VANCOUVER – There would be no championship hangover for the PNFL defending champion Washington Sentinels. Kicking off the PNFL’s second season against the upstart Vancouver Venom on a cloudy morning at King’s Way Christian in Vancouver, the Sentinels set the tone from opening kickoff, and didn’t let off the gas until the final whistle.

After a strong return on the opening kickoff, it took all of one play for the Sentinels to punch it into the end zone. From there, the rout was on. The Sentinels capitalized on a number of Venom turnovers as their opportunistic defense took multiple interceptions and fumble recoveries back for touchdowns. Oh, and special teams? They got in on the action, too. Michael Smith utilized his blockers to perfection in taking an early punt into the end zone for an easy touchdown. The Sentinels were clicking in all three phases of the game from start to finish.

The Venom join the league as a brand new team, with a roster still getting to know each other. As with any new team in their first game together, it’s difficult to fire on all cylinders as players haven’t played with one another before. Also working against the Venom’s favor was their short bench, as they entered the day with a small team, with injuries to some key players, causing most players to play both ways all game long – a feat not even the most skilled and experience players can pull off.

Despite the outcome, The Venom showed fight and never quit, putting forth a hard fought effort until the final whistle. Their passion and love for the game was evident in plays like those made by quarterback Justin Easter, who was forced out of the pocket on a broken play before firing a dart on the run to a tightly covered receiver, picking up a first down on a 4th and long deep in their own territory. The play got the Venom bench pumped, and rightfully so, as it was a great effort and demonstrated the flashes of what this new Venom team is capable of.

Most importantly for the Sentinels, they picked up right where they left off… and then some. They go into their first of two bye weeks with a statement win, sending a message to the rest of their league that they are ready to defend their crown. For the Venom, in a game where it seemed little was to be gained, they walk away with something valuable which is far overlooked – experience. You can definitely expect this Venom team to improve throughout the season, and when these two teams meet again in week eight we may witness a far different game than the one today.