After their undefeated regular season in the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA), the St. Louis SLAM begins their post-season push this weekend and are primed to begin their quest for a fifth national championship.
The SLAM, 6-0 and seeded first in the WFA Pro American Conference, hosts fourth-seeded Cali War (4-1) in a conference semifinal Saturday at St. Mary’s High School (4701 S. Grand Blvd, St. Louis). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. General admission tickets are $15 while children 10 and under get in free.
The winner faces either #2 Minnesota Vixen or #3 Houston Energy on July 9 for entry into the WFA Pro finale, set for July 22 in Canton, Ohio.
“It’s really exciting and we’re happy and proud to make it to the playoffs,” said SLAM offensive line specialist Tamikka Brents. “Although we’re happy about it, we also expected it. It was expected of us, not only from the coaching staff, but from each other.”
Despite a 4-2 record last season, the team failed to reach the playoffs due to calculated rankings. With their current unblemished record, the team secured post-season entry. Brents, who is one of the key components of the SLAM’s stellar offensive front pack, said that the 2022 omission provided the propeller for outright inclusion this go-around.
“Not making it into the playoffs last year after our only two losses being to the top two teams in the league really left a bad taste in our mouths,” Brents said. “We wanted to make sure nothing could deny our spot this season.”
Now, the narrative during the WFA post-season is self-explanatory. Lose one and you’re out.
The St. Louis gridiron gang don’t expect to waste that opportunity Saturday. They have been fine-tuning their strategies this week in preparation for their match-up against the Californians.
“A SLAM practice is always intense!” said Brents. “I think a better way to put it would be that we are intensely focused.”
A primary playoff focus will be the SLAM’s offense, who averaged over 36 points during the regular season, which ranked fifth overall in the WFA Pro division.
Quarterback Jaime Gaal threw 15 touchdowns, while Jada Humphrey and Taylor Hay scored nine and four touchdowns, respectively.
For receiving, rookie Kerri McMahan had four touchdown snares while Kaylee Neutzling, Keyonna Smith, Kelsie Nesbit and Zariah Johnson supplemented with multiple scores.
These impressive stats were made possible by the SLAM’s starting “O ” line of Brents, Caitlin Erickson, Ariana Smith, Marion Ball and Pamela Green.
“It’s our job and we take pride in doing our job and doing it well,” said Brents of the SLAM linemates. “We want to protect Jaime and keep her jersey squeaky clean and make truck-sized holes for our halfbacks to run through. Seems to be working.”
Also working throughout the regular season was the SLAM’s lockdown defensive unit, who never surrendered a point from scrimmage during the span – tops in the WFA.
Those that front the charge includes Kaylee Nuetzling, Keyonna Smith, Tay Johnson, Mary Altepeter, Mariah West, Jasmine Yandell, Jamie Skinner, Alisha Straws, Stephanie Moore, Veronica Smith, Annamarie Magnani, Jennifer Perkins and a host of others.
Saturday’s opposition, the Cali War, reached the WFA Pro American conference championships last season and finished 6-2. They recorded four straight wins during the 2023 regular season before being halted by Minnesota, 35-32, in the WFA’s final week of play.
The War’s offense averaged 46 points during the regular season, which placed them second in WFA Pro.
Rushing is paced by Priscilla Gardner, who netted five touchdowns runs, while receiver Brianna Barrett snared eight endzone catches and Jamie Robinson collected five.
The War utilized a quarterback tandem of Tania Guzman and Chantel Niino-Wiggins, who collectively threw for 14 touchdowns in five games.
Anchored by Robinson, Cali’s defense surrendered 15 points per game during the regular season, which ranked the team sixth overall in WFA Pro.
Saturday’s meeting between the pair will be their first-ever lock-up, historically. During off-field assessments, Brents said that the SLAM’s brain trust, helmed by Head Coach Quincy Davis, has been perpetually busy in preparation for the showdown.
“Coach Q has that ‘Beautiful Mind’ brain when it comes to (footage),” Brents said. “He and the other coaches see everything. They break down (footage) so well that it’s like a cheat sheet.”
But let’s throw out all the aforementioned stats, since they no longer apply during the WFA playoffs. An outright “W” is the missive for the SLAM this Saturday and the locals hope a vocal crowd assists their efforts for a semifinal win and entry into the conference championship two weekends from now.
“Hearing our fans cheering for us and us giving them something to cheer about is important,” Brents said. “We’re going to show up and show out regardless, but when our fans are proud and screaming for us, that makes everything better!”
Live coverage of Saturday’s game will be provided by Live Stream STL on their official Facebook page. Click on this sentence for access.
For more information on the SLAM, go to their official website.
Arch City Media will have a recap of Saturday’s game posted Sunday.
By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.