By Alex Mclachlan
Whilst the end of the Junior season is drawing near, teams are still battling hard for their victories. This week, another team has secured its position in the postseason, completing the picture in the North.
Highland Wildcats vs Chorley Buccaneers
In the most significant playoff decider this week, the Chorley Buccaneers travelled up to Scotland to face the Highland Wildcats. As we predicted, were the scores to rack up this result would go the Wildcats’ way, and rack up they did. The Scottish team really put on a show on Sunday, more than doubling the number of points the Buccaneers had conceded thus far this season, on the way to a 44-17 victory.
This result truly shows the potency of the Highland offence – a fact that is bound to concern their postseason opponents, the Manchester Titans. Chorley have been consistently able to nullify offences up until this game, usually through linebackers Alex Garcia and James Schofield shutting down the opposition ground game. However, Highland showed the proficiency of their aerial attack, with Quarterback Euan Crawford connecting with Euan Trommino for three touchdowns, including one in which the young receiver channelled his inner Odell to snag the ball one-handed. This, in turn, stretched the Buccaneers’ defence, allowing for three rushing touchdowns also.
The Buccaneers should take heart, however, in the progress that this game showed. Whilst their defence did not, perhaps, maintain its lofty standards, their offensive managed their best performance of the season. Quarterback Josh Mills particularly showed his aptitude, leading his team to scoring its highest total all season (with the help of a safety from the aforementioned Garcia). Highland will look at this fact with some concern, however, going into the playoffs.
With this win, the Highland Wildcats secure a 4-2 record, and a postseason berth. They will be looking to maintain their momentum against the Manchester Titans, and hoping that they can remain undefeated against English sides. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, will have to brush themselves off from this defeat, and hope to right the ship against the Leeds Academy Assassins next weekend.
Lincolnshire Bombers vs Merseyside Nighthawks
Pride is a powerful motivator. Whilst there was only pride at stake in this matchup, the Bombers and the Nighthawks provided the most hotly contested game this weekend. A nail biter until the last, Merseyside eventual came out 32-20 victors.
Merseyside have struggled with injuries of late, meaning that they have had to place wideout Sam Parks in at Quarterback to lead their offence. The Derby Braves ‘baller took this relocation in his stride, however, passing for two touchdowns and rushing for a further one. Another player of note for the previously winless Nighthawks was both-way player Mert Secgin, who hauled in three interceptions from the safety spot, whilst also running in a score of his own from running back.
Lincolnshire, whilst remaining without a win, can certainly take positives from the day. The first-year Junior outfit have shown great progression throughout the season, and nowhere is this more evident than on offence. Having scored only 6 points in their first three outings combined, the Bombers scored 12 against the undefeated Nottingham Caesars last week, and followed that up with their highest scoring outing of the season in this matchup. On defence too, the Bombers had a strong outing, conceding their second fewest points on the season against a strong Merseyside O.
Unfortunately, neither team will be progressing further this season, though Merseyside will be grateful to have secured their first victory in their final game. Lincoln will be hoping to have their game against Chorley rescheduled, in the hopes of winning their first game of Junior football, ahead of a push for success next year.
Solent Seahawks vs Black Country Vipers
A key matchup for the Solent Seahawks, as they faced the winless Black Country Vipers in a bid to make the postseason. The Seahawks needed to secure victory to keep their hopes alive, and they did so emphatically, 48-6.
Normally a pass-heavy team, Solent based their victory on Sunday on a strong ground game, with both Alfie Griffiths and Sas Sarreshteh scoring two rushing touchdowns. Sunday also saw a remarkable milestone reached by Solent Quarterback Bru White, who scored his 80th touchdown for the academy, linking up with Tom Moore for the historic score.
Black Country have struggled in this, their first season of Junior football. However, they can take pride in scoring their first touchdown, coming from a special teams play against a strong Solent coverage unit.
With this victory, the Seahawks catapult themselves back into postseason contention. Though they are reliant on the London Blitz overcoming the Kent Exiles, should the Seahawks win against the Farnham Knights and concede fewer than 50 points, then they will enter into the top four. Black Country will hope to learn from their struggles this season, in the hopes of coming back stronger next season.