What a weekend! In a jam-packed weekend of Junior football we saw high scorelines galore, with some real statement wins being put out by the teams!
East Kilbride Pirates vs Birmingham Lions
By Alex McLachlan
Wow. Well that was nexpected. We here at DC expected this game to be a tight affair between two of the countries top Junior programmes, with the winner coming late. This proved to not be the case, however, as the East Kilbride Pirates put on a clinic, stampeding their way to 1-0 with a convincing 38-12 win, whilst the Lions suffered their first regular season game ever at the Junior level.
The Pirates showed both a powerful offence and a staunch defence in this victory. Helmed by All-DC Quarterback Sam Montgomerie, who Coach Davies described as having improved considerably in the offseason, expectations were high for the Scottish team’s offence. Despite this increased pressure, Montgomerie actually outperformed expectations, passing for three touchdowns and rushing for a further one. The Lions were able to slow the Pirates down in the second half, forcing several 4-and-outs, as well as corner Jimmy Watkins catching an interception. However, by that point the damage had been done by the East Kilbride offence.
The Pirates Defence were not willing to let the offence have all of the credit, however. This unit built a reputation over the course of the 2017 season, and began their 2018 campaign by performing to that very same high standard. They managed to all but shut down the Lions run game, with running back Yomi Olajide managing only 10 yards on the day (albeit with a touchdown). Not only that, but the EKP defence put up points of their own, with captain Ben Gallagher forcing a safety.
One aspect of the game that is often overlooked, but can prove the difference in close games is special teams. Both sides showed their pedigree with their attention to detail in this facet of the game, with each scoring a kick-off return. Ben Hale brought one back for the Lions, whilst Callum Ferguson’s opening Kick-off return ensured that the men from Scotland continued their prodigious special teams form into this season (they scored a special teams play in five of their six regular season games last year).
This result is certainly an important one. The Lions slip to an unaccustomed 0-1, whilst the Pirates have announced their presence once more on the National stage.
Sussex Thunder v London Blitz
By Bruin White
An inexperienced 15-man Sussex Thunder team hosted the national champion London Blitz on Sunday in what was a 60-0 blowout – despite our expectations that it could prove a tight affair.
Entering their second game back in league competition, the Thunder immediately struggled against the London team – fumbling the ball on their opening possession. The Blitz defence – despite missing impact player Malachi Jameson – capitalised on these opportunities nevertheless, with defensive scores coming from Malachi Marquis-Adams and Eyram Avadzi. These along with the efforts of Leonardo Sophoclis who returned an interception for 6 just demonstrate the competence of a stalwart Blitz defence, who are yet to concede a point this year.
As a result of their defensive prowess, a short field allowed for 4 rushing, 2 passing and a punt return touchdown for the London side, racking up 60 points in only 2 quarters. Sussex Thunder’s Head Coach conceded defeat, in favour of player safety, at the half.
The clobbering that transpired has, in a way, benefitted both teams. Moving to 1-1, the Thunder will look to take lessons learned from Sunday and turn them into a more competitive performance when they host the Hertfordshire Cheetahs in three weeks’ time. Contrarily, the Blitz go 2-0: taking this momentum back onto the practice field, where they will spend a month preparing for the Cobham Cougars.
Solent Seahawks vs Thames Valley Tigers
By Jack Stodel
On Sunday, last years Southern Plate Champions, the Solent Seahawks faced off against the newly formed Thames Valley Tigers in what proved to be a very high scoring game for one team, with the Seahawks coming out 56-0 victors.
Solent opened up in the most horrible manner, turning the ball over on the opening play from a high snap and a quick recovery by the Tigers sharp defence.
Fortunately for Solent, their defence proved that it is to be feared by much of the Junior league and they managed to force a turnover, giving the Offensive an opportunity for a ‘redo’.
Once they had calmed toward the end of the first quarter, the first score of the day came when QB Bruin White found WR Jack Pears from the five. Solent’s special teams then took over and kicked an extra point for the “first time in living memory” according to HC Marc White.
Early in the second quarter the Seahawks took control on Offense, with another White-Pears link up before White found RB Ryan Duff for a two point conversion in an All-DC Writers affair.
An interception from Preseason Player to Watch Toby Naylor really threw the Tiger’s Offense off as they watched him return it all the way for the Pick Six before a long pass from Solent’s other QB Lewis Benzey to WR Ben Thomas, both of whom were selected for GB, put the icing on the cake as they went into the half.
Thames Valley were stripped down to 9 players at this point who were playing both ways and put in on an incredibly tough show against a successful and proven Seahawks side. HC Marc White said that “we were incredibly impressed by their attitude and effort all day long.”
Credit goes to Thames Valley who ended up playing the final two minutes with just 8 men, which just goes to show the mentality and team ethic that is being driven into those players and could be a very successful remedy for their team in the coming years.
The game ended 56-0 and both teams will now look forward to their next opponents, Solent’s being the London Warriors and Thames Valley’s being the Cobham Cougars.
Manchester Titans vs Merseyside Nighthawks
By Ryan Duff
This weekend, the Manchester Titans silenced any doubters with a 48-20 win over the Merseyside Nighthawks.
After claiming a too-close-for-comfort 14-6 victory in their season opener against the Romans, the Titans showed the country why they are still the contenders they showed themselves to be last year, putting up just shy of 50 points on a staunch Merseyside Nighthawks defence.
Both defences put on a good performance, with Manchester holding the Merseyside offense to just 2 scores, whilst the Nighthawks’ James Matthews & Adam Roberts combined to force a fumble and take it 32 yards to the house. It was however, the Manchester offense which again stole the show, returning to the strength it showed last season and proving why it is right to consider them among the favourites this year.
Manchester will look to build on this early momentum, and train hard in preparation of their next game against the Highland Wildcats – the team that beat them in last year’s Northern Trophy final and has been unbeaten by any English team in over two years. The Nighthawks, meanwhile, will regroup before their second game of the season, against the very same Wildcats.