Sports: YKAFL and YKBA Season Previews

Jordan Crosby, NDS Regulators | photos Angela Gzowski

Yellowknife is seemingly the adult recreational sports capital of North America, and late October marks the start of the fall/winter rec-sport season. A large percentage of YK’s adults, most of whom are well past their prime, lace up their sneakers, cleats or skates every year to compete in one of  YK’s many recreational sports leagues. As a purveyor of all things Yellowknife, we’d be remiss if we didn’t pay homage to this dedicated bunch.

YK Arena Football League

In only its fifth year, the YKAFL is one of the newest additions to the YK sports scene. While it doesn’t boast the numbers of hockey or even indoor soccer, nine teams comprised of some of YK’s top athletes compete every Friday night at the Fieldhouse.

Here’s a look at this year’s current title contenders and the key players from those squads:

Contenders

Tamarack Titans

Simply put, the Titans are a perennial powerhouse. However, after winning their first Super Bowl in 2013, last season’s campaign ended in heartbreak, as the Titans lost in the championship to the arch-rival Kasteelers.

This year’s squad should enjoy similar success as in previous seasons, as their roster is nearly identical. With arguably the best QB in the league, Morgan Gallagher, a formidable group of offensive weapons, and their stingy zone defence, some analysts have already pencilled them into the finals again this year.

Record: 4-0

Point Differential: +71

Passing: Morgan Gallagher 4.5 TDs/1 INT per game

Receiving: Jeremy Bird 2.5 TDs/game

Defence: Chris Kelln 2 sacks/game

Morgan Gallagher, Tamarack Titans

NDS Regulators

The Regulators may have the most dangerous group of receivers, and the league’s top rusher, but have been marred by shaky quarterback play in the past. With that said, last year saw a dramatic uptick at the position, with Hash Manickum settling in nicely to his game-manager role.

A narrow last-second loss to the Titans in the semi-finals last year, and a couple of dominant performances to begin this season have the Regulators eyeing their first Super Bowl birth. While currently playing as well as any team in the league, disappointing performances in past big games have raised questions as to whether this team can win when it counts. Only time will tell.

Record: 3-0

Point Differential: +78

Passing: Hash Manickum 4 TDs/1 INT per game

Receiving: Bryan Laserich 2 TDs/game

Defensive Leader: Will Cheung 1.5 sacks/game

Just Fitness Giants

While nothing more than a middle-of-the-pack team in years past, it appears as though this team may be turning the corner. Much the same as the NFL’s Jay Cutler, QB Aaron Plotner has a cannon-like arm, but his decision-making draws criticism, and he’s often quick to deflect blame onto his teammates.

Nonetheless, talent is present on both sides of the ball and thus, they should not be taken lightly. As they mature and develop chemistry, Just Fitness may just emerge as a real title threat.

Record: 2-1

Point Differential: +67

Passing: Aaron Plotner 5 TDs/0 INT per game

Receiving: Scott Thomson 2.5 TDs/game

Defensive Leader: Alex Richard 1 INT/game

On the Cusp

Kasteelers (2-2) and Fire Prevention Raiders (2-2)

Upcoming Game of the Week

Tamarack Titans vs. Just Fitness Giants: 8:30pm, Friday November 7 at the Fieldhouse

Andy Wind, St. Pat’s Irish Seniors

Men’s Basketball

Much like flag football, basketball in Yellowknife is a rather niche affair. While the Yellowknife Basketball Association is compact – consisting of only five teams – it is chock full of talent and more of a club league than its other rec counterparts.

The YKBA is also extremely dynastic. The current champs have won three consecutive titles. The now-defunct Mavericks took six out of the previous seven. Still, every year each of the league’s five teams have aspirations of winning the championship. Here’s a breakdown of the three squads with a realistic hope of doing so.

Fire Prevention Services

The three-time defending champs are trotting out the same personnel they have the past three years and hoping for the same result. After three seasons of playing together, these best friends boast a team chemistry that’s unmatched, with each player serving a distinct role.

While they’re certainly the early favourites to four-peat, b-ball is a game of momentum, and it’s not unthinkable that they’ll be knocked off by a surging squad late in the year.

Record: 2-1

Point Differential: + 35

Leading Scorers

Morgan Gallagher: 35 ppg

Simon Markowski: 22.5 ppg

EDGE YK

An odd mix of veteran leadership and skilled younger players, this team often lacks the focus and chemistry required to win crucial games. A deep and well-rounded squad, talent has never been the issue with these guys. Already a legitimate threat, as they begin to jell and round into mid-season form, EDGE YK may assert themselves as the top contender to the throne.

Record: 2-1

Point Differential: +55

Leading Scorers:

Josh Judas: 20 ppg

Kirk Tastad: 17.6 ppg

Ragged Ass Ballers

While they lost a few key members in the off-season, the strength of the team – their big men – remains. Lead by a front court of Vince Belanger and Bryan Laserich, the Ballers cause fits for even the toughest defences in the league. There are, however, definite concerns about where the necessary additional scoring will come from.

As long as one or two of their role players are able to take the next step and shoulder more of the scoring load, they should once again be a real threat to unseat the champs.

Record: 2-1

Point Differential: + 16

Leading Scorers

Vince Belanger: 23 ppg

Bryan Laserich: 15.5 ppg

On the Outside Looking in

Black Knight (1-3) and YB Services (0-3)

Upcoming Game of the Week

Ragged Ass Ballers vs. Fire Prevention Services

9:45pm Wednesday November 12 at Sir John High School.

Disagree with our analysis?

Post in the comments section below.

Also, if you’d like your team or league featured in EDGE YK’s local sports section, please contact events@edgeyk.ca.

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