The Midwest Professional Indoor Football Championship Game is this Saturday and it’s the rematch the entire league has waited for as the Midway Marauders (9-1) host the Cincinnati Flex (9-1) for the title, in a battle of first-year teams.
“We get another opportunity to play the Flex, they were the only team that beat us this year,” Marauders owner Chris Mathews told Developmental Football USA. “We are 0-1 against them. They beat us with four seconds left on the clock. I feel like we needed that loss to humble us and make us more hungry, because we were starting to get complacent. We needed that experience, but now my team is not taking them lightly and they’re going to come out hard, not just because we’re playing them, but because we’re playing them in the championship. On the 20th, we’ll find out who wants it more.”
Based on what these two teams have shown everyone all year, this should be another close, exciting game. Will history repeat itself or will the Marauders get redemption and avenge their only loss as an organization?
“I definitely think it’s going to be a good hard fought game,” Flex owner Tyler Cosby told Developmental Football USA. “We beat them earlier in the season with a last-second touchdown. I think it’s going to be another toss-up, but I do feel, with our offense pretty much scoring at will, I do think we’ll pull away at the end again.”
Saturday isn’t just a championship battle between two one-loss teams, but two teams who have used their only loss to send them on a war path of dominance up to this point.
“After that first loss, I think everybody just came together and knew what we had to do,” Cosby said. “We all told each other we needed to win out the rest of the year and that’s what we did. I think something that definitely helped us out was Antonio Davis stepping in at quarterback, with him coming in, he’s led the offense every game, with David Hampton taking over the defensive side of things.”
The Flex have spent time preparing for an answer to shut down Midway quarterback Andre Lock and middle linebacker Gregory Barksdale.
“Those are two people we’re definitely keying on,” Cosby said. “Their quarterback is in the running for League MVP, their linebacker is up for Defensive Player of the Year, so that’s definitely two people we will be focusing on during that game.
“Honestly I think our offense needs to continue doing what it’s doing and our defensive line will need to step up in the championship, get to the quarterback and get in that backfield.”
The Marauders on the other hand will be faced with the task of slowing down the MPIF’s No. 1 offense, but if any team can do that, it would be the Marauders.
“Their entire offense is just elite,” Mathews said. “They finished No. 1 in scoring in the league and they finished with the No. 1 ranked offense in the league this year. We were No. 2. There are no other words to describe it, their offense is really good. They have three really good offensive linemen, their receivers are good, running back is good, but their quarterback is elite. He’s in the running with our quarterback for League MVP.
“We need our defense to step up, get some pressure on the quarterback. Last time our pass rush wasn’t getting there as often as it should, as we did against other teams this year.”
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, this year has been a success for both first-year teams, but with the MPIF trophy in sight, both the Flex and the Marauders want to put the finishing touches on their season.
“It would mean the world,” Mathews said. “Even getting to the championship means so much to me. I just look back from when we first started, early in the year, we were going to be a developmental team and I decided I wanted to be competitive, from starting with three or four players to not stopping, not stopping, all the hard work I’ve put in, the hard work the coaches and players have put in, it would show that hard work does pay off.
“Being able to bring different types of people together to fight for one goal, people that might be enemies off the field, to come together on the field as brothers.”
Since the first match-up between the two teams earlier this year, Kyle Hogan has been wearing many hats for the Flex as the head coach and both the offensive and defensive coordinator. With him, Cincinnati probably wouldn’t be in this position.
“I definitely want to recognize coach Kyle Hogan,” Cosby said. “We do have other coaches on staff, but he’s been on the field the whole time and has stood up and led this team from a coaching aspect.”
Saturday’s MPIF Championship Game could be the first of several that these two teams meet each other in, in the long run.
“Being 8-1 this year and going to the championship has definitely shown we can stay around and compete,” Cosby said. “With the momentum we have this year I think there will be continued success next year.”
With an outdoor developmental team to help groom players for the indoor game, you can bet Midway will be strong again in 2018.
“I 100 percent look forward to coming back to the MPIF,” Mathews said. “I believe we’re building great teams, the Flex, the Cowboys. I love the owners of this league, the commissioners of this league, they’re very supportive.”