Four 4-0 teams meet up this weekend in Midwest DII club action, with the Eastside Banshees of Minneapolis playing Wisconsin, and Pittsburgh hosting Detroit Tradesmen.
Wisconsin has to feel pretty good after beating South Side Irish last week despite not having their best player.
Andrew Hanske was a late scratch for Wisconsin, and yet they ran away with it 45-15. Captain Jake Winkler moved to No 8 for the match, and flanker Casey Endres made a huge impact.
But they will have their hands full against a Banshees team that is flush with some young local Minnesota talent.
While some teams in the Midwest are worried about numbers, Eastside is not, and neither are they worried about motivation.
“We have returned the bulk of our core talent,” said Eastside’s Ben Johnson. “A lot of the guys played 7s with the YoungBloodz and were unhappy with how their summer went. So they feel they have something to prove. The guys coming out of college have adjusted to what is required at the senior level, and we’ve got a really good club atmosphere.”
Having lost their starting props, Eastside may have benefited from the new scrum laws, which are a little easier for an inexperienced prop to adjust to.
Still they are happy to have seen Ross Femrite play so well after moving up from flanker to prop. He’s been a factor, as has new wing Ryan Gilligan, not long out of high school but an explsive attacking player. Mitch Molloy has also been a strong player, slotting in almost anywhere in the backline.
Garrett Bender remains one of the best players on the team, playing No. 8, but he will not dress this weekend, and they will be light at flyhalf, too.
“We have a lot of respect for Wisconsin,” said Johnson. “But we feel really good about where we are right now.”
In the Eastern Conference, Pittsburgh is 4-0 and allowing just over ten points a game. They host the Detroit Tradesmen, who are allowing about 13 points a game. Both have potent offenses, but comparison is difficult because they only have one common opponent, and there’s virtually nothing between the two in comparing those results.
The Tradesmen won their biggest game of the season so far last week, beating previously unbeaten Indianapolis 27-20, and more than tripling Indy’s points against in the process.
For Pittsburgh, however, things are going well, too.
“I think that as a team we are happy with our start,” said club president Anthony Simasek. “We wanted to carry the momentum [but] we realize we have a lot of work to do to continue to win. Our defense has been strong and was very much tested last week by a strong attack from Eastern Suburbs.”
The team has no stars, said Simasek, but is putting in a strong effort across the board.
These games are not just about coming away in first, it’s about keeping ahead of the chasers.
The lost of Eastside v. Wisconsin will certainly worry that they will lose significant ground to 3-1 Chicago Blaze (who can’t get 2nd because they lack the bonus points at present).
The loser of Detroit Tradesmen against Pittsburgh know that Indianapolis and Eastern Suburbs are right behind them. Those two teams play each other, also, so the loser of the Detroit v. Pitt could end up third, and the winner of Indy v Eastern ‘Burbs could end up in 2nd.
Midwest DII club games.
Michiana (0-3) @ (1-3) Cleveland Rovers
Dayton (0-4) @ (0-3) Detroit
Eastern Suburbs (3-1) @ (3-1) Indianapolis
Detroit Tradesmen (4-0) @ (4-0) Pittsburgh
Metropolis (2-2) @ (3-1) Chicago Blaze
Bremer County (0-4) @ (0-4) Lincoln Park
St. Paul (2-2) @ (1-3) South Side Irish
Eastside Banshees (4-0) @ (4-0) Wisconsin