The pecking order in the West-North DI league is on the line when the Glendale Raptors visit the Provo Steelers in Utah.
Glendale is still smarting from their late-game loss to the Denver Barbarians, 29-26 on October 20. While Provo will gleefully remember that they beat those self-same Barbarians 48-21 a week before.
They weren’t exactly the self-same Barbarians, though. Denver traveled light and were more first-string against Glendale a week later. Now it’s Glendale’s turn to try to front up with an under-strength team.
With Zach Fenoglio going with the USA team, and with Chad Slaby, Ata Malifa, Max Statler and Dewon Reed all unavailable for personal or work commitments, the Raptors have to juggle their lineup a bit.
“This will be an opportunity for other players to step forward,” said Glendale Head Coach Andre Snyman. “We’ve got some guys from our DII coming up to show they can play DI.”
Snyman would like to see a more discipline performance on all front when the team arrives in Provo.
He wants to see them stick to the game plan – a game plan that saw them go ahead 15-6 against Denver. When they abandoned that plan, the Barbarians came roaring back. He wants them to stop giving away silly penalties.
“We gave away soft penalties, like offsides and in from the side,” said Snyman. “And Denver had Max kicking goals for them, and you can’t give a team like that those sorts of chances. We will need to be more disciplined and patient.”
And then there’s the mental factor. Provo is one of the most physical teams in the country, and love giving teams whiplash with their massive tackles. Snyman wants his team to keep its cool in an intense situation, and he wants them not to get tied up in a tight game.
“We talk about the physicality, but a lot of that is mental,” he said. “They’ve got big guys and big runners. We’re just going to have to man up.”
Meanwhile Provo is preparing a nice welcoming committee.
“We’ve been running really hard since the Denver game,” said club spokesman Dave Valeti. “We should be better prepared for this game.”
Provo added Colin Tuilevuka to their CIPP rolls this week, although it’s unclear if he will play. Regardless, the Steelers forwards will be working hard to recycle efficiently and get the ball to their threequarters.
“We want to maintain possession,” said Valeti. “We’ve been working on that the whole time. The big difference for us isn’t the forwards – our forwards are solid – it’s that we have fast wings now. We get the ball out to the wings, we can score.”
Those wings are young, speeder, Pua Uasike and Seu Lualua.
Valeti said it’s been enjoyable watching the team come together with a new injection of speed.
“It’s a game again,” he said. “We’re working hard, but the team is loose and having more fun. That’s how we’re going to play together.”