Mike Rice is a professional handler on a closed field. Yes, that is a high-release push pass.
Kansas comes up with a nice corner grab in the endzone against Kansas State.
The Division I Ozark Conference Playoffs will be held in conjunction with the Division III Southcentral Regionals in Tulsa, OK on April 16-17.
Non Conference Teams
British Columbia – The Thunderbirds waltzed through their pool on Saturday, except for a little struggle from the Kansas teams. On Sunday, they took care of California Long Beach, but had to come from behind against Texas.
They then faced Colorado College and held with them during the first half but got outscored in the second half 6-3. The Thunderbirds would not admit it, but it looks like their short bench finally took a toll. Despite the loss, UBC is a solid team and is blessed with very good players. John Norris is an excellent handle and Matt Berezan was a defensive beast getting many d’s on many teams.
Colorado College – Wasabi is a well-oiled machine. It is fun to watch their sound fundamentals. Not only are they good at getting open on cuts, but almost all of their players are able to trade places easily.
Beyond the fundamentals, Colorado College is not much fun to watch. They do not make many layouts or skys or anything else exciting. But what seems like a big shortcoming is actually one of Wasabi’s biggest strengths. Wasabi does not need to make amazing plays because they are that sound. A layout or sky means a throw was off, or there was another execution error somewhere in the play. These guys do not make many errors on offense or on defense, and expertly use other teams’ mistakes.
Leading Colorado College is captain Nicky Spiva. Spiva is an all-around player who has hucks, causes the other team to make errors, and slips deep from time to time to score. He is a legitimate Callahan contender, who might not get the votes to win, but is a large factor in Colorado College’s success.
Texas – Coach Calvin Lin is one of the best strategists in the game. He is indirectly responsible for a couple of TUFF’s points every game. But even he can’t play the game for his players. Texas may have lost only to UBC, but both Dartmouth and Kansas State gave them games. At times the feeling was that the Texas players relaxed when they had the lead, and as a result made some interesting decisions. TUFF was able to recover from most of their errors via their tenacity, but will they have that option against top teams in the series?
A tip of the hat to Will Driscoll who played superbly at Centex.
Texas A&M – Dozen did a lot better at Centex than at President’s Day. They used a mix of zone and man to great effectiveness. Dozen did well against out of region teams but fell to Texas and Colorado College. A remedy has to be in store if Texas A&M wants to make a splash at South Central Regionals.
Washington – The Sundodgers brought seventeen players, but by the end of the tournament they were down to just a dozen due to injury. All of those players should be back by the series, but it definitely hurt their chances at Centex.
Besides the injuries, Washington hobbled their own cause by not putting teams away on Saturday. Oklahoma, Northwestern and California Sate – Long Beach all lost by two points. Those extra repetitions did not help Washington on Sunday against Kansas State and Texas A&M, who are both athletically-minded teams.
Washington will probably not lose their strength bid from their showing at Centex, but it certainly did not help.
Kansas State’s Dank catches a huck for a TD; the observer rules him in.
Centex took a perceived hit in quality of teams even before it started. That is largely due to Easterns. But while Easterns had some solid teams, the top teams at Centex were still very strong, including some Ozark Conference teams.
Ozark Conference Teams
Arkansas – Ludicrous Speed looked good early in the season. A second place finish in the preseason at Harvest Moon and a second place finish at Big D in Little D gave the impression that Arkansas was going to be a good team, even with the loss of their senior talent. However, losses to Missouri and Missouri S&T at Free State Classic showed that Arkansas might not be as strong as they initially looked. The overtime win against Kansas partially redeemed them, but since then Arkansas has been struggling greatly.
At a shortened Mardi Gras Arkansas lost both of their games and freshmen speedster Joe Bell. At Centex, Arkansas got behind early to Illinios but did much better in the second half. In their second game, against Florida State, they dominated the first half and looked like they had turned a corner. However, they ended up squandering the lead and losing by one. Ludicrous Speed would have to wait until Sunday to win their first game, versus Texas State, but they eventually lost to Oklahoma, and Florida State again.
Arkansas has a lot of work to do. They have talented freshmen and Matt Jackson and Eric Kearney. But that might not be enough. Bell should be back in time for the Conference Tournament, but will Arkansas?
Kansas – The HorrorZontals have been the most consistent team in the Ozarks. They have made Nationals five of the last seven years, missing only 2005 and 2008.
At Centex, Kansas got sucker punched by Kansas State to lose their first game of the day. They ended up recovering by defeating the other lower seeds in their pool, but lost to top-seeded UBC, 8-11. On Sunday, the Zontals moved into the Chumpionship bracket and beat Northwestern, but lost to Illinois and Wisconsin Steven’s Point, both teams they had beat previously.
The Zontals have the talent to beat many teams in the nation. However, they seem to be a collection of ultimate players who go to the same school and not necessarily a team. Sniping, arguing, taunting, and one-upsmanship are not generally good for team chemistry and may be holding the boys in red and black back. They still have Fool’s Fest to work out the kinks before the series, but if they do not get them ironed out there is a good chance this just might be the third Zontal team since 2004 to miss Nationals.
Kansas State – The Huckstables are the surprise of the 2011 season. They were not expected to challenge for a top spot in the Ozark Conference. But now Kansas State is, according to the USAU rankings, the fourth best team in the South Central Region. The Huckstables seem to have conjured a full compliment of players from thin air, from solid handler Cameron Hunter, to all-around star Pat Shriwise, and big time deep Chris Youderian. That does not even begin to touch on the other players on the team, from starter to bench, that give other teams fits.
Kansas State came out fired up on the first day of Centex, beat Kansas and gave UBC a game that ended with a d that popped into UBC’s hands, making the final score 11-9. On Sunday, the Huckstables continued their upward climb by beating Washington and losing on ultimate point to Texas. It is true Colorado College easily handled Kansas State, but Colorado College could be one of the best teams in the nation. Even so, the guys from the Little Apple finished fourth at Centex.
Missouri – Missouri brought a small squad of nine to start Centex. They were bolstered by two more near the end of the Colorado College game and promptly scored six in a row against Wasabi. Other than that remarkable run and a win against UCLA, their showing at Centex was disappointing to say the least. Then again, it is hard to win with a small team.
The MUtants have some good players, including captain Matt Francis, but it is not translating into quality wins. Besides an early season win on Arkansas at Free State Classic and two on Harding at Midwest Throwdown, the MUtants have had trouble beating strong teams. Missouri is sure to be a better team once they show up with a full complement of players, but their lack of game time experience might hurt them.
Oklahoma – The Apes of Wrath got stuck in the pool of death at Centex. They also did not do themselves any favors by making every pool game a close game. After beating California Long Beach on ultimate point and losing by two to Washington, the Apes had to fight back to beat Northeastern, lost by two to Northwestern, and by three to Wisconsin Eau-Claire.
Oklahoma did better on Sunday by beating California San Diego, Air Force, and got revenge on Arkansas for Big D in Little D to take 17th place. It is not a surprise that in both games Oklahoma won on Saturday both Mike Rice and Matt Carney came up with big plays. That is why they are on the field. However, if the Apes want to continue to win the big games someone else is going to have to help these guys out and shoulder the load — and not just for a few points.
Colorado College quieted a few doubters by beating perennial power UBC, 13-8 in the Centex Championship. The game was played to thirteen instead of fifteen because UBC had to catch their flights home.
The first few points were traded back and forth between the two teams to 3-3. Wasabi was able to put three points together in a row and open the game up to 6-3. The Thunderbirds answered by scoring the next two, including a Callahan, but Wasabi scored the next one to take half 7-5.
“The first half was closer than the second,” said Wasabi captain Ezra Seigel. “We just had to keep pushing — especially downwind.”
In the second half, Colorado College went on a 4-1 run, to make the game 11-6, and then traded the next four points with UBC to finish out the game.
“UBC had a couple of bad turnovers and we didn’t turn it over that much, especially on offense,” Seigel said.
After the game Seigel confirmed the speculation that Colorado College is looking to move up to Division I.
“We always wanted to be playing Division I but [the USAU] told us we have to go to Division III South Central Sectionals, which is in Tulsa Oklahoma. We feel like we give some of the best competition in our Region and we would like to be in Division I. If we win Division III Sectionals, we would get an automatic bid to Division I Regionals and we would accept it,” Seigel said.
Kansas State had their chances to win but lost to Texas, 15-14 on ultimate point in the 3 vs. 4 consolation game at Centex.
Texas TUFF, which led by as much as three in the first half, took a 8-7 lead into half. In the second half, Kansas State got up by a couple before Texas came roaring back to win the game.
“We have a history of digging deeper when our backs hit the wall,” Texas coach Calvin Lin said. “We lost a lot of focus during the game and under estimated K-State a bit — which we shouldn’t have. When we needed to, we tightened up the lines a bit and ended up winning the game.”
Kansas State captains Kyle Welch and Pat Shriwise were injured and did not play, but were proud of how their team played.
“Honestly, we are proud of the way our younger guys played,” Shriwise said. They just step up so well against teams like Texas. ”
“It sucks to lose a close one like that, but we know what we need to work on and that we can make a push at Regionals,” Welch said.