The Division One is full of question marks, but today we’re going to name the top 10 teams we see doing well in the second tier of BAFA Football. There’s some unquestionable favourites, and some frisky teams who could push hard for promotion!
The Smoke are the team we see as the most likely to advance to the finals – they seem a lock to get promoted at the very least. They have the excellent Henry Williams, who is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He’s got speed for days and is shifty to boot. Any teams hoping to challenge them will need to practice their tackling, as Henry frequently makes a mockery of defences. Johnnie Kerr is another excellent receiver for QB Charlie Williams to utilise. They’ve got plenty of tournament experience and number of local championships in the trophy cabinet. It’s really theirs to lose.
Warrington might be in their debut BAFA season, but they’ve got ample experience to draw from. They were everywhere in 2017, including hosting their own V-Day Tournament. What has piqued our interest in the Revolution is their performance in the Outlaw Flag League, where they won the plate bracket. While you might be wondering what all the fuss is about, it was their road there that caught our eye – they defeated a number of their Division One foes on their way to the prize. QB Lewis Jaundrell was absent for much of the OFL, but his return on the final day of the league sparked their impressive feat. They’re in a tough conference, but we feel good about this rookie outfit.
Carnegie have disappointed for a number of years, as they had an excellent opportunity to clinch their first playoff berth in their history. They’ve been so close in the past to the promised land, but always find a way to beat themselves. We don’t think that’ll be the case this year. Suddenly, they’re the elder statesmen in their conference, and that experience should give them a leg up on their opposition. Speaking of experience (we could have went with ‘speaking of elder’, but we resisted!), the 10 time British Champion QB and MVP of the Kirkcaldy Bulls, Neil Arnold, will now be calling the shots for the Carnegie offence. We anticipate his influence will be huge in pushing Carnegie over the edge and into the Premier Division for next season. They have arguably the easiest division in a lot of ways, with three developmental teams to contest with, but they’ve found a way to squander opportunities in the past. This year? We don’t think so.
The Titans White, much like Carnegie, were despairingly close to making the playoffs last season, coming just behind the Coventry Cougars in a tough SWC North division. Their efforts throughout last season make us feel comfortable calling them one of the favourites to advance. They’ll have a change of QB, as the young Sam Tibbles comes in for Matt Tibbles, who is graduating to the Titans Blue to play some Premier Division football. This shouldn’t be much of a downgrade, if at all. Sam has plenty of wins under his belt as part of the undefeated championship-winning youth side, and figures to keep the Titans White competitive this coming season.
The Honey Badgers were familiar faces in the BAFA playoff scene, but took a bit of a step back last season. They look well equipped to seize promotion at the first time of asking. They’ve got a talented, athletic roster, and they’ve been around the block a few times. They notched some big wins towards the end of last season, including a victory over the Manchester Titans. We’ll call last season an aberration for the Honey Badgers, and will likely see them in the Premier Division next season.
The Falcons had an impressive season last year, and like the Titans White, narrowly missed out on Premier Division football. Down the stretch, they picked up some impressive wins, and stayed competitive against stronger opposition. We have them just below the Titans White, as they lost by a point to the Titans last year, but they swept the other returning SWC team, the Plymouth Buccaneers. The Falcons do have a tough task this season though, as they’re in one of the best divisions for our money. A division which includes…
The Celts have been busy preparing for their first season, competing in a number of invitational tournaments, and organising friendlies left, right and centre. Their main man, Josh Evans, has gotten his side ready for action by putting them in the firing line early and often. They had an impressive outing the OFL, and snagged a surprising win over the Cardiff Hurricanes in the Welsh Bowl tournament. Their speed should be difficult for other teams in their division to contest with.
The Calderdale Knights flirted with the playoffs last season, but fell short in the end. The majority of their side are young, and are always improving, which is why we have them at #8 in our rankings. They can surprise anyone on their day – just ask the Honey Badgers, who fell 25-6 to them last season. If anyone is going to topple the Revolution or Honey Badgers, we’re picking the Knights. Look out for Kyle Sharp, who is one of our favourite defensive players in the league.
The Tydfil Trojans, while technically a rookie side, have a number of the players from the Merthyr Tyfdil Thunderducks, who competed in the SWC last season. Like their division foes, they’ve been busy participating in invitational local tournaments. They’re in a tough division though, with the Falcons, Buccaneers and Celts to contest with, but they did smash the Celts in the final of the Welsh Bowl. Can they carry that momentum into the season?
Rounding out our top 10 are the London Lucky R’s. London sides tend to be difficult for inexperienced teams to deal with, as athleticism can overcome a lack of fundamentals in most duels. Thomas Jay-Smith led his team to the Quarter finals of Jags 7s, and will look to continue that success into the team’s debut season.
Good luck to every team, and have fun proving us wrong!