3 seconds. Just 3 seconds away from an unbeaten opening weekend for the Sharks. Having tied the game against the Lions with 1 minute remaining, we just weren’t able to hold on for one more stop. Still, given the fixtures, coming away with 2 wins and a loss should be considered a positive.
It was great to play competitive football again. Last season seems so far away. That year we over-performed; we’d lost some experienced players; we had injuries and players unavailable; several rookies stepped in; and we still made the playoffs in a difficult division.
This year, the team is stronger; we have numbers, with returning veterans and experienced rookies; but we’re still in that blasted SEC South division.
So an opening weekend set of games against the London Rebels, Reading Lions and Victoria Park Panthers was a great test. And we held our own.
Chichester Sharks 27 – 13 Victoria Park Panthers
Chichester Sharks 32 – 26 London Rebels
Chichester Sharks 32 – 39 Reading Lions
10 Things I Saw This Weekend
- Looks like we’ve found another outside speed threat. Rookie WR James Silk used a combination of deep and short passes to rack up EIGHT touchdowns on his debut. The receiving corp is looking pretty stacked this year.
- QB Neil Henderson got off to a great start, posting a 14 TD and 2 INT stat line against tough competition. More of that please.
- I know what we’ll be working on in the next training session – extra points! Only 7 of 14 converted on Saturday. With these close games, it’s important we take every available point.
- That ageing Center out there needs to work on his speed. Three times catch and runs ended on the opposition’s half yard line…
- Fitting for point 5 is Toby Primetime Chopra notching up 5 sacks on the day. All the more remarkable given he was on a ski slope half way round the world at the time. Okay, credit to Phil for the sacks, but tut tut on losing your game jersey and borrowing Toby’s. Still better than oversleeping and missing the games like a couple of years ago… that’s progress 😉
- With James standing out offensively this weekend, the defensive human highlight reel was Elliot Harrison. Lining up at safety, El was all over the field, breaking up pass after pass with physical and acrobatic play. The defensive play of the day for me came in the first game against the Panthers. With the defender beat, the Panthers receiver was a fraction of a second away from pulling in a perfectly thrown ball for a score. Somehow, out of nowhere, the El Condor swooped in and batted it away. No score.
- Reading Lions are good. They were strong last year, but this year they seem to have taken it up a level – you don’t get to 5-0 in divisional games otherwise. The good news? We went toe to toe with them for 40 minutes, putting up 32 points on a team that shut out the Rebels last week. It came down to which team had the ball last. Looks like some fun, competitive games ahead for us all.
- Don’t count out the London Rebels. They’ve been hit hard by injuries, and its always the most painful at the QB position, but this is a fiercely competitive bunch. Get their injured guys back and this team could run the table the rest of the season.
- Toughest division top to bottom in UK flag football? It’s hard to tell without seeing games around the country, but I think we could make a pretty strong case. London, Chichester and Reading finished 1, 2 and 3 respectively last season, all playoff worthy. This year you can also throw in the Victoria Park Panthers – another team that has taken a step up this year, as evident by their win over the London Rebels.
- I love the mindset of Sharks players. Play this game long enough and you see plenty of examples of heads dropping, players bickering as their team falls behind in a game. We don’t do that. It’s become our thing. There’s always a chance. If we just string a couple of touchdown drives together, we’ll be back in this thing. You saw it again on Saturday. We were optimistic going into the game against the Rebels after they struggled in a loss to the Panthers. They came out and rocked us with 2 quick touchdowns. Easy to think Here we go again… no, we came back with 4 unanswered scores.
Is it just me or…
…is it weird that Neil gets compared to Tim Tebow in Pulling The Flag’s list of the top 6 flag QBs, goes out and throws 14 TDs opening weekend, THEN 2 days later the real Tim Tebow gets signed by the Philadelphia Eagles?
Did Chip Kelly read the wrong scouting report?
My non-football thought of the week
We really need to put some more thought into the post-match meal. “Just drive and we’ll eat at the first motorway services” is the sort of strategy that lands you with an uninspiring McDonalds meal instead of a tasty box of KFC chicken. Thankfully the drive home was rescued by the return of the Official Chichester Sharks Car Snack ‘Sports Mixture’. A satisfying jaw ache to match the rest of my body.