By Scott Prater
Defending champion 11th Space Warning Squadron earned a chance to defend its Schriever Intramural Flag Football title with a 33-0 win over Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center in one of two semifinal games Sept. 28.
By advancing to the championship game, 11 SWS also gets a chance to exact some revenge on 4th Space Operations Squadron, a 20-6 winner over 50 Civil Engineer Squadron in the day’s other matchup.
“4 SOPS beat us the first game of the regular season, but we were missing a few of our starters,” 11 SWS coach Craig Thompson said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what we can do with our full squad out here.”
Despite dropping its first two games of the regular season, 11 SWS squeaked into the four-team post season thanks to a four-game win streak. The team rode through that streak largely through the play of its defense, which kept opposing offenses scoreless in its final three regular season games.
Monday’s game against MDIOC was no different. 11 SWS’ pass rush succeeded in disrupting MDIOC’s offensive scheme for majority of the game while its defensive backs created an impenetrable barrier down field.
“We’ve been getting pressure on the quarterback from Bryant Wade and Roderick Holland and we’ve been fortunate to get quite a few picks in the last few games. When you can rush two and get pressure like we are, it makes a big difference.”
Thompson wasted little time ramping up his offense. The 11 SWS quarterback escaped a pass rush, scampered to his right, then streaked down the sideline for the game’s first score 4 minutes in.
The nimble signal caller followed by hitting Korey Kuykendall on a short touchdown pass 2 minutes later to put 11 SWS up by 14 points.
“Our offense is designed for the quarterback to elude pressure and make throws on the run,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to defend that. And if they rush two, that’s definitely going to leave somebody open.”
Thompson tossed his second touchdown of the day on 11 SWS’ next possession. Receiver Joe Johnson found space along the left sideline and Thompson hit him in stride for a 45-yard touchdown completion.
Kuykendall opened the second half with an interception return for a touchdown and Thompson recorded his third scoring pass of the game 5 minutes later when Jacob Burtschi beat two defenders for the ball in the end zone.
The championship game provides an intriguing matchup, pitting the ultra potent 11 SWS passing attack against 4 SOPS’ fleet-footed defenders.
Marcus McKindra thwarted two 50 CES scoring drives with a pair of interceptions to lead 4 SOPS to its seventh straight victory in the day’s first semifinal game.
4 SOPS quarterback Mike Owen took advantage of his talented receivers, throwing for two scores and running for another in the win.
“I think we’re a bit more organized than some of the teams in the league,” 4 SOPS coach Luke Zimmerman said. “Also, we’re not limited to just one scoring threat, so that’s helped us throughout the season. Obviously, we’re all pretty excited to have the chance to win a league championship.”