play mindset. He passed the magical 200-yard mark and averaged an awesome 22.4 yards-per-catch...he made it look unusually easy, too, no matter the defender...he was no slouch on defense either, leading the game with 11 tackles
Steve McQueen was the king of trick plays...he tossed two trick TD passes lining up as a running back and he also ran for two long gains on end-arounds...he grabbed a key late-game interception that helped turn the tide of the game in Team A's favor
Chris Kelley looked exactly like the Chris Kelley of the tackling era, a running back without peer...he tore off quite a few mercurial runs and, defying common flag football logic, he actually gained 100 yards on the ground...his signature play was a pirouette 12 yard TD run through four defenders
Game Notes: Team B
Kevin Sheldon found a Mudbowl rebirth in this new era...he was a rushing and receiving machine, amassing nearly 100 yards from scrimmage...with the most entertaining play of the day he took a ten yard pass over thirty yards, evading four tacklers with stutter steps and ballet moves, among them one complete braking that made a defender look moronic
Joe Mutidjo used his height and flexibility to his advantage...he stretched out for a 3 yard TD run...he went airborne to bat down a for-sure 30 yard completion
Dan MacNeal engineered a ball control passing attack, tossing nearly 80 passes for over 400 yards...he was the king of returns for the day: he snagged two interceptions, returning one 60 yards for a TD and he also returned a kick for 40 yards and a TD
Eric Waterbury played a game that was eerily consistent with every Mudbowl he ever played in...he had key TD stopping tackles and chipped in with 4 catches for 17.0 yards, the same average he posted in the tackling era...his 35 yard score was a nifty catch-and-run
Josh Peters was Dan's favorite and most-effective target...using elusive moves he learned from years of soccer, he busted loose with 15 grabs, almost 190 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns...his 15 catches surpassed the single game record of the tackling era...most of his catches being short ones he turned into decent gains...he was as equally effective on defense, too, tying for the game lead with 11 tackles
Jim Peters, Josh's dad, was a human dynamo...easily the oldest man to ever play in Mudbowl, two weeks away from his 56th birthday...his efforts belied his age...every grab he had was a difference-maker: he caught three touchdowns and a forth down pass...two of those catches were amidst two defenders, showcasing his hand eye coordination
Nate MacNeal continued Team B's father-son connections, catching five passes from his dad, Dan...the kicker: Nate was only 10 years old!...he'll be a key component of Mudbowls for decades to come
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