End of Season Review

At the start of the year the aim from the coaches and the players was to win the South West, the process was discussed, and ultimately, the aim was achieved. No football season is all plain sailing and this review will discuss the ups and downs of preseason, each regular season game and the Titans loss to Kingston to close our their 2014/15 BUCS season.

The Titans managed to cling on to a number of key contributors, through Coach Keyse's #OneMoreYear campaign, from the 2013/14 season, although they did loose ‘all-DC wide receiver’, the clubs leading touchdown scorer and now Great Britain Skeleton-Bob athlete Marcus Wyatt. Along with Wyatt, changes on the offensive and defensive line were the main area of concern for the captains and coaching staff over the offseason.

After the best, numbers wise, recruitment in the clubs history the Titans had a little scare as they lost to the ‘TOADS’ in the annual old boys game as their first pre-season fixture. Despite this, when the Titans played the Tarannau in preseason week two they won 33 to nothing and looked explosive on offense and stout on defense. In 2014/15 the Tarannau, of course, have gone on to win the North West Conference with an unbeaten 8 & 0 record before stumbling to the Glasgow Tigers in the semi-finals of the playoffs.

Week one of the regular season saw the Titans play the Plymouth Blitz and run out 28-0 victors. The Blitz would probably admit that they did not play their best football in this one, they really struggled to move the ball, only making three first downs across the four quarters. The Titans then played the Bulldogs and beat them by 57 points and got another shutout and with the team beginning to roll, but yet to be challenged, the Titans beat the Gladiators 36-0 to go 3 & 0. A couple of plays of the year occurred in the ‘Glads game; D. Captain Adam Salter recorded his first career pick, his first of 4 on the year, and Jacob Amadi broke off a ridiculous run from mid field with little time remaining in the first half to take the Titans two scores up.

Next was Cardiff, who were 4 & 0 and top of the table. The Cardiff Coach, Ben Watkins, tipped the winner to go on to win the South West before the game and the game suggested there was not a great deal between the two teams. Simon George rushed in for TD just before the half, the Cobras leveled it up in the fourth only to go behind with a few seconds remaining and Amadi rushed 20 odd yards for the game winning TD. The win turned out to be the title decider, just as Watkins predicted.

The highly touted offensive pair for Bristol Barracuda, Clay Rust (QB) and Alex Decaro (WR), were in town for the resumption of the BUCS season after the Christmas break. Ultimately, the pair were the difference between the two teams as they linked up, play after play, and in the fourth quarter were instrumental in conjuring up an unlikely win for ‘Cuda. A kick up the backside it may have been but in the end, the same flaws exploited in this game would come back to haunt the Titans come playoff time.

'Cuda QB Clay Rust dives for the pylon at the end of the Bristol team's game winning touchdown                                 drive (image courtesy of Tallboy Images, http://www.tallboyimages.co.uk/).

A little piece of history was made a couple of weeks later when the Titans were next on the gridiron; they beat the UWE Bullets for the first time. And they beat them in style. 41-0 was the final score, QB Simon George ended up with 4 TDs after throwing for 2, rushing for another and getting a receiving TD after UK football’s favorite left tackle, Francis Emmanuel Pankhurst, went 1-for-1 at QB in the fourth quarter.

The final regular season match-up saw the Titans, once again at Llandarcy, against the Exeter Demons. The Titans ran out 26-13 winners, rookie Safety Joe Cotterill really stood out in this one after having a quite second half of the season on defense. Cotterill played in all three phases of the game and helped fill the void left by Wyatt on offense.

The Titans came across some tough competition all year round but two individuals stood out on either side of the ball.  Both George and Amadi highlighted Exeter’s MLB Freddie Weihe as the best defensive player in the South West in 2015. Salter and Pritchard-Jones indicated that Kingston’s QB, Tim Thomas, was the number one offensive player that the team had to deal with.

Captains handshakes prior to kick-off in the 41-0 win against UWE at Llandarcy Academy of Sport.

The Titan’s final run out of the year came away to Kingston who won the London Conference 8 & 0. The game was a close affair, from start to finish. It was not without its quirks though. The Titans offense only saw the field once in the first quarter and only twice more in the second. The Cougars had a clear game plan to control the game clock and it was working as the Titans D struggled to make the Cougars air the ball out throughout the game. 

After a nail biting goaline stand and an erroneous pass interference call the Londoners opened the scoring, 7-0. The score stayed that way up until the half. The Titans responded in the third with Amadi bursting through a cut back lane for a half the field TD. The Titans looked on top as George hit Sri down the sideline to take the O into the red zone. Red zone failures and mistakes had plagued the team all year round, especially in that ‘Cuda game, and they did so once again. 4th and goal on the 5 and mis communication resulted in the Titans fumbling and the Cougars getting a touchback. 

Kingston, buoyed by the lifeline, put together a long TD drive and left the Titans in a classic two-minute drill situation. In the next two minutes the Titans faced two third downs and a forth down on which Cotterill, Caparas and Sri all came up big, snagging catches and keeping the Titans hopes alive. The Titans had marched from their 20, down to the Cougars 10. However, laundry on the field pushed the offense back and George was left with two shots from 15 yards to win. Neither hit. Failure in the red zone and being hurt by penalties were a common theme for the coaches and captains to talk about in meetings and they came back to bite in the biggest game of the year. 

Kingston went on to win the South Division One, beating Surrey by a plus 30-point margin, and getting promoted into the Premier South Division.

What is next for the Titans? First and foremost is Varsity. The Titans are in the middle of a 10-day training programme with the aim of the team peaking come the 22nd of April. Varsity will be the final game of the 2014/15 season for the Titans, who in the past year have beaten UWE for the first time, won the South West for the first time and have built a foundation for future success. 

MVP Count:

5 MVPs: RB/FB Josh Hughes 

4 MVPs: RB/MLB Jacob Amadi

3 MVPs: QB Simon George

2 MVPs: OLB Dave Prince, MLB George Downs-Wheeler & MLB Adam Salter

1 MVP: OLB Rhodri Pritchard Jones, DB David Ponting, S/WR Joe Cotterill, Frankie Pankhurst LT/DT & Callum Barnard C/DT