Madison Radicals at Pittsburgh Thunderbirds Preview

Ryan Baker

Every game throughout the season has potential playoff implications. The way that the schedule is created, each team typically plays each other within their own division two or three times. This results in a head-to-head tiebreaker for playoff spots with the extra step being point differential. 

At 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Sat. April 29, the Radicals will be kicking off their season at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh against the Thunderbirds. This will be the first of two matchups between the two during the season. 

There are a lot of questions up in the air for the season debut of the Radicals. Rule changes, injuries, how this game will factor into the playoffs, and whether or not Madison can swing momentum on their side right away are all going to be things to look for this coming weekend. 

The rule change that is going into effect for the first time will be pulling from the brick mark as opposed to the endzone line. This shortens the distance for the disc to reach the opposing endzone from 80 yards to 60 yards. Resulting in defenders being able to get down to guard their man quicker than before. Keep an eye out to see how the premier defense of the Radicals will utilize this rule change.

Not only will head coach Tim DeByl and his coaching staff have to deal with how this new rule change plays out, they have had to make some major adjustments due to a lot of inactive players for the first game of the season. As it stands, Kevin Pettit-Scantling, Jake Rubin-Miller, Kai Marcus, along with other impact players are all already ruled out. Even Brian Hart, who is dealing with an ankle injury, is questionable to suit up. 

“We are definitely not going to walk in status quo, but we also have a pretty good crop of young players that we are pretty excited about,” said DeByl. “If they can fill their role, they can fill it, if not we are going to try to run some tighter lines with some of our o-line players playing more defense than they have ever played before,” said DeByl.

Veteran Victor Luo will be one of those o-line players that may be playing a lot more defense in this first game. Luo understands the complications and wrinkles that may be apparent to start out, but also has confidence in the team and the coaching staff in order to take home the victory.

“I feel like we have a system where it’s always like the next guy up and we trust in our coaching staff to make adjustments when necessary,” said Lou. “I think against Pittsburgh, it’s going to be a little rough to start, but we had a scrimmage recently against Minnesota. That really helped us ramp up, and from that scrimmage we are going to look pretty good against Pittsburgh coming in.”

Next, with how uncertain which three teams will be representing the Central Division in the playoffs this year, it shines a light on how important this game could be down the line. Taking the first of two would be a huge step in the right direction to returning to the playoffs for the Radicals.

“We’ve been working since January. Strategically we are all on the same page. We got to put our heads to the grindstone and outwork the other team,” said third year handler Henry Goldenberg. “Everything has been done in preparation over the past month, and now it’s really exciting because we now we get to put it to action in the game.”

We will see if the Radicals can add to their history of dominance over the Thunderbirds. As it currently stands, Madison is 13-2 all-time against Pittsburgh and were able to take both matchups last year. DeByl and company are looking to start off the season on the right track knowing that the first game of the season is just as important as the last.

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