The Kansas Cougars (11-1, 8-1 in XFL) are looking to make it to the Xtreme Football League Championship Game for the third consecutive year and if they can get through the Oklahoma City Jaguars (9-3, 7-3 in XFL) on Saturday, they will get to host the championship against the winner of the Oklahoma City Elite and Oklahoma Monarchs.
“Everyone get their popcorn ready, because there’s going to be fireworks,” Cougars head coach Darrell Nave told Developmental Football USA. “Whether it’s us versus whoever, or one of the other top three teams versus whoever, it’s going to be a really good game.”
Last year, the Cougars fell short of repeating as XFL Champions as the then-first-year Monarchs pulled out a 28-24 win. In 2015, the Cougars took home the trophy with a 21-14 win over the Oklahoma Nightmare. If the Cougars can hold off the Jaguars, they’ll have a chance to win their second title in three years.
“The Jaguars took care of the Executioners last game,” Nave said. “When we played them the first time, they were still trying to develop into the team they are. I think they’ve found the right pieces and they’re really starting to play good football as of lately.”
The Cougars have only gotten to play once over the last month. They were scheduled to play the Nightmare on Memorial Day Weekend, but won by forfeit. Then, the following week, they shut out the Oklahoma Red Wolves 47-0.
“In that time there was a lot of stuff going on internally in the league and they decided to part ways with the league, but their owner kept his word and came to Kansas to play us,” Nave said.
“We were expecting them to be more of a fight, but with a lot of guys already exiting, they didn’t travel very well,” Nave said. “That left us with one more game with the Bobcats, which became a pretty big deal. They forfeited which gave us the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. He called us, he wanted to take a forfeit, we accepted it, so we got the No. 1 seed.”
In the win over the Red Wolves, veteran quarterback Orlandus William threw five touchdown passes and rushed for two more, while the defense pitched the shutout.
Kansas will look to continue to pile it on offensively and play a high level of defense as they wrap up their 2017 campaign against the league’s top teams.
“The defense is playing sound defense,” Nave said. “I think the big key is not coming in thinking this is going to be an easy game. I think it’s going to be a lot better game than a lot of people are giving them credit for.”
If the Cougars – who have a 40-6 record since 2014 – are able to put away the Jaguars, they’re expecting a rematch from last year’s title game, believing the Monarchs get past the Elite.
“That’s a tough one,” Nave said. “I’m going to give the edge to the Monarchs just due to their experience within the league, with their coaching and some of the guys they have on offense. Not taking anything away from the Elite, they’re a great team. They have a ton of talent all over the place, defense and offense. When it comes down to it, the coaching is going to play a big factor into the adjustment. I could be wrong, but I see it being a close game. In my predication I’ll say it’s going to be 21-14.”
The league’s overall top seed hosts the championship game, so if the Cougars win on Saturday, they will host the championship in Rose Hill, Kansas. If the Jaguars pull it out, the winner of the Monarchs and Elite would move up to the No. 1 seed, based on record.
“This has been probably the most confusing season,” Nave said. “There have been a lot of new teams that have popped up that have actually helped the XFL grow and then some other things that have happened that have been a black eye to our league. I think once the championship game is played and people get to see some of the talent that is played within our league. I know there’s a Central Football League and they have about four or five good teams and our league has about three solid teams. Once they see the championship and how hard fought it is, they’ll see how competitive it is over here.”