Happy 2018 to all the Saints Family, and welcome to the new season!
After a strong return to Division One in 2017, the senior team got back to training in January after two successful Rookie Days.
With a lot of new faces on the Saints roster, the team also said farewell to retiring offensive lineman Rees Gidley and full back Luke Fry. Combined with the departure of tight end Richard Bloomer, defensive lineman Monica Lewinska and free safety Michael Bearman, there were various holes in the squad needing to be filled.
Fortunately, the 2018 recruitment class features lots of promising talent with many newcomers arriving at the Saints with previous experience. I’m sure that you will all get another exciting year of Saints Football.
(QB James Sharples – By Chris Janes)
With the new additions to the team, there has also been some veterans looking to try their hand at a new position, with star American running back and 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, Tony Glover, working to prepare himself for life as a quarterback.
He will face stiff competition however, with the return of former Saints and Oxford Brookes University quarterback James Sharples, and fellow veteran Sam Fielden joining him in the QB Room.
This year we’ll be renewing a long standing rivalry with the Bristol Apache, following their recent promotion to Division One.
Alongside Bristol, the Saints will be taking on the Berkshire Renegades, Solent Thrashers, Ouse Valley Eagles and the Sussex Thunder, in the SFC1 (Southern Football Conference – Division I).
While the senior team only began training in January, the Oxford Saints women’s team have been hard at work since October and have already competed in their first two Sapphire Series tournaments this year.
What was the senior team’s loss has been the women’s team’s gain, with Great Britain Captain Monica Lewinska joining the women’s team as part of another promising recruitment class.
Monica’s experience will be invaluable to an already impressive defensive unit, led by 2017 Defensive MVP Megan Brown. The offense led by 2017 Team MVP Josephine White and quarterback Amy Moran look to continue the form that saw them finish their inaugural 2017 season in style.
(Women’s team in Tournament 2 of the 2018 Sapphire Series – By Erin Wheeler)
All their hard work in the offseason has paid off, with the Saints moving to 3-1 following impressive displays against the Peterborough Royals and Staffordshire Saxons, and a narrow 30-26 loss to the powerful Kent Exiles.
Some sources have counted the Saints as the favourites to win their division and earn promotion for 2019. Second year Head Coach Adam Baker will be delighted with the way his team has performed so far, but he knows there is a lot of work still to be done for his young team.
Behind the scenes
Finally, our backroom team have been working tirelessly again this offseason to ensure that 2018 is another productive year for the Saints.
Following a great season in 2017, the efforts of myself, Ben Denton, James Dunstan and all the other members of the committee were recognised by BAFRA (British American Football Referee’s Association) as an example of best practice in game day management, which we can all take great pride in.
Whilst the players and coaches are hard at work practising, in the gym and studying the playbook, the committee are taking care of all the other responsibilities. These have included getting documentation squared away, booking venues, finalising our 2018 schedule, ordering new equipment, reviewing our merchandise range and many other administrative tasks.
Saints Home Venue – Photo by Tilsley Park
Through the committee’s efforts, we have also secured the outstanding Tilsley Park for another season as the home of American Football in Oxfordshire, and are delighted to continue our partnership moving forward.
Recognised as one of the best facilities for American Football clubs in the UK, we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Tilsley Park and Abingdon School.
2018 GAME DATES
The 2018 schedule is due to be released shortly and we’re excited to spread the news as soon as we can! All home games for the senior team will be played at Tilsley Park and for many supporters,
All Saints Senior Team home fixtures will be held at Tilsley, and for many of you, your first opportunity to watch the Saints Women will be at the Sapphire Series Finals hosted at Tilsley Park on Saturday 17th March.
We look forward to welcoming you all to Tilsley Park for what promises to be another fantastic year for the Saints.