The Oxford Saints qualify for the playoffs!
Following a successful 2015 regular season, the Saints have booked themselves a place in the Division II quarter finals on 23rd August.
With some teams still finishing their remaining games, it is not yet clear who Oxford will be facing in the first round but it’s currently projected to be the Sussex Thunder.
The Saints travelled to take on the Thunder in a pre-season friendly earlier this year. A re-match would be an interesting game as we’ll be able to see how both teams have progressed since the warm up game.
SFCW – Division II
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Oxford sit 2nd in the table narrowly behind the leaders, Bristol Apache. The highlights of the season have undoubtedly been the two games played between Oxford and the Apache, both being decided by just a single point.
Should the Saints have overcome the Apache in the 2nd game and claimed the win, Oxford would be enjoying the position of having home advantage in the playoffs. Instead, the Saints will now be travelling to our ‘TBC’ quarter final opponent…
Spencer Duffy on the playoffs:
Veteran kicker/linebacker Spencer Duffy shares his thoughts on the last time the Saints reached the playoffs in 2012, along with his analysis of the upcoming contest on 23rd August:
“These words were uttered by veteran linebacker/running back Chris Ellis after we lost to the Milton Keynes Pathfinders in 2012. For Ellis, he could probably say that about most games he played in, he never really missed a block or whiffed a tackle.
He was a great player, but his individual excellence wasn’t enough to win the game that day, though he was a big part of our team and the playoff run that year. Hearing those words though, it felt different for me.”
Chris Ellis lands a huge block against the
Bristol Apache (2012 regular season)
“I on the other hand could pinpoint the exact parts that I could have, and should have done differently.
“I’d been over-zealous in hunting down a punter who turned out to be running a fake that MK converted into a first down. I’d also allowed myself to be blocked out on a kick return that ended up going for a touchdown. So I knew exactly what I could have done differently.
That feeling has stayed with me since and I’ve used it as motivation when I have to train in the rain, or snow, or when I don’t feel like going to the gym, I remind myself – “remember when you got run over by that fullback?!?”
The reality is that playing in the playoffs is a special achievement; it is something that you have to earn, and if you get there you’ve had a good season.”
Tackle by Spencer Duffy against the
Sussex Thunder (2015 pre-season)
“A lot of players will never be involved in a playoff game; I’ve been playing for five years and only been in one. Dean Bryan, the veteran Saints linebacker just played in his 100th game for the Saints – but only six of them have been in the playoffs.
We recently finished our 2015 regular season with a 6-2 record, good enough to win us a playoff berth for the first time since the Pathfinders game in 2012. Now we stand on an even field with everyone else, nothing that we have done up until now matters, there’s no points difference or points allowed that count anymore.
We win, we progress. We lose, we say “there’s always next year”.
The reality is that we’re going to be facing the best team we’ve played all season on 23rd August (early projections seem to suggest Sussex Thunder). We can’t rely on the individual brilliance of tight end/running back James Walter to drag us through to the next round. The team as a whole needs to step up and show we belong at the next level. The cherry of a championship and division one football hangs tantalisingly above us, but we have to go out there and prove we deserve it.”
Spencer Duffy tackles a running back against
Lincolnshire Bombers (2014 regular season)
“The team looks very different to the 2012 squad that made the playoffs. Ellis, along with canadian Ken Snider, Simon McEvoy, Stephen Bentley, Lee Hutton and a host of others have left the team. But we’ve been able to successfully gain a lot of new talent with excellent winter recruitment campaigns. The defense now has a Wright, a Stancombe, a Holmes, a Fox and a new Day (nephew of head coach Andrew Day) , to go along with the omnipotent Dean Bryan.
The defense has looked a lot more solid in recent games after a disastrous start, and there’s reason for optimism heading into the playoffs, though the expectation is that it will be a sterner test for our secondary unit.
The offense has conquered all this season, averaging 35 points a game in a tough division. Led by James Walter notching over 1000 yards, a very special achievement in only 8 games.
Along with Kev Brooks, Grant Tebb, Sam Armstrong and Rich Bloomer, the offense has really been clicking this year. Credit should go to Ben Denton too, he’s playing in his rookie season at quarterback, usually a rookie QB should be nervous with a lack of experience, but he is working hard and putting in the hours off the field to learn his new position thoroughly.”
Grant Tebb scores against the
Swindon Storm (2015 regular season)
“We have a strong squad and the potential to go far in the playoffs, I’m optimistic looking forward.
We can beat anybody put in front of us: our defense is good enough to stop any other team, and our offense is good enough that they shouldn’t be stopped by any other team. Our coaches make the smart decisions and the right calls when needed. So we should be unstoppable….
For a lot of guys it will be their first ever playoff game and they will be rightly nervous, but they just need to keep doing what got us where we are.
As a smart man once said – ‘It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.’
I want every single player to be able to come off the field, win or lose, and have no regrets, to not be able to say they messed something up. I want every player to say, proudly, like Chris Ellis:
“I don’t know what I could have done differently.”
Written by Spencer Duffy #58
by defensive coordinator Nick Wykes