Radicals @ Detroit Preview

Ryan Baker - Journalist

It’s time for a very interesting matchup between the Madison Radicals and the Detroit Mechanix this upcoming Saturday. Normally, that would be an obscure statement, but odd times calls for odd statements. 

Detroit is currently on a 76-game losing streak over the course of the last seven-plus years. Being the team that breaks that streak will create a stir throughout the league, and no one wants to be those guys. However, Madison will travel to Detroit without a majority of their key guys.

“We always want to bring the highest quality roster to games, but we really like our depth and this is an opportunity to test that. We're going to go in and take them very seriously,” said head coach Tim DeByl. “You don't want to be the team that breaks the streak. We’re going to go in and play very hard.” 

The list of absentees for DeByl’s crew is a long one and looks as such: Joshua Wilson, Brian Hart, Jake Carrico, Andrew Meshnick, Kai Marcus, Sam Stark and Victor Luo. That group combined for eight assists, five blocks, and over 1,300 total yards in their season opening win against the Pittsburgh Thunderbirds last week. In turn, they will have to lean on guys like Ted Schewe and their young core to secure the win.

“It gives an opportunity for people like Schewe, who maybe didn't get as many throwing reps, because we've had so many throwers. Suddenly, he's got to step up his game and show us what he’s got,” said DeByl.

That young core looked very solid and comfortable last week, but that was with the veterans and top guys that are going to be missing this week. Guys like Anthony Gutowsky, Gabe Vordick, Luke Marks, Max Sample, and Pieran Robert will have to be at the top of their games and will need to step up. 

“I think we are going to be fine. It is going to suck not having two of our best handlers on the line, but as long as I play well and our other rookies play their role, our offense will flow. I also think this is a great opportunity to really show what our young core can do,” said Gutowsky. 

The defensive starting line looks to still be intact, including the return of Joe Leibforth, who will be making his 2024 season debut. Veterans Sterling Knoche, Daniel Garlock, Avery Johnson, and Kelsen Alexander will be carrying the load of leadership on and off the field. 

“I’m absolutely pumped to hit the field for another season! Coming off a huge win against Pittsburgh last weekend, I can’t wait to carry that momentum into the Detroit game, and then into our home opener against Minnesota,” said Leibforth. “I’m taking this as an opportunity to play my best game, be confident with the disc and showcase my abilities on defense. I’m going to take a deep breath, trust myself, and trust my teammates.”

It’ll give the younger guys more playing time, and an opportunity to show DeByl what they can bring to the table. DeByl runs a very fluid roster, and wants his team to know that roster spots aren’t guaranteed. There needs to be execution week in and week out. This game will give an indication of who will be playing in the home opener next week against a tough Minnesota team.

“I don't know who's going to play against Minnesota right now. We have a lot of deserving players and everybody knows that if they come out and play poorly against Detroit, that's not going to do well for their chances. Everyone wants to be in that Minnesota game,” said DeByl. 

Even with that, you don’t want your team looking on to the next week. That’s how mistakes get made and losses happen. DeByl sees the motivation of wanting to play in the season opener as a way to keep guys focused and internalized on the Detroit matchup.

“They're fighting for position in this game, that's how we kind of look at it. They think that if they play well, that's their opportunity to play in that Minnesota game. I think that helps keep things focused on this game,” said DeByl.

The Radicals are still favored to win the game, and keep the streak going for the Mechanix, but it may be a lot closer than people think. Especially for a team that gave Madison a scare last year, given the three-point win that the Radicals were able to squeak out in their last matchup last year. 

“It's important to win this game. These are the types of games that mean everything at the end of the season, standings wise. You have to win the ones you should win, and then hope you win a couple you shouldn’t,” said DeByl.

To watch the Radicals second game of the year against the Mechanix on Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m. EDT, click here!