Game 1: San Francisco Flamethrowers
The Los Angeles Aviators begin their 2016 season at home against the San Francisco Flamethrowers this Sunday, April 3rd. They look to rise up to the challenge of facing one of the top contenders for the 2016 AUDL championship.
Listing all of the stand out players on the Flamethrowers’ roster would be a lengthy task. They are stacked top to bottom. The AUDL preseason power rankings tout them as “the deepest and most versatile team in the league.” The praise comes as a result of San Francisco picking up some top-quality talent during the offseason. No less than seven (7!) new additions were all on the San Jose Spiders’ playoff roster just last year. Highlighted by the likes of Simon Higgins, Christian Johnson and Marcelo Sanchez, there is some hefty firepower shifting the balance of power to the Bay Area this year. Other players the Aviators will need to key in on to have any chance of slowing down the Flamethrowers include San Francisco’s top three goal scorers from last season: Greg Marliave, Barrs Lang and Lucas Dallmann.
The Aviators will be starting the season without their top goal-scorer from last year, Sean McDougall, due to injury. The scoring responsibilities will fall on the exceedingly capable shoulders of Husayn Carnegie and Bryan Nguyen, two of the most difficult receivers to slow down in the division. Mark Elbogen is Los Angeles’ leading assist returner, and Tyler Bacon returns to the field after suffering a season-ending hand injury during midseason last year. Eric Lissner also looks forward to returning to competitive gameplay after suffering a broken collarbone during the offseason. Both of those injuries have healed and Bacon and Lissner want to show that not only are they not slowed down, but in fact better than ever. Jack Marsh will make his highly anticipated debut, and a host of exciting rookies get to show the fans what they are made of in their professional debuts.
The Aviators certainly do not want a repeat of last year’s home opener, a 29-19 loss to Seattle, but San Francisco will undoubtedly be eager to show the league what they are capable of. While a Flamethrower victory is the most likely outcome, the task will be difficult as they will be playing the second leg of back-to-back games in Southern California. San Francisco plays the San Diego Growlers in San Diego on Saturday evening in both teams’ season openers. With that in mind, and the excitement of a new season and the energy of the home crowd, multiple factors could propel the Aviators to the upset.