First season: 2016
Play in and headquartered in Burial Grounds
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
|Team colors||Black, Grey, Cyan|
|General manager||Stringer Bell (shadyshoelace)|
|League championships (1)|
|Conference championships (5)|
|Division championships (6)|
|Playoff appearances (11)|
The Yellowknife Wraiths are a professional American football franchise based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. The Wraiths currently compete in the National Simulation Football League (NSFL) as a member club of the league's National Simulation Football Conference (NSFC) which currently only has one division. The franchise was established in 2016 as one of the six original teams. They have an intense rivalry with the Baltimore Hawks and Philadelphia Liberty. The Wraiths have won the NSFC championship five times and won their first, and only, Ultimus in 2023, beating the New Orleans Second Line in Ultimus Bowl VIII.
History of the Yellowknife Wraiths
The Yellowknife Wraiths were one of the inaugural teams of the National Simulation Football League, managed by Bubba Nuck Sr. and Tyler Varga Sr. The inaugural draft brought a number of high-quality players to Yellowknife, including Bubba Nuck Jr., Chris Orosz, Josh Garden, Alexandre LeClair, and Ricky Maddox, among others. Heading into 2016 season, the Wraiths were tipped to win not just their conference, but also the Ultimus. However, the Wraiths would only manage second place in the NSFC with an 8-6 record, before losing the conference championship game 13-6 to the Colorado Yeti. 2017 brought an increased sense of optimism for the Wraiths, as they secured Dermot Lavelle with the number one pick in the 2017 ISFL Draft, combined with Marcus Kane and outspoken linebacker Kevin Cushing. However, they again slumped to an 8-6 record, and lost a second straight conference championship game, this time 16-14 against the Baltimore Hawks.
Spike Crown took charge of the team following the stepping down of longtime general manager Bubba Nuck Sr. in 2018, and the team underwent several changes. Most notably, the addition of the controversial Francois Lamoreux divided opinions. The Wraiths would slump to a franchise-worst 7-7 record and failed to reach the playoffs. This was followed, in 2019, by the trade of Chris Orosz, leading to Mat Akselsen converting to quarterback. Star receiver Josh Garden declined to re-sign with the Wraiths and instead joined defending champions Arizona on a lucrative deal, while controversial cornerback Kevin Cushing was traded to the Philadelphia Liberty. Despite all that, Yellowknife returned to the playoffs after finishing atop the NSFC, with an 8-6 record. A 26-20 win over the Liberty in the conference championship saw Yellowknife make Ultimus Bowl IV – the first time they played in an Ultimus Bowl – where the Orange County Otters beat them 30-23.
Phillipe Carter arrived in Yellowknife after the Las Vegas Legion retirement scandal in 2020, along with Jayce Tuck – the latter despite an ongoing investigation into possible performance enhancing drugs use. Tuck would later be suspended for a year and did not take his first snap for the Wraiths until 2021. Former third overall draft pick Blaster Blade joined the Wraiths alongside Fuego Wozy to shore up the Wraiths defensive line, as Yellowknife notched a franchise-best regular season record of 10-4. A win over Baltimore in the conference championship saw a return to the Ultimus Bowl for Ultimus Bowl V, however, the Otters would again beat them, this time 26-15. Mat Akselsen hit his peak in 2021 with Eric Kennedy at runningback, but Yellowknife struggled during the regular season and slumped to a 7-6-1 record, losing 31-21 to the Philadelphia Liberty in the conference championship.
Rookie runningback Robby Rainey arrived in 2022, while linebacker Boss Tweed, and defensive tackle Arbin Asipi Jr. also landed in Yellowknife to form arguably the strongest Wraiths team in franchise history. An NSFL best regular season record of 13-1 followed, before a shock 40-31 defeat in the conference championships at the hands of the Philadelphia Liberty. 2023 saw the arrival of Micah Hendrix to add to an already impressive linebacker corps, and Yellowknife ended the season with an 11-3 record, before beating an aging Baltimore Hawks side 38-24 in the conference championship. Ultimus Bowl VIII saw Yellowknife finally break their curse, beating the New Orleans Second Line 24-13 to claim their first NSFL Championship.
Following their Ultimas victory, the Wraiths would almost immediately take huge blows to their defense as Philippe Carter retired, they traded Markus Kane, and Jayce Tuck would be poached in free agency. The Wraiths would improve their offense, but still would be facing an uphill battle with the loss of two of their best defensive backs. Yellowknife would go out and win three of their four preseason games and appear to pick up where they left off, however, they would drop the first three games of the regular season. The Wraiths would then win three straight, but that'd be how the entire season went as they were rather streaky and couldn't put together a consistent team week in an week out. Ultimately their record would reflect that as they went 7-7 and they'd fail to make the playoffs.
After the disappointing 2024 season the Wraiths knew they had to shake things up a bit and did so by trading away aging quarterback Mat Akselsen, who had made his intentions of retiring known, to the San Jose Sabercats for Brad Pennington. To go along with that they had another of their defensive backs, this time Hardrool, leave the league. In his place the Wraiths were now going with young rookie and Brad's brother, Thad Pennington. They would also add Tegan Atwell at wide receiver to help boost an already explosive offense. Despite all the changes and shakeup in culture, the Wraiths would once again begin the year dropping 3 straight games and be just as streaky as they were the previous season. They'd improve their record to 8-6, but most attribute that to the fact that the Philadelphia Liberty went full tank mode and gave up easy wins. The Wraiths would finish in the third spot in the NSFC and fail to make the playoffs.
Coming off of an 8-6 record and one game out of the playoffs to end the 2025 season, many considered the Wraiths to be a dark horse team for the playoffs in 2026. Despite losing the likes of Tegan Atwell, Robby Rainey, Eric Kennedy, and Boss Tweed, the Wraiths had a good crop of rookies coming in that had everyone excited. Yellowknife would sputter out of the gate losing their first two games, but would rattle off three straight wins and look have turned the corner. That wouldn't be the case though as the Wraiths would drop the next five games and eight of their final nine to finish with a 4-10 record and end with the second overall pick as a consolation prize to the playoffs.
As the Wraiths continued to dip for two straight seasons, the signs were clear that change was needed. New management would take over the Wraiths and their first order of business was to trade away Antonio Summer and draft pick compensation to the Baltimore Hawks in order to get their new franchise quarterback, Ryan Applehort. With that move, Brad Pennington was out of sorts as to where he would play, but eventually agreed to give it a go as a wide receiver. Now without a first round pick the Wraiths had to wait until the second to make their first move and in the new Wraiths era, Dick Wizardry would become their first draftee. In a shocking move, the new Wraiths management also broke up the Penningtons as they traded away Chad and Thad to San Jose, securing future draft picks. With all the movement and looking towards the future, everyone could see that it was going to be a rough year in Yellowknife. The Wraiths would win only one game in the preseason and then only win three times that many in the regular season as their downward plummet continued as they finish their 2027 campaign with a 3-11 record.
2028 was more of the same for the Wraiths. The roster was mostly intact, meaning the team was full on tanking and looking into the future. Their team was getting old and they needed fresh blood to push the team back to its prior success. The season was an utter disappointment. Two straight wins to start the season and another one in week 4, put Yellowknife at 3-1, lighting the spark for the last hoorah of an aging roster, but then, disaster. A single win in the remaining 10 games, sandwitched between a five and a four game losing streak. 4-10 final record, 4th place in the NSFC, but the first overall pick in next season's draft was enough of a consolation prize.
2029 was the season of the big overhaul. The #1 OA pick of the draft was used on Cooter Bigsby, setting in stone the forthcoming end of the "Applehort era" up north. Defensive studs in Snuggles, Bakshi, and Cox were called up from their DSFL stints, and the Wraiths looked like they were in the right direction. Bigsby was sent down in DSFL, but this was more of a transition season for Yellowknife. The team showed signs of improvement, winning 6 of their 14 games, alternating between wins and loses, but never losing more than two games in a row, missing on playoffs, but they went from the worst to the 4th best defence in the league, in just a season.
The 2030 draft class was the biggest in recent history, and the Wraiths picked up more studs than anyone. DE Nero Alexander was their first round pick, and the "Bromance duo" at safety was not split, as they picked both Uchiha and Kroustis, along with Leaf Jr., keeping the Norfolk synergy intact. RB Morgan Marshall was also picked up, but the youngbloods had to wait before shining, because they were all sent down, except for Alexander and Marshall. Cooter was called up, and Applehort switched to CB. The team was better than last season, despite finishing 7-7, one win out of playoffs. But the future looked bright.
Everyone was called up for 2031, mostly because of the expansion draft. But the biggest move was the signing they made, picking Danny Grithead up. The Wraiths looked shaky at the start of the season, with a 4-3 record after week 7, but they ended the season on a six game winstreak, missing on the division championship due to the two losses to Chicago Butchers, as both teams finished atop the NSFC, with a 10-3 record. Nevertheless, Yellowknife would host a playoff game after 8 years. The team was on its best form. The young guys had picked up, the vets were showing the way. The hype for an Ultimus win was real, but it fell flat on its face. Philadelphia Liberty shocked the Wraiths with a 35-34 victory, in a classic nailbiter, ending the Wraiths first playoff trip since 2023 before it could even begin.
But the hype didn't die, despite the Wraiths not looking good in 2032. A resurgence of the Baltimore Hawks shook NSFC up. The season was close and unpredictable. Yellowknife started the season with five wins in six games, looking promising. But them, only three wins in the remaining 7, finishing with an 8-5 record, tied with the Hawks and the Butchers for the 1st place in NSFC, only to edge them both in divisional record (6-2 YKW, 5-3 BAl, 4-4 CHI). But they were here, having put the league on notice. They were the best defence, and the bye to the Championship game was theirs. Again, the dream died, as the rival Hawks jumped to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter, never looking back, far easier than the final 27-24 shows.
The Wraiths were down, but not out. And they got back up in 2033. They terrorized the league, suffocating their opponents and having the best offence and defence in the league. L-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-W-L. That's how the season went. Loss to the rival Hawks to open the season, then ELEVEN straight wins. During that streak, YKW allowed more than 20 points twice, held opponents below 10 points three times, and scored less than 20 points only once. The league was on notice. The Wraiths were the absolute favorite to win the Ultimus. 11-2 final record, atop the whole league, and home field advantage throughout. But they had to beat the Hawks first. And they did. 29-14. On to the Ultimus. There, the train was derailed by the perennial dynasty of the league, the Orange County Otters, in a 16-10 nailbiter.
2034 was another dominant season for the Wraiths. Their roster was almost intact from last season, but they were still a force to be reckoned. Leaf Jr. left the team, and the defence was not like last season, but YKW still managed to finish atop the league, with a 9-4 record, beating the Otters for home field advantage throughout. Cooter was throwing his minds out however, and Yellowknife had the best offence in the league once more. The playoffs were more of the same, only a bit worse. Third straight meeting with the rival Hawks with the NSFC Title on the line. But the Hawks never made it to the game. 55-14, the final score. The Wraiths prevailed once again, setting the stage for a rematch of last season's Ultimus. It was a classic game, but the Wraiths came up short once again, losing 30-27 to the Otters, after a Hugh Mongo TD, with 2:22 left in the game. THe Wraiths had managed to turn it around, but one question remained. Were the Wraiths of the past 4 seasons the dynasty that never came to be?
2035 was an up-down year for the Wraiths. They got out to a disastrous start with a 48-20 loss to the Colorado Yeti in Colorado to open up the season. They would rebound in impressive fashion however as they then proceeded to rattle off six straight wins before being beat by the Orange County Otters in Orange County 37-13 in week 7. They bounced back from that loss by eking out a victory over the Yeti at home 24-21 before losing to the Butchers 31-16 in Chicago the following week. The latter half of 2035 was marred by inconsistency for the Wraiths. They would lose to the Otters, beat the Yeti, lose to the Butchers, beat the Hawks, lose to the Liberty before beating San Jose and New Orleans in back-to-back weeks to finish out the season. They would finish with a 9-4 Record, good enough to win the NSFC and get to face The Philladelpha Liberty in the first round of the playoffs.
Another thing to note about 2035 is that the Wraiths went a perfect 7-0 at home winning every single one of their home games but had a paltry 2-4 record on the road. They had a pretty good run in the playoffs as they beat the Liberty and the Yeti before falling to the Copperheads 37-20 in the Ultimus.
|Season||Regular Season Record||Post Season Record|
Players and Personnel
Yellowknife Wraiths roster
Yellowknife Wraiths staff