Sports

Champions at last

The West Sound Saints gather around the NAFL2 championship trophy to celebrate their upset victory in the national title game. The Saints dethroned the Maryland Marauders, defending NAFL2 champs, despite traveling to Orlando, Fla. with just 21 players. - Photo by Kent Soule/Hoot Creek Photography
The West Sound Saints gather around the NAFL2 championship trophy to celebrate their upset victory in the national title game. The Saints dethroned the Maryland Marauders, defending NAFL2 champs, despite traveling to Orlando, Fla. with just 21 players.
— image credit: Photo by Kent Soule/Hoot Creek Photography

Defense wins championships.

It’s an old adage but it proved true for the West Sound Saints as their D led them to a 13-10 win in the NAFL2 National Championship Saturday at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

“Our defense played awesome,” said Les Archer, the Saints offensive coordinator who was at the helm for the title game against the defending champion Maryland Marauders. “They played with so much heart and determination. That’s what won the game for us.”

Archer said the teams combined for eight turnovers but it was less of an indication of sloppiness and more so of the fight in both teams.

The Marauders, who outnumbered the Saints on the sideline almost 2-to-1, may have come in a bit cocky.

“I think coming in, they just looked at our squad and thought they were gonna handle us,” Archer said. “Instead, they got caught in a dog fight.”

The Marauders, who Archer called a “good, big, speedy” team, led at halftime based on a 38-yard field goal in the waning seconds of the second quarter.

The Saints’ defense would carry the day, however, despite playing a number of personnel out of position, in spots they often had never played before or hadn’t since high school.

“We had receivers playing (defensive back). We had no starting corners,” Archer said. “We had 23 people against 45 people playing for the defending national champion.”

But the Saints overcame. Justin Kelly, normally a wide receiver/tight end, got an interception in the first quarter. James Kelly added another in the third. Marvin Bronson, who hadn’t played defense in ages until filling in part-time in the West Sound semifinal win against Texas, went both ways at quarterback and strong safety.

A starting linebacker went down early in the fourth quarter and defensive lineman Jackie Triplett and running back Malachi DeWalt rotated out of position to make up for his absence.

It was in that final period that the Saints’ offense finally got on track and into the end zone by way of a Bronson pass to fullback Malcom DeWalt to be followed by a Malachi DeWalt run of 54 yards en route to 148 on the ground for the day.

Maryland went no-huddle and took advantage of the inexperienced West Sound secondary two plays later but could get no closer in the final minutes.

Malachi DeWalt won MVP honors while Bronson was the offensive MVP and Isaac Santiago was the game’s defensive MVP.

As for next season, the Saints’ future looks bright but full of mystery.

While Archer said the team’s success this season is leading to interest from talented athletes in the area, general manager/head coach Steve McDaniel has decided to retire from semi-pro football. Archer may or may not become the next head coach.

“I’ve considered different things. I always give it a month or two during the offseason,” Archer said. “I’m ready for a break. I’ll consider everything after the first (of January).”

NAFL2 Championship

West Sound 0 0 0 13 — 13

Maryland 0 3 0 7 — 10

Second quarter

M — FG (name unavailable) 38, 0:05

Fourth quarter

WS — Malcom DeWalt 5 pass from Bronson (kick failed), 13:57

WS — Malachi DeWalt 54 run (Moody kick), 4:47

M — 55 pass (names unavailable, kick good), 4:00

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