The St. Louis SLAM women’s tackle football franchise is one victory away from reaching a national championship game for a second straight season. In order to secure a trophy trip, the tough task ahead is upending an imposing, undefeated team.
The SLAM, currently 8-1 and defending Tier II titlists of the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), host the Mile High Blaze (9-0) Saturday in a national semifinal at St. Mary’s High School (4701 South Grand, St. Louis, MO). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
The SLAM/Blaze winner faces the victor Saturday’s other WFA semifinal held between Montreal Blitz (7-1) and Tampa Bay Inferno (10-0). The governing body will feature the Tier II finale in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 21.
St. Louis gets sixty minutes of clock Saturday to perform at optimum levels. However, the SLAM’s plan is to stick to a common narrative found throughout all their wins this season – claim a victory within the first thirty.
This was especially evident in locals’ 69-8 WFA Tier II quarterfinal home triumph over the Madison Blaze on June 17. In the rout, the SLAM churned a 34-0 first-half rally en route to a comfy 48-8 intermission lead. The offensive unit finished the night with over 500 yards collected.
“We came out and punched them in the mouth right out of the gate,” reflected veteran defensive specialist Myrt Davis of her team’s victory. “It really set the tone and it let (Madison) know what we were really here to do.”
Running backs Taylor Hay and Mary Altepeter each easily collected triple-digits on the ground while achieving five end zone romps combined. Danielle Price also added a touchdown run while being propelled by the SLAM’s solid offensive line anchored by Caitlin Erickson, Tammie Moore, Marion Ball, Juan Snow, Cayci Eichmeyer and others.
Quarterback Jaime Gaal had a pair of touchdown passes on the evening in six-point slingers to receivers Kaylee Neutzling and Victoria Nichols.
Key for a victory this weekend will be a SLAM defense consisting the aforementioned Davis and Neutzling alongside Tiffany Pugh, Jelani Kelly, Raven Williams, Keyonna Smith, Brooklyn Bastain, Robyn Morrow, Pamela Green, Annie Grier, Antonnia Washington and others.
“I’m a firm proponent that defense wins championships,” said SLAM coach Quincy Davis. “I always have a more critical eye of our defense than our offense, so I hold them to a higher standard. If there is anywhere that we have to hold (Mile High), it would be at the defensive line.”
Davis feels that if there is anything that is noticeable for St. Louis this season, it is the fact that there are minimal players that compete on both sides of the pigskin, meaning that an overwhelming majority of the players will stay perpetually fresh Saturday night.
“Considering that we’ve had seasons with less than 25 players on the roster, this year it helps to have the depth,” Davis said. “It’s the ‘iron sharpens iron’ mentality and everyone is constantly pushing each other.”
The undefeated Mile High Blaze topped the Sin City Trojans, 28-14, in early June in a WFA Tier II quarterfinal. Critically, the contest against Las Vegas was the first challenge the Denver, Colorado-based squad (9-0) experienced this season. In their eight regular season games against much-considerably weaker competition, the Blaze collectively outscored their opponents 321-0.
Much like the SLAM, Mile High possesses a very deep roster. Quarterback Adrienne Tauaese has a plethora of receivers to choose from, including Tyesha Lowery-Jones, Cara Wesemann, Elizabeth Stone and Ashley Davis, who each have multiple red zone catches on the season.
Running backs Jecole Hockaday, Tatianna Palms and Dana Moyer are key components of the rushing game that is supplemented by Lowery-Jones.
Defensively, Mile High is paced by leading tackler Palms as well as Yolanda Searcy, Jecole Hockaday, Chantel Hernandez, Leticia Escorza, Marissa Glenn and others.
The SLAM craves a return trip to the WFA Tier II finale and plans to execute at levels that define legacy teams.
“Champions have to fight, kick, scrape to get to that point,” said Coach Davis. “If we’re not willing to put in that work, we will not repeat, so we have to come in with the mentality of ‘we have to earn it.’ It has to be something that we want and something that we take. It’s not going to be given to us.”
Saturday’s event is promoted as the SLAM’s third annual “Think Pink, Bleed Orange Breast Cancer Awareness Night.” In honor of breast cancer survivors, the SLAM will wear pink accessories.
Tickets at the door are $13 for adults. For more information on SLAM Football, go to their official website.
Arch City Sports will be in attendance and will have a full report on Sunday.