ON 16th April Oxford will host the Sussex Thunder at Tilsley Park
Following two preseason games against Farnham and Leicester, the Saints will begin their 2017 season with the first league game on Easter Sunday.
The two sides last met in a 2015 Division II quarter-final. Oxford traveled to Sussex on August 23rd and were soundly defeated 50-13. Following a strong regular season, the team were dealt a major blow when quarterback Ben Denton was diagnosed with leukemia, just a few days before the game.
You can read the report of the quarter-final defeat here http://www.oxfordsaints.com/saints-end-2015-with-defeat-by-sussex-thunder/
In 2016 Sussex finished their Division I season with a 5-4-1 record, including a tie against the high-flying Bury Saints, who later secured promotion to the UK’s top division.
Oxford had a record breaking season for the club and their first Division Championship since 2006. Following their 13-0 streak, the Saints were promoted to Division I for 2017 after beating the Cambridgeshire Cats in the southern final.
Fast forward to this weekend, Oxford and Sussex are now in the same conference. Ben Denton’s recovery is going well and he is back under centre for the Saints. Expected to be starting on Sunday, he’ll have a chance to take on Sussex after he missed the 2015 playoffs.
Alongside Denton’s return, the home game on Easter Sunday will also mark the 10th Anniversary of General Manager Roger Hedges, who passed away in 2007.
A big part of the club, the team will be honouring his memory with a minute silence before kick-off led by his daughter Kelly Hedges. You can learn more about Roger here in the Oxford Mail.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Key players to look out for will be Denton in his return at quarterback, along with the dangerous tag-team of running back’s James Walter and Tony Glover. They combined for nearly 1,800 rushing yards and 27 touchdowns.
With Walter getting the bulk of the workload in 2016, Glover joined towards the end of the season and made an immediate impact. Now, he’ll be competing in his first full season with Oxford.
On defense, there is a great mix of veterans and rookies alike. Key players holding down the fort will likely be Dean Bryan (linebacker), Sam Stancombe (linebacker), George Wright (defensive end) and Deke Morton (defensive tackle).
Between them they accounted for 159 tackles in the 2016 season.
Beginning the 2nd year of their partnership with Tilsley Park, the Saints have one of the best venues for American Football in the UK. There will be music, commentary, covered seating and a licensed bar.
The team are also pleased to confirm the return of Buffalo Grill, providing hot food before during and after the contest.
Admission for this game is free, with a 14:30 kick-off.