Ultimate Bowl V.
By Guian "The Lumbering Dutchman" Heintzen

It was a game for the ages, one that is sure to be relived and recounted
to future generations of PUFA children and grandchildren. Two
evenly-matched armies facing off on the field of battle. The Manor, a
juggernaut; honed, confident-- perhaps overly so; the Village; scrappy,
resentful of its higher tax base, burning to win its fourth victory in five contests.  No quarter was asked by either team and none was given. The
battle raged back and forth on a boggy field in the Bronx, each side
matching the other point for point, and the only shame of it all was
that in the end one team had to lose.

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008. The venue was PUFA's venerable off-season
home field at Rodman's Neck Park-- proud home of the NYPD Firearms and
Tactics Section and its designated area for destroying unexploded bombs
and fireworks-- where a Mardi Gras-like atmosphere prevailed. Excitement
had been building in the area, and a large, boisterous crowd of
tailgating fans had already filled the parking lot by the time the
players arrived. The sound / aroma of timbales filled the air as the
team filed past the musicians / cooks to take the field that had been so
carefully and thoughtfully groomed for the Big Game by the football
players who had used it last.

First Pull: 1500 HRS (ish)
Temperature: 49 degrees Fahrenheit
Humidity: 44 percent
Wind Conditions:  calm       
Field Conditions: execrable
Being there: priceless

One astute observer remarked that Ultimate Bowl V was microcosm of Super
Bowl XLII, contested by smaller, weaker and less-talented people, with
the Village resembling the NY Giants and the Manor the NE Patriots
(minus the 18-0 record). And indeed, the Manor line-up did seem
intimidating at the outset, sporting its Blackwater mercenary look and
flaunting its trademark discipline, crisp control-passing game and
seeming ability to score at will. In the face of this, the underdog
Village team, offering no coherent fashion statement and bereft of
anything resembling strategy or tactics, countered with its usual
cocktail of gritty defense, indiscriminate hucking, and unlikely clutch
catches- and in the end prevailed in a 19-17 Village double overtime
victory, sealed by TK "Hidden Dragon" Chang's end zone heroics. 

[As a historical aside, the Village's battle plan bore an eerie
similarity to that of the French at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, who, in
the words of one military historian, "had no clear objective, ignored
conventional theories of warfare, [and] over relied on air power". The
French lost that battle, partly because they "underestimated the
abilities of their adversary" in the words of the same historian. The
Village did not repeat that mistake]

Future students of the game will no doubt parse through the causes of
the Manor's defeat. They will debate things like the relative merits of
the Village's man-to-man defense vs. the Manor's zone defense, the
split-stack vs. 'chaos theory' offenses, and the leveling effect of the
poor field conditions. I offer the following observations:

1) Only one out-of-town ringer made it to the game and the Village had
him. In a contest that was so close that it could have gone either way,
the presence of a single additional high-caliber player might have
tipped the scales in the Manor's favor. Brian will have to live with his
conscience.

2) At a critical stage late in the second half when the game was on the
line, Josh and Sanj cast off their 'nice guy' facades and took over the
game, moving the disc downfield in a ruthlessly efficient two-man game
of catch that was a joy to behold. The Manor clung to its quaint
practice of distributing the disc ecumenically to anyone who was open,
leading inevitably to turnovers in critical situations. One would have
thought that the Manor team, given its essentially patrician, Republican
nature, would have been the first to jettison a participatory approach
in favor of a more autocratic form of play but strangely, it did not.

3) Most critically, the Manor made the inexplicable decision before the
game to circulate a sheet with complex 'motivational' playing
instructions that involved ideas like 'cutting back to the handler',
'establishing position', 'creating space using a stack'-- all foreign
and daunting concepts to the average Manor foot soldier which, when
coupled with a set of diagrammed plays with 'x's, dotted lines, and
arrows that might just as well have been written in Akkadian, served
only to confuse and dispirit the more sensitive members of the team.
This was a colossal tactical blunder and probably sealed the victory for
the Village at the end of the day.

Strategic assessment aside, It was a great game to watch. The degree of
intensity was high, as was overall calibre of play. With substitutes
pawing the sideline turf, players went all out during their time on the
field and rotated out exhausted. I'm not sure that either side was ever
up by more than two points and as the game progressed, every play seemed
to count; no one wanted to make a mistake and when passes were dropped
or thrown away, it could be attributed mostly to the level of tension.

It's hard to single out an individual player or plays. The generalship
on both sides was superb. I saw Dan, Brian, and Chris all make great
end-zone catches. I witnessed Tom, on the receiving end of a long,

dipping, and all-but-uncatchable long pass, either bravely lay out or
collapse on his face in the mud (hard to tell which from where I was
standing but he looked very pleased that he had muddied himself up).
Such was the timbre of the game that time-outs were actually called in
critical situations, during which I suspect players discussed dinner
plans and swapped injury stories, but it looked impressively tactical
from the sideline.

These observations are mainly from the second half. I missed most of the
first half and did not receive any game commentary other than from Ajay
who reported that Ajay played exceptionally well, apparently making
breathtaking catches and single-handedly shutting down the Manor air
attack. I'm sorry I missed it; by the end of the second half he had
retired with a sore hamstring, bitter, recriminatory, and lashing out at
those close to him. 

On a happier note, the memory that will stay with me the longest is of
Matt Jones after the game standing happily on the sideline holding a
bottle of champagne, no one having the heart to tell him that the Manor
had lost the game. That's the spirit of PUFA camaraderie in a nutshell.

The Rosters:

Village (19): TK "Crouching Tiger" Chang, Tom Darbyshire, Jeremy
Driessen, Roger Evans, Mike Gracie, Asher Gold, Dan Gold, Ajay Jawanda
(disabled list- hamstring), Josh Kapp, Sanj Khanna, Chris Prescott,
Steve Post, Jayson Post

Manor (17): Deborah Blake, Brian Carney, Peter Collery, Steve Hall, Greg
Hano, Andy Johnson, Matt Jones, John Kiernan, James Kleiner, Stefan
McKenley, Dean Robinson, Rob Ruocco


One final note-- I was thinking about the Cup and wondering where it
will go after it's been engraved and also thinking that we should really
name it after some illustrious person who does not necessarily have to
be deceased. So I got to thinking that if we named it after Josh, it
would be the Kapp Cup(p) and if we named it after Brian it would be the
Cup of Sherry, but some of you may have other ideas.
1