March 23, 2023
By Ian Toner
When the AUDL unveiled yardage tracking and hucking data at 2019 Championship Weekend, fans and media could suddenly quantify greatness and versatility like never before. We gained a firm grasp on just how much ground receiving specialists ate up for their offensive units, and we could compare backfield quarterbacks beyond scores to understand how efficiently they drove their squads down the field.
Sure: the eye test could always reveal some players to be more versatile and impactful than others, and balanced scoring milestones–like Justin Allen’s journeys to the 50/50 club in 2015 and 40/40 club in 2016–were still rightly lauded. But the yardage and hucking data went (and still goes) beyond the scoring play to measure progress throughout the entire attack. They verify just how big a load multi-skilled hybrids like Leandro Marx and Ryan Osgar shoulder for their squads when distributing and tracking down discs.
2019: Grant Lindsley in New York’s 26-22 title game triumph over Dallas
The Salt Lake Shred shocked the ultimate world by announcing the signing of Grant Lindsley. The two-time World Games and AUDL champion possesses the speed and skill to shift the fortunes of any franchise, and the Shred pushed the Colorado Summit to the brink in the battle for West Division supremacy in 2022.
Lindsley last stepped foot on an AUDL pitch in 2019, helping the Empire complete its first perfect season in franchise history. He finished the final with more receiving (398) and total (789) yards than any other player, creating separation with his quickness and chewing up downfield gains (while adding five goals, four assists, five hockey assists, a block and completing 96 percent of his passes). Over the entirety of 2019 Championship Weekend, his 13.9 yards per completion led all Empire throwers, and that 789 total yards figure stands as the most amassed by anyone in a title game.
2021: Jacob Fairfax in Raleigh’s 19-16 championship victory over New York
Early in Jacob Fairfax’s accomplished career, many around the league viewed him primarily as a threatening receiver with a penchant for attacking the deep space and roofing defenders. His game reached a new level in 2018 when he started to put his blossoming throwing talents on display, much to the dismay of his division’s opponents.
“He will just as easily adjust and become a distributor for the rest of the offense,” Flyer Shane Sisco told Evan Lepler in April 2018.
“I’d also say he has a highly undervalued throwing skillset that also continues to grow,” former Flyer coach David Allison told Lepler.
Though it took a few more seasons for the Flyers to return to Championship Weekend, when they did in 2021, Fairfax made sure they maximized that opportunity. In the title game, he led all Flyers in total yards (395) and scores (five goals, two assists – tied with Anders Juengst) while completing all 25 of his passes and chipping in on six defensive points. His critical goal in the opening quarter’s final sequence and towering hammer hucks to convert fourth quarter holds boosted the Flyers’ energy and confidence in crucial moments.
2022: Jack Williams in New York’s 22-14 win over Chicago
Jack Williams has established himself as Mr. Clutch on the collegiate, international, club and professional circuits, having thrown or caught game winning scores in elimination play at every level.
“Two words: playoff Jack,” former Empire coach Bryan Jones said while marveling at Williams’ performance on the 2022 championship broadcast.
While the Empire offense (and entire roster) was littered with an embarrassment of riches in 2022, Williams’ consistent, dynamic presence–especially in the most pressure-packed moments–guided the Empire to its second perfect season.
After amassing more yardage (591) than any other player in New York’s semifinal victory over defending champion Raleigh, Williams led the Empire with 478 total yards and seven scores (tied with Osgar) in the 2022 title game while completing 97 percent of his passes. In the first quarter alone, he caught a deep goal through heavy contact and rifled a pinpoint hammer for a score as time expired, setting a ferocious tone for the rest of the game.