The last time the San Francisco Dogfish and the Portland Stags faced off, the elements were a factor in the gameplay. In fact, the elements seem to be following the Stags wherever they go this season.
Rain dampened the Stags’ chances against the Seattle Rainmakers in a preseason game. The Stags then played the Dogfish in the season opener, and though the wind may have leveled the playing field, it cramped the Stags’ style in that game and in their next two showings.
Despite the current team standings, the Stags have only had one loss greater than three points. And it’s important to remember one advantage they’ll have in this game: the home field. It’s something the Dogfish can well appreciate, since the fans were a factor in their turnaround against the Seattle Rainmakers last week.
“The players feed off of that energy, and it definitely heightens the intensity of the game,” says Dogfish defensive cutter Drew Kim.
Saturday’s game features a “Beervana” theme that celebrates Portland’s love of locally crafted brews. Expect a rowdy crowd with their own intense energy, determined to help their team defeat the Dogfish.
After being down ten players at the start of last week’s game (and losing a few of their remaining players to injuries), the Stags will be back to near capacity on Saturday. They’ve played the Vancouver Nighthawks for two weeks in a row and will welcome a change of scenery. They amped up their huck game last week, demonstrating its potency as the Nighthawks struggled against it. And coming off Cody Bjorklund’s Defensive Play of the Week with the first-ever MLU Callahan, the Stags are riding a strong wave toward redemption.
Since their first game against the Stags, the Dogfish have used their club-level experience to dig in while they got their MLU legs under them. Their roster will be depleted this week, including the absence again of go-to players Mac Taylor, Beau Kittredge, Ashlin Joye, and Martin Cochran. The Dogfish will need to leverage the player connections we saw emerge in the last game, like Tyler Grant and Kevin Smith’s Offensive Play of the Week. They’ll also need to start strong and keep up the momentum to stop a hungry Stags team from rallying.
To date the Stags have been unable to break out from behind in their games, and defense has been the key to muzzling the herd. Double-teaming, tough sideline forces, and poaching pose the greatest problems for the Stags’ sometimes hasty offensive decisions, even with their able receivers. The Dogfish need to keep up the pressure on D and utilize the steady hands and quick opportunities that have worked for them on O. If they avoid a repeat of the point-for-point dance of the opening weekend game, they can come away with a solid win despite the element most in the Stags’ favor this week–the energetic Portland crowd.