Offensive Liner Sam McKay gets fired up before kickoff. ©Mitzi Velez Lorenzana

Element of the unknown the only obstacle to Renegades winning 5th straight title

July 22, 2023
Kevin J. Stone, New England Football Journal

Winning is hard. Winning consistently is even harder. Winning consistently and making it look easy is down right ridiculous.

That’s what the Boston Renegades have done for the last four seasons and now, they have a chance to win a 40th consecutive game and bring home a fifth straight WFA Pro Division National Championship on Saturday afternoon. The title game against the St. Louis Slam (The American Conference Champion) will air live on ESPN 2 at 1:00 P.M.

The Renegades’ blowout over Alabama in the National Conference Championship was the 39th straight for the team dating back to 2019. After getting a send off at Gillette Stadium and flying to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on the Patriots’ plane last season, there was no send off and no fan fare for this return business trip to Ohio.

That’s fine with everyone wearing black and red. The team has taken a very business-like approach to preparation for several years now and it’s been the key to the sustained success. This is just another business trip, the fun and everything that comes with it comes when the trophy is riding back with the team on the way home.

Linebacker Darcy Leslie talked to New England Football Journal about what that prep has looked like with a bit of an unknown in the Slam.

“In general, a lot of film time, figuring out our defensive scheme, what they’re going to bring to the table,” she said. “A lot of film time. It’s been nice to just kind of see what the other team is going to bring, work on our strategy. What blitzes we’re going to run. We have packages where we have some new linebackers coming in, coming out. We’re going to have a lot of fresh legs going in and out.”

As far as what exactly the Renegades have seen on film from a team they’re not used to watching, Leslie wasn’t going to give a way all the secrets, but she cautioned the Renegades will have to be on their toes.

“They have their key plays, they have a really good running back we’re going to have to make sure we contain and keep her from going to the outside,” she added. “We noticed on film a lot of their strength is just trying to push the ball and get outside, so we need to make sure we’re containing, knowing our gaps, holding the edge so they’re not going outside. Just knowing our assignments. St. Louis is a good team and we know they’re going to come ready to play and bring all they got. It’s on us to just play Boston football. We’re a great team, we have great coaches and they have us prepared for tomorrow.

“Just execute our game plan and we’ll be fine. It’s always exciting to play someone different, someone new. Congratulations to them for getting to this point and being able to play for a national championship. It’s good to prepare for something new and just do what we can to win another national championship.”

Darcy Leslie winning.
Linebacker Darcy Leslie. ©Jess Dodge

Offensive linemen Sam McKay also took some time to speak. McKay is in charge of making sure superstar quarterback Allison Cahill has as much time as she needs on Saturday to pick apart the St. Louis defense. Cahill watched last year’s title game from a scooter on the sideline after tearing her ACL. It’s been a long road back for her, but it’s also been a long road back to this point for everyone.

“We started practice in January. Ever since January we’ve had a goal and now we’re here,” she said. “We’ve got one more day left. Preparation, physical…mental, everybody has jobs. Everybody has a home life they have to take care of, relationships, but we’re here for one goal, but that’s why we’re all here, you do it together. It’s crazy. I could have the craziest day at work, and when I get on the field, sometimes you could ask me my mom’s name and I’ll totally forget it because you’re there for one reason, to make everybody better. Offense is there to make defense better, offense is there to make defense better, special teams is doing their thing.

“That’s why you’re so addicted to this sport, because it runs through your blood. Everything we’ve done, it’s…I think about (Saturday) and I’m like, ok, am I going into a championship game or am I just playing another game in the season? I’m like, I’m just playing another game in the season. We’re going to do what we do. Offense is going to be rolling, defense is going to be shutting things down and that’s it. We’re going to win an f’n championship.”