Win and we’re in, that’s the mantra for the Battlehawks this week. In week 9 the St. Louis Battlehawks welcome the Seattle Sea Dragons to “The Dome” in an effort to secure a playoff berth for the 2023 season. After Nick Tiano “willed” the Battlehawks to a victory with the help of Sterling Hofrichter and Gary Jennings, the Battlehawks look to A.J. McCarron, to lead the team to victory, over the high flying offense of Seattle led by Ben DiNucci and June Jones.
Seattle Sea Dragons (5-3) at St. Louis Battlehawks (6-2)
Kickoff: Sunday, April 16th at 3:00 pm ET
Where: The Dome at America’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri
TV: ESPN / ESPN+ / ESPN Xtra on Sirius/XM
Broadcast: Matt Berrie (Play-By-Play), Eric Mac Lain (Booth Analyst), Dawn Davenport (Field Analyst), Tiffany Blackmon (Reporter)
Betting Odds Per DraftKings Sportsbook
- Seattle Sea Dragons: +1
- St. Louis Battlehawks: -1
- Seattle Sea Dragons: -105
- St. Louis Battlehawks: -115
While A.J. McCarron remains on the injury report, it’s hard to think unless there are any setbacks that McCarron would not be under center come Sunday. Listed as “out” for St. Louis is Mike Rose LB, Tim Harris (2nd consecutive week), and Mataeo Durant RB. Rose was seen walking around the locker room in a boot post-game, while Nate Meadors DB, Jon Alexander DB, Steven Gonzalez OG, and Vadal Alexander OG, all remain questionable going into Saturday.
|QB||A.J. McCarron – 10||Manny Wilkins – 5||Vincent Testaverde Jr.|
|RB||Brian Hill – 23||Mataeo Durant – 21 (OUT)||Kareem Walker – 0|
|WR||Hakeem Butler – 88||Marcell Ateman – 3||Steven Mitchell Jr. – 22|
|WR||Darrius Shepherd – 11||George Campbell – 15|
|WR||Austin Proehl – 13||Garry Jennings – 12||Chad Hansen – 19|
|TE||Jake Sutherland – 84||Jovani Haskins – 9|
|OT||Jaryd Jones-Smith – 75||Eric Magwood – 77|
|OG||Steven Gonzalez – 74||Daishawn Dixon – 79|
|OC||Mike Panasiuk – 61||Dallas Warmack – 55|
|OG||Vandal Alexander – 78||Christian Olmstead – 67|
|OT||Juwann Bushell-Beatty – 73|
|DE||LaCale London – 96||Taniela Tupou – 91|
|NG||Kevin Atkins – 90||Erik Hansen – 37|
|DE||Gelen Robinson – 99||Freedom Akinmoladun – 98|
|Sam LB||Silas Kelly – 29||Carson Wells – 53|
|Mike LB||Willie Harvey – 51||Mike Rose – 27 (OUT)||Tre Watson Sr. – 33|
|Will LB||Lakiem Williams – 6|
|JK||Elorm Lumor – 95||Travis Feeney – 56|
|CB||Brandon Sebastian – 38||Lavert Hill – 24|
|CB||Mike Hampton – 8||Elijah Hamilton – 1||Tim Harris – 4 (OUT)|
|FS||Lukas Denis – 25||Ben DeLuca (IR) – 28|
|LS||Chris Cooper – 39||Nate Meadors – 26||Jonathan Alexander – 17|
|K||Donny Hageman – 2|
|P||Sterling Hafrichter – 16|
|LS||Alexander Matheson – 47|
|KR||Brian Hill – 23||Darrius Shepherd – 11|
|PR||Darrius Shepherd – 11||Austin Proehl – 13|
**Notable: Nick Tiano is now on Injured Reserve and will miss the remainder of the season. Manny Wilkins the former Green Bay Packer and Arizona State QB will now be the team’s QB2, with Vincent Testaverde Jr. now serving as the team’s 3rd String signal caller.**
Keys to Game:
Capitalize On DiNucci Turnovers:
Two things are consistent in the XFL in 2023, Terrell Buckley gives fans quality commentary, and Ben DiNucci will turn the football over. DiNucci leads the XFL in the category, turning the ball over 15 times (10 INTs, 5 Lost Fumbles), and often times in the Red Zone, while the Sea Dragons do possess one of the XFL’s most dynamic offenses, often times their biggest issue has been DiNucci, playing too much “Backyard Football” instead of taking an easier throw, or even throwing the ball away and living to play another down.
Contain Contain Contain:
While DiNucci has certainly disappointed fans with ill-advised turnovers, he’s quietly been one of the more mobile rushers in the XFL. DiNucci’s 226 Rushing Yards put him at 10th overall and 2nd behind Jordan Ta’amu for Quarterbacks. Despite being without Linebacker Mike Rose, look for EDGE rushers Carson Wells, and Travis Feeney, to do a better job at sealing the outside forcing Ben to step up in the pocket rather than taking off with his legs.
Keep Being Special:
Coach Anthony Becht has praised Special Teams Coordinator Tory Woodbury for a masterful performance this season. Woodbury’s unit has been dynamic whether it be returning kicks, Donnie Hageman hitting game winning/tying field goals, or fake punts, the Battlehawks have had one of the most electrifying special teams units in the XFL this season. Look for St. Louis to continue to lean on the unit in their week 9 matchup on Sunday.
Both AJ McCarron and Ben DiNucci could surpass some milestones in week 9. McCarron currently sits at 17 Passing Touchdowns, only needing 2 more to pass Tommy Maddox, from his time with the LA Xtreme in the 2001 iteration of the XFL. Ben DiNucci’s 2,072 Passing Yards are within Tommy Maddox’s Passing Yards total from 2001. Maddox totaled 2,186 Yards in 2001, along with 18 Touchdowns. He’s also within striking distance of Garrett Gilbert’s Passing Yards total from the AAF of 2,152 yards.
It’s been playoff mode for St. Louis since their week 5 lost to the Defenders. With the playoffs on the line and the return of A.J. McCarron, look for the St. Louis offense to come out primed and ready to go once Sunday rolls around. The Battlehawks are a bit thin at Defensive Back however, have had the luxury of effectively rotating players on all three levels of the Defense to make sure the unit has plenty of game reps.
Chris Cooper, Lukas Denis, Mike Hampton, and company have the daunting task of defending against Josh Gordon and Jahcour Pearson the exciting Wide Receiver duo that has bailed Ben DiNucci out of numerous erratic throws.
With late season injuries effecting both teams, the Battlehawks still edge out Sea Dragons in front of their St. Louis fan base. Despite being injured A.J. McCarron and the St. Louis Offense should be able to out slug Seattle in a 28-24 Victory clinching a playoff spot for the Football starved city.
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