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Orlando Guardians

XFL SEASON KICKOFF: Big Plays, Excitement in the Return of Spring Football

Jae Fortune

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STAND GUARD

In Orlando’s first professional football game since 2019, the Guardians roared to an early lead on the arm of Trinity Christian Academy (Deltona, Florida) product Paxton Lynch. A 3o+ yard strike to receiver Cody Latimer, defying double-coverage for a contested catch in the end zone, would become the first touchdown in franchise history for Orlando. A strong start for Head Coach Terrell Buckley’s squad.


ORLANDO AIR DEFENSE

On defense, the Guardians came ready to play.

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First, former Florida Gator Matt Elam came down with the play of the game for Orlando. Coming out of the halftime break, Orlando is only down two scores, 21-6, with ten minutes left. Houston has the ball, and as the quarterback drops back, the Palm Beach Dwyer High School alum baits them into what should of been a momentum-stealing interception in Guardians territory. Orlando would later punt.

Nevertheless, the Guardians’ defense would attempt to provide another spark, by picking off Houston for a second time in the third quarter – this time courtesy of Marcus Murphy Jr., in excellent field position. Orlando would have to punt once again. Missed opportunities would hunt the Guardian all day.


In fact, Orlando’s next scoring possession wouldn’t come until well into the fourth quarter. Guardian quarterback Quinten Dormady would enter the game, and toss a beautiful 51 yard pass to speedy receiver Andrew Jamiel for Orlando’s longest touchdown. It would also be the Guardians’ last score of the evening.

During this week’s media availability, Coach Buckley spoke to his desire to see all quarterbacks compete in live action. In fact, Buckley declined to name a starter before kickoff, opting to allow every man on the roster the opportunity to prepare for their first game. When asked about his mindset in preparation for this game:

“We can finally see where we are.”

While both Paxton Lynch, and Quinten Dormady ended the day with impressive scoring drives, missed opportunities and forced errors denied fan an opportunity to judge the true talent level of either. No sign yet of local product Deondre Francois, who was inactive for the season opener.

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AROUND THE LEAGUE

In the other featured game of opening week, the Guardian’s division rival Arlington Renegades are first place after an impressive, come-from-behind victory over Las Vegas.


NEXT: Orlando Guardians return home on Sunday, Feb. 26, to face the San Antonio Brahmas in Camping World.

Orlando Guardians

XFL POST SEASON: Guardians sign NFL Contracts; Rookie Draft Day

Jae Fortune

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GUARDIANS HEAD TO THE NFL

This week, Charleston Rambo (WR) and Jordan Thomas (TE) became the first Orlando Guardians to make it to the NFL, following successful pro football debuts in the XFL. Rangy, and flashy during his lone season at the University of Miami, Rambo has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, following his 35 receptions for 430 yards and three touchdowns while playing Orlando.

Meanwhile, Thomas joins the Carolina Panthers. A tall and strong playmaker, you might remember Jordan for going viral while catching touchdowns Orlando’s strong-armed punter. Big plays aside, Carolina gains a consistent and dependable weapon for their young, newly-drafted franchise quarterback.

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In the midst of a post-season that has already seen Orlando Guardians’ stars Cody Letimer, and Caeveon Patton named to all-XFL teams for standout individual performances, NFL scouts have made their interest in Orlando talent clear.


XFL DRAFT DAY IS A MONTH AWAY

A statement from the XFL Communications Department has confirmed the date of upcoming XFL Rookie Draft. Next month, talent prospects who were eligible for this year’s NFL draft are invited to declare, as long as, they are not currently under contract.

Additionally, XFL decision makers have increased team roster limits from 51 to 90, creating more opportunities for potential stars. This news is especially interesting, following the controversy that embroiled the entire NFL draft itself. Talented prospects like Bethune-Cookman’s Kemari Averett, once overlooked by NFL scouts, now look forward to making a positive first impression on pro-football analysis, and commentators alike.

With the the crowning of the inaugural XFL Champions, all eyes now look to June 14th.

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Orlando Guardians

Struggles and Uncertainty: A Recap of the Orlando Guardians’ Inaugural XFL Season

Kevyn Bryant II

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As much as it pains me to say this, it is safe to say that the Orlando Guardians’ inaugural season in the newest version of the XFL was not a successful one at all.  Many fans that witnessed this season may agree that calling the Guardians’s season unsuccessful would be describing it in the nicest way possible.

Led by coach Terrell Buckley, the Orlando Guardians were never able to sustain any sort of momentum.  They ended up being the worst team in a XFL South division that wasn’t so great overall. The division had three teams that finished under .500.   The Orlando Guardians finished with a brutal record of 1-9.

The season got off to an ominous start with a 33-12 loss to the Houston Roughnecks.  The Houston Roughnecks got out to a 21-6 lead at halftime and never looked back.   Another ominous sign of things to come was the fact that there was uncertainty at the QB position.

Even though Paxton Lynch started the game at QB, he would be taken out in favor of QB Quentin Normady that would end up finishing the game.  Normady would actually end up putting up better passing statistics than Lynch overall at the end of the game.

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During the Guardians’ 30-12 loss to the San Antonio Brahmas, Paxton Lynch would be taken out again in favor of DeAndre Francois.  In effect, two major issues were taking shape for the Guardians: Poor defense and uncertainty at the QB position.

It didn’t help that QB DeAndre Francois was caught telling his teammates to shut the f*** up while being mic’ed up.

Things would spiral out of control record-wise for the Orlando Guardians as they would end up starting the season 0-6.  Even though the Guardians’ defense played better in Week 3, Paxton Lynch could not guide the Guardians to victory in a 10-9 loss to the Arlington Renegades.

After the Orlando Guardians were blown out 44-16 by the Houston Roughnecks in Week 4, Terrell Buckley made a switch at QB for Week 5 and ended up giving Quentin Normady the starting job.

Three weeks later, the move would end up being the main catalyst to the Guardians’ 1st and only win of the season.  In Week 7, the Orlando Guardians would pull off a stunning upset of the powerhouse DC Defenders.   It was the biggest upset of the XFL Season.  The Guardians picked up the only win of the season by giving the DC Defenders the only loss of their season.

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In that game, Quinten Dormady had his finest moments of the season and justified Buckley’s move to make him the starter.  He was 27 of 34 for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns.

However, the Guardians would go winless the rest of the season.  Fittingly, the season ended with them being shellacked by the St Louis Battlehawks 53-28.

In terms of what the Guardians need to do, it’s clear that extensive changes are needed on the defensive side of the ball.  The Guardians were last in the league in points allowed as they allowed a league-worst 31.0 PPG.

The Guardians will have to start with improving their secondary.  They were the 2nd worst team in the league with 242.2 yards allowed per game.   Thus, this has to be their greatest priority.   After that, they will need to shore up their defensive line and linebacking corps. The Guardians were ranked near the bottom of the league with regards to rushing yards allowed per game.  Additionally, the Guardians need to shore up their running game. The Guardians were ranked in the lower half of the league in terms of running.

In the not-too-distant future, the Guardians can’t do much worse than 1-9. If the front office places a particular focus on improving the defense and shoring up their running game.  I can see the Guardians improving their record by a few games next season.  Quinten Dormady’s progress as QB will play a big role in terms of how much the teams improve.

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On a league-wide level, the league’s future isn’t looking too bright when you consider the brutal ratings slide over the course of the season.

In Week 1, 3 of the 4 games had over 1,000,000+ viewers.  Unfortunately, the XFL had only 2 games that averaged over 1,000,000 viewers for the rest of the season.  The ratings for the XFL playoffs did not meet expectations either.  Therefore, the ratings for the XFL Championship will play an important role in determining the audience’s current perception of the league.

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Orlando Guardians

“Vegas Strikes Again: A Nail-Biting Recap of the Guardians’ Epic Rally Gone Sour”

Kevyn Bryant II

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The Orlando Guardians put up their highest points of the season with five touchdowns, but were still unable to defeat the Vipers, who took the win with a 35-32 score at Cashman Field. The Orlando Guardians (0-5) are now half way to becoming the first XFL or USFL football team to end up losing every game in a single season. On a positive note one of the biggest improvements was from Latimer with 1TD, and 124 yards and a very positive production from QB Quinten Dormady with 256 yards, 2 TD passes and no interceptions.

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The Guardians started off the game with a 67 yard drive and Quinton Flowers concluding it with a one-yard quarterback sneak. With a successful one-point conversion by Jah-Maine Martin, the Guardians took the lead 7-0.

Vegas answered with their own touchdown from a 35-yard pass from Luis Perez to Jeff Badet and a two-point conversion from Perez to Rod Smith, putting the Vipers ahead 8-7. Vegas increased their lead to 17-7 in the second quarter, with Sean Price catching a three-yard pass from Perez and a 39-yard field goal.

Orlando cut their deficit to 17-13 before halftime with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Quinten Dormady to Charleston Rambo.

Vegas started the third quarter with a 53-yard drive, with Smith scoring a one-yard touchdown to make it 23-13. The Guardians responded with a two-yard rush by Martin, bringing Orlando within four, 23-19. Smith scored another one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to extend Vegas’ lead to 29-19.

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The Guardians responded with a two-yard touchdown from Devin Darrington and a one-point conversion run from Darrington, narrowing the deficit to 29-26. The Vipers increased their lead to 35-26 with a 25-yard pass from Perez to Badet, but the Guardians responded with a 45-yard touchdown pass from Dormady to Cody Latimer, making it 35-32. Orlando failed to convert a 3-point conversion that would have tied the game, and their final chance for possession was thwarted by a sack and two penalties. Dormady finished the game 22-of-25 passing for 256 yards and two touchdowns, while Perez completed 20 of 28 throws for 269 yards.

CAN WE GET A WIN

It’s been a tough first season for the home team. The Orlando Guardians are now the lowest-ranked team in the league. It seems some real magic was figured out in the quarterback position with a successful passing game from Dormady. It’s now time to take all of these losses and come back swinging. Let’s go Guardians!

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