The Battlehawks kickoff the final regular-season weekend in the XFL with uncertainty surrounding their playoff fate.

Win or lose against the Orlando Guardians (1-8), St. Louis won’t know if they advance to the North Division championship until the game between Seattle and Vegas is decided on Sunday night.

One thing is certain, however – the Battlehawks (6-3) can swing the odds by hitting big plays in Saturday’s matinee, the last game inside The Dome at America’s Center this season.

That’s something that wide receiver Marcell Ateman – St. Louis’ first pick in the XFL Draft who has been hampered by injury – hopes to deliver.

“We understand, like we have to put up a lot of points,” Ateman said. “It’s one of those things too, where you don’t want to go into a game and try to do too much…at the end of the day, we got to play our game.”

APRIL 16, 2023: The Seattle Sea Dragons against the St Louis Battlehawks at The Dome at Americas Center on April 16th, 2023 in St. Louis, MO.
(© Dilip Vishwanat/XFL)


Head coach Anthony Becht says it’s key that St. Louis’ game arrive on time.

“Start faster; just start faster and really putting four quarters together,” Becht said.

Becht raved about Ateman’s ability to win contested balls during training camp, and he appeared poised to be a favorite target for quarterback A.J. McCarron, who shared a huddle with Ateman with the Oakland Raiders.

The pair quickly resumed chemistry when they reunited and Ateman’s 33-yard catch in the fourth quarter of the Battlehawks’ win over San Antonio in Week 1 sparked St. Louis’ comeback. But Marcell was nursing a hamstring injury and after catching one pass for seven yards in Week 3, Ateman missed the next three games.

Hakeem Butler helped St. Louis manage without him, but a healthy Ateman emerged in the Battlehawks’ loss to Seattle last week with a team-high four receptions for 67 yards. In a game where points will be critical for playoff tie-breaking purposes, St. Louis’ offense needs to find rhythm.

“Crazy part about it is we felt like we were down 50 at halftime (last week) and we were down five, and we were getting the ball to start the second half,” McCarron said.

“We just can’t hurt ourselves, penalties – got to play clean football and just do what we’re coached to do. And just go have fun, that’s the biggest thing.”

The D.C. Defenders will host the North Division title and the XFL Championship will be held in San Antonio, which means Saturday is the last hurrah for the largest fanbase in the league.

McCarron has been the feel-good story of the XFL season, and he objected when asked how he felt about his last game in front of the Ka-Kaw crowd.

“I don’t know if its my last time (in St. Louis) – I really just enjoy trying to stay in the process and live in the moment. This year has been awesome…it’s been a pleasure to represent the city of St. Louis and Battlehawk nation.


Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll is a freelance sports writer living in the Ozarks with his wife and four great kids. He loves St. Louis, toasted ravioli and minor league baseball. You can follow him on Twitter @carroll_sgf and Instagram @andycarroll505