Div II North saw performances along the entire spectrum in 2016 and some stories so bizarre they could only have happened in the third tier of a niche sport…
In the NFC II North, the most Northerly of Northern conferences, saw the two most Southern teams have radically different fortunes. Both relatively new teams, the Newcastle Vikings and the Carlisle Sentinels could not have had more opposite seasons. The Vikings dominated on offence, putting up more than two times the points of their nearest challengers, the Aberdeen Roughnecks, and were equally unforgiving on D, allowing less than 5 points per game on average. The Sentinels, who were devestated by flooding which left their home ground under ten feet of water, finished winless, giving up 34 points per game… and averaging less than 1 point scored per game. The Glasgow Tigers took a bit of a dive after they shockingly gave their head coach the boot during what seemed from the outside a very successful season, leading to some very bizarre stories coming out of Scotland…
The NFC II West was home to a lot of young franchises, one of which rose above the rest. The Leeds Bobcats were locked in a ridiculously high-scoring face off with the Chester Romans for most of the season, until the Romans slipped up, and the Halton Spartans spanked them 51-25, to give Leeds the one game edge they needed to take the conference title. The Walney Terriers suffered Britball’s biggest beatdown, losing 89-0 to the Romans and traded wins with the Crewe Railroaders to ensure that neither team finished winless.
The NFC II South (seriously, we need a better name for that), was home to Britball’s most dominant programme. The Leicester Falcons were unstoppable. Undefeated, with a four game gap between the closest challengers, they ranked first in Britain in both points scored (497) and points conceded (21). Perhaps the most exciting story line for the neutral was the topsy-turvy battle between local rivals, the Staffordshire Surge and the Shropshire Revolution, who both ended up with 6-4 records and ended up making the playoffs. The Humber Warhawks continued to take steps forward, winning three after going winless in 2015, but the Lincolnshire Bombers took a big step back. To their credit, they showed up to all of their ten losses.
There were no upsets in the early stages of the play-offs and Leicester showed their credentials, dropping 62 without reply on the #8 seed Staffordshire Surge. The semi-finals held no further surprises, besides from the Chester Romans dropping more points on Leicester than anybody else had all season combined and we were all set up for #1 and #2 seed showdown.
Newcastle’s suffocating defence finally gave way, with bowl MVP Stuart Franklin leading the Falcons to a 36-0 victory.
Bowl Winners: Leicester Falcons (NFC II South)
Promoted: Leicester Falcons (NFC II South), Newcastle Vikings (NFC II North)