By Larry Snyder
Pittsburgh, Pa – Coming off a 28-26 loss on the road to the Indianapolis AlleyCats (5-3-0), the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds (3-6-0) begin a three-game home stand to close out the regular season Saturday, July 9, against the Detroit Mechanix (0-8-0). This rematch of American Ultimate Disc League’s Central Division foes gets underway at 6:00 p.m. EDT at J.C. Stone Field.
I see four critical areas for head coach Max Barowski’s T-birds to finish strong down the stretch. This crew could make a difference in who plays and in what spot in the playoff bracket.
1) Rack up points on the box score. The Black and Gold collected their season-best red-zone conversion rate of 86 percent (12 of 14) against Tampa Bay. The triumph over the Cannons had Max Sheppard delivering eight goals and Clint McSherry keeping the disc in flight with eight assists. Their second best was 83% (15 of 18) against Indy last week. The long-time Air Marshall of J.C. Stone Field, Anson Reppermund, put up seven goals in Indianapolis.
2) Let it fly downfield. The Thunderbirds’ best huck (long pass) completion percentage was 86% (12 of 14) against the AlleyCats. Sheppard launched a 79-yard scoring pass to Thomas Edmonds near the end of the first to finish a six-play drive. He stretched Indy’s defense in the third with a 70-yard goal to Reppermund.
3) Keep the disc out of the opponent’s hands. While Pittsburgh had a season-low 14 turnovers last week against the AlleyCats, it also comes down to when you give back the disc. Two of Indy’s final three goals came off turnovers that allowed them to collect the victory. A huck throwaway led to a 53-yard scoring strike from the Alleycats’ Rick Gross to Cameron Brock at 3:08 of the fourth quarter. The second was a block by Xavier Payne, which resulted in Carter Hawkins finding Adrian Golay in the end zone on a 17-yard pass at 2:15 of the fourth. Maintain your control over the last 12 minutes.
In his Week 10 Power Rankings on the league website, Adam Ruffner points out Edmonds is moving his game in the right direction with three throwaways in his last four games for the Black and Gold.
4) Put the brakes on the other team’s offense. The T-birds put up a season-high 16 blocks against Detroit three weeks ago, and it was just the fourth contest when Pittsburgh achieved double digits in takeaways. The reliable pair of Sheppard and Reppermund spearhead the defense with nine stops each.
From The AUDL YouTube Channel – Pittsburgh’s Thomas Edmonds was second on the AUDL’s Top 10 Plays For Week 10…
Followers of Detroit continue to look for that elusive triumph in 2022 that will end the losing streak going back to 2017. The Men of the Motor City own 150 goals over eight meetings, while the defense permits 27.13 points per contest.
Last week at home, Chris Walsh supplied five goals while Jack Havey scored four in the 33-19 loss to the Minnesota Wind Chill (7-1-0). Walsh added six assists and 462 throwing yards to the clipboard. Terry Gaither had four blocks on defense.
Joe Cubitt is among the Mechanix players to watch as he is third in the AUDL in pass completions with 435, fourth in throwing yards with 3623, seventh in assists with 36, and eighth in total yards with 4,656. Andrew Sjogren checks in at the ninth spot in receiving yards with 2,519.
Promotion: The Tbirds celebrate “Halloween In July” this Saturday at the Nest. You can bring your best Halloween costume and possibly win some prizes. Look for your tickets here online.
Broadcast: Matt Weiss describes every pull and block on the subscription streaming service AUDL.tv.
Updates: Thunderbirds Twitter At @PGHThunderbirds / Facebook At pghthunderbirds / Instagram At pghthunderbirds
NEXT UP: The Black and Gold welcome AUDL South Division leaders the Carolina Flyers (9-1-0) Saturday, July 16, to J.C. Stone Field. The battle to control the disc starts at 6:00 p.m. EDT.
Per The AUDL YouTube Channel – Pittsburgh Thunderbirds At Indianapolis AlleyCats: Week 10 Game Highlights…