First Saints VS Saints Championship Bowl A Success

‘Saints Championship Bowl I’ – A New Tradition Is Born

With the season finishing after our loss to Sussex Thunder in the quarter finals (read the game report here) the players took advantage of our rest week to have a team social at our new sponsor (and planned Super Bowl Party host), The City Arms on Cowley Road.

Fantastic food, copious beverages, and humorous games formed a great evening as we celebrated reaching the playoffs, whilst commiserating our “one and done” record.

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With no more practice or games to look forward to, most of us were staring down a long off-season with no chance to play contact football until late February/early March.

For those of you have had something you’re passionate about suddenly stop, you know this can be quite a jarring experience.

Fortunately, veteran Tight End (TE) Richard Bloomer floated the following idea: A scrimmage against ourselves: Team Offense versus Team Defense, but playing both sides of the ball.

For example, our regular Middle Linebacker (MLB) Dean Bryan #54 plays at Quarterback (QB) when on offense, but switches back to MLB when on defense. The idea for the “Saints Championship Bowl” was born.

Hereafter the teams will be referred to as Team Offense and Team Defense, with the units referred to as offense and defense.

Immediately there was an outpouring of support for this idea from the players; our season wasn’t over, there was something left to play for, and for some, a final chance to enjoy the sport we love together before retiring.

This would also be a great opportunity for rookies and first year veterans to get a lot more game time than they had experienced so far and also to see their opposite position, giving them a greater understanding of what an opponent would be trying to achieve in a regular game. This increase in football IQ will be invaluable to the team and to the players as their career progresses.


Rules & Conditions

  1. Team Offense must be players who primarily played offensive positions in 2015
  2. Team Defense must be players who primarily played defensive positions in 2015
  3. Team Offense to wear White Saints Shirts
  4. Team Defense to wear Blue Saints Shirts
  5. 20 minute quarters, no special teams.
  6. Game clock and down marker managed by Injured players acting as officials.
  7. Coach Greg Kennedy as head official.
  8. 3 timeouts per team, per half.
  9. Full kit
  10. Full contact

Organising The Teams

With the format set and volunteers streaming in for both “teams”, the injured Defensive Tackle (DT) Toby Durant stepped up as Head Coach (HC) for Team Defense, with Dean Bryan as his first string QB, and Wide Receiver (WR) Jake Geerthsen leading Team Offense as HC, putting TE Grant Tebb in as first string QB.

In true defensive fashion, each detail was carefully prepared, a playbook was published a week in advance, and a depth chart finalised by Dean Bryan. The Offense took a more relaxed approach, preferring to rely on a wealth of experience at most positions.

This was even further evidenced on the day when Team Defense arrived 2 hours before kick-off for playbook walk through and an organised warm up. Team Offense decided to show up 10 minutes before kick off, some still eating their lunch, maintaining their relaxed approach. Team Offense were hindered further when it was discovered that the majority of the white Saints kit was not currently at the venue and therefore had to improvise with a mix of different white shirts.

Owing to the player numbers (about 16 on offense and 24 on defense) and a desire to ensure player safety, special teams did not form part of the SC Bowl.

It was agreed instead that kick-offs would be placed on the 25 yard line, and if a team elected to punt, the ball would be marched 35 yards downfield by the referee (our very own Defensive Coach Greg Kennedy).

Saints sports therapist Naomi Maycock attended the game to provide her usual expert services to the team, including taping, injury prevention and sideline assistance to both teams.

2015  SC Bowl I Team Offense – Led by Jake Geerthsen

The Game Begins

Team Defense won the toss and decided to have possession of the ball first. After picking up a couple of first downs, Team Offense then managed to prevent any further movement and Team Defense were forced to “punt”.

With each team now back in their natural roles, the physicality of the game was ramped up. With everyone comfortable in their positions, Team Defense stood strong on this drive, with Team Offense held to a measly 7 yards before having to punt.

The pregame prep for Team Defense appeared to have paid dividends already!

The next drive by Team Defense gathered steam quickly, moving downfield thanks to strong running from Strong Safety (SS) Martin Fitzpatrick and quick passes from Dean Bryan to Free Safety (FS) Michael Bearman.

Team Defense managed to get within scoring distance when Dean Bryan completed a short pass to SS Chris Fox on a crossing route over the middle, breaking through tackles he carried the ball down field towards the end zone , until a last minute tackle from Grant Tebb forced him out of bounds at the 12 yard line.

With Team Defense knocking on the door it seemed that the first points of the game were inevitable, until a fumbled handoff led to Team Offense regaining possession of the ball.

In an attempt to show contempt for the abilities of Team Defense, Team Offense offered team physiotherapist Naomi Maycock a chance to put on kit and take a snap as QB. Unfortunately HC Jake Geerthsen and QB1 Grant Tebb had underestimated the tenacity of Team Defense, as the snap was botched and they were able to force a safety, opening the scoring 2-0 to Team Defense.

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2015 SC Bowl I Team Defense – Led by Toby Durant 

The rest of the first half passed without major incident, both teams struggling to get a sustained drive going. In the dying seconds of the half Team Offense attempted a deep ball which was close but incomplete, although the back judge determined that the clock had expired whilst the play was ongoing (meaning it should now be half time), referee Kennedy decided to give Team Offense one more play. This play would result in first year WR Tom Swift breaking through multiple defenders, with three members of Team Defense having hands on him at one stage, to run the ball in for the game’s first touchdown. The score at the half was 6-2.

As we broke apart for team talks, Team Defense HC Toby Durant channelled an ex-player by giving the encouraging words of “just be better”. No drama here…

The second half started with Team Offense in possession of the ball again, moving quickly downfield before stalling within 10 yards of the end zone. Another turnover from a fumbled handoff gave Team Defense possession, and an opportunity to put together a scoring drive.

For the second half, Dean Bryan moved to play offensive line and FS Ian Hiscock stepped in to fill the role of QB. However, a strong defensive showing from Team Offense led to them forcing a safety, making the score 8-2.

Now even further behind, Team Defense needed to rally together. With time and opportunity slipping away, turnovers from MLB Connor Day and FS Adam Gibbs kept the game within reach. A hard fought series put Team Defense within scoring distance and Corner Back (CB) Matthew Wheldon hammered through the line on a short run to bring the score to 8-8.

2015 SC Bowl I Team Offense – Celebrating their first title

The tie game was short lived however, as on the next series TE (and Team Great Britain candidate) James Walter stepped in at QB and found a wide open Grant Tebb on a screen pass. Tebb evaded the tackle attempt by veteran CB Mike Turner and ran the ball down the sideline to score, bringing the game to 14-8 to Team Offense.

Another fumbled handoff on the next series saw Team Offense back in possession of the ball quickly. With time running out, Team Defense desperately needed another turn over. A brilliant effort from Dean Bryan saw him flip a ball-carrying Offensive Lineman (OL) Tyson Blackstock as he attempted to hurdle his way through the defensive line, recovering the fumbled football for Team Defense.

Unfortunately even this wasn’t enough. Team Defense were hurrying through plays and getting back to the line as the game clock was ticking away, but efforts were cut short with another fumble.

At the final whistle the score remained 14-8 to Team Offense, and the ‘Saints Championship Bowl I’ trophy was awarded to WR Ali Galbraith by Coach Kennedy.

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Conclusion

The inaugural Saints Championship Bowl was a huge success and will become a annual tradition for seasons to come.

Team Offense may have earned bragging rights for the next 12 months, but Team Defense will be hungry to redeem themselves.

This brings to a close the 2015 Season, a new crop of rookies have caught the American Football bug and will be returning next year hungry to learn, veterans are a year more experienced and will be pushing each other for more game time on both sides of the ball.

The Saints Championship Bowl was fantastic fun and the perfect way to end the season.

Next year we plan to make Saints Championship Bowl II bigger and better, with more organisation, photographers, video and publicity.

Until next year!

Written by #29 Chris Fox

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