Pulling The Flag

Power Rankings – Pre Season

With the senior flag season is just around the corner, we felt like it was time to pigeon hole all of your teams and tic you all off with our incredibly bias pre season Power Rankings!

1)  Glasgow Hornets

Although preseason doesn’t always give us an accurate guide to how the season will pan out, it has historically given us an indication of who’s hot and who’s not.

If the Hornets can shake of their despair of narrowly losing last years final, they look like the team with the bit between their teeth and geared up for that elusive piece of silverware.

A good showing at their own Flagging a New Year tournament, followed by finally claiming their first NuOla title at the beginning of the month make the Glasgow Hornets our preseason tips for the national title.

With the Northern Conferences not looking as strong this year, Glasgow should realistically be on a two, maybe three horse race for the number one seed in across all of the North.

2) Baker Street Button Hookers

Perhaps a controversial pick for the number two slot, based on the fact they are league rookies? The Button Hookers have been showing their class throughout 2016 and the beginning of this year, by posting well at Big Bowl, the Jags Se7ens, winning the Outlaw Flag League and claiming a Flagging a New Year title.

They chose to stay at home for NuOla Spring Break, but Vince Machi & Co are primed for a run at the league. Featuring a passing attack that has been ripping defenses apart and a very tight man defensive scheme, we think they just have the edge over their division rivals and National Champions, the London Rebels.

3) London Rebels

It seems almost unnatural to take the previous years winners and relegate them into third place. However, the fierce competition in the South and the emergence of the Button Hookers has shaken up the norm somewhat.

Their own division will be difficult enough to navigate, with the Button Hookers and last years semi finalists, the Victoria Park Panthers also there to take shots at them.

That’s not denying the Rebels quality mind you. Tarlton, Bello and the rest will not likely be evicted as London’s top team, but a surprise loss in the Spring Break Semi Finals, to the Sheffield Vipers raises questions.

4) Aberdeen Oilcats

Always the bridesmaid and never the bride. The “Cats” just can’t quite elevate themselves into that final. The perennial finalists must feel like they have some sort of curse on them?

After ousting the then Sheffield Predators (Giants) out of a finals berth, in the Giants back yard, they must have thought last year was their time?

The draw wasn’t particularly kind though, matching them up against the eventual champions, Rebels.

With the restructured format, they no longer have to play the Hornets twice a year and will only see them once before a likely playoff appearance, thus giving them another fair shot at Brit Bowl once more.

They weren’t quite on it at Flagging a New Year, but with plenty of new faces, they used the tournament to blood them in, ready for the season ahead.

5) Northants Titans Blue

Another surprising entry into the top five, but the Northants Titans are a club on an upward curve. A curve that only just saw them miss out on their first finals appearance, after 74 rounds of overtime, versus the Victoria Park Panthers, in the playoffs.

They have a favorable division, with the improving same city rivals, the Northampton Phantoms, Leicester Eagles and Coventry Cougars Ladies team.

Their conference itself is trickier, with the previous champions, the Birmingham Lions and Cardiff Hurricanes laying in wait in their own divisions respectively, but neither seem to be able to replicate their championship winning ways of yesteryear, so the Titans Blue have the edge.

The Grindod to Coles combo was on fire last year and if they start hooking up again, defenses are gonna have some issues stopping them.

At this point, we expect the Titans Blue to go into the playoffs as number two seeds!

6) Reading Lions

The Chichester Sharks will no doubt take um-bridge to this placing, but the Reading Lions have had the edge over their SEC South Conference rivals in terms of final placing for a couple of years now.

The Reading Lions finished last season with a 10-3 record, in what was a very strong division, featuring the Sharks and Rebels.

If they can avoid the likes of the Button Hookers and Rebels in the playoffs, they are a genuine threat to any team on their day.

Can they keep their cool and go all the way?

7) Sheffield Giants

This season is going to be a transitional one for the newly named Sheffield outfit.

The loss of seasoned vets such as Matt Lollar, Tim Darracott, Liam Browning and Mark Cocking will no doubt leave a massive gaps to fill?

However, with many second year players returning to supplement GB stars, Dean Whittingslow and Josh Allen, they should still very much be a threat and have enough in the tank.

The Vipers are a team trending upwards, but taking that step up into potential division winners will be hard. Add into the mix, the unpredictable Mansfield Honey Badgers and you all of a sudden have a tricky division to navigate.

The Giants may fluctuate in the rankings!

8) Grangemouth Broncos

The Broncos have talent loaded throughout their squad. That was evident with five of their squad making the HNC Chieftains squad for the Super Fives, as recently as last weekend.

Liam Fleming, Scott Mckenzie, Fraser Thompson, Callum and Kevin Woods all showed well at the tournament.

They always seem to flatter to deceive once the playoffs come around though, so they will be looking to break down that blocker and knock one of their Scottish rivals out at the same time.

9) Birmingham Lions

Arguably the most controversial placing of them all. The Lions seemed to go from champions to chumps last year!

What happened?

They started off well enough, but half way through the season, a very large squad seemed to struggle with the up coming Titans and Phantoms, so much so, they chose to go and play golf instead of seeing the season out.

They may have had a very large squad, but the likes of Newiss, Conroy and Freeman weren’t main stays of the team, leaving Varney and Salter to carry the can for their surprising losses to the aforementioned Titans and Phantoms.

They looked rusty at the NuOla Spring Break, losing to a possessed Coventry Cougars team, TWICE!

They have the Cougars in their division, along with the Coventry Panthers and Northants Titans White.

They should have enough to get out of that division unscathed, if they take it seriously!

10) Newcastle Blackhawks

Not so much of a punt as an educated guess, but the Blackhawks, of the Newcastle variety showed some real promise last year.

Their defense was the key to a division title last year, a defense that was ranked fourth in points conceded overall in the regular season.

They also seem to have lucked in with the impressive play of quarterback Ewan Miller, who had a fine season under centre last year.

With a division consisting of improving Leeds Samurai, tricky Calderdale Knights and fresh faced Darlington Steam, you’d fancy Newcastle to top that group.

Their competition likely comes from the other two divisions, with the Giants, Vipers, Crows, Titans and Badgers giving them grief.

Just missing out

Harshly, the Victoria Park Panthers miss the cut. Last seasons semi finalists have been drawn the short straw, with the Button Hookers coming into the league, meaning they may end up playing in the second tier next year, if they cant get into the top two in their division.

Wow, crazy!

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