This season there was no debate. The Spinners won, and won convincingly over ever opponent they played. There was only one blemish on their record, an overtime loss in Boston.
It topped off an impressive campaign in 2016 and was a celebration that was a long time coming for Spinners fans. When they founded the league in 2013, many thought they would repeat after their success in the AUDL. Three rough years in the MLU finally culminated with a championship that one of the largest ultimate communities could celebrate in their own town.
Claiming the championship was no easy task either. The Spinners handed the best defensive organization in the league, the Whitecaps, three losses. It included knocking them off in the playoffs 20-16 in the Eastern Conference Championship. Following it up, they took on the best offensive unit ever, the Portland Stags, in the MLU Championship and held them to only 11 points.
Heading into the season, the Spinners had the best number of players locked up under contract. Six players were guaranteed to return for the squad and in addition they locked up other big Philly based free agents; Trey Katzenbach, Billy Sickles, Matt Glazer, David Baer, Himalaya Mehta, and David Brandolph. With such a plethora of starters and big names returning to the team, and 2015 being their best season yet, it was anticipated to be their best season.
Things got even better when the schedule was released. Philadelphia was only going to have to travel to Boston once, where the Whitecaps were 16-2 all-time entering the season. Up until this season, beating Boston at home was the staple of a title team. The championship goes through Boston but the Spinners never won in Boston.
Had the schedule played out differently, the Spinners would have had a lot harder path to their first MLU Championship.
vs. Rumble: 3-0 PD: +35
vs. D.C. Current: 4-0 PD: +16
vs. Stags: (1-0) PD: (+3)
vs. Whitecaps: 2-1 (1-0) PD: +5 (+4)
Lost in the success of their season, is the first-year head coach Darryl Stanley. Jumping into their organization he quickly built the team in a manner that appeals to his athletes. Stanley created an offense that relied less on the dump handlers and more on strong quick decisions by the cutters. It played right into hands of East MVP Sickles. Unstoppable on the offense side of the disc, he recorded 24 goals and 17 assists in only his second year as a professional.
Once the disc got moving it was rare to see it back in the hands of the handlers, unless your name was Brandolph. His short stature and quickness always left him open for a quick upline or the chance to go dump before ripping one deep on an unsuspecting defense. Tying Michael Panna on the team with 21 assists, and trailing only Nick Hirannet (193) in completions with 190, it was a big comeback year for Brandolph who played for the AUDL's Phoenix in 2015.
The team also added some key rookies to their core of players. Joining the offense was big man Vince Reydams, who standing at 6'6" brought home 14 goals for the Spinners as a rookie. Most valuable though were two rookies on defense, Greg Martin and Ethan Peck. Martin always played bigger than his 5'10" body. He quickly racked up the blocks (11) and the goals (22) because of his insane ability to get higher in the air than people six inches taller than him. Often times it was Peck, 19 assists, jacking it to Martin.
Just to cover everything, Charlie McCutcheon was also named the MLU Championship Game MVP. Throughout the regular season he quietly assembled 10 blocks and was enough to warrant him the tall task of covering Cody Bjorklund. Although he only had two goals and two blocks, he limited Bjorklund's impact to only a goal and an assist.
Team MVP: Billy Sickles
(24G, 17A, 4B, 154/167 throws, 0.834 TPOP)
Team Star: Billy Sickles, Ethan Peck, Matt Glazer (2 weeks each)
Team Rookie of the Year: Greg Martin
(22G, 5A, 11B, 34/38 throws, 0.411 TPOP)
Lets just hope that don't get too big for their britches and try to start another league on us.