The USFL Championship will bring an official end to the mid-year football season and provide a nice appetizer for the upcoming NFL season.
The Birmingham Stallions will look to win their second straight title on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Maulers, who went from having the worst record during the 2022 season to champions of the North Division.
J’Mar Smith led the Stallions last season to a championship over the Philadelphia Stars and established himself as the starting quarterback for the 2023 season until he was injured. Alex McGough, who was injured last season before Smith stepped in, led the Stallions to the best record in the Southern Division, as well as a second straight Southern Division championship. He led the USFL in touchdown passes with 20 and was among the best passing yards among quarterbacks.
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The quarterback was named MVP on Friday.
«In one of the most successful seasons in professional spring football history where [McGough] accounted for a modern USFL record 25 touchdowns in just 10 games, we are proud to announce that Birmingham Stallions quarterback Alex McGough is the USFL Most Valuable Player of 2023,» said President of Football Operations of the USFL, Daryl Johnston.
McGough found a primary target in former NFL tight end Jace Sternberger during the year. Sternberger led the USFL in receiving touchdowns with seven. He had 33 catches for 517 yards. McGough and Sternberger were named to the All-USFL team for their efforts.
Stallions cornerback Nate Brooks led the team in tackles with 43 and had two interceptions to his credit. Brian Allen had two interceptions in the South Division title game and Scooby Wright III has been an anchor on the team’s linebacking corps to help get the team to where he is now. JoJo Tillery also had three tackles for a loss on the season.
The Maulers have been the underdog story of the year.
Pittsburgh began the season with Ray Horton as their new head coach. The team had to fight tooth and nail to reach the North Division Championship and was able to secure a playoff spot with a 4-6 record, over last year’s champion Philadelphia.
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Troy Williams took the reins as quarterback for the Maulers. He had 1,414 passing yards and six touchdown passes during the season. Williams also led the way on the ground with 341 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He has proven to be a viable double threat that the Stallions will have to watch out for.
McGough will also have to watch out for Mark Gilbert in the secondary. He led the league with four interceptions and had 32 tackles to his credit. He was a member of the All-USFL team for his incredible year.
Joining him on the tough defense are linebacker Kyahva Tezino and safety Arnold Tarpley.
Tarpley tied for second with three interceptions this season. He had 42 tackles on the year. Tezino had two interceptions and finished with 94 tackles for the season.
While Stallions head coach Skip Holtz was named the USFL Coach of the Year, Horton’s son Jarren was named the league’s first Assistant Coach of the Year.
«We know how valuable every member of the coaching staff is to a team’s success, so we thought it was important to add this award in 2023,» Johnston said of Horton. «We are proud to honor Coach Jarren Horton as our first-ever USFL Assistant Coach of the Year Award recipient. Jarren has done an outstanding job the past two seasons as the Pittsburgh Maulers’ defensive coordinator. In 2023, his defense led o he was near the top in nearly every statistical category. We challenge our coaches to bring out the best in their players, and Jarren accomplished that feat when three Maulers were named All-USFL Defense. We are proud to have Jarren as part of the Maulers family the USFL».
Saturday will be the big day. The Stallions and Maulers will compete for the USFL Championship.
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The game will take place in Canton, Ohio at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen on NBC and Peacock.