With cleats laced, a Playmaker secured on his forearm and a look of determination, Chase Chambers stares out at the Front Lawn of California Baptist University where his team prepares for a championship-defending season of flag football.
The senior healthcare administration major and quarterback captains Goon Squad, a team comprised of equal parts athleticism and brotherly bonds. Though they are merely there to scrimmage another team and help train new referees, there is a feeling in the air that the road to Fortuna begins now.
Their unofficial rivals and competition from the previous year’s championship, Fruit of the Boom, will begin their road back to glory later that night on the roof of the Recreation Center.
Under the bright lights of the rooftop field, the team runs plays continuously as they perfect the timing and placement of each individual player until it is seamless before the official start to their own season.
If there is only one thing to be certain of, it is Fortuna Bowl 2016 will not end like last year.
The notorious five-overtime Fortuna matchup the two teams endured last year needs no introduction, but is a problem the two teams are hoping to solve before it happens should they both reach the big game for a rematch.
Goon Squad may have lost key upperclassmen players from last year’s team, but Chambers said he is confident the team’s chemistry will not be affected by it whatsoever.
“We already had guys planning to play with us after last season,” Chambers said. “Most of them stuck to their decision and so we filled some positions.”
Despite the loss of utility running back Aaron Castillo, now CBU alumnus, Goon Squad will look to Jeren Marquecho-Riley, graduate student in the master’s program for nursing, to fill the role of all-around offensive threat with his speed and agility on the field.
A new two-division league has placed each team in a separate division, meaning a postseason game will be the meeting grounds for competition against each other.
This year, Fruit of the Boom’s trademark tights will not be the only thing setting them apart from the rest of the league. A powerhouse offensive line featuring a new addition in Myles Porter, freshmen kinesiology major, combined with a versatile set of running backs and wide receivers is sure to light up the scoreboard with points every game.
Matt Spoelstra, junior biology major and center, said he is confident Fruit of the Boom will be able to make a postseason run even if their competition has improved from last year.
“Last year, it was kind of a two-horse race,” Spoelstra said. “This year it’s feeling like there’s three or four teams that are going to be competing for a spot.”
The true factor that could determine each team’s success falls on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams feature a defensive lineup capable of shutting down any chance of scoring before the first drive is even over.
The timeless Bear Bryant saying, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships” may prove to be more than just a cliche if these two teams square off once again on the biggest stage in intramural flag football.
“We just want to put on a show,” Chambers said. “That’s really what (Fortuna) is all about.”