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Avengers lose in playoffs

Vengeance awaits

POSTED: July 9, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

Unofficial head coach Les Vinluan, also known as Brother Pineapple, talks to the Winder Avengers about offensive strategy after last week’s loss to Gorilla Warfare.

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With one more season in the books, the Winder Avengers walked away from Monday’s playoff loss to top-ranked Ooh, Kill’em already considering how to grow and improve into next season.

“Even though we lost, we definitely had room for encouragement,” team quarterback and co-founder James Joyner said after the defeat.

Joyner’s Avengers lost 46-12 in the first round of the Atlanta Silverbacks Division II flag football playoffs despite making some needed improvements in offensive philosophy.

“Last week’s game was defined by turnovers, however many we had, but in this game we had two touchdowns and turned the ball over zero times,” Joyner noted. “It was really encouraging to get out there and put points on the board without turning it over at all.”

Unofficial head coach Les Vinluan, who is often referred to as Brother Pineapple, encouraged the Avengers to focus more on short passes and maintaining time of possession in order to create more opportunities to score. As his theory states, whoever holds the ball longer is likely to score more points.

With a new offensive strategy that focused on playing a more effective short game, the Avengers were at least able to cut down on one negative aspect of their game. 

“We just came out on the first drive and on the first play of the game I ran for about 10 yards, and that really set it up a little bit. The next play of the game was a completed short pass to Marquis, and we really just did that all the way down the field,” Joyner explained. “They were short plays of 5 or 10 yards, but what mattered was that we were getting first downs and holding the ball. We did that effectively all night.

“Unfortunately we didn’t score enough to win, but it was encouraging to adapt to that game plan and have it work out.”

Both Avengers touchdowns Monday night came from short yardage plays, the first from a completion to Marquis Mitchell. Joyner scored a second half touchdown by rushing on a second degree ankle sprain he sustained on the final play of the first half.

Even though the Avengers had a good feeling that Monday night’s game would be their last of the season, as Team Ooh, Kill’em brought a 17-game, multiple season spanning winning streak into the opening round of the playoffs, they still approached the knock-out game with the respect that it deserved.

“Coming into this game, we knew that the cards were kind of stacked against us,” Joyner admitted about his team’s chances against the defending league champions. “We knew we had the cards stacked against us, but the message to the whole roster was that this is a new game, this is a new day. Forget what’s happened in the past. We’re going into this believing we have a chance to win.

“It showed on the field no matter what happened,” Joyner added. “It was just a really upbeat game, the tempo was there.”

Despite the right mindset, the Avengers were ultimately outmatched against a team that looks to make a deep, convincing run in the playoffs one more season.  

Now that the Summer 2013 season is over, the Avengers turn their eyes to the autumn and will quickly begin preparation for their next attempt at flag football fury.

While most of the team will return, the Avengers’ roster will be short a few current members and will hopefully be much deeper than in the past two seasons.

As Brother Pineapple steps in to help coach, his main goal is increasing depth on the roster. The Avengers presently field a team just barely large enough to step onto the field with most of the players going both ways. 

“We’re going to retain as many players as we can from this season, but we’re really trying to reconstruct the roster and add depth in all areas of the team,” Joyner said. “We definitely need some taller wide receivers. A lot of our guys are on the short side, more like a Wes Welker type receiver. I don’t have any Calvin Johnsons on the field, so to speak."

“On the defensive side of the ball, we definitely need some taller, faster cornerbacks. We’re just looking for a couple of those key receivers and cornerbacks.”

With a new emphasis on depth and size, the Avengers look to add 10 or more players and flesh out the roster with just about two or three players from the current roster leaving due to scholastic and work responsibilities.

One player who will be leaving in the fall will be Colton Majors, one of the linchpins of the Avenger offense and defense. Majors will be attending the University of North Georgia in the fall, so he is not expected to return.

Although Majors will be absent from the field in the fall season, he still considers himself a part of this Avengers football team.

“We’re still going to keep our heads high. At the end of the day, we’re still a team and we’re always going to play as a team,” Colton Majors of the Winder Avengers said. “We’ll come back next season stronger than ever."

Joyner named a few other players who he knows could go either way, but he hopes they all can ultimately stay in the end.

The fall flag football season will start in late August, and the Avengers hope to field an improved team now that they have hopefully shed the growing pains of the first couple seasons. 

“I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting a winning record under our belts,” Joyner noted. 

Joyner’s goals go deeper than just winning more games, though, as he was quite candid about what he hopes the Avengers can eventually do.

“You’re not going to have a championship caliber team in your first couple seasons, but we’re very close to being a winning team and hopefully we’ll win a couple championships real soon.”



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