In the first week of HNC Premier Division action we saw three championship hopefuls kick off their campaign, as the Comets hosted an excellent game-day of action. Here’s 5 Things We Learned from the weekend of action.
The Oilcats aren’t playing around
The Oilcats put up a ridiculous bevvy of points over the course of the weekend, and look like they’re sharp as ever during the first action of the season. Gary Elliot was dominant on both sides of the ball as ever, and the Oilcats won their first two fixtures with ease. What remains to be seen is who the consistent presence under centre will be. Scott Stopani took snaps, and figures to be the starter, however the Oilcats called up Scott McDonald for the day, who appears to be the Silvercats quarterback for the season. The Oilcats probably looked better with Scott McDonald in the lineup on Sunday, but we’ll see how Scott Stopani performs during the next game-day in Aberdeen.
The Broncos had a huge opportunity to kick their season off with a statement victory over the Glasgow Hornets, who’ve had success against them in the past few years. The Broncos came out strong early, scoring on the first drive after a batted pass landed in Callum Woods’ waiting hands. This was pretty much the end of the success they enjoyed in this game, as they seemed to have no answer for Grant McLennan 4 TD day. With under 5 minutes remaining, the Hornets had a 31-6 lead, before two consolation scores gave the Broncos a more respectable scoreline to ponder. The next time the Broncos face the Hornets will be without Kevin Woods, so this might have been their best chance at success. They’ll need to overcome the Oilcats, who ended their season last year, in order to stay in contention for a championship place.
The Hornets’ strength in depth
The Hornets fell way short of the mark in 2017, but like the Broncos and Oilcats, they submitted a development team into Division One in order to focus their efforts. The first sign that things were improving was at Flagging New Year, where the Hornets looked like a different team compared to last year’s tournament. They’ve had a somewhat tumultuous offseason, with a number of injuries to key contributors, including defender-extraordinaire Cameron Shaw for an extended period of time. The Hornets were able to look to their bench to plug in some stalwarts and new players to cover the cracks and put in two dominant displays. They’ve added former Dunbeth Dragon Craig Murray to their ranks, as well as rookies Tom Jeffereys and Kas Arshad, who had excellent debuts. The Hornets will be looking to attack the postseason once their full complement of squad is available.
Long season ahead
The Outlaws and Comets were the teams who suffered at the hands of the top three teams in the HNC after both finishing the day 0-2. The Comets were forced to employ an injured Bud McFerren at quarterback, and struggled for the most part against two of the stronger defences in the league. If the Comets struggled, then the Outlaws rolled over, as they put up 0 points against the Oilcats and Broncos. They’ve had a rough few weeks, with injuries to key players hampering their preparation, but both teams already look like they’ll be in a relegation dog fight.
As mentioned previously, the Hornets, Oilcats and Broncos have entered development squads into Division One and restricted their main squad size as they chased the championship. The Oilcats immediately took advantage of the “Wandering” rule by calling up a development QB to get experience against the Outlaws and Comets, which was a smart move, as said QB had an excellent outing. The Oilcats did have a large squad in attendance, but this might have to do with a few injuries that they suffered. The Broncos opted not to call up any players, as their own Colts team had the weekend off of game action. We’ll see how this is negotiated going forward, but the Broncos had a somewhat smaller squad than we anticipated. Any serious injury could impact the Broncos on any given day, as they don’t have a deep bench to call from. The Hornets featured largely the same squad they took to FNY, with the addition of Craig Murray to the roster. They look to have most, if not all and their starting positions covered by at least one individual, but with Grant McLennan, Julian Holburn-White and Nicky Farrell having to play both ways, their absence could be too much to overcome.