Pulling The Flag

Power Rankings: Pre-season

Back-combing. Flares. Hipster beards. Blending gin with milk. We’ve all done things that seemed like they made sense at the time, but look utterly ridiculous in retrospect.

On that note, here are our first pre-season PTF power rankings of 2015.

Yes, they’re probably wrong. Deal with it.

(Power Rankings pic by David Goudie and Neil Wymer)

1. Cardiff Hurricanes

Pretty hard for us to dispute this pick as they’re the current National Champions. Just for good measure, a small squad of Hurricanes also managed to win the Phantoms charity tournament in Northampton a month ago.

2. Sheffield Predators

The runners up. The Predators had a well motivated off-season, and that will surely pay off. The only question is whether they can go one better, which will be the aim. Even with Matt Lollar recovering from a broken jaw, they certainly have the players to do it.

3. London Rebels

Highly regarded as our favourites to win it all last year, the Rebels slip down after fielding a weak side in the Southern Regional playoffs and losing. However, with a squad that only ever gets stronger and with GB QB Calvin Tarlton at the reins, it can be hard to stop a team with that much experience.

4. Birmingham Lions

You’re still probably scratching your head at this one. Better yet, you are probably thinking: “Who are these guys? I’ve never heard of them!”. Well to put it briefly, Birmingham Lions are the most successful university kitted team in history, consistently pumping out GB athletes as well as being a top-3 team every season. Now led by ex-kitted QB Tristan Varney, the Lions presented a ton of talent at the recent NuOla Spring Break. Certainly a dangerous team if they manage to keep the squad the same.

5.  Reading Lions

We’re putting a lot of faith in Reading here. They didn’t even make the playoffs last year, but drew with the Rebels in the regular season last year and made the finals at the NuOla Spring Break recently. It seems that the blistering speed of Dominic Howard troubles teams as he forces throws within two seconds, and better yet he plays on both sides of the ball. Keep feeding him the ball and the Lions could be up there with the big guys.

6. Aberdeen Oilcats

A bitter pill to swallow for Aberdeen last season, but the nature of their exit in the playoffs should motivate them. Having been up by three scores at half-time against eventual winners Cardiff, they probably thought they could have been higher on the list. But the Oilcats still have the height of GB player Gary Elliot & Scott Stopani to help them through the tough conference they play in.

7. Grangemouth Broncos

We invested a lot of stock into the Broncos last year, and it briefly remains. Grangemouth are an experienced outfit, with a real running threat in Kenny MacKay. They’re an intelligent team that arguably underperformed in the playoffs, and they’ll be looking to make the most of a potentially favourable re-seeding in the Highland South.

8. Chichester Sharks

You can never count the Sharks out, providing Neil Henderson is around. The Sharks find a way to compete at the highest level each year, and it will be interesting to see how they perform this year with some new players as others leave the team.

9. West Essex Showboats

Maybe a favourable seeding for the Showboats after last year’s dismantling by Cardiff (52-6). But West Essex definitely have talent, including big centre Reiss Muckley. Hopefully the loss motivates the Showboats to come out stronger as they look to progress from last year.

10. West Coast Trojans

After a year off, the Trojans will be looking to maintain what they started in 2013. Under the control of Gary McNey they should be able to bring back the athletic Dave Pasnik and other Kirkcaldy Bulls, not to mention any other kitted Trojans that McNey can get his hands on.

Agree? Disagree? Filled with murderous keyboard-smashing rage? Let us know your tips for the Top Ten as we enter the season, and we’ll buy you an ice cream if you’re right *


* Maybe **

** Probably not

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