Tight-end Rich Bloomer breaks down the 2015 season so far
I’m Rich, #83 tight-end for the Oxford Saints. In the earlier days of my career (around 2008) i played for the Saints for two seasons, recently I’ve been playing with the Solent Thrashers, but I’m now back with my old club!
My time with the Saints this year has been the description of an ‘Up and Down’ season. I really enjoyed our pre-season training camps held in the 3G Dome facility at the Oxford Academy and it was great meeting all my new team mates.
The Oxford Saints have been so accepting of new faces and I have enjoyed the social side of the team just as much as the training side, including beer pong, nights out on the town and some casual flag football in the park.
So let’s look at the games we’ve played
Sussex Thunder – 22nd March (53-28 victory to Sussex)
Our pre season game was a good chance for some of our rookies to have a real game experience.
The game itself was very close fought fight for the first half, which was great to be part of. It gave me time to play alongside my old linemen friends of Clive Russell and Stuart Cribbes, along with a couple of new faces. Those boys will always be the “Saints old guard” in my eyes, they just keep getting older!
It also gave me the chance to get reps with our new starting quarterback Ben Denton, who played really well for his first game and i was really impressed with how calm he was for his first outing under centre.
Our defense is looking really strong and although the game appeared to run away from us in the second half when we had our depth chart rotations in, the first half was a great display of what we can offer.
Torbay Trojans – 12th April (18-6 victory to Oxford)
I sadly missed this game but from what I could tell we had some “start of season” jitters. Everyone has them, it was even sad to see my old team the Solent Thrashers fall at their first hurdle during their opening game of the season.
But it looks like both the Thrashers and the Saints are improving….
Bristol Apache – 26th April (35-34 victory to Oxford)
This was the highlight of my playing career to date.
I have always come into close head to head fixtures and always been on the losing side. I have been knocked out in semi final after semi final in the playoffs…. But this was one of those games I will always remember.
Bristol were really dominating us in the first half. I then got to experience some “inspirational” words from an old team mate turned head coach, Andrew Day.
There is no doubt in my mind that we did not win this game, Bristol lost it. They were ahead and then decided to start repping in less experienced players and this decision was a costly one. Bristol are a quality team, with good coaches and good players. We will need to focus when we travel to Bristol in a few weeks.
Swindon Storm – 3rd May (50-16 victory to Swindon)
From high to low!
This was a serious fall from glory for the team. We were on such a high from the Bristol game, we were all over Twitter and Facebook, and our whole team was on cloud 9.
In rainy Swindon our pass game got picked apart and our run game could not get moving. Although on some days, you can win a game with 16 points. We did let a lot of points through on defense, far too many.
It all seemed to run from their number 2 who was playing both sides of the ball. All teams have their star players, it was just annoying that we could not stop theirs. We went very quiet on social media at this point.
But it gave us a lot of footage to work through on HUDL, and a lot of learning points. Everyone got their playbooks back out and realised we are not going to walk through this division.
Cornish Sharks – 17th May (43-24 victory to Oxford)
Cornish sharks have always been an old nemesis of mine personally.
It could potentially be the long drive down to Newquay to play, or it could be the fact you always get yourself into intense battles on the pitch, both physically and mentally. They made the long journey up to us, and did not travel very well. It felt like they were missing some of their key players.
As we all do, I look forward to travelling down to Newquay for a weekend of football and a bit of after hours socialising! A bunch of us have arranged for accommodation so we’ll be making the most of it.
Torbay Trojans – 24th May (72-30 victory to Oxford)
This again was a great honour for me personally as I was allowed to captain the team, coming away 72-30 winners was a great victory.
A lot of old friends of mine play for Torbay and it is never nice to see a team become disheartened, which they did not. They had some skilled players up front and a very quick and elusive quarterback.
We did give up 30 points but this is the same issue Bristol had with repping in players that may not have the most game experience, but we will give up some points for players to get game experience.
Bristol vs Swindon – 31st May (37-16 victory to Bristol)
This one was a big game for us to watch and we all had a keen eye on this at training.
The result was interesting but not surprising for us. We know that Bristol let us win the game when they came to us. It will be a much tougher battle when we travel to Bristol in our next game on 21st June…
Since Bristol last saw us, we have been training hard and with so many new faces on our 2015 squad, the team is constantly evolving. No two games are ever the same…
As we go on…
This year we have a huge squad, approximately 75-80 registered players at time of writing.
Nearby in the region, both Gloucester and Reading have pulled out of senior competition in 2015, but the Saints just keep growing and have been extremely pro active with recruitment in the 2014 off-season, building strong awareness of the club through social media and other channels.
SFCW – Division II
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This is great as we are all now having to fight for our positions on the team. This means that if I want to play tight-end, I have to battle four high quality players for my spot and this is adding an extra level of pressure for me personally.
This is making me want to train harder and push myself further, and I am playing a position with very little depth compared to some other positions at the Saints this year. The linebackers are fighting against 6 or 7 players on the depth chart. Meanwhile Oxford’s secondary comprises of about 12-13 individuals fighting for game time at either cornerback or safety.
This means all of us are dying for game time. This thirst is making us all play to our best and wanting to continue to push ourselves to be the best team we can be…
By Rich Bloomer