Most South DII leagues are yet to kickoff, as only Florida and the East have any games under their belt. With just three matches being played in the East, Charleston sits atop the league standings at 2-0, having defeated Augusta 56-11 and Columbia 13-7. Columbia is 1-1 and in second place, with its lone win coming 22-10 against Augusta. East play gets going again in February.
Florida, injected this season with several former DI teams, managed to get a bevy of games played before the holiday break, and not surprisingly, the Tampa Bay Krewe sit atop the league table
The Krewe, defending DII national champs, were not sure they’d be able to compete in DII this season, as the South had initially promoted them to DI, but after the mass exodus of teams from the South’s DI competition, Tampa was allowed to return to its preferred level of play.
“We’re very excited to be able to have the chance of defending our national title,” said Krewe coach Dai Morgan, “because it looked for a while like we wouldn’t be able to do that because the South made us go up to DI. That was not a viable proposition for us.”
The Krewe marauded through the Florida DII league last season, walloping nearly everyone their path, and Tampa’s sole loss in the 2009/2010 competitive cycle came at the hands of then DI Boca Raton in the Florida Cup final. This season, Morgan is relishing the opportunity to get better competition in his local league, thanks to the addition of Miami RFC, Miami Tridents, Boca Raton, Naples and Ft. Lauderdale.
“The strength of the schedule, I think it will actually help us, because last year some of the scores were lopsided – 90 points and 80 points – and that doesn’t do any good for us or the teams we were beating up on, and this year it’s going to be a lot stronger,” said Morgan, who was impressed with Miami despite a lopsided score line.
“I’m excited to be playing Miami and we handled them comfortably, but I was quite surprised, because they were a useful team in DI last year, and we beat them 53-6. Again, the score doesn’t reflect the game, because believe it or not I had to pinch myself when I saw the score, because the physicality of the DI teams when they’re coming down is something we didn’t see last year.”
Like last season, Tampa made it through the fall with just one loss. This time it came against Charleston, a team Morgan expects to contend for the South title in the spring, and he’s happy he’ll have plenty of good competition between now and a possible rematch in the postseason.
“On any given day right now, any (Florida) club could beat the other guy,” Morgan said. “That’s what it seems to be, which I think is fantastic. It’s making us coach better, prepare our guys better.”
Florida league play is set to restart Jan. 8 and the Deep-South and Mid-South Feb. 12.