Johnny Bravo Wins Their First Men's Championship

Posted: October 19, 2014 06:20 PM

Denver Johnny Bravo wins their first championship; Greg Gipson recaps the men's division finals.


2014 Nationals Men's Division:



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We entered Sunday’s men's division championship with the makings of a classic on our hands and left having indeed witnessed one. But this was not the constant display of aerial showmanship spectators may have expected. You had to be a certain kind of devout fan to appreciate this game; this was a heavyweight slugfest personified. The appeal of this contest was in just how much these teams pushed one another to fight for every inch of the field. The gameplay clearly reflected a mutual respect between the two factions, as each was selective in how they challenged the opposition. Boston Ironside gave Denver Johnny Bravo all they could handle, but it was Bravo coming out victorious 13-11, earning their first national championship in the program’s history.

In what was a rematch of pool play, both teams entered the final dripping with confidence, neither team hesitating to let it fly in the early going. Boston drew first blood with a break at 2-1 and gave themselves a bit of breathing room when they broke at 5-3 on a huck from Russell Wallack to Alex Simmons. Johnny Bravo remained steady, however, and upped the ante when it mattered most.

Down 5-6 after two easy holds, Bravo’s persistence was rewarded with a couple of rare break opportunities. The first one followed a Henry Konker block and was squandered when Danny Clark reclaimed possession for Boston. A stagnant offense and a crucial drop by Ironside’s Piers MacNaughton however would turn the disc back over to Denver. This time, Bravo successfully broke for a 6-6 tie, using hammers for the first time to open up the field and work into the end zone.

Bravo v Ironside 2014Nationals AFraser
Photo Credit: Alex Fraser/Ultiphotos

The pendulum now swung in Bravo’s favor. After an Ironside hold for 7-6, Denver marched down the field for an easy hold and capitalized on a Boston overthrow when Nick Lance and Kurt Gibson connected for a break and the 8-7 Johnny Bravo lead. The second half began on serve, Boston receiving.  As halftime approached, the game had turned to a curious juncture. Boston’s early breaks conceded, both teams seemed content to settle in for the long haul. The remainder of the game was largely characterized by deliberate possessions, neither team wanting to commit an error that could cost a championship.

Positive yards, and points for that matter, were at a premium come the second half. After Boston held for an 8-8 tie, Bravo labored to simply hold their first offensive point, requiring multiple chances and a timeout to score. An arduous point finally end in a Kurt Gibson assist to Brodie Smith for a 9-8 lead. There would be no turnover on Boston’s following possession, but their hold to tie it 9-9 also did not come easily.

Bravo’s score for 10-9 was yet another product of struggle. Hucks flew incomplete for both sides, and another Ironside drop gave Denver the short field they needed to reach the end zone. Feeling the pressure of Boston’s staunch defense, Denver’s Ryan Farrell finished the point with a blade to the back corner of the end zone for Sean Keegan.

Bravo’s craftiness did not end there. With another break opportunity in hand, scoobers were the throw of choice to break Boston’s defense. Craig Forshee froze his defender with one in the red zone, dumping the disc off Nick Lance for the 11-9 lead. With soft cap having already blown, the game was be capped at 13.

George Stubbs, who had been relatively quiet on the afternoon, did his best to keep Ironside in the game with a 50-yard huck to bring the score within one at 10-11. But Denver was now in the midst of full-fledged clutch mode.

Bravo v Ironside 2014Nationals PGuion
Photo credit: Pete Guion/Ultiphotos


Having to work out of the back of their own end zone and facing the threat of a Callahan, Bravo easily worked their way out of trouble with a Gibson huck to Sean Keegan in the opposing red zone. Brodie Smith would eventually haul in a Jimmy Mickle throw for what was perhaps Denver’s defining point.

An Ironside hammer from Will Neff to Brian Garcia kept their championship hopes alive for a bit longer. But Bravo’s offense worked down the field once more and, appropriately so, Kurt Gibson found Jimmy Mickle for the championship-winning score. Johnny Bravo had secured their first USA Ultimate National Championship, leaving Ironside in the unfortunate, yet familiar, second-place spot.

Credit must be given to Boston Ironside for neutralizing Denver Johnny Bravo’s dynamic roster as best as any possibly could. In a contest where all parties were relentless on the defensive end, Denver set aside overwhelming athleticism in favor of a dimension that was more grounded, but equally – if not more – respectable. Denver skied their way to the finals but closed it out with their superior, timely throwing ability. There is little doubt that the best roster won out. Though a handful of teams were not far off. The title could have easily belonged to another.

 But Bravo’s breadth and depth of ability was successfully utilized on the weekend when it mattered most.

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