Category: 2016

CHAMPIONS: Oxford Defeat Cambridge In Division Final

Score

Team1234TotalOutcome
Oxford Saints6110724Win
Cambridgeshire Cats00202Loss

Photography courtesy of Chris Janes & Jamie Stancombe.

The undefeated season was converted into the perfect season, with a decisive 24-2 victory in the Division II Southern Final against the Cambridgeshire Cats.

Following a stunning season for the history books, the Saints have looked on form throughout the year. The regular season saw them challenged by the Bristol Apache, but Oxford came out on top in both fixtures. The road to the championship saw Oxford and Bristol meet again in the semi finals, with the Saints claiming a confident 40-19 victory.

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As their first appearance in a championship game since their winning season in 2006, the majority of the team were experiencing their first time in a national final.

Meanwhile the Cambridgeshire Cats had a bumpy season and were considered the underdogs going into this game, but were quietly confident after dispatching the #1 seed, the London Hornets, in the semi finals.

With a large group of travelling supporters, the Saints came onto the field under a huge round of cheers and applause.

 

Game Begins

Following the coin toss, the Cats began with the ball on offense. The Saints were looking solid on defense but the running back was able to break a tackle and pick up 17 yards and a 1st down on the carry, before being brought down by Martin Fitzpatrick.

Tackles from defensive end George Wright and linebacker Dean Bryan prevented another 1st down, along with a 5 yard penalty against the Cats, forcing them to punt the ball away.

Oxford’s offense led by quarterback Destin Maulding showed their abilities immediately. Star running back James Walter ran for 32 yards and a 1st down, with fellow runners Tony Glover and Ryan Kingshott contributing for another 1st.

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A costly penalty against the Cats pushed them back 14 yards and gave the Saints excellent field position. On the next play, Maulding rolled out and passed the ball in to Walter for a 14 yard touchdown.

Sam Fielden attempted to add on the extra point but the kick was blocked.

Saints take early 6-0 lead on their opening drive

The Cats looked to retaliate but struggled to find progress against a sturdy Saints defense.

Linebacker Spencer Duffy brought down the ball carrier for just a 2 yard gain, with George Wright added a tackle for no yards on the next play.

Cornerback Misha Brooks sealed the deal when he broke up a pass attempt on 3rd down, leaving the Cats with no choice but to punt.

With the offense back on the field, Maulding kept the ball himself and ran for 19 yards and a 1st down. On the next play, he threw a brilliant pass deep downfield to wide receiver Ali Galbraith, hauling in the ball for a 31 yard gain.

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The Saints were unable to finish the drive with a score, as what looked like a guaranteed touchdown pass intended for tight end Richard Bloomer was broken up by a Cats defender on 4th down.

Despite turning over the ball on 4th down, Oxford’s defense remained on point and George Wright landed a sack on the quarterback Mark Rivett for a 2 yard loss.

After failing to get their offense moving and unable to pick up a 1st down, they punted the ball away.

The Saints picked up two 1st downs from Walter and Glover but found themselves unable to convert for another 1st.

On 4th down, Fielden lined up from 35 yards out and kicked a successful field goal for 3 points.

9-0 Saints

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The Cats offense were beginning to make progress on their next drive with a big 18 yard run for a 1st down.

A few more short run attempts saw them gain 2 further hard-fought 1st downs, but a tackle for a loss of 3 yards by David Anthony and a 5 yard penalty against the Cats left them unable to convert again.

On 4th down, Cats kicker Steven Bright lined up for a field goal attempt from 37 yards out but was unable to hit his target.

The Saints offense went back to work and moved the ball well against the Cats defense. Keeping the ball on the ground, Maulding handed it off to Walter, Kingshott and Glover who each picked up 1st downs.

With Walter using his speed to get around defenders, Glover was a weapon who could run straight up the middle for large gains.

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Glover picked up 18 yards and 16 yards on back to back carries, finishing off most runs with a big hit on the defender coming in to tackle him.

The Cats struggled to answer the powerful running of Walter and Glover & on 2nd down, Walter out paced his defender and charged in for a 14 yard touchdown run, aided by blocking from receiver Ali Galbraith.

Head coach Andrew Day called for a 2 point conversion attempt and Antonios Athanasiou ran the ball up the middle untouched for the extra score.

17-0 Saints

Near the end of the 1st half, the Cats faced a determined Oxford defense and a joint tackle from defensive tackle Deke Morton and Dean Bryan stopped the runner for just a 3 yard gain.

Wright added a tackle behind the line for a loss of a yard and on 3rd down, cornerback Mike Turner intercepted a pass from Rivett to put a stop to the Cats drive.

To close out the 1st half, the Cats defense got a much needed boost when Maulding was chased down in the backfield for a sack and a loss of 14 yards, bringing up the half time whistle shortly afterwards.

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2nd Half

A rejuvenated Cats defense came out to begin the 2nd half and were able to stop the powerful Saints offense in their tracks, forcing Oxford to punt the ball for the first time of the game.

Mistakes by the Saints defense were costly, giving up 25 yards and three automatic 1st downs.

As the Cats profited from mistakes by the Saints, the tables were turned when a ball was snapped high and left Rivett scrambling in the back field to recover the fumble. He was chased by multiple defenders and linebacker Spencer Duffy brought him down for a loss of 21 yards.

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On 3rd down, the Cats managed to redeem themselves and their running back picked up 23 yards and brought them within field goal distance.

Steven Bright lined up to attempt the 32 yard kick but the ball went to the right and missed his target.

With the Saints offense back on the field, Walter was tackled behind the line for a loss of a yard on 1st down.

On the 2nd play, the Cats defense closed down on Walter in the back field and he attempted to pitch the ball back to Maulding. The ball went high and rolled into the endzone.

Although Maulding was able to recover the errant ball, the Cats claimed a 2 point safety with Dean Caldbeck on the tackle.

17-2 Saints

Following the safety, Fielden kicked the ball back to the Cats and a 35 yard return set them up with good field position.

They ran for 13 yards and a 1st down but Duffy halted their progress with two back to back tackles, one for a loss of 3 yards. A pass attempt on 3rd down was tipped by Bryan, who got his hands to the ball and knocked it off course.

The Cats were unable to convert on 4th down and turned the ball over to the Saints.

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Maulding picked up a 1st down on the ground but in evading defenders, he suffered a pulled hamstring and came off the field a play later. The injury forced backup quarterback Kyle Swann to take command of the offense, playing his rookie year with the Saints.

Swann kept his composure and proceeded to hand the ball to Glover, who ran for a 1st down. On 3rd down, a handoff intended for Walter was fumbled to the floor but Walter was able to dive to the ground and recover it.

On 4th down the Saints punted the ball back to the Cats.

Throughout the 4th quarter, a defensive battle saw both teams exchanging blows but neither able to find the endzone. With quarterback Maulding remaining on the sideline with injury, Swann steadied the ship.

The Oxford defense continued to be a dominating force holding the Cats to minimal yards on the ground, with Wright and Duffy playing leading roles in the middle of the defense.

In the air, the Saints pass defenders continued to cover their opponents well, with Rivett unable to connect with his receivers.

The final score of the game was delivered by running back Kingshott. He picked up 13 yards on the first play of the drive followed by a 38 yard run up the middle for the touchdown, sealing the win for the Saints.

Fielden added the extra point kick.

With another defensive stand to close out the game, the Saints defense remained dominant and kept the Cats from scoring throughout.

24-2 Saints – Final Score

Summary

A strong display on both sides of the ball, the Saints picked up 390 yards on offense, 350 of those were rushing yards and 54 in the air.

The ground and pound strategy from Walter, Glover and Kingshott proved unstoppable.

– James Walter was named Game MVP for gaining 126 yards on 18 carries with 1 TD. He also caught 1 pass for 14 yards and a 2nd TD.

– Teammate Tony Glover picked up 96 yards on 13 carries, with Kingshott picking up 91 yards on 7 carries and 1 TD.

The defense had their performance of the year and held the Cats to just 157 yards on offense, breaking down to 98 on the ground and 61 in the air.

– Defensive end George Wright claimed 8 solo tackles, 2 assists and 1 sack.

– Linebacker Dean Bryan and defensive captain claimed 5 solo tackles, 6 assists and deflected a pass.

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The Saints are now the undefeated champions of Division II South, with 13 wins and 0 losses, completing their first ‘perfect season’ in club history and their first championship win since 2006.

The Saints now have a few months to prepare and recruit before preseason begins for 2017, where they will be competing in Division I following their promotion.

Opponents and fixtures will be announced when available.

2017 Recruitment – Rookie Days Announced

The Saints are recruiting for the upcoming 2017 season

If you are interested in finding out more about this exciting and growing sport, book your place for one of our rookie days and give it a go!

We run a full contact senior team which is open to men & women aged 18+. We have also recently founded a separate women’s team which will be competing in 5vs5 tournaments in 2017.

We thrive on developing players and helping them find a role on the team, whilst fostering all the positive attributes that come with American Football, such as leadership, teamwork, discipline and strong decision-making skills.

If you are 17, you are able to do limited training with the team but cannot participate in contact drills or games until you are 18.

 

2017 ROOKIE DAYS

We’re holding two special events which are intended for new players to come and get a taste of our team.

These events are great regardless of any previous experience and our qualified staff will show you the basics.

  • The confirmed dates are Sunday 27th November and Sunday 11th December. Both sessions run from 12pm – 3pm.
  • The rookie days will take place at our home venue, Tilsley Park.
  • Please ensure you arrive by 11:45 to allow time to change and sign in.
  • You’ll need suitable clothing for outdoor exercise on artificial turf and boots which do not have metal studs.

 

WHAT NEXT?

To attend a rookie session, please read the information here and book your place.

If you have any questions please contact us and our staff will be happy to help.

If you are unable to attend one of the sessions, new players are still welcome to join when we begin weekly practice from Sunday January 8th.

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COACHING

If you want to be involved with the team but playing isn’t for you, then consider coaching. We’re looking for former players, experienced coaches and those willing to learn to join our excellent staff.

We also have a variety of volunteer roles available on game days, which is a great way to be part of our success and to work with a exciting team.

You can find more information about coaching here and you can contact us if you would like to know more about volunteering.

FINAL: Game Preview – Oxford VS Cambridgeshire

#UndefeatedOrDeath

Following victories against Cornwall and Bristol, Oxford find themselves in another national final.

This is the third time in the team’s long history that Oxford have made the final, and both of the previous occasions have seen the Saints carry the trophy off the field (1995, 2006).

So on Sunday they’ll take the field in Charles Lee stadium in Leeds to try and make it three-for-three.

Their opponents on the day will be the Cambridgeshire Cats, who came in to the playoffs seeded #6 with a 7-3 record, managed to collect the scalps of the Berkshire Renegades and their conference rivals the London Hornets on their way to the final.

Both teams manged to conceded less than 100 points throughout the regular season, showing just how important a solid defense is in this sport.

Highlight reels might be filled with spectacular offensive performances, but both teams have shown the importance of a solid defense on the way to the final.

Oxford and Cambridge have conceded less than 100 points through the regular season (with the Cats even shutting out the #1 seeded Hornets in the Semi-final).

With the Saints looking to close out a perfect season, this matchup reminds of Superbowl XLII where the New England Patriots perfect season.

As many NFL fans know, this was ended by the New York Giants, a team that had come in to the playoffs as a low seeded wildcard…

The Saints can be confident that they have prepared well for the game and will come out on to the field ready to face a tough opponent. Only one outcome will be on the Saints minds…

Remaining undefeated.

Chairman Andrew Peart Reflects On 2016 Season

Sunday 11th September sees the Saints travel to Leeds for what is the biggest game for the club in a decade…

Written by Chairman Andrew Peart

Being lucky enough to serve as Chairman during such exciting times is a massive honour for me & one I think about with a great deal of humility.

I feel humbled by the amount of hard work & dedication that has gone into the club, both on and off the field in all the years prior to (and during) my appointment.

Reaching a championship game is not a short term project, it takes years of work to create the right atmosphere and culture to achieve long term, sustainable success.

It is for these reasons that I think a great deal about those who laid the groundwork for this year.

A year that all of us lucky enough to be part of this organization are enjoying and will be able to remember for the rest of our lives.

Linebacker Sam Stancombe tackles a Shark receiver

The Saints are a club whose history is incredibly important to us & many people throughout many years are equally (much more so, in several cases) responsible.

We would not be in this final were it not for the late Roger Hedges, our former general manager. Roger’s, dedication and enthusiasm over many years set the foundations for a culture of football in Oxfordshire that we continue to reap the benefits of today.

We’re delighted that Roger’s memory lives on at the club through an award in his name and through the presence of our long time supporters and friends, Kelly and Pam Hedges.

BY JAMIE STANCOMBE - James Walter dives over the line for a touchdown

We would not be in this final were it not for Chris Janes. Chris, our former player, coordinator, head coach and now team photographer, has played an immense role in the building and maintaining of this club.

Without Chris, the past & present of this club would look dramatically different & we thank him for his contribution over so many years that gives us the opportunity to do what we’re about to do on Sunday.

We would not be in this final were it not for the exceptional people currently working at the club. We’re incredibly lucky to have such a knowledgeable, passionate and selfless coaching staff.

We fully appreciate the time, energy and sacrifice made by Andrew Day, Nick Wykes, Greg Kennedy, Michael Price, Toby Durant, Gordon Cutting & Chris Warren.

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An unbeaten (so far!) season is no coincidence & these coaches have given their all in attempting to achieve it.

The back room staff at the Saints go through a phenomenal amount of work in order to provide the optimal conditions for players to play, coaches to coach and games to go ahead.

Without James Dunstan, Graeme Taylor, George Wright, Sam Armstrong, Luke Fry, Chris Roberts, Peter Holtom, Michael Parker, Naomi Maycock and many others helping behind the scenes, we would not be in this final. Most crucially of course, to on-field success is the work of the players.

To reach a championship final requires a championship mentality, championship level training, championship preparation and championship talent.

With a roster close to 90 players, I’ll avoid name checking everyone, but we’re incredibly lucky to see the level of impact from players such as Dean Bryan, Stuart Cribbes, Ali Galbraith, James Walter, Ben Denton, Destin Maulding and countless others.

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So many people, over so many years, too numerous to mention, have contributed to us reaching this final on Sunday. We go into this game fully aware that we’re “Standing on the Shoulder of Giants”.

So for those mentioned above, others such as Steve Abbott, Steve Connor, John Farley, Martin Fitzpatrick, all those supporters who come week in, week out and everyone else who has put us in this incredible position & we would not be in this final without.. ..this game is for you.

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The Saints will face the Cambridgeshire Cats in the Division II South Final, on Sunday 11th September at John Charles Stadium, Leeds.

VICTORY: Saints Advance To Final With 40-19 Win

Score

Team1234TotalOutcome
Oxford Saints21071240Win
Bristol Apache0013619Loss

Game Statistics
Photography courtesy of Gareth Brown. Featured photo by Jamie Stancombe.

 

Sponsored By:

JTs

Semi Final: Oxford Saints VS Bristol Apache
Venue: Tilsley Park, Abingdon
Date: 28 August 2016

The perfect season continues as the Saints extend their winning streak to 12-0, with a 40-19 semi final victory over the Bristol Apache.

The decisive win on Sunday at Tilsley Park advances Oxford to the Division II Southern Final, making their first appearance in a final since the Saints were crowned champions back in 2006.

By reaching the final, the Saints have also secured automatic promotion and will be playing division I football in 2017..

The Saints will now face the Cambridgeshire Cats for the title on 11th September at John Charles Stadium, Leeds.

1st Quarter

The Apache received the opening kick off and began with their offense out on the field. Led by quarterback Simon Harris, the Apache struggled on their opening drive as the formidable Oxford defense set the tone for the game.

Unable to pick up a first down, the visitors were forced to send the ball to the Saints but a short punt meant that Oxford’s offense would start with good field position.

Starting on Bristol’s 38 yard line, quarterback Destin Maulding handed the ball to running back Tony Glover, who charged through the Apache defenders for 9 yards before Luke Fry picked up a 1st down on a 2 yard carry.

More strong running from Glover and a penalty against the Apache set up Glover to claim his first score of the day, with an 11 yard touchdown run.

Sam Fielden kicked the ball through the uprights to add on the extra point.

7-0 Oxford

RB Tony Glover - Photo by Gareth Brown
RB Tony Glover – Photo by Gareth Brown

The Apache hoped for better success on their next drive and called upon running back Jon Walters to carry the load. Often a key threat in Bristol’s offense, Walters picked up a 1st down Simon Harris threw another 1st down pass.

The Apache were starting to move down the field but 2 incomplete passes and a tackle for a 4 yard loss by Spencer Duffy, halted their progress.

The Saints meanwhile continued to look in top form, with Glover picking up another 1st down. A 15 yard penalty against Oxford set them back, however Kev Brooks ran for 10 yards which was followed by a spectacular play from James Walter who ran for 17 yards and dived across the goal line for the score.

Fielden remained on target and added the extra point.

14-0 Oxford

 

James Walter 17 Yard Touchdown Run


Still in the 1st quarter, Oxford’s defense continued to shut down the Apache, with Dean Bryan, George Wright and Sam Stancombe holding the line.

With Maulding and the offense back on the field, a deep pass was caught by veteran receiver Ali Galbraith who made one of the best plays in the clubs recent history, diving out and securing the ball for a 40 yard gain to celebrations by teammates and spectators.

Not wanting to be outshined, teammate James Walter then made another great grab in the endzone, catching the pass from Maulding for a 21 yard score.

With Fielden adding the extra point, the Saints were riding high with a big 3 score lead over the Apache at the end of the 1st quarter.

Fielden added the extra point.

21-0 Oxford

 

Ali Galbraith 40 Yard Reception

In the 2nd quarter, the Saints offense picked up a 1st down from Rob Johnson but quarterback Destin Maulding fumbled the ball for a 6 yard loss, but recovered the possession.

A penalty against the Apache gave the Saints a fresh set of downs but they were unable to capitalise on the following plays.

On 4th down, they punted the ball away for the first time.

For the remainder of the 2nd quarter, both teams exchanged blows but neither team found the endzone. The Saints defense continued to be the dominating factor, forcing the Apache to punt the ball away after minimal gains.

The Saints offense were able to move the ball well, including a 17 yard run for a first down by Kev Brooks but the Apache defense were starting to catch up, claiming 2 sacks for a loss of yards on Destin Maulding.

21-0 at Half Time

Saints Defense - Photo by Gareth Brown
Saints Defense – Photo by Gareth Brown

The Saints had a bumpy start to begin the 2nd half, when a fumbled ball was recovered by the Apache for a 15 yard gain, before being brought down for a touchdown-saving tackle by Maulding.

With good field position, Apache quarterback Simon Harris soon connected with receiver Chris Jones in the endzone for their first score. Jones also lined up to kick the extra point, leaving the score at 21-7 Oxford.

Looking to retaliate, Maulding passed to Walter for a 21 yard gain and a 1st down, then to Sam Armstrong for a 17 yard catch and another 1st down.

Glover charged through from 15 yards out to claim his 2nd touchdown of the day as he outran his pursuers.

Fielden’s kicking remained on form.

28-7 Oxford

With Oxford’s defense back on the field, George Wright sacked quarterback Simon Harris for a 3 yard loss.

When attempting to throw the ball, good coverage by Oxford’s pass defenders prevented any progress in the air. Another punt on 4th down sent the ball back to Oxford.

At the end of the 3rd quarter, the Apache had good field position following a completed pass from Simon Harris for 26 yards and a 1st down. From 2 yards out, Harris handed the ball to Jon Walters who punched it in for the score.

Jones was unable to add the extra point but the Apache narrowed the gap, 28-13 Oxford.

Tony Glover 42 Yard Touchdown Run


In the 4th quarter, the Saints continued to limit the passing threat with coverage from Jonny Dover. Further shots downfield were incomplete and Apache struggled to pick up much needed 1st downs.

Oxford continued to enjoy success on the ground, with Tony Glover running in for a big 42 yard touchdown on the first play of the drive.

The Saints attempted a 2 point conversion but Maulding was unable to pass the ball in for the extra score.

34-14 Oxford

RB James Walter - Photo by Gareth Brown
RB James Walter – Photo by Gareth Brown

The Apache showed a revival and began moving the ball well, with first downs in the air and on the ground. A long drive brought them close to the endzone and Max Gallagher ran in from 1 yard out for their 2nd score.

Gallagher attempted to cross over again for the extra 2 points but was brought down by the Saints defense.

The Saints struck back to seal the game on their next drive, with strong running from James Walter, Tony Glover and Rob Johnson, each converting for 1st downs.

From 3 yards out, Walter ran in for his 3rd score of the day and gave the Saints a clear 40-19 lead.

Another 2 point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.

With the game out of reach, the Apache picked up a big 1st down on a 27 yard run, but numerous injuries were starting to add up. The Saints defense kept their foot on the pedal and David Anthony landing a big sack on the quarterback for a 7 yard loss.

Unable to make any further progress, the Apache turned the ball over when they failed to convert on 4th down.

FINAL 40-19 OXFORD

The Saints dominated the game in all areas, with their explosive offense moving the ball in the air and on the ground.

The damage was done by running backs Tony Glover and James Walter, who each claimed a hat-trick of scores and were a constant threat that the Apache couldn’t match.

Oxford ended the day with 355 rushing yards, whilst their defense kept Bristol to just 69.

The Apache took the lead in the air with 145 passing yards to Oxford’s 104, but the Saints defended many more pass attempts and forced multiple incompletions.

Total yards on offense for Oxford were 439 and 194 for Bristol.

Oxford’s Tony Glover alone ran for 190 yards.

The Saints will now advance to their first division final since their championship season in 2006. The Saints also keep their undefeated record for 2016 and are one more victory away from the perfect season.

Oxford have also guaranteed promotion to Division I, with both finalists being automatically promoted to the tier above.

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