Green Dukes End Season With Tragedy, Controversy, Vengeance in 2-0 Loss
The Duqueswood University Green Dukes
closed out their first NCBB season with a 2-0 loss to the Slam Diego State Aztecas
in a match marred by a player’s death that has stunned the Duqueswood community and put Coach Gerric Smithson’s future as well as the future of the program in jeopardy. The Aztecas smothered the Green Dukes with a patient screen, dodge, and blitz defense while getting touchdowns from sophomore linewoman Dana Osondrea and freshman thrower Ahura Sunberry. However, more troubling than the shutout for Duqueswood was the death of freshman catcher Perys Pondripple ’26 (fae culture and lore) and Coach Smithson’s questionable decision not to use the team’s apothecary to attempt to save the young elf’s life.
“As a coach, you have to make tough decisions,” Smithson said during a somber postgame press conference. “You use the apothecary on one player, and then you don’t have his powers left for another player. So sometimes you have to make tough calls. That’s what this job is all about. Sometimes you have to ask your runner to dodge out of a cage, sometimes you have to tell a player to make an unassisted block, and sometimes you just have let a catcher bleeding out from internal injuries die at your feet. Hey, that’s just coaching.”
Pondripple dies at Coach Smithson’s feet without receiving any treatment from the Duqueswood apothecary
The Green Dukes opening drive did show promise despite the Azteca’s pesky, almost unblockable first-half defense. Freshman wardancer Angorn Windfoot ’26 (undeclared) took the opening kickoff and displayed uncharacteristic patience, staying behind his blockers and advancing slowly up field. Progress stalled near the 40-yard line, however, when Green Dukes treeman Oaward Weatehrbon ’26 (undeclared)—desperately thirsty after chasing dodging amazon’s down field—plunged his roots into the pitch for a drink.
Duqueswood lineman Garon Streamsong ’25 (molecular acorn analytics) made a desperate block to get Windfoot the edge along the northern sideline, and the wardancer went for it. Windfoot raced past pirhana warrior blitzer Amkatla Paloadrin, but Azteca linewoman Bernice Vyblos had the angle on Windfoot, and cut him off near the 25 yard line.
With the rest of the amazons closing in fast, Windfoot only had enough time for one move (or some would say the wardancer only has one move). Sprinting directly toward Vyblos, Angorn vaulted into the air, performed a perfectly executed side-aerial over her, and landed in the clear with nothing but green grass and the endzone before him. The only problem was he landed on his face.
Windfoot once again fails to stick the landing on a leap, losing the ball and bringing the Green Dukes' opening drive to a crashing hault
“Heck of a leap though,” said Coach Smithson who has been enamored with his wardancers’ leaping ability all season (sometimes to the team’s detriment). “You see how high he was. Kid’s got to have, what, like a 90-inch vertical at least. We just need to work on the landing part, I guess.”
After quickly collecting the ball, the Aztecas were unable to score before halftime, but Angorn’s failed leap left many Green Dukes out of position. The Amazon’s quickly went from dodging to kicking, punching, surfing, and gouging, racking up 7 knockouts and casualties before the halftime whistle.
Azteca thrower Ahura Sunberry crosses the goal line to put Slam Diego State up 1-0
The most devastating of those casualties came when Pondripple—playing in only his second game—turned to run in fear and panic from charging Azteca linewoman Dana Osondrea. Rather than escaping unharmed, the undersized elf tripped and died from injuries that remain unclear. Bleeding profusely from the mouth, it seems that the freshman catcher and son of Duqueswood Vice Preseident of Student Safety Baerys Pondripple suffered some sort of massive internal hemorrhaging from the fall, but others on the team suspected the Aztecas of using snake venom to poison the grass.
When the apothecary stepped forward to head out onto the field, Coach Smithson swallowed hard and waved him back. “Lot of game left,” he was heard to say on the sidelines. “We’re gonna have to let the little guy tough it out.” When the apothecary reminded Coach Smithson that because he was dead, the elf was in no position to tough anything out, Smithson murmured something about “walking in off” and sent the apothecary back to the dugout.
Pondripple’s death clearly made an impact on the Green Dukes, as only four players lined up on the pitch for the second half, though several players in the KO-box were seen periodically opening their eyes. Team captain sophomore wardancer Mirlin Spinleaf ’25 (tree-bark studies), who was one of those players who stayed in the KO box along with Windfoot, was open with his fears during a postgame interview.
“You see a teammate go down like that, and it can’t help but get to you,” he explained. “I’ve seen elves die before, but never by tripping and falling on … nothing. That shook me.”
Notable among the few Green Dukes on the field to start the second half were Weatherborn and freshman linewoman Zerphyra Gettleaf ’26 (double major: Oakish, women’s & arbor studies), two players whose personal safety has been a source of controversy all season
. After the Aztecas scored a quick touchdown against the short-handed unit to go up 1-0, the Duqeswood sideline was in disarray. Most players were still unwilling to take the field, and Coach Smithson looked ready to concede the match. The team’s pride and its very future seemed to hang in the balance when an unlikely hero stepped forward.
Gathering her teammates around her, Gettleaf gave a rousing speech that just may have resurrected the program. “Look, maybe we can’t win this game,” she said. “Maybe we can’t salvage our season, maybe we can’t even play this sport very well. But I’ll tell you what we can do. We can go out there, hold our heads high, and we can hurt someone. Not for you, noy for me, but for Perys.”
Gettleaf rallies her teammates to get them back out onto the field
Responding with an enthusiastic “for Perys!” all seven Green Dukes who could still stand rushed onto the field. They didn’t manage to score, and, in fact, they failed to pick up the ball and gave up a second touchdown to seal the loss. But late in the game, Foren Longweed ’26 (mystical fauna studies) struck Vyblos with a vicious flying knee to the side of the head, killing her in a spray of blood and brain matter before she hit the ground.
Unlike Smithson, the Azteca’s coach opted to use his team’s apothecary and saved the life of the linewoman, reducing her death to a concussion that will keep her out of the Azteca’s make-up game next week. Still, the Green Dukes saw the moment as a rallying point they hope will give them momentum going into next season.
Longweed delivers a flying knee death blow to Vyblos who was saved by her team’s apothecary moments later
“This squad has come a long way this season,” Smithson said. “First game we couldn’t even pick up the ball. Then we had the protests, the investigation, the losing streak. But this Gettleaf, she’s something special. She’s gone from being a thorn in my side to the beating heart of this team. Look, a year ago I was still training knights in Gildvale, didn’t’ know a thing about blitzes or cages or ‘un tirn tee dees.’ They brought me here to turn these kids into athletes, but now they’re something else, something better. They’re killers. And that’s the mentality we’re going to be brining into next season. You face off against these kids next year, you might look across the line of scrimmage and see a bunch of prancing pointy-eared elves, but I promise you, you’ll be looking at killers.”
Despite Smithson’s confidence, the future of the Duqueswood University blood bowl program still looks unclear, as Pondripple’s father has opened a new investigation into the team after his son’s death.
“They took a fine young lad with the best still ahead of him, and they butchered him,” Baerys Pondripple told scribes during a press conference to announce charges of gross negligence and healthcare discrimination that the university’s Department of Student Safety has leveled against Smithson. “An elf should be able to trip without dying. And if he does die by tripping over his lovely little feet, then he deserves immediate care from an apothecary. I can promise you I will do everything in my power to make sure another game of this despicable sport is never played again in this forest, and Coach Smithson will be in shackles by the time I’m done with him.”
Our scribes were able to reach Smithson at home days after the game for his reaction to these charges. His response was simple, direct, and likely to get him fired. “Yeah, I’m aware of the new investigation,” he said. “But there won’t be any more hearings. I’ve looked into the university’s protocols, and there’s another option on the books—trial by combat. You tell Baerys, he wants to come after me, I’ll see him out there on the pitch.”