It’s three weeks into the Midwest DII club season and things are getting interesting, especially in the East.
Of the eight teams comprising the division, four are undefeated and four have yet to put up a single victory. The interesting part is not so much the disparity in the results, but the fact that one team has dominated all of their games - Cleveland Eastern Suburbs.
Recently the ESRFC has made some changes throughout the club. Current flyhalf, and recently-elected captain, Nick Viviani, who comes to the club from the Chicago Lions, believes these changes have helped Eastern Suburbs average 63 points per game so far.
“I attribute the early success of the team is our dedication, fitness and fast pattern of play,” Viviani said. “All the players are on board with the style of play and we are working together really well.”
Eight-year veteran of the team, Kritter Regan, credits the team’s backline play.
“We are strong at all six spots,” Regan said. “This has allowed us to run more complex plays giving us an advantage over our competition. The addition of Nick Viviani has given us a leg that we have sorely needed. His arrival allowed Bill Regan to move to the center position and Bill has been able to help create more scoring opportunities for the wings and fullback.”
The fast-paced offense play and intricate back line offense allowed the ESRFC to put up more than 70 points on Dayton and Detroit, after opening up their season with a 38-10 victory over cross-town rivals, the Rovers.
Though the ESRFC has brought home big wins in the opening weeks of the season, they know that the remaining matches won’t be so easy, especially since three of the next four matches have them on the road and going farther than the West Side of Cleveland.
“The biggest challenge is the next three-to-four-game stretch,” Viviani said. “We have Pittsburgh twice and the Tradesman in the next three weeks. It’s really going to show us our true strengths and weaknesses.”
“In addition to injuries, at the men’s club level people have outside responsibilities and obligations that can pull them away from a game,” Regan added. In addition to work and family responsibilities, clubs can also lose players on key weekends due to military duties.
Pittsburgh and the Tradesmen are undefeated like the ESRFC and have put up numbers similar to the Cleveland squad, hovering around the 40- and 30-point average, respectively.
The Cleveland players have a lot ahead of them and have lofty goals. Viviani and Regan are confident that their game plan can work and that all his players can excel as long as they put in the work.
“We really want to make a run at the title this year,” explained Viviani. “We need all players are stepping up to the challenge this year. We need to keep working together, stay fit, stay hungry and maintain full throttle for a full 80 minutes of each game.”
“In our league there are no weekends off,” Regan said. “Everyone on the team needs to be ready to play to their fullest potential. If we do that we will meet our goals.
It’s likely there will be only two unbeaten teams once the weekend is done. The Green Horde travels to 3-0 Pittsburgh on Saturday, while 3-0 Indianapolis hosts 3-0 Detroit Tradesmen. If you go by points difference so far, Eastern Suburbs and Indy have the advantage, but only one team – Pittsburgh – has had a game you could really call close (21-14 over Dayton).
Watch out for the Indianapolis Impala, whose defense has been rock-solid so far, allowing just ten points in three games.
Midwest East DII games this weekend
Dayton vs. Cleveland Rovers
Michiana vs. Detroit
Detroit Tradesmen vs. Indianapolis
Eastern Suburbs vs. Pittsburgh