Hitmen Want A Repeat, Patriots Seek Revenge
By Danielle Hughes
Tinley Park, ll- The defending MSFL champions, the Wisconsin Hitmen will play the undefeated (in the regular season) Lincoln Way Patriots in the Championship showdown. Saturday night’s matchup will be a battle between the two generals on the field, the quarterbacks. Multiple league MVP, Tony Powell, brings his impressive football IQ to the field as he is leading his undefeated Patriots to the third MSFL championship game. On the other end of the battle field, stands Hitmen’s Dylan Kelly. Kelly is said to be one of the biggest up and coming talents in the MSFL as a mobile quarterback. The kickoff between both generals will be at Horlick Field in Racine at 7pm. Both generals led their team to one of the biggest games of the season, but the road wasn’t easy for either teams.
“Our journey has been everything but easy.” Said Hitmen’s Head Coach Maal Napolean, “We didn’t assume we would be back in the championship. We had a lot of incoming talent and retirees at the same time. So finding that balance was tough at times, but the fellas bought in and it paid off.”
And as for the Lincoln Way Patriots their journey started back in September 2017. “Our journey has been long. It seems like forever ago even though it was only two years ago,” said Head Coach Jim McClelland.
Coach McClelland went on to explain how hard it was to lose last year in the Conference Finals. “To be up two scores almost three and then loosing the game, makes for a long off season.”
Both teams come into Saturday night’s game with a lot to prove. Kelly and the Hitmen want to prove that they have what it takes to be back to back MSFL Champions while Powell and the Patriots have a bad taste in their mouth and seek revenge coming into the 2018 MSFL Championship game.
“Being back in this type of game means everything to us.” Coach Napolean’s thoughts on his team’s accomplishments. “We have reshaped a team atmosphere and work ethic, and attitude. This staff and these players deserve to be in the championship, as do the Patriots.”
The Hitmen just barely made it past the Racine Raiders on September 8th with a 15-14 victory. Wisconsin expects the Patriots to be just as tough, disciplined and dangerous on Saturday night than when they saw each other back in preseason. Though Coach Napolean believes the Patriots made some adjustments since his Hitmen held on to a 21-13 preseason victory against them, Coach believes that his Hitmen still have a chance if they can control three things of the game.
Coach Napolean says his team needs to play well in all three phases of football; offense, defense and special teams. “We have to remain disciplined and calm,” said Coach Napolean, “If we do those things we have a good chance to pull out a victory.”
If the Patriots want to be successful in their seek for revenge, Coach McClelland believes his team needs to take care of the ball and not turn it over. McClelland continues, “We have to stop the run game, and perform in special teams. If we do that, we have a chance.”
Championship games are rare to come by for many athletes across the world no matter what sport. Only two teams every year can make it to the big dance. Saturday night’s game means a lot to the athletes but also to the coaches. These coaches are volunteering their time to give back to these athletes and give them another outlet in life. Both conference champions consist of players that were either All Americans, DI athletes, Professional Arena players, or high school standouts that never had the chance to play at the collegiate level. To both coaches, Saturday night’s game is even bigger than just the game- it’s proof that the game of football has the potential to change young boys into strong minded men.
“I love football and the brotherhood you get to share, but also the teachable moments and growth you get to see on and off the field.” Coach Napolean said.
Patriots’ Head Coach Jim McClelland says he does this all for the guys. “I love football and we need football in our lives. I teach these guys that it is important to win the right way.”
From the Hitmen’s explosive defense and its offense led by the up and coming quarterback; to the Lincoln Way Patriots’ explosive offense and disciplined defense led by MSFL Defensive Player of the year, Lorenzo Hood. This Championship game is going to be a game you don’t want to miss.
Tune into Lincoln Way Patriots Facebook Page for live updates of the game.