2018 AFL Ontario D1 Mid-Season Review
With roughly one-third of the schedule behind us and the Canada Day bye this weekend, what better time to run the rule over what’s happened in AFLO Season 2018 thus far. In the order of the ladder…
At five-and-zip with a percentage above five hundred sit the Swans, owners of crushing victories at home over the Dingos and Blues, as well as a couple of more hard-fought Ws against the Wildcats and Rebels. Last year’s preliminary finalists look to have increased their depth in 2018, utilising an even spread to alleviate the pressure on their top end players. Not likely to be tested until August (when they play the Eagles and Roos), top spot looks like belonging to Ottawa for the foreseeable future.
Another of the three undefeated teams, the Roos sit behind the Swans on only percentage. With the highest points-for of all squads, Etobicoke has feasted on the competitions’ lower-class, cracking the ton in all but one game to date. Harris has been a beast up front, dobbing 23 goals from just four games, and looks to be well supported by Moore who has 18 to his name also. A Friday night contest against the Eagles looms on July 13 in what could be a preview to a finals fixture of some form come September.
Rounding out the undefeated top three are last seasons’ Premiers, separated from the aforementioned two by virtue of having played one less game. After grinding out a tough victory against the Rebels to open their campaign the Eagles have banked wins against the Gargs, Dees and Wildcats, utilising strong quarters to blow games open before coasting to victory. This method won’t cut it come finals time, so it will be interesting to see if last season’s formula of treating the opening rounds as a pre-season will bear fruit once more. The loss of Casey (ankle, expected return TBD) hasn’t hurt them yet, with Himat picking up the slack and booting 22 goals across the first month. Look for the Eagles to really spread their wings as the season progresses.
Don’t let the Wildcats position on the ladder fool you – there’s still work to be done before this squad can consider themselves a legitimate finals outfit. With only a pounding of the Blues to their name, the boys from the Hammer have been competitive at times but still lack consistent numbers to be considered a threat. Until they beat either the Swans, Roos, Eagles or Rebels they must be relegated to an also-ran of this competition. Prove me wrong.
Following a surprising victory at Mohawk Park in Round 3, the Dingos find themselves four points clear of the Rebels and Gargs in fifth. Fielding a full side each match-day should help the Dingos in their quest to return to finals action this season, although games to come against the Swans (again), Roos (again), Eagles and Rebels mean their other fixtures will be critical. A Round 10 match-up against the Gargs in Guelph could decide the fate of both teams.
A tough start to 2018 sees the Rebels currently occupying the final spot in this years’ revamped playoff picture. However after hanging tough with the Eagles and Roos, and putting up a fight in the nation’s capital, there is certainly room for optimism inside the four walls of Hemingway’s. A much kinder month awaits them when play resumes, with favourable match-ups at Humber South against the Dees, Gargs and Blues. Finishing top two might be beyond them however if they can build momentum heading into the finals we know what they are capable of.
Grand River Gargoyles
Stronger numbers on match-day has seen the Gargs start 2018 in somewhat surprising fashion, thumping the Blues before hanging tough with both the Eagles and Rebels at Margaret Green Park. We should know more about their finals legitimacy come August, with a pivotal home contest against the Wildcats sandwiched between return bouts against the Eagles and Rebels before the competition breaks once more. If they aren’t within a game of the top six by then it’s probably curtains.
The Blues have certainly gone backwards in 2018. With barely a list to choose from results have gone how you might expect, demolished by the Gargs, Roos, Swans and Wildcats. Credit where it’s due for making it to Ottawa, but if that’s to be considered a highlight you know you’ve got problems. A July 14 home date against the Dingos might get them up and about, but other than that there’s little room for optimism before their late season match-up against the Dees.
High Park Demons
Despite progress in 2017 High Park too have taken a step in the wrong direction this season. While someone must always sit at the foot of the ladder, the Dees inability to field a full side at times is concerning. Desperate for even 15 players, it’s hard to see light at the end of the tunnel for this mob as they see the Rebels, Swans and Roos before they next get a week off. Surely the coaching staff will be doing a ring-around of past players for their Round 11 clash with the Blues at Humber.