The St. Louis SLAM women’s tackle football franchise has repeated a specific word in their collective lexicon during the season.
That word is “transparency.”
For the local entrant of the nationally-recognized Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), it means being clearly open and honest in gridiron operations.
If something worked on the turf in their favor, then they would praise it. Conversely, if something fell apart, then bringing forth attention, accepting responsibility and trying to find solutions becomes a priority.
Overall, transparency is designed to keep a team clearly focused and grounded.
It has to be this way as the SLAM prepares for their WFA Tier II American Conference title game against the Mile High Blaze Saturday at St. Mary’s High School (4701 South Grand, St. Louis). Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
St. Louis (9-0) reached the national semifinal game with their 16-8 win over Minnesota two Saturdays ago. In the highly-physical battle, St. Louis outscored the Vixen 13-8 in the second half.
During the team’s post-game reflective huddle, the aforementioned word was spoken a lot. Yes, the SLAM won their opening-round playoff tussle, but they readily, and clearly, acknowledged that plays could have been executed better on both sides of the ball.
“We still have work to do,” said SLAM head coach Rodney Lacy afterwards. “We have a veteran team but we cannot just live on what we’ve done in the past. That game showed us that we just can’t live off of what we’ve done before. We still have to put the work in.”
“Our coaches will let us know what we need to do,” added SLAM center Caitlin Erickson. “Telling us what we need to do to correct it, and fixing it on the fly, is one of the reasons of why we are such a good team. We can handle criticism and handle adjustments on the fly as a unit.”
Erickson’s line mates of Tammie Moore, Kim Kinsella, Marion Ball, Toni Washington and a host of others propels an offense that has averaged close to forty points per game this season. Many also played at the team’s two prior Tier II national championship victories in 2016 and 2017.
“We communicate with each other and talk about every play,” Erickson said of the experienced group. “We make sure that we hang out with each other as sisters.”
Quarterback Jaime Gaal (13 TD passes) anchors an offensive game that is structured around running back Taylor Hay (4 TD runs) and receivers Danielle Price (5 TD catches) and Kaylee Neutzling (3 TDs).
On the defensive side, Tiffany Pugh,Torii Davis, Chelsea Vinson, Raven Williams, Brooklyn Devitt, Kamilah Russell, Pamela Green, Keyonna Smith and a host of others, sport an average of under six points surrendered per game.
“The defense carries us,” said Lacy. “They’re the heart and soul of this team.”
Additionally, the SLAM sports a solid kicking game as Danielle Thompson has successfully converted all PAT kicks this season (32-32) and Neutzling has collected five field goals, three of which were recorded in the playoff game vs. Minnesota.
Their Saturday opponents are feeling sky high after their most recent success that placed them in the American Conference finale.
Denver-based Mile High Blaze (8-1) topped the Houston Energy 30-22 two Saturdays ago in the other conference semifinal. Tied 22-22 with under a minute remaining, Blaze quarterback Adrienne Tauaese connected with Tonii Triplett from twenty yards out for the winning touchdown.
The Blaze’s offensive is powered by running back Ruby Albright (five regular season TDs) and receiver Jamie Fornal (four regular season TDs). Their offense (39 points per game) is comparable to the SLAM while their defense surrenders over 10 points per game.
The two teams have a playoff history with each other. The SLAM defeated the Blaze, 43-21, in the 2017 American Conference finale held at St. Mary’s.
The victor of the Grand Avenue grapple will compete against the winner of the Detroit Dark Angels (7-2) vs. Pittsburgh Passion (7-2) WFA Tier II National Conference title game that’s held in the Steel City Saturday night.
The WFA Tier II finale takes place Jul 13 in Golden, Colorado. The SLAM aims for their third Tier II title in the past four seasons and their fourth national championship.
“I think we just need to play disciplined football,” said Erickson of the effort needed. “On the defensive end, we need to remember our assignments and our coverage. On offense, we need to keep hitting hard and hitting our runs, our pass protection and hitting on-point. I think this is the time we need to get together and gel better as a unit.”
Executing those transparent plans will more than likely result in the SLAM’s return trip for a trophy.
Tickets for the game are $15 at the door. Children 10 and under get in free. Save $2 in advance by going to this link.
Arch City Media will be at Saturday’s game and will have a full recap posted on Sunday.