Bucs U17 Flag Stay in Playoff Contention

Posted by Keith Schofield on 22 May 2018

The Bucs were given a tough slate for their second tournament of the season down in Leicestershire last Saturday, with games against two of the favourites for the overall national title in their three game schedule.

Game one was on paper their toughest game of the year against a Northants Titans squad stacked full of tall athletic players at the top end of the age group. The Titans have been national champions or runners up on multiple occasions, and the Bucs coaching staff set out to neutralise their strengths as much as possible. The team were absolutely heroic throughout the game, holding the Titans, who average almost 50 points per game against all other opponents, to a 27-0 scoreline. Rookie WR James Wilkinson picked up his first career reception, Zak Rigby showed great maturity at QB against older opponents, taking what the D gave him, and his older brother Aaron lead the Bucs clock-eating ground game. Tackles were shared throughout the Defense all through the game, with Theo Smith and Kenny John Matthews standing out. The Titans coaches were full of praise for the young Bucs squad afterwards, remarking on how tough the Chorley outfit had made it for the Titans to get possession and move the ball.

Game two was the Bucs 'must win' on the day. Our opponents were the Coventry Cougars, and a repeat of last week's defeat against them would effectively kill off the Bucs playoff hopes. Again, the coaching staff had a game plan to do what was needed and the Chorley team carried it out brilliantly, building an early lead through the Bucs 'Red Arrows' QB and receiver corps, and controlling the game on the ground from there, finally running out comfortable 32-6 victors. Rookie QB Owen Bridges tossed 4 TD passes, Sam Challinor picked up his first U17 rushing TD. Once again the Bucs Defense shut down the Cougars Offense, with tackles spread all across the team to stifle the Coventry run game. The 'Legion of Swoon' Kiera Collier and Daniel Schofield combined for 3 interceptions of the Cougars QB to shoot down any hopes of the Coventry team establishing a passing attack.

The Bucs final game of the day was another rematch from last week, this time against the Leicester Huntsmen. The Huntsmen are another quality team with hopes of a deep playoff run, but the Bucs were to prove no push over for them for the second successive week. In what is already looking like a sporting rivalry that could run and run, the Bucs went blow for blow with the strong, physical Leicester team for most of the game, and can count themselves a little unlucky to end up with a two score deficit at the final whistle, the game was closer than that although Leicester deserved to just edge it. It was however a performance the younger, smaller Chorley team can be proud of and really shows that the squad can mix it in the upper echelons of the league. Henry Metcalfe scored a length-of-the-field catch and run TD to add to a drive ending sack on the Leicester QB, whilst Theo Smith clocked up 13 receptions for over 100 yds. On Defense, Kenny John Matthews returned an extra point interception all the way for a rare Pick 2 as well as topping the tackle statistics alongside his fellow CB Kean Phil Clifford and S Daniel Schofield, all with 4 tackles each. 

Overall, the team made huge strides from the previous week. The Offense clicked well as it continues to evolve, with more plays due to be added to the playbook from here. The Defense has impressed in both tournaments and is getting a reputation around the league as a solid unit. Thanks to both our young playcallers, OC Arron Taylor and DC Luke Halliday, both have lead their players superbly so far. Thanks to our Team Manager Jen Collier for all her work behind the scenes and on the day, and to Paul Collier for keeping stats for us at the Coalville tournament.

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