Mexico: Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional kicks off – Central Division Preview

Mexico’s LFA (Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional) kicks off its 2019 season this week with the league expanding to eight teams, divided into a North and Central Division.

This will be LFA’s fourth season and it will feature two expansion franchises.

Here is an analysis of each one of the four teams in the Central Division: Mexico City Mexicas, Mexico City Mayas, Mexico City Condors and the Puebla Artilleros.

CENTRAL DIVISION

MEXICO CITY MEXICAS

 The defending LFA champions will start a new season with a new head coach, and a new management. Well renowned coach, Enrique Zárate takes charge of a team that finished last season with a 4-3 regular season record, and went on to win the Central Division. The team made  it all the way to their first Mexico Bowl, which they won by defeating the Raptors by a 17 to nothing final score to  claim yheir first ever LFA title.

After a sensational 2018 season that saw him pass for 1,275 yards with 9 touchdowns by completing 57.7% of his passes, and run for 6 more scores, Ricardo “Lefty” Quintana is back behind the controls. Quintana is a veteran QB who has also played in Spain with the Valencia Giants. His most effective weapon is WR Guillermo “Billy” Villalobos who caught 27 passes for 396 yards and 5 TDs in 2018, but possesses the abilities to eclipse last year’s numbers this campaign.

The “Mexica Blood” squad ended 2018 with 1,000 yards on the ground, one of only two teams to achieve the one thousand mark. However, they won’t have their leading RB from last season, Vladimir Araiza, who accounted for 399 yards and 3 touchdowns. Instead, their offensive coordinator, Sergio Lavanderos, is planning on using a rushing attack by committee this year, utilizing proven runners such as Samuel Wong, Iván Morales and Jair Carrillo, combined with the only running back who is back from their championship season, Terrel Goudine.

It won’t be easy to repeat as LFA champs, considering there will be 31 new faces on the Mexicas’ roster for 2019, but when some of those new pieces are on the defensive side of the field and can instantly provide their team with a winning mentality, the change is welcome. One of those players is former NFL DB Kamal McIlwain, who spent time with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons from 2011 to 2014.

 

MEXICO CITY MAYAS

 The Mayas, back-to-back champions in 2016 and 2017, saw their dominant run end in 2018. The “Blue Empire” finished last year’s regular season with the best record in the league, 5 wins and only 2 losses, and for a while they looked poised to win their third LFA title. But they could not get past their Mexico City rivals, Mexicas, in the Division final, preventing them from reaching Mexico Bowl III.

Absolute rulers of the skies last season with 1,902 yards, the Mayas welcome back QB Marco Antonio García for an encore in 2019. He finished 2018 with 13 touchdown passes and a 58.3 completion percentage, but also had a flair for the dramatic as his team scored just one more point than they allowed during the regular season. His most explosive weapons are a pair of receivers who both surpassed the 500 yards plateau, Josué “Megatron” Martínez (570) and Diego Viramontes (519) and accounted for 11 TDs between them. Viramontes was the historic first overall selection of the 2019 CFL/LFA Draft, by the Edmonton Eskimos.

For how much success the Mayas garnered thru the air, that wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of their star running back, Omar Cojolum. The league’s leading runner in 2018, finished with 404 yards and celebrated 9 TDs, with an average of 6 yards per attempt. The veteran can be counted on touching the ball over 70 times again in 2019.

Their defense will still be led by LB Edgar “The Mayan Jewel” White, and a couple of the best tackling defensive backs in the league, Jordi Saldaña and Ricardo Espinoza, both also added an interception to their stats this past season. On the line the blue and white defense can scare the most experienced signal callers, by having Diego de la Cruz and Octavio Martínez a pair of D linemen that registered 3 sacks each.

 

MEXICO CITY CONDORS

The only franchise capable of surpassing one thousand yards by air and by land in 2018 is primed for its first ever winning campaign in 2019. Head Coach Felix Buendía is back for his second season as the leader of the “Condor Legion” and will rely on his prolific passing attack with QB Diego Pérez leading the way. Last season Pérez finished second in the LFA with 14 TD passes, completing 60.6% of his throws for 1,219 yards.

But Pérez wasn’t the only one to enjoy a successful season thru the air; he had a couple of WRs that look forward to repeating their performance this season. Aarón Mendoza was top 5 in the LFA with 26 receptions, and Andrés Salgado was No.1 in receiving touchdowns with 11 and yards with 586.

Nobody in the league balanced more their rushing attack than the Condors in 2018, having three 200 yards runners by the end of the season. Luis López (297) had 3 scores, Irving Alamilla (240) with 4 TDs and Allan Rosado (202) who cross the goal line once.

They will depend on the performance of a new offensive line to top the 1,034 yards they achieved as the best running team in the LFA last season.

The defense from the capital city team might not have the big names, but one characteristic they will show on the field, and can be a key to better their 2018 performance. After all they were the worst in the league, allowing 2,685 yards, 400 more than their nearest opponent, and it looks like there is enough space for improvement.

 

PUEBLA ARTILLEROS

It’s bombs away for the expansion franchise from Puebla. The Artilleros (Artillerymen) were born in one of Mexico’s most fertile states for developing a professional football team, and the reason is that Puebla is home to very successful college football programs, like the Aztecas from the University of The Americas and the Borregos from Monterrey Tech, just to mention two. Several of their alumni were recruited by the new LFA organization.

Starting with the first Draft pick in the history of the Artilleros, WR Sebastián Olvera, it’s clear that they will look to stretch the field vertically. Olvera played for the UDLAP Aztecas during his college career and presented problems to every opposition he faced. He will team up with other proven speedsters at the WR position, Sergio León and Rodrigo Arias are both capable of having a 500 yards season.

With Gustavo Torres as the team’s head coach, we can expect a tough football team both on defense and on offense. On the defensive side selected two veteran stars thru the LFA’s Expansion Draft, DB Genaro Alfonsín owner of 3 INTs, one of those a Pick 6, in 2018 and LB Germán Villarreal. Alfonsín played for the Dinos in 2018, while Villarreal was a starter for the Condors last season.

A glimpse into the 2019 season for the “Gunners” from Puebla can be the number of players they saw been selected by Canadian Football League teams, a total of 6, more than any other LFA squad. That speaks of the strong roster they have for their inaugural campaign in the LFA, one that can pay immediate dividends.

 

 

 

Liga de Futbol Americano Profesional
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