With one week under our belts, we come to our first junior power rankings this season! (And, in quite a bit longer than that, as it happens!).
Fair warning – due to the nature of the junior game, with vastly differing schedules between teams, this may not be a weekly piece. We will mix it up when changes are felt throughout the league though!
10. Cobham Cougars
Call this one a flier, but I have a good feeling about the Cougars this year. Whilst youth teams that transition to junior ball notoriously struggle, Cobham have a storied history, and could catch some teams off guard with their fast-paced football. The optimist in me has promoted them to the top 10. The pessimist is happy to leave them in tenth.
9. Chester Romans
Whilst the Titans were a casualty of their early start, the Romans took advantage from it! No loss is a good loss, but the Romans will certainly take heart from their gutsy performance against Manchester. Falling to a narrow 14-6 loss, the Romans showed how far they had come since their 40-0 rollicking just a year ago.
8. Nottingham Caesars
This may seem harsh. The Caesars finished fourth nationally last season, and so dropping them all the way to 8th in the rankings seems like an unfair placement. However, the team lost a lot of core pieces to graduation, as well as unforeseen circumstances, leaving them with only eight starters on both sides of the ball. Even within the camp, optimism has been tapered, with coach Lees suggesting a .500 season as their goal.
7. Hertfordshire Cheetahs
The Cheetahs are a tough one to assess here. Last season was their best yet, with Ccoach of the Yyear candidate Alex Halms taking his team to the Southern Trophy final. However, this is no guarantee of success, and this years record could come down to their run game. Pre-season player to watch Jack Stodel brings a dangerous element to this team, but his offensive line will have to perform if the cheetahs are to show their claws.
6. Solent Seahawks
The Seahawks’ meteoric rise over the recent seasons could look to continue this year. The Seahawks strength particularly lies in their defensive line. Boasting a pair of Filton products, in Toby Naylor and Louis Gallagher, the Seahawks are bound to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks in 2018. Combine this with a standout receiver in Tom Moore and a pair of veteran QBs, and the Seahawks could be one to watch.
5. Highland Wildcats
Rounding out our fourth Northern team in a row, the Highland Wildcats come in a 5. The Scottish outfit has proven consistently tough, being undefeated against anyone without the initials EKP over the past three years. The issue is, for Highland, that they once again face the Pirates three times this year, which could negatively impact their standing once again.
4. Manchester Titans
The Titans have fallen foul of their scheduling here. Coming in to week one of the schedule, I actually had the Titans as my dark horse number 1 seed. Call me a contrarian, but I like having alternatives to the Britball winners as my favourites for the title.
I expected a high octane offence, powered by several GB Under 19 selection as well as one of the country’s finest young QBs, Ben Miles. Pairing this with a historically resolute defence would, I thought, give the Titans genuine title ambitions. This is still not out of the question, but following a lacklustre 14-6 defeat of the Chester Romans (a team whom they demolished 40-0 last season) I realise my expectations should be tapered somewhat.
3. Birmingham Lions
The Lions placing third is perhaps not what the storied programme expects. However, this seemed the most appropriate landing spot for a team that, whilst consistently producing excellent talent, seems to be struggling in this transition year.
Word from the camp is that the Birmingham outfit are struggling to replace stalwarts Rohan Sandhu and Emmanuel Bawa, with makeshift running backs and rookie QBs filling their spots. Now, the coaching is bound to prove me wrong here, but it seems that the Lions could be less dominant than they have been in recent years.
2. East Kilbride Pirates
So far, so conventional with these power rankings. The Pirates were Britball’s runners up last year, but it is not this fact alone that puts them at the number 2 spot.
Under the tutelage of Head Coach Matthew Davies, the Pirates programme has only gotten stronger year on year, becoming a veritable factory for high quality ‘ballers. As such, I expect no drop off from the team that has come closer to the title each of the last three years.
1. London Blitz
Where to start, but the reigning Britball champions? We’ll start by addressing the elephant in the room: the Blitz lost Aaron Mahoney-Jones this offseason, one of the finest young ‘ballers to grace the Under 19s game in the last five years.
However, their depth, as well as ties to DSA, means that they are bound to have athletes in abundance to ease his departure. As such, it would be remiss of us to place them anywhere else on this list.