The Blitz and the Burners both reach their first BUCS final. Both sides came into the season as favourites in their respective conferences after a strong campaigns last year but after the Burners burnt out ahead of playoffs and the Blitz limped into the postseason, only to fall at the first hurdle?
Neither side was even close to a sure thing coming into the year.
For Plymouth, a change at Head Coach and two strong rivals in the form of Bristol and Gloucestershire meant many wondered whether they could they live up to the hype of the year before and earn their way out of the basement tier.
A strong opening against ‘Cuda set the tone for most of the campaign, but as with last season there is a stark difference in this team when trundling QB Fen Trudgian is not in the lineup – as shown by the squeaker with OBU and loss to Bournemouth in two of the three games when the uniquely shaped Quarterback was absent from the offence.
Certainly the shock loss against Bournemouth was a reality check for the team, and Coach Ogier has rallied the troops post Christmas, going undefeated since.
Built on the age old premise of a strong run game and good defence, the feet of Trudgian and Ed “Eagle” Green have literally carried the Blitz through the season. The ground game has allowed a bit of space in the air with the ageless Paul Payne defining mature student and Fred Bull showing the skills he has picked up at the ‘Nix.
The defence is led by ironman Nick Anderson, backed up by GB Junior’s Luke Holloway and playmaking defensive end, JJ Edwards. Combined, they’ve have formed a strong backbone that has led to statistically the best Defence in Blitz history at 7.5papg.
Kieran Calvert is also attempting his best Julian Edelman impression by playing slot and also filling in at DB with some picks lately, however he needs to dramatically step up his beard game to rival the Patriots’ diminutive wideout.
Brunel provide without doubt the Blitz’s toughest test of the season – an undefeated team so far this year, and while some might look at Brunel just squeezing past Cuda in the playoffs in overtime compared with Plymouth pounding Bristol at the start of the year ? There is no doubt this relatively new team aren’t going down without a fight!
The Burners followed up their Quarter-finals squeaker by demolishing conference rivals, the UCL Emperors, in an even more convincing fashion than they had in the regular season.
Indeed, all regular season long the Burners were only behind at all in one game – against a Stags team they convincingly overpowered in the second half of their match up.
A run-first offence that does wonders in grinding down the clock while racking up yardage, RB Patrick Kanyida has moved the ball well all season long, leading the team in scoring while QB Povilas Rusevicous marshalls the offence.
Defensive Captain Jonas Stankevicius heads up a very talented defensive unit that has created turnovers and points all season long, and includes the likes of GB Lions players Rodon Zeqiri on the line and Joseph Bobo at corner.
Former DC Lead, Brunel Burners HC Jon Goddard will feel vindicated to have earned his talented programme promotion this season after the unfortunate Burners found themselves in the war path of a Portsmouth side hitting a VERY hot streak towards the end of last season… Something, at least, both these teams had in common last year!
As is perhaps only fitting heading into a final, this is likely the toughest match up either side will have faced all year long… So who do #TeamDC believe will come out on top?