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Well TSL, we made it through the season! Unlike this past Fall’s “COVID season” this one saw a return to normalcy, especially by the end of the season when it felt like a “real” football atmosphere again. Shout out to our fearless leader / reigning TSL Executive of the Year Topper and all of his Field Crew for all they did to make sure things ran smoothly this season. Championship weekend is always an exciting day and this year was no exception.

The day began with the Breakfast Club Finals on Field 1, and The Great White Clarkes wrapped up their undefeated season (the ONLY undefeated season in the TSL this year) by beating The EMigos.  This was a close contest at the half with Topper throwing a pair of touchdowns to both teams early, and the EMigos narrowly clinging to a lead thanks to an Emily Schilling safety.  But as all great teams do, the Great White Clarkes tightened their defense in the second half as Travis and Deak dominated the rest of the game and walked away with the Breakfast Club title.

D1 was not a division that produced too many great games in the regular season, but the playoffs were a different animal.  Public Enemy and Eyes Downtown was a back-and-forth battle, with neither team claiming a big advantage either way.  Greg Osika played great for Public Enemy with Paul Johnson hurt on the sidelines.  Jordan N was solid on offense for Eyes Downtown to make it a game, and both teams utilized their girls well, with Chris Cole and company stealing a last-minute win to move on the finals.

On the other end of the D1 bracket was Tight Ends in Motion vs Sticky Bandits, which was expected to be a blow-out by most of the League.  Sticky Nation nearly shocked the world though and turned in their best performance of the year (maybe ever?), running up a 12-point lead on the strength of Brian Stevens two interceptions and putting the fear of God in Dave Baker that he abandoned the wrong team.  Ultimately TEIM battled back grabbing a lead with a few minutes left as Eric Kleckler had a pair of second half touchdowns, and held on through questionable officiating (including a controversial “non-gender play” that took a game-winning sixth down opportunity away from Sticky Bandits on the goal line) as Tight Ends advanced to force a rematch of last year’s D1 Finals.

Tight Ends in Motion famously choked away a 20-point lead in last year’s Finals, but they weren’t about to let that happen again.  Bro Kleckler led his team to a 25 point lead this time around which proved enough to withstand Cole’s last gasp barrage of offense.  On the final play of the game Public Enemy needed a gender touchdown and Stoner Dave was able to bat away Cheryl Julicher’s final pass to lock up the win and official “passing of the torch” as the best team in the League.  Congrats to TEIM, and congrats to Public Enemy for their run of dominance at the top.  Whether they come back for another shot at the title, we’ll let the Godfather weigh in on.

D2 had many upsets in the first round of the playoffs with Mountain Dew Me, Peachy Platoon and A&A all falling to their lower seeded opponents, but the second round would stick more to the original script.  Losing Streak destroyed Bullet Club as predicted, and When Dove Cries crushed XTC (who were hampered by injuries to Kevin Zack and Anthony Battaglia).  The finals were a better matchup until Topper made some terrible decisions and threw picks to the Losing Streak defense, with Chris Nelson and Ralph Finney proving too much for the Commissioner to figure out.  Jordan Lawson played a solid game and used his girls efficiently for mistake free football in locking up the D2 title in their first season with the TSL.

If Breakfast Club, D1 and D2 haven’t entertained you with any surprise winners yet, you’re in luck with D3.  HEAVY favorites TopShot imploded in the Semi-finals and Dylan Jaloza couldn’t get the offense going against a suddenly rejuvenated All We Do is Quinn team who had been left for dead by many in the League after having an awful regular season.  Some late scores by TopShot couldn’t change the outcome and Quinn was on to their first finals since… well, it always feels like they’re in the Finals doesn’t it? 

Wolfpack destroyed Grey Hair – Don’t Care as one of the hottest teams in the League kept their streak going, and a number of sources pointed to Ward Blewitt’s relentless positivity as the reason for the turnaround throughout the season.  It wasn’t enough to take the D3 championship though, as All We Do is Quinn FINALLY broke through and won the title on the last play of the game against Wolfpack after having so many promising seasons slip away in the past.  Maybe they needed the adversity to build character?  Either way they are now champions of the (D3) world and it’ll be interesting to see if they stay together and try to slay the D2 beast together.

The D4 playoffs promised to be the most up-for-grabs in the League and it lived up to the billing with three exciting games.  Despite the usual fantastic play Laura Streeter and Rylee Moser, Itches and Ohs couldn’t keep up with Freeballers who sealed the win on the final play of the game to move on the Finals.  Jabronies took down Practice Squad on the other end of the bracket (I’m not sure if this counts as an upset?) to set up our Finals.  Sean Weisensal was his usual unstoppable self as he rolled through the competition on his way to a 33-25 Freeballers win and championship.  It was definitely the right move to keep George Lombardo at QB and Sean at receiver!

If the first round of D4 games thrilled the TSL audience, the first round of D5 games probably put them to sleep with two big massacres.  Zack Attack destroyed Interdimensional Lightning Falcons 43-8 with Dave Baker busy winning the D1 championship (Andrew Kicak stepped in and QBed for the Falcons, much to Zack Attack’s delight) and Wasted Potential beat Breast Friends 48-8.  Didn’t these guys do a whole bunch of losing at the end of the regular season?  To come out in the playoffs and knock off Puckett All-Stars and then Breast Friends is a real testament to their resiliency.  The D5 Finals was a much better game and the defensive stars of Zack Attack did what they do best, holding Coach Jay and company to only 19 points (they allowed only 27 across both games) to add a D5 Championship to their growing trophy case. 

The D6 playoffs also delivered all the action and excitement we expected with three great games.  Spinelli’s Plumbing got off to a slow start against Travis Henry’s Kids but once they got rolling, they were able to rattle off 51 points in a winning effort.  The game featured numerous picks for both teams so it wasn’t ALL offense as the final score would suggest.  John Langley was able to find one man highlight reel Pete Walbrandt for repeated big plays to keep up, but Nick Hawes and Co weren’t going to be denied on their path to the Finals. 

The other D6 semi-final saw TMA and Tater Tots both lose their best players in the first half when Nick Smith drove a guy to the ground and a bench clearing altercation occurred.  TMA kept trying to go man defense but couldn’t keep up with the Tots.  The game ultimately came down to the final minute with TMA down by 10 points.  They drove down and scored a gender TD off Diana’s hands to Val but on the two-point conversion to tie the game, Drunk Meg got the sack on Ryan Henry to end it and push the Tots into the Finals.  That would be the last of the Tots magic this season though, as ultimately they fell to Spinelli’s Plumbing in the Finals in the matchup (and outcome) most people expected this year.

Your top 5 Notables of Championship weekend were:

1.      Tight Ends in Motion – they’ve been dreaming of this moment since the infamous Public Enemy comeback of last Fall (and probably a lot longer than that too).  Congrats to Dave Baker and team for finally winning the big one!

2.      All We Do is Quinn – another team that has persevered for so long and looked like their championship window was finally closing, just to shock the world and win the title in the most unlikely season.  Never say die, kids

3.      New Teams – although everyone loves the story of teams like Tight Ends and AWDIQ who battled for years to achieve co-ed touch football glory, it’s new teams that keep the TSL fresh and interesting every year, and teams like Losing Streak, Travis Henry’s Kids and Passed Our Prime (who didn’t get to experience TSL playoffs unfortunately) came in and immediately made an impact.  A big thank you to these teams for coming in and making the TSL an even greater place.

4.      The Clarkes – Breakfast Club champions and D2 Champion runner-ups; is there anything they can’t do??

5.      The Entire League – it seems like a distant memory now, but we started this season in COVID protocols with strict check-in regulations, separate entrance/exit gates etc, and once again the entire League banded together to deal with these forced inconveniences to make football possible.  Special thanks as always to Topper and his merry band of helpers (Coach Jay, Emily Curry, Jeff Krol, Joe K, Travis Cleveanger and Val Bernal)


And that brings us to the close of the TSL Spring 2021 season. Congratulations to all the champions as well as everyone else who made it through this “return to normal” season with us. We are so grateful to you all for allowing us to be a part of the greatest co-ed football league in the area. Remember to continue to check back on the Facebook and Topper Sports League page to see announcements throughout the summer (wine tournament, Fall registration etc) and until next time… I’ll be watching.

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