May 20/21 Road Trip - Preview
Souichi Terada | May 18, 2017

Finally, weeks after beginning their 2017 season, the Detroit Mechanix are headed toward the meaty portion of their schedule.

Around the league, some teams have played as many as eight games. In contrast, the Mechanix have competed in just three, gracing them the opportunity for plenty of practices and rest. While the season will undeniably heat up, Detroit heads into the weekend with its first real test of the season. The Mechanix are set to suit up against the Minnesota Wind Chill and Chicago Wildfire.

While the rematch aspect of each game is noteworthy, the travel and back-to- back will be a barrier Detroit will have to overcome. The implications of both games, too, will be critically different between the two.

Against Minnesota, the Mechanix look to bounce back after a slim 22-19 loss just a handful of days ago. While there were a number of factors leading to the loss, co-captain Ryan Mariouw said he feels the team now knows what to expect against the Wind Chill.

“We all know what we have to do now to get a win against Minnesota,” co-captain Ryan Mariouw said after the loss to Minnesota. “We’re going to work hard. We’re ready, we’re ready this time. We’re not going to be surprised.”

While the end result had the Mechanix just a few points away from equaling Minnesota, co- captain and offensive line handler Dutch Kirkman said there was a slight intimidation factor going in against one of the AUDL’s best. But by the end of the game, Kirkman said he believes the team knows what it’s going up against.

“Only losing by three, I think we have the confidence we didn’t have at the beginning of the game,” Kirkman said. “When we come out on their home turf, we’ll be able to throw that first punch.”

The Mechanix look to enact revenge against the AUDL’s lone undefeated team. But as they gear up against their next opponent after the Wind Chill, the scenario will be flipped. Against Chicago, the Wildfire will be the ones looking to equal the season series against the Mechanix. The last time the two teams met had the Mechanix dismantling the Wildfire, 23-14. It was a dominant win for the once-cellar dweller Mechanix in the AUDL Midwest division.

Since then, Chicago faced off against the premier teams in the Midwest division — the Wind Chill and Madison Radicals. The Wildfire would go on to lose both games, as the team sits at the bottom of the division with an 0-4 record.

Detroit’s offensive line will look to continue improving as a unit. The consistent presence of Austin Engel (13 assists in 2017) and Dan Donovan (eight assists) has solidified the handler crew.

Among the cutters, Anthony “Sparky” Davis and Jake Steslicki has emerged as legitimate downfield threats. The two already have double-digit goals on the season — Davis with 13, Steslicki with 10. Interestingly enough, the two are the only players on the Mechanix with a Callahan in 2017.

After the offense scores, the defense will take the field, and they’ve been led by Alex Kapiamba, who has taken the lion’s share of pulls. Unfortunately for the Mechanix, the firepower from that line has taken a hit as last year’s block leader Nathan Champoux has been nursing an injury. Saturday’s game against Minnesota is set for 6:30 p.m. EST. The Mechanix will have a short turnaround, as they face Chicago the very next day, first pull at 2 p.m. EST.