by Ilan Mochari
“Playoffs? Don’t talk about – playoffs?” So goes the famous sound bite from former NFL head coach Jim Mora.
In contrast, Derrick Beasley, head coach of the Boston Militia (bostonmilitia.com), is hardly shy about talking playoffs. Nor should he be. For the second straight year, his squad – after going 8-0 in the regular season and dominating its first-round playoff match – is just one win away from qualifying for the championship game in the Independent Women’s Football League (IWFL).
And for the second straight postseason, the D.C. Divas stand in the Militia’s way. “It’s probably going to come down to special teams play,” says Beasley. “Especially on kickoff returns. We need to keep their special teams at bay.”
Scheduled for July 10 at 6pm at Somerville’s Dilboy Field (110 Alewife Brook Pkwy), the big game will come nearly four weeks after the Militia’s first-round 25-6 thrashing of the New York Sharks. Playoffs? More like month-long layoffs. “It doesn’t bother me,” says Beasley. “It’s a long grueling season and you might as well get your team healthy.” If the Militia defeat the Divas, they’ll travel to Red Rock, Texas (just outside Austin), for the IWFL title game July 24.
The reason for the long layoff is the International Federation of American Football’s (IFAF) Women’s World Championship in Stockholm, Sweden, from June 27 to July 3. National teams vying for the inaugural gold medal are: Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Sweden and the United States.
The IWFL selected three members of the Militia – running back Mia Brickhouse, linebacker Molly Goodwin and offensive tackle Kelly Barker – to Team USA. The Divas, for their part, also boast three members: running back Okiima Pickett, center Michelle Riddle and tight end Donna Wilkinson.
Last season, the Divas ended the Militia’s title hopes – and undefeated campaign – with a kickoff return touchdown in the final minute of their playoff tilt at Dilboy. This season, the Militia and Divas – rivals in the IWFLs Eastern Conference – have already played twice. Both were high-scoring affairs in which the Militia prevailed: 42-35 at D.C. on May 1 and 52-36 at Dilboy on June 5 in the regular-season finale.
The Divas were the only team to score more than 10 points against the Militia this season. And they did it easily. The diagnosis? “We need better formation recognition, to get a jump on their bread-and-butter plays,” says Goodwin.
Militia quarterback Allison Cahill is ready to move past the Divas. “Yeah, last year was devastating, and yeah, we beat them twice, but none of that really matters at this point,” she says. “They could be anybody. They’re the last team in the way of us getting to the next step of our ultimate goal. It’s the gravity of the game, not the history behind it.