It was a slight rain and a dreary day that accompanied a clash of unbeaten teams with simmering bad blood as the Chicago Force hosted the Kansas City Tribe at Winnemac Stadium.
The Tribe, 4-0, had beaten their opponents 77, 82, , 76, and 88 to 0. Meanwhile, the Force was only slightly less impressive, 3-0, winning 69-0, 58-0, and 29-7.
It was truly a clash of the titans at Winnemac Stadium.
The Force signature offense is the spread offense. It consists of four receivers, one running back and the quarterback in shotgun.
Today, Coach Konecki, zigged when everyone expected him to zag, and added a whole new wrinkle.
He lined up in a power eye, with a tackle eligible, the running back star Jessica Springer, at quarter back in shot gun.
Meanwhile, starting quarterback Sami Grisafe, was forced to watch from the sidelines.
It was brilliant for its counter intuitive thought process. The spread offense, as its name implies, spreads both the offense and defense.
This packs everything in. If you prepared for one all week, you’d be totally unprepared for the other.
The game became pretty simple after. Springer would take the direct snap and act like any great option or Wildcat quarterback and take off for big yardage.
Springer was recently featured in the New York Times as the best female football player on the planet and she looked all of it. She rushed fifty times for 312 yards and a couple scores.
The offense ran through her all day long in her Herculean effort.
The drawback of this strategy is that Grisafe had trouble getting comfortable all day. She missed a number of intermediate passes leading to the end of drives. She was also intercepted.Grisafe acts and sings when she’s not lining up behind center. She’ll be singing at the Underground Wonder Bar this Wednesday the 11th at 11PM. She should have no trouble adjusting to any pressure after the manner in which the Tribe defense was in constant pursuit of her all day.
Still midway through the first, Springer connected on the first of several long runs when she broke off tackle right, got to the second level, and then sprinted to the corner of the endzone for the first score.
After a three and out, the Force got another strike. Grisafe lined up under center in a packed line up, in what would be one of several other gadget formations the offense would show.
She executed and excellent ball fake, while the tight end #85 Kimberly Marks sneaked behind the defense for a pitch and catch score. A missed extra point made it 13-0 but it looked to be yet another typical game for the Force.
In the second quarter, the momentum shifted. #23, Jenny Schmidt, got her groove back for the Tribe. The Tribe also showed a spread offense in the game. Whereas Schmidt, their quarterback, looked out of rhythm in the first quarter, she looked in command the rest of the way.
Schmidt had a remarkable resemblance to Virginia Tech Quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Vikings quarterback Joe Webb. She was able to use her feet to buy time and then would find receivers open for short and intermediate completions.
Also, #13 Larisha Graves, their running back, became almost as unstoppable as Springer. Following a long drive, Graves went off tackle left for the Tribe’s first score.
Jessica Springer capped off another drive when she went off tackle right from the power eye formation for score. A missed two point conversion made it 19-7.
Kansas City responded with a drive of their own that was kept alive by on opportune facemask penalty on #43 Melissa Whyms. Finally, Scmidt made like Michael Vick, scrambled, found an opening and darted into the end zone. It was 19-14, with 1:08 left in the half.
In the second half both defenses struggled to find answers for the opposing offenses. Springer was often unstoppable. Yet, the Tribe’s spread formation was a well oiled machine anchored by Schmidt.
Both teams traded scores throughout the second half. Grisafe sneaked in for a score and a two point scrambling strike to #83 Jeannette Gray made it 27-14.
Schmidt engineered a near flawless drive on the Tribe’s next possession and finished it off with a slant pass to #3 Liz Sowers.
With about eight minutes left in the game, Jessica Springer imposed her will on it. She dominated the drive. She’d take direct snaps, find holes, and move the chains. She looked like Denard Robinson, Darren McFadden and Darian Hagen all rolled into one. She finished it off with a score that made it 34-20 with 6:37 left.
The Tribe wasted no time and Schmidt found #33 Sowers on a crossing pattern for another score. On the extra point however, Springer blew through the line, extended her arms and blocked the kick, making it 34-26 with less than 4 minutes remaining.
Springer then gutted out a couple first downs on the Force next drive and the Tribe didn’t get the ball back until 45 seconds remained left. A last gasp ran out of time inside the Force end of the field. The final score was 34-26.
Th Force picks it up again next Saturday against the West Michigan Mayhem at 4PM at Winnemac Stadium.