BAFA Britbowl Preview – Division One
London Smoke – #1 Seed Southern Division One
Their 2018 Season – Where do you even start with the BAFA rookies? It’s not like this is their 1st rodeo, they have been around for a while just not in this league. The Smoke are arguably the hardest working team in the league. They potentially practice more during the week than some prem teams do in a full season. And that effort goes a long way (See Kingbowl). If there is a tournament they are participating in they are usually in the mix as favourites and their debut season in BAFA is no different. They have literally squashed everyone in their way and like Carnegie complete an unbeaten season.
First Round – Oh Dear Grangemouth Colts. Missing your starting QB is not a good time to face a team that would/will make the SEC the most exciting division in the Prem and potentially upset the balance of the top 2. We cannot say much about the 1st round other than we hope the Colts can keep the score respectable.
Strengths – The Williams brothers while not everyone’s cup of tea are an outstanding duo. Charlie is a smart QB who sometimes a little unorthodox seems to make the right decision every time. One of those smart decisions is passing/handing off the ball to his Brother Henry who is lightening quick. This combo has made them one of the most feared teams in the UK and earned both call up’s to the GB set up.
Weaknesses – Temperament! We have seen a few occasions were some of the tactics by smoke personnel have been beyond the rules of the game (see ironman final) and that can derail what should be a formality for the smoke.
Star Players – We have lavished enough praise of the Brothers so let’s talk about Johnnie Kerr who is one of Charlie’s main targets. Good pair of hands, athletic and a smart route runner. Johnnie will cause defences a nightmare after their souls have already just been crushed by one of henry’s runs.
Britbowl Prospects – Champions without a doubt. We honestly cannot see any team giving these guys a challenge. We like the idea of a Carnegie – Smoke final to see how they handle the QB that can pick out a team’s weakness at will. But in earnest the smoke have too much.
Carnegie Flag Football – #1 Seed Northern Division One
Their 2018 Season – Following a disappointing 2017 season were Carnegie finished outside the Prem spots for this year we always gathered they should do ok in a league filled with teams they were already better than + the newly formed teams with little flag experience such as the 3 sister teams to the Hornets, Oilcats & Broncos. However the real impact maker on their season was the addition of veteran Bull QB Neil Arnold to their ranks. His experience alone was enough to guide them to an unbeaten season for the 1st time in the franchise history. They put up huge numbers and were rarely if ever threatened by the other HNC Div 1 sides.
First Round – As the number 1 seed in the North Carnegie get a crack at unknown territory in the Bedford Blackhawks. The 1st time these sides will have ever met will mean both have the element of surprise and little knowledge about key players and the way they play. With so many new and unknown quantities in both these teams leagues it is hard to gage how they match up but we think the sheer experience and from Arnold will be enough to guide them passed the Blackhawks.
Strengths – Neil will undoubtedly rely on his arsenal of offensive weapons, the main target being Brandon Lamb. At just 17 years old Lamb brings athleticism and a great pair of hands. On the complete opposite scale is Pete Allison who is barely 5 foot but brings an experience receiving option and a very difficult target to tackle when running with the ball.
Weaknesses – While the offence will have the capability to score at will, the defence is going to be the deciding factor on how far Carnegie will go. They have somewhat of a mixed bag of height and speed but little experience. If they can cover the deep threat they may just survive on Defence.
Star Players – Undoubtedly Neil Arnold is running this show! Although a full time arthritic and nearing a nursing home retirement he has maybe one if not the best football minds in the game today. His arm is also still better than 90% of the rest of the league and will be looking to showcase that before his will he/wont he retirement.
Britbowl Prospects – Like we stated before it is really hard to gage as none of these teams have met before now but we think Carnegie could potentially get to the final if not the Semi at least. Going unbeaten all season will have teams on notice but is the calibre been better than what the rest of the britbowl teams have come up against? That could be the deciding factor.
Nottingham Honeybadgers – #2 Seed Northern Division One
Their 2018 Season – The Honey Badgers finished the Division One season as the number 2 seed in the Northern Division One with a final record of 12 wins and 1 loss and this will have them play the number 3 seed in the south – The Northants Titans White. The season up to the win against the other MEC Division One Powerhouse Warrington was perfect and looked to this point that the team would go undefeated till the end of the year and battling for the number 1 seed all the way to the end.
However what would come next on the same game day was the only loss of the year to the Wigan Bandits 14-12. Overall though they have been dominating Division one with both Caleb Cockrill and Luca Rossoni sharing the load at QB they have got the offence rolling in 521 points. Defence though they had Paul Teague leading the team with 22 Interception this year which is a huge help giving the offence more opportunities to score and Thomas Wallis (18 TD) and Thomas Snee (23 TD) to take control of the games this season. They should progress to the Semi final but Northants Titans White could have something to say about that.
First Round – When it comes to the finals for Division One, there is no easy game much like in the premier division this year so to finish any of the top 4 seeds in the north would mean a tough game. The Titans White finished with a very similar record with only 1 loss and both team will feel they should have won those games. The Honey Badgers should be able to dispose of the Titans White with both a high scoring offence and solid defence to try take a part. It will be a close game though and certainly one to watch out for.
Strengths – Are we allowed to mention a strength being Memes?…however some of their strengths to watch out for is having two strong Quarterbacks and this cannot be ignored and can be tricky for most teams to plan for in games with tendencies of each QB high on the priority of teams to scout. Ill also mention depth to the roster with at least 3 players into double digits for offensive TDs they can score and in bunches while there defence only conceded just less than 2 scores per game at 13.5 Points against and a league leading Interception in Paul Teague do they have enough talent to get to the final? I don’t see why not.
Weaknesses – Hard to pick any weaknesses other than to pick on the only game they lost which was against the Wigan Bandits but it would be unfair to pick on that one game to define a weakness in a team that is stacked with talent. A weakness maybe coming into the finals could be Social Media, might seem unusual to say but with game day footage online this certainly could aid teams who have maybe not faced them this year including the Trojans, Smoke, Carnegie and Titans White to name a few potential Matchups if they have done there homework.
Star Players – There is a few players to pick from in the roster from Nottingham including the Offensive Weapons of Thomas Snee and Thomas Wallis who will both have the attention of any defence in the finals. We have mentioned Paul Teague already on the defence however one to watch is Jack Pearce and with a huge 18 sacks in 2018 regular season play he will be sure to apply some pressure to the quarter backs he faces.
Britbowl Prospects – If they can get past the Titans White they would potentially see themselves as the 4th seed in the Semi Final which would put them against the London Smoke so there progress to the final could be down to other results if Carnegie and Trojans get the first round wins. The Honey Badgers could be the Darkhorse of the North to claim the title away from the Smoke.
Tydfil Trojans – #2 Seed Southern Division One
Their 2018 Season – Nothing short of spectacular for the re-branded Tydfil Trojans, who despite having to deal with multiple forfeits on their quest for automatic promotion. They tossed aside every challenger that came at them this season putting up filthy results such as 90-0 against the Hammerheads which showed that they are not to be messed with. All in all, a fairly simple campaign for the Trojans who never really needed to get out of 2nd gear which means they have got plenty left in the tank coming into the playoffs.
First Round – A tough match up against the Revolution greets them in Sheffield this weekend, and I think the fact that they haven’t had to get out of 2nd gear this season will be their downfall when they come up against the best teams that Division 1 has to offer. We think they will lose to the Revolution in the first round but genuinely could go either way with these #2 Seed vs #3 Seed match ups.
Strengths – Two Words “Richard Harris”, he showed it last year for the Thunder Ducks but the guy is an elite baller who can produce at any level, he has thrown 3 TD’s this season, snagged 16 TD’s / 17 XP’s as a receiver and has even grabbed 14 INT’s and 5 Pick 6’s from the Safety position.
Weaknesses – The fact that they haven’t been challenged this season is a huge weakness, also, the production on defence outside of Richard Harris has been fairly limited and they will need everyone to produce against the Revs and beyond if they get that far.
Star Players – Chris Soanes has been the star on the offence outside of Harris this season and seems to be Alex Thomas’ favourite target and this shows after he has grabbed himself 24 TD’s / 5 XP’s this season.
Britbowl Prospects – The Trojans showed that they can perform in the big games last season as the Thunder Ducks when they knocked off the Cardiff Hurricanes so they have a chance to pull off a run for the ages and win it all but they need to get over the Revs first.
Northants Titans White – #3 Seed Southern Division One
Their 2018 Season – The Titans White had a relatively straight forward season despite a small slip up against Bedford Blackhawks in a game which they had won until the last drive of the game. They made up for it the following game day coming from behind with a weakened squad to dash the Blackhawks hopes of the division title. After losing up and coming rookie Tom Harling to injury at the start of the season, Danny Tomkins stepped in to provide some excellent receiver play to help ease the load from Arron Timson & David Radford who dominated the division much to the disgust at most teams in the division.
Youth has shone through this season for the Titans White with Alex Towler showing everyone that he is a no nonsense safety who will put his body on the line, Sam Tibbles has stepped up and distributed the ball well in a high powered offence and a late season entry to the roster for Kieron Brennan has showed that the future is bright for the Titans as he provided some excellent coverage at the corner position to help his team bring in 4 victories from their final 4 games. Their record of 11-1 is a great achievement for such a young side and they will hope to maintain their form going into the knockout stage of the competition.
First Round – The Titans White will come up against the difficult Honey Badgers who themselves had a cracking season finishing 12-1, the only blip in that was a loss to the Wigan Bandits but they managed to pull out a narrow victory to the Jaundrell-less Revolution to seal things up in the MEC. This will be a difficult contest for the Titans White side as they will need to shut down the dual QB’s of the Honey Badgers including that sneaky direct snap to the slot receiver / QB. We can see the Titans White losing a close one in the contest but it could go either way.
Strengths – The Titans White strengths are the variety they provide on offence, with the big play capability of David Radford, the shiftiness of Danny Tomkins, the immovable force of James Thomson and the never say die attitude of Tom Harling. They boast one of the best corner trios in the knockout stages in Kieron Brennan, Arden Shaw & Sophie Parsons.
Weaknesses – Whilst the offence has a ton of variety, the downfall this season on a number of drives has been the amount of time that Sam Tibbles has been sacked (16 times to be precise), no one in the Division 1 Championship has been sacked more than 7 times, half the sacks that the Titans White have taken. If Sam Tibbles can stay light on his feet and get the ball out, he should cause problems for the teams on Saturday.
Star Players – The Titans will be unfortunate to miss star receiver Arron Timson who is playing in his last season with the Titans but they’ll be hoping that Rookie Tom Harling will pick up the slack in his absence. Tom Harling has spent most of his rookie season on IR but made a big splash return in the final part of the season including snagging 7 touchdowns on the final day of the season. David Radford as well as excelling on offence has been a demon blitzer racking up 13 Sacks, 3 Safeties & 1 INT and will be hoping to put the pressure on opposing QB’s this Saturday.
Britbowl Prospects – Its going to be a tough day for the Titans White, if they were to make it through the Honey Badgers, they will be thrown into the fire against one of the top seeds and eventually fall in the Semi-Finals.
Warrington Revolution – #3 Seed Southern Division One
Their 2018 Season – For a rookie team entering the season, the Revolution didn’t skip a beat and went on a tear of 4 games where they put up 223 points over that span with Lewis Jaundrell & Jake Shaw playing like men possessed. Unfortunately, for Revolution, Lewis Jaundrell was on holiday for the big clash against the Honey Badgers back in May and they would start the day as they had previously meant to go on by thrashing the Bears and fell narrowly to the Honey Badgers by 2 points to finishing 5-1 for the season with no chance of redemption against the Honey Badgers.
That didn’t matter as they would finish the season going 7-0 after Jaundrell’s return to keep themselves with a shot at taking the MEC but the Honey Badgers wouldn’t slip up again after the Wigan game. A 12-1 record for a rookie season will hold them in good standing going into the playoffs.
First Round – Rumours are that the Revolution are missing some key pieces on Saturday, but I don’t think they will let this phase them and an interesting match up between themselves and the physical Tydfil Trojans will be a close one but We can see the Revs winning by a score in this contest.
Strengths – As previously mentioned, the QB play is one of the main strengths of the Revolution. Lewis Jaundrell has torched the MEC with 65 TD’s & 39 XP’s in only 11 games played this season, as well as his arm strength, Lewis executes the Revolution’s game plan perfectly and can pick apart any defence thrown at him. Another strength is the depth of the squad they possess, if one player goes down, they have someone to step right in and do their job effectively to benefit the team.
Weaknesses – The only weakness We can see is missing their star receiver Jake Shaw who has been an absolute machine this season snagging 36 TD’s & 12 XP’s! How do you replace that connection between QB & WR.
Star Players – Head Coach and Receiving Talent Danny Meir is a serious talent in the Revolution Offence, and can take the load in Shaw’s absence. He is a great receiver and always a safe target for Jaundrell when called upon. On the defensive side of the ball is safety Richard Keates who is always in the mix making copious amounts of tackles and defended passes. Both of these players aren’t just great players on the pitch but also great leaders off the field too.
Britbowl Prospects – Despite not being one of the flashy teams in Carnegie or London Smoke, I can see the Revolution progressing through to the Semi Finals and potentially picking up the W in the Semi-Final against Carnegie but eventually falling to the London Smoke who are the heir apparent at this stage.
Bedford Blackhawks – #4 Seed Southern Division One
Their 2018 Season – The Blackhawks season started off slow with a loss to division rival Coventry Panthers in a close contest and from there they won 5 straight before falling to the Coventry Panthers once again in a controversial finish. They would then gain their best scalp of the season by rocking the boat beating the Titans White on a final drive pick 6 score to cause some problems for the league administration thinking it would be a tie breaker scenario for the ages.
Unfortunately for them, they let a 14-0 first half lead slip away to the Titans White who effectively resigned the Blackhawks to 3rd Place with the H2H over the Panthers causing issues for them. All they could do was win out which they did very comfortably and hope that the Panthers would slip up and on the final game day of the season. The Panthers went 0-2 and the Blackhawks snuck in the back door to the Playoffs.
First Round – Despite them sneaking in the back door of Club Playoff, they are met with a dominant bouncer in the form of Carnegie Flag Football who will be looking to throw them out of the club straight away. They’ve not faced a team like this all season and we think this will be a blowout in favour of the Scottish side.
Strengths – The Blackhawks strength is they work well as team, if they are having a good day you will see a very well drilled side who don’t make it easy for you. Their defence is the key to this only conceding 16 PPG this season.
Weaknesses – The offence can be extremely high powered with the likes of Jake Cooper, Jed Parisi & Matt Couldridge firing at times this season, however, they have also stalled at times this season and in the Championship rounds, they need to be 100% on every drive possible when you’ve got teams who have scored an average of 53 PPG throughout the season.
Star Players – Jake Cooper is an outstanding player who never gives up no matter what is thrown at him in a game so the Blackhawks will be hoping he performs on Gameday to give them a chance.
Britbowl Prospects – Unfortunately as previously mentioned, I think the Blackhawks are a long shot for the Division 1 title but they could go out and prove us wrong and we hope so because it would make Saturday that extra bit more interesting.
Grangemouth Colts – #4 Seed Northern Division One
Their 2018 Season – In the clubs first year to make the playoffs is a great achievement and with experience behind the scenes coming from the Grangemouth Broncos its clear to see this has helped them develop as the year went on.
The Colts had 6 wins and 4 losses in 2018 and were battling it our for the final seed in the north and for that 2nd spot in the HNC with the Aberdeen Silvercats. The Colts lost the first game handing the lead to Aberdeen but the Colts won the return leg putting the colts back into the prime position and with both facing Carnegie in Week 6 and playing in another winnable game each the 2nd seed was sorted by week 5 going in favour of the colts.
We really like how the colts are going and have came through some close games this year with a 1 point win over the paisley Spartans and then a 1 point loss early in the year to the Sabers so they have some grit and determination and will be looking good for a push for promotion in 2019 although they do have a game against the Clyde Comets this year and without starting QB Andy Brown we cant see the colts making it to the Prem for 2019.
First Round – Oooops, I don’t think anyone would want to come up against the London Smoke in the quarter finals but that’s sadly where the Colts have landed. Without starting QB Andy Brown we could see a 0 points game for the colts against a very well drilled Smoke. The colts could maybe look forward though to the placement games later in the day on Saturday and could maybe pick up a win to not leave empty handed from the long trip.
Strengths – Arguably there strength is the running game with Andy Brown at QB and using there QB Options can cause problems however with this missing it will then come down to the strength of the defence to try and stop teams from scoring and with Carnegie putting 42 and 69 respectively on them this year it wont be easy to stop teams who are arguable just as good if not better than Carnegie. The Colts will look to Louise Donnely to get some pressure on the QB along with the experience of Mark Wallace to get his hands on some errand passes
Weaknesses – Experience could be an issue for Colts as they come up against some really experienced sides, so the colts will need to rely on Fraser Thomson and David Mooney to get the most from the team. We believe it will be Steven Cliffe taking the responsibility to fill Andy Browns shoes and this could be a mammoth task especially against the London Smoke in game 1 who themselves have picked off 34 passes for interceptions this year in just 12 games so looking after the ball will be key.
Star Players – As We have said already without Andy Brown this changes up the whole complexion of the team however we have Mark Wallace and Louise Donnelly as 2 key players that could help the team. We cant forget about Gordon McSherry the wiley veteran and with a vast amount of experience for the Edinburgh Outlaws could be a big player on offence for the Colts as he has a safe pair of hands.
Britbowl Prospects – Sadly for the colts they will be battling for 7th or 8th in the placement games and this could be against potentially the Bedford Blackhawks. This will be ideal preparation for the promotion game against the Clyde Comets.