On Labor Day weekend sixteen of the best teams from around the country descended on Sunnybrook Field in Sterling Heights, MI to determine who would represent Team USA in London next June. Most of the first day went as expected with the defending champs the Boomtown Saints (Lansing), two-time champs the Bataan Park Bros. (ABQ), and the reigning national champions the Appleton Assassins (WI) all dominating their competition to end the day in the winner's bracket. The surprise of the day was the Misconsin Minutemen, a combination of Wisconsin and Michigan players who shocked the field by claiming that fourth spot in the winner's bracket at the end of the day. The middle of the pack provided some phenomenal Guts play highlighted by the young upstarts the Red Carpet Baggers (Hancock, MI), the U.P. dream team Eh!, and Comfortably Numb (Linden, MI) all showing flashes of brilliance in various wins. The legendary Cupola Bandits even came out of retirement for a reunion of sorts and the old-timers turned out to be the crowd favorites. The feature match of the day featured the Misconsin Minutemen pulling out a best-of-three thrilling win over Eh! after shooting themselves in the foot in game two.
Sunday morning started with Boomtown dismantling the Minutemen and the Assassins squashing Bataan Park to set up a winner's bracket showdown between the last two 2015 tournament champs. In the meantime in the loser's bracket it was Comfortably Numb upsetting Eh! and it was the ageless wonders the Cupola Bandits showing the Baggers what makes them legends. The Minutemen rallied after a slow start to the day to eliminate the Cupola Bandits and set up a meeting in the loser's bracket finals with Bataan Park. It was there that Bataan Park showed its true D and knocked off the Cinderella-story Misconsin team with relative ease.
After Boomtown claimed game one of the winner's bracket it became the Appleton Assassins show. Appleton turned it up a notch and exorcised some Detroit demons while sending Boomtown to the loser's bracket after some stellar team play.
In the loser's bracket finals Boomtown dug themselves an early hole that they could not climb out of. Will Walden of the Saints and Joe Klessert of Bataan Park picked on each other for much of the game before the Jackson Bros. (Keenan and Dailey) of ABQ took the game over with outstanding defense and pinpoint offense. The Bataan Park Bros. went to win handily 21-16.
That set the stage for a final match between the Assassins and Bataan Park to determine who would represent Team USA in London. The Bataan Park Bros. stole a close first game after multiple diving catches by Dailey Jackson denied the Assassins any momentum. The tide of the finals turned, however, when Appleton inserted 16 year-old Jericho Luedke into the starting lineup for game two. Bataan Park went on the offensive early and bombed the youngster ... but young Jericho was ready. The 16 year old showed incredible skill, poise, and confidence as he strung together a series of catches that would frustrate the Bataan Park offense. Multiple bagged shots and multiple scoring shots later, the crowd would begin chanting "JER - IC - CHO ... JER - IC - CHO". A new star was emerging before our eyes. Jericho would go on to put up a virtual wall, as years of practice against older brother Jon Luedke would begin to pay off. Jericho had waited patiently for his moment and when it became available, he seized it. On the shoulders of Jericho's play the Assassins went on to win the next two games and win the 2015 World Championships. Jericho would become the youngest players in this tournament's rich history to be named MVP and get his name forever engraved on Thor's Hammer. Well played kid. Now on to London!
To contribute to the fundraising campaign to get these very deserving young men overseas click HERE.