San Francisco Dogfish players Tyler Grant and Kevin Smith are longtime veterans of the Bay Area Ultimate club scene and won the Mixed Division Championship in 2006 together with their team, Mischief. Known for his size and remarkable taste for sandwiches, Tyler always works hard on the field. He wears down opponents and often ends up making important plays late in games. Kevin is a handler with a reputation for big throws, the type of player a team can rely on to score tough up-wind goals.
Tyler’s layout catch from Kevin against the Seattle Rainmakers was the MLU’s “Waveborn Offensive Play of the Week.” Both Seattle and San Francisco were missing some of their top players for this game, but the Rainmakers had outplayed the Dogfish in the second quarter and looked in control. This goal cut the Seattle’s lead down to 10-6 and started a four-point run that got the Dogfish back into the game. San Francisco made a remarkable comeback to win 16-14.
We sat down together and watched the clip, maybe more than once.
Javier Carey: So tell me about the play.
Tyler Grant: It was the first point after half, a hell point. The play came after three hucks to Jordan [Jeffery]: one from [Evan] Boucher, one from Kevin [Smith] and one from Cassidy [Rasmussen], and people were exhausted. I was covering [Tyler] Kinley and I forget how I ended up on him, I got switched somewhere. I was normally downfield. Being by the handlers was different but in this case it was opportune. There was a big swing to Kinley and I made it difficult for him to throw the break. They hadn’t moved the disc up field and we were keeping them on one side.
Reid [Koss] was looking to throw an upfield break initially. Meanwhile, I decided to sit in the lane, screwing up the open side to prevent an easy upfield strike. I left Kinley open because he wasn’t a threat in that spot so close to the sidelines. Reid then chose to go break and Kevin got a point block.
JC: Kevin how did you feel about that block?
Kevin Smith: It felt pretty good. It was a long point and we had turned it over three times. Coming out of half and being down, and having been broken a few times in the second quarter we really needed the point. As the offensive unit turning it over there’s a real perogative to get the disc back. The great thing about the block is that it created a huge opportunity getting the disc near the goal and not having to work it up in the wind.
JC: What happens next? How quickly did you recognize that you had Tyler open?
KS: Yeah, I went to pick the disc up right away. It was looking like it was going to be Tyler one on one and I had my heart set on throwing it to him. I knew his defender was going to be extra careful on the open side so close to the goal. If I had gotten there quicker I could have gotten it right to him, but then Devon [Anderson] and Evan [Boucher] ran through.
TG: Being one on one with a size mismatch makes it especially hard for the D to shut you down, even more so if you know your thrower. I’ve played with Kevi on and off for a really long time.
JC: How long?
TG: Just a really long time… At first I point to the back corner and I know Kevi can put it out there, there’s tons of space and I’ve got height. But he backs off because the guys come across. I look open side, but then the break side opens up. I saw it was a flat mark. I signaled but Kevin was already throwing it and all I had to do was go run it down.
JC: What do you say about the sandwich call from the announcer?
TG: I would say that I’m friends with the announcer…
JC: That’s a hell of a throw.
TG: Kevi gets off a ridiculous low break, just above Reid’s foot. I was lucky it floated. The Innova disc gives you a little more time.
JC: What were you feeling right there, after making a big grab?
TG: The hell-pont to start the half, I was really happy we could pull it off. It gave us momentum to start the comeback.
It was an ugly point and you’re still down 10-6, why do you say this starts the comeback?
TG: We were on offense going upwind on that point. If we don’t get that point, after all those turns, then we’re tired with an even larger deficit. That was the first O-line. We put ourselves in a really bad position if we go down 11-5 and have to put a tired O-line back out there, or mess with the defensive rotations to get fresh legs on the field. If that first point goes the wrong way then everything gets screwed up.
JC: Did you have any thoughts about hucking it away three times on such an important point? It seems like you could have been more conservative.
TG: I give credit to my teammates for seeing an opportunity [on those throws]. Sometimes they don’t work out. Realistically you have to go with your gut.
JC: Was anything said at halftime that you think led to the comeback?
TG: I can’t remember what was said now, honestly. Some strategic defensive stuff [sic]. At halftime it wasn’t a matter of energy or being rattled. We all had similar thoughts. We knew we could play better, it was just like “let’s get this done.” I think part of it was that we needed to figure out how to play O without the big names. After some adjustments we figured it out.
KS: I think we knew that in order to have a comeback, the O line needed to do its job and get the defense on the field. We had a responsibilty not get broken on our side. We knew it was more technical things that we were screwing up, things that we could control.
JC: I heard there were words said about ‘moments that define a team.’
KS: That was Sam Kanner firing up the D line. He said that we had an opportunity in these moments to define the character of the team. If we could come back from five down we could do anything. How we handled the second half would set the tone for the rest of the season.
JC: [Assistant coach] Matt Ruby mentioned that things changed when you went to a vertical stack.
TG: There are some things we still have to work out with our horizontal stack. A vertical stack is more natural at this point.
JC: What about the defensive game plan? You guys came out with a zone that apparently made a huge difference.
TG: We shifted our game plan. We went from defending against what we thought they were going to do to defending against what they were actually doing. In the first half we were worried about their speed; we were over-committing to plays that we know that Seattle teams like to run. They are good players and they took advantage of that and went the other way.
KS: All the credit for the win goes to the defense. It was their comeback.
JC: As winners this week the MLU is making a contribution to charity in your names. What charity have you chosen?
TG: We’re supporting the Peninsula Humane Society.
JC: How do you guys feel about the Portland game on Saturday?
KS: We’re extremely confident after the win against Seattle. We’re still going to be down four players, but the win last weekend showed us that we have a good enough team to handle anything.
JC: Any last remarks?
KS: I’d like to thank Tyler for running that disc down!