After the game, I heard at three deferent times, from three different people, that they all watched a white dove circling above the sold out bleachers. The dove was squawking uncontrollably. This was odd due to the fact that they should have been bedded down roosting at dusk. Then suddenly it flew over the color guard and headed to the center of the field and landed directly on the painted Outlaw logo at mid field. It was evident that this had to be a sign that our three fallen Outlaw hero's were there to witness the big game.. Rich Seeley, John Polchin Sr. and Darryl Dowell were firmly in place in their luxury sky box in the sky to watch their men play the championship game! They watched, cheered, and some say they helped the Outlaws win their first state championship!
Choosing to be introduced as a team, the Outlaws ran through the smoke filled entrance to the spectacular painted field. After the color guard handled the National Anthem, the captains took the field for the coin flip. Behind the captains stood the honorary retired Outlaw capitans who represented 48 total years of service. Then the PA announcer asked for Jennifer Riffel to come to the center of the field for a special gift - it was Outlaw linebacker #50 Tyson Muse bent on one knee along with his fellow teammates, also on a knee. With the support of team and fans, Tyson asked he for her hand in marriage (proving ever so much that you marry into the Outlaw family) and "YES" was the answer and the special night had started!
To the game, after a back and forth first quarter, the Sharks would draw first blood when quarterback Dennis Gile would scramble off the left side and score from 8 yards out. After Luke Truty kicked the extra point the first quarter would come to an end with the Sharks up 7-0. The wild second quarter turned out to be the game decider. The Outlaws would take a long drive into Shark territory and would ultimately have Johnny Chavez kick a 27 yard field goal to narrow the gap to 7-3. After forcing a punt, the Outlaws would get rolling on another time consuming drive this time hitting pay-dirt when Outlaw quarterback Mike Ochoa faked the dive to the right and half rolled left and found receiver Ruben Gammage in the middle of the end zone for first Outlaw touchdown. After Phil Insalaco kicked the extra point the Outlaws had their first lead 10-7. That lead was short lived due to only a few plays later Giles would throw deep to Chris Lennon and 65 yards later he was in the end zone. After Truty's extra point the Sharks retook the lead 14-10. The Outlaws did not panic and stayed with the game plan. After another long drive with key receptions from Gammage, Mike Cvelbar and James Castillo, mixed with the strong running of Laz Avila, and Rhakeem Harris the Outlaws were once again in the redzone. Avila smashed his way into the end zone from 3 yards out and after Insalaco's second extra point, the Outlaws retook the lead and scored the last points they would need on the night taking the score to 17-14. With minimal amount of time on the clock before the half, the Sharks made one last attempt but after a catch and strip at the goal-line, the Outlaws Jerel Elzy would come up with the ball and stop the last threat of the half.
The second half was a blood bath and a crazy nervous battle with both teams making big plays on both sides of the ball. The Sharks threw the ball all over the field and the Outlaws controlled the game and the clock with the running game. Avila would have an Outlaw team record 21 carries and finished with 69 tough yards on his way to earning the games Most Valuable Player award! As a team, the Outlaws would set a franchise record for most rushing attempts in a single game with 37. The offensive line was to thank for that lead by 14 year veteran Rolly Valencia, and veterans Jason Kenny, Mike Garcia, and rookies Trevor Chaco, and Seth Giallard. The game would have one final dramatic moment at the end. The Sharks made a stop on fourth and one and took over. After a few passes, the Sharks were on the Outlaws 45 yard line with 7 seconds left in the game. Gile rolled to his right and threw the ball to the back corner of the endnote to a double covered receiver and Gammage would come up with the massive interception and after 14 years the Outlaws and their fans exploded onto the field in celebration! The party was on. "AIN'T NO PARTY LIKE AN OUTLAW PARTY"
The Scottsdale Sharks came into the game with a 10-1 record and deserved, as well as earned the right to play this game. With a loaded roster and great coaching staff, the Sharks had beat the Outlaws twice in the regular season. Even though both games were close, the Sharks still had the wins, however the knowledge of those games was instrumental in the game planning for both coaching staffs in this Championship Game, and it showed. The game could have gone either way, and was played with extreme sportsmanship and respect. Just four quarters of solid football. It was stated multiple times that this was the best played and most dramatic game in Arizona Adult Amateur Championship football. Our hats go off to a fine organization in the Scottsdale Sharks for a great game as well as a great season.
I personally could not be more proud of a group of men who had the weight, and support, of the 331 retired Outlaw players and coaches who came before them. This team unselfishly carried not only those men, but each other across the finish line. It was a major accomplishment for them personally, as well as making a franchise that is the most historic in the state of Arizona, very very proud! Each and every player set their personal goals and needs aside and raised the player next to him and refused to let this opportunity slip away. This team played three perfect games through the play-offs including a win over the Westside Monsoon 44-0 who was the two time back to back AzFL champions posting a 23-1 record during that time and followed that up with beating the number one ranked team in the nation as well as our leagues only undefeated team and defending state champion South Mountain Rams 19-16.
2012 GFL State Champion Phoenix Outlaws... within seconds after the game the phones were ringing, texts were being made and facebook posts were ramped all over the United States to all ex-Outlaw players and staff with pride. This 2012 Outlaws team with the Columbia Blue jerseys, and the traditional skull brand will go into the Outlaws history books as the "first"to win it all! The Outlaws private luxury box in the sky was doing high fives, hugging, and all smiles! Angel power!
Next up.... DEFEND & REPEAT!
GAME MVP #32-Laz Avila Photo by: Melissa Vasquez-Varela
1 2 3 4 F
Phoenix Outlaws 0 17 0 0 - 17
Scottsdale Sharks 7 7 0 0 - 14
Sharks- Gale 8 yard run (Truty kick)
Outlaws- Chavez 27 yard field goal
Outlaws- Gammage 6 yard pass from Ochoa (Insalaco kick)
Sharks- Lennon 65 yard pass from Gale (Truty kick)