A history lesson in sports is not what I call must-read material. That's what Wikipedia, encyclopedias and Sports Illustrated archives are for, right?
Nonetheless, I would be remiss if I didn't recap last year's Tulsa Talon's season. The team blazed to an 11-1 start. Injuries to quarterback Justin Allgood and defensive stalwarts Jermaine Hope and Delenell Reid killed what was shaping up to be a terrific Talon's run.
Considering they were the defending champions, that's saying something. The team fizzled to a 12-4 record and first-round playoff loss.
"It's been healed up for about eight months now so we're good to go," said returning quarterback Justin Allgood of his broken left collarbone. "We had the talent to play even better than what we were playing (last year)."
The squad lost explosive receiver Kellen Allen this year. "We've got some new guys coming in to fill his spot and I think they are doing a pretty good job so far. It's a matter of getting them on the field and seeing what they can do," he said. The team retained the steady duo of Jeff Hughley and Jermaine Landrum.
Teams share goals with the public. It's comes as no surprise to hear they want another championship for T-Town.
Personal goals? Sure, they set them, but getting a player to divulge is another story. It's a secret our quarterback is happy to share with his offensive coordinator, Craig Strickland.
He should have ample time to set up in the pocket and find the open receiver. "Up front, we have all three of our guys returning: Roderick Green, Anthony Boldin and Bret Rayl. Offensively, they'll be the heart and soul of our group," said head coach Mitch Allner. Allner returns to captain the ship for a third year.
No excuses were made for the season-ending collapse of '08. "The injury bug bit us at the end of the season but you know a lot of teams across the league deal with that every single year. Unfortunately we were not able to overcome it," he said.
The scoring onslaught a defense faces in a typical af2 contest must weigh on the minds of defensive players. Luckily for the Talons, a wealth of experience returns on the defensive side of the ball.
Jermaine Hope and Delenell Reid solidify the secondary. Reid d'd more than two passes per game a season ago.
Defensive lineman Terrance Carter collapses the pocket up front. Speed and leverage are his tools of the trade.
The linebackers look the part. Jamar Ransom and Michael Shack even have linebacker names. Both return and their legion of fans are ecstatic.
The Talons kickoff the season this Saturday, March 28, against the Kentucky Horsemen. Mix in the inclusion of the BOK Center and the team and fans are ready to rock.
"It's going to be great. [The BOK Center has] been a great thing for the city. It's been very well supported ever since it opened up. It will be nice for the players and the fans moving in there," said coach.
The possible downside is noise pollution. The opponents will likely hear less. "It's such a larger arena. We've always had such a great fan base with the Talons and our season ticket holders," he said.
The players are equal parts excited and anxious. They can only scrimmage so many times before they are ready for live bullets.
"That's the biggest thing about Tulsa right now. We're playing in the best arena in af2. We're getting new uniforms, new field and new pads. We got to see it the first time Saturday," said Allgood about the meet and greet with the season ticket holders a week ago.
The BOK Center was recently voted the top arena in the Central Hockey League. The Tulsa Oilers attendance figures have been impressive despite a lackluster season. It will be interesting to see how a successful Talons organization can pack the Center.
"It's gotten to the point we've talked about it, we've been practicing, getting ready and we're tired of practicing and ready to get after it and enjoy this wonderful arena that Tulsa built for us," Allgood said.
"We worked hard this offseason. We've put together another very good team again this year. I guarantee any of our fans that come out to our games, they'll be happy with the team we've put together," ensured coach Allner.
It is a highly competitive bunch. The superb coaching staff remains intact. The organizational structure provides the stability a team needs in order to reach its lofty goals.
Hopefully this team is a forgetful group. You may wonder why forgetfulness is a good characteristic. In life, not so much. In af2, it's a required skill.
"No matter how much of a lead or deficit you have in our game, you're never out of a football game. Last year we were playing in Oklahoma City. We were up by 22 points and had the ball on about the two-yard line going in to score with seven minutes to go in the game... and lost," recalled Allner.
The ability to focus on the next play is paramount. If you've ever been to a Talons game you know how quickly the momentum can shift. If you haven't experienced a Talons game in person, then now is the time. Visit www.tulsatalons.com for ticket information.
Quick NCAA tangent: My buddy Chris Plank at 1430 The Buzz blogs. His last entry included several types of annoying office bracket guys. Here are two more he can use free of charge.
These describe two guys/gals entering Sweet Sixteen week.
"Wishful Thinking Guy" is the guy or gal struggling in the office pool. However, he or she still has all four of the Final Four teams alive so they think there is still a chance.
"Doin' Great Guy" is the guy or gal who tells you they nailed 14 out of 16 teams in their bracket. They fail to mention the other eight brackets they filled out with nine out of 16 remaining.
If you are winning the office pool, consider it luck. Enjoy the rest of the tourney and get ready for some Talons football!
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