The young league called the American West Football Conference will hold it's 3rd title game tonight in Pasco, Washington as the undefeated Tri-City Rush look to repeat their win from a year ago. Their foe is the Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks, who punched their ticket with an impressive road win over the Idaho Horseman.
For young leagues trying to get a foothold, things don't always go as planned. The original 2022 schedule included the So Cal Red Tails, but they never played a game. The Yakima Canines were also on the schedule but with lingering Covid uncertainty, and a big financial hit from last year, they didn't play. The remaining AWFC teams combined resources to create another team to fill in scheduling gaps. The NorthWest Elite were born and played a few games to keep the schedule full and the league even played a few independent games as well as a crossover game with the Las Vegas Kings--members of the American Indoor Football Alliance.
As a result, the standings looked like this:
In year one, the Idaho Horsemen finished with an undefeated season and won the championship. This year, the Tri-City Rush have the opportunity to do it. Throughout the 2022 season, the Rush have glided through teams with huge margins of victory. The closest margin was a 13-point victory for the Rush over the Horsemen. From there, they made it look easy.
The Wenatchee Valley Skyhawks face the Tri-City Rush for the 3rd time this season. In week 3, Tri City won 65-13. But, their next meeting in late May, the Skyhawks significantly closed the point-margin gap--still losing 43-20. That was actually the last time Tri-City played. They've been waiting for over a month to have an opponent for the championship. The Skyhawks have had 3 matchups since that time, going 2-1. If they are to have an advantage, it would be that they're in their groove. No doubt the Tri-City Rush have been practicing within that time, but going 5 weeks without a matchup could manifest a little rusty play early in the game. This matchup looks to be more and more interesting.
Given the red and green colors being touted by these teams, it feels a little like Christmas in July, especially for Northwestern inhabitants. While most of arena/indoor football gets played on the East Coast and the Midwest, it seems to be very lacking on the West Coast. Not today. The state of Washington will be holding an epic battle tonight to crown a champion in the NorthWest. What the future holds for this league and these teams is unclear, but it's satisfying to report that they've made notable improvement, and that improvement is coming during a challenging Covid recovery, inflation, and it's in Spring Football that is beginning to be over-saturated. When it comes to elevating and contributing to the game of arena football, I find myself rooting for these organizations to take the next step. Game on!
By Ducon Williams