West Texas Desert Hawks Mid-Season Check-In

The season has raged on for the West Texas Desert Hawks, and the Desert Hawks have not quite played to their full abilities. They have been hot, and they have been cold. But, through the ups and downs, they have shown that they belong in the discussion for the best teams in the AFL.

Hot and Cold Start

One of the top-ranked teams in the preseason– the Desert Hawks, has been playing phenomenal football since week one. However, their record does not show it. Sitting at a moderate 3-3, the Desert Hawks were in a position to win more games than they had. The story between wins and losses is simply “How well is West Texas going to play today?” The Desert Hawks have a very high ceiling due to their stacked lineup. They have standout vets like Jonathan Bane, Justin Alexandre, and Lonnie Outlaw, who can push the game heavily in their favor. However, all sides of the ball have been faced with occasional sloppy football. Things like fumbles, muffed snaps, and illegal defense penalties have done a lot to sway the game away from the Desert Hawks.

They started the season red hot. Week 1 was the expected beatdown on the Georgia Force. That was followed by a low-scoring win against the Orlando Predators and a well-deserved win over the Washington Wolfpack. But just as easily as they went 3-0, they would drop the next three against the Predators, Firebirds, and Outlaws. West Texas had the game secured in Albany, but what can only be described as the most improbable series of events resulted in a Firebirds victory. The Predators rematch was one where the mistakes got the best of them.

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The Rest of the Season

The Desert Hawks sit in the dead middle of the standings, just below the Orlando Predators. The final three games in the schedule are as follows: Home vs Albany Firebirds, Home vs Southwest Kansas Storm, and Away vs Salina Liberty. The Albany game is going to be a major battle. The last game was all Hawks until the Miracle at MVP Arena, but the rematch is now in Texas. West Texas will have the home-field advantage and a major chip on their shoulder, putting a lot of momentum in their favor. They will still have to bring their best football, though. Albany sits at the top of the league standings and remains undefeated through six games. This game should be lightning in a bottle.

The Storm will travel to the Ector County Coliseum next week. As of now, they are also 3-3 without many overlapping opponents. They sit just below West Texas at 6th overall and are starting their campaign for playoff security. As far as matchups go, this is a very even one. The woes of each team have been similar, so whoever plays up to their potential will come out on top. The Storm have been all over the place when it comes to wins or losses versus good or bad opponents, so it is difficult to say exactly how they match up against the Desert Hawks. Much could change in the week leading up to this game.

For the final game of the season, the Desert Hawks travel to Salina to play the Liberty. The Liberty are 3-2 with quality losses. Their first loss came against one of the best teams in the league- the Billings Outlaws. The other was a three-point loss against the Southwest Kansas Storm, who they beat earlier in the season. Looking at their wins, there is not a lot to go on. Every win they have is against teams that are under .500. The Storm face the two teams at the bottom of the league before hosting the Desert Hawks. If they want to be taken seriously for the playoffs, they need to handily win those games before then. The Desert Hawks will match up against anybody on any given day, so if they play solid football, they should come out of their last game with a win.

Impact Players

Justin Alexandre – LINE

Justin Alexandre has been the premier defensive force in the entire AFL. He has been throwing up multi-sack games throughout the whole season and is constantly in the opposing teams’ backfield. The pressure at the bottom of the ocean is less than what Alexandre is giving each game. In a preseason interview, Alexandre had this to say, “If I’m not at the quarterback, they’re holding me.”

Jordan Gandy – WR

Gandy is one of the young guys on the West Texas squad, playing his last year of college ball at NIU in 2022. This rookie has found himself a reliable target for QB Jonathan Bane. He capped off his most recent game against the Billings Outlaws with two acrobatic touchdowns to keep the game within reach. He has been a consistent contributor, but he started getting more targets after West Texas was without stud veteran Lonnie Outlaw for a game.

Caleb Smith – WR

Smith is another young player in West Texas, playing only his second season of indoor football. He was another receiver who got much attention from Jonathan Bane after Outlaw was unavailable. Smith currently trails only his teammate, Gandy, and Albany’s Darius Smith in receiving yards. Additionally, Smith has tallied six touchdowns on the season. With Gandy and Smith tormenting opposing secondaries, West Texas is a force offensively.

Jonathan Bane – QB

Bane is the stuff of indoor football legends. He has had a lengthy and spectacular career consisting of everything from MVPs, league championships, and costly injuries. He is also the all-time leader in passing yards in the National Arena League. However, he has battled with consistency throughout the season. When behind in the game or in pressure situations, he tends to get sped up by the game and makes hasty passes. Either the passes are well overthrown or thrown into very heavy coverage. On the other hand, those overthrown passes are likely due to Bane trying to put it where only his receiver can make the play. If you look through the highlights for West Texas, you will see a lot of touchdowns taking receivers over the wall, and that is because of good placement.

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