Okay, first up, yes this is a really late post – about 4 months late to be more precise. Let’s just say, it’s been busy, things got in the way.
Anyway, as we’re now getting into the preseason, we best wrap up last year.
Qualifying for the playoffs
It was a storyline for the ages.
Sat at a disappointing 2-4-1, following 3 straight losses whilst conceding 40+ points a game, the Sharks needed to pretty much win out the rest of the way to qualify for the playoffs.
5 straight wins? With 4 of the opponents also in playoff contention? Hmmm
The first step was taken with victories over Coventry Jets and Woodham Warriors in Coventry, in late July. Having been trounced by the Jets the month before, it was satisfying to see the intensity of the team in a reverse of the thumping, winning 46-12.
Buoyed by their success, the Sharks faced off against the Woodham Warriors in their 2nd game and finally pulled off a victory. After being on the wrong side of several close scorelines over the past few seasons, it was a jubilent Sharks team that finally got to celebrate a victory, following a 25-20 win.
So two down, three to go – and all at home as Chichester hosted Basingstoke, Leicester and South Wales.
The Sharks were clearly up for this one, despite facing a triple-header in the hot August sun. First up were the Basingstoke Zombie Horde, still in playoff contention. In the first encounter this season, the Horde put up 31 points on the Defense, but this time things were very different. With a full strength defense, with height in the secondary, the Sharks controlled the game from the get-go, allowing only 1 score to the potent Horde offense. Conversely, the Sharks O was clicking and the Sharks notched up their 3rd consecutive victory, comfortably winning 35-7. The loss knocked Basingstoke out of playoff contention.
The next game was always going to be difficult. The Sharks played one of their worse games of the season in Cardiff back in April, losing 48-25 to South Wales, and traditionally games against the Warriors have been close and exhilarating.
This game was just as intense, and got a little heated at times. It was the Sharks who gained an early momentum though, enabling them to build a strong lead, which the Warriors couldn’t match. The Sharks ran out comfortable winners, 33-7. The loss knocked the Warriors out of playoff contention.
Last up were the Leicester Eagles, who’d had a difficult season with a small and inexperienced squad, yet showed good spirit throughout. Still needing one last win to qualify, Chichester went for it. The pressure from the Sharks D was immense and the O sliced apart the Eagles D. The result was in no doubt by half time and the Sharks ran out 47-13 victors, booking a place in the playoffs.
They were joined their by the Woodham Warriors and London Rebels.
This year’s playoff format was slightly different in that the Sharks got to play a Northern Conference qualifier in the first round. The Carluke Cobras have consistently been a strong team in Scotland over the past few seasons, so there was no chance of complacency.
It was a close 1st half as the two teams got the measure of each other. But it was the Sharks who managed to pull away in the 2nd half, running out 46-25 winners.
By way of ‘reward’, Chichester were matched up against the Kirkcaldy Bulls in the Semi-Final. The Bulls have not lost a game in about a squajillion years but our 6 straight wins and tight defense gave us optimism.
And we were in it for a while. We put up a good fight, but we weren’t quite on our A game that was need to go toe to toe with the Bulls. A few incomplete passes here, a few missed tackles there and we were soon in a hole we couldn’t escape from. The Bulls won the game 39-6 and booked their spot in the Final (which they won, beating Woodham Warriors).
In the 3rd/4th place playoff, we faced our old friends the London Rebels, last year’s Southern Finalist. In a lighthearted game, the Sharks seemed more up for finishing on a high note, as we cruised to a 33-14 victory.
3rd place in the UK is not a bad result, eh? 🙂
Stats, Records and Stuff
All in all, it was good season. Yet another top 3 finish in the Southern Conference, a good (but not quite good enough) showing in the Playoffs, and a lot of fun playing football along the way.
Flag football is clearly a team game, you win as a team and you lose as team. So this records stuff is just for fun, just pulling out some individual highlights. Every player knows that whatever their own personal stats, its all aided by the throws, routes, tackles, tips and pressures of his teammates around him.
Some of the following are records, some are just observations…
Luke Nash set a Sharks’ scoring record (Rushing/Receiving) with 119 points, just topping Simon Merton‘s previous record of 116 set in 2010. Luke scored 19 receving touchdowns and 5 extra points. The 19 TDs is also a record.
James Lambert‘s 88 points (13 TD, 8 1XP, 1 2XP) was the fourth highest scoring points total to date.
A new rushing TD record was set by Gary Robinson with 3 TDs.
Neil Henderson tied his previous record of 60 touchdown passes (set 2008), but fell short of his highest points total by just 4 points.
Justin Handley set a new interceptions record with 10 on the season, surpassing the 6 picks by Michael Thompson in 2009. 2 interceptions went back for scores, also a Sharks record.
Rob Love posted 11 sacks in just a three game span (the final 3 games in Chichester) this season, showing form that probably would’ve pushed the current record of 17. He also bagged 4 in the postseason.
The Sharks Defense‘s 24 interceptions in 2011 topped the previous best of 21 set in 2009.
The 64 passes TDs by Sharks QBs (Henderson, Handley) is a new team record, beating the 60 set in 2008).
Conversely the 16 interceptions thrown by Sharks QBs (Henderson, Handley) in 2011 is a new team record, beating 15 in 2010.
Justin Handley scored in all four categories – Passing, Rushing, Receiving and Defense – for a 2nd consecutive season.
Note: records are based on data collected since joining BAFL/BAFA. Sadly no information is available before then, though Pete Steel is acknowledged as the likely recipient of the all time TD scoring leader title, with Neil Henderson likely to have surpassed Nick Watson for passing scores.