Season Review: 2021
American Football in the UK was not immune to inevitable effects of Covid-19. As with so much else, changes had to be made to ensure we could continue to life our lives. BAFA announced in the late spring time that a season would take place. But to ensure it would happen, teams would be grouped together geographically. There would be no post-season, promotion, or relegation. This meant that teams across all three tiers of the league would play each other to keep it alive.
The Cats were grouped with Colchester Gladiators, Norwich Devils, Ipswich Cardinals, and Ouse Valley Eagles. Our temporary conference was called the East Anglia Conference.
Expectations were high. The 2019 season saw the Cats make it as far as the Semi-final of Division 1. The Colchester Gladiators and Ouse Valley Eagles had both struggled in Division 1 that year. The Norwich Devils had recently returned to the league, after folding in the 2010 season. The Ipswich Cardinals competed in Division 2 prior to the pandemic. Needless to say, the Britball community largely expected the Cats to sweep the year.
However, what wasn’t widely known was that the Cats had a change in coaches. This meant introducing an entirely new offensive system. The pre-season period of 2020 saw returning Cats players, and rookies alike, learning this new system under the new Offensive Co-Ordinator, Steve Playford. It had been learned, but not yet tested. So when the 2021 season was given the green-light, the Cats were looking to put the new system to the test and approached each of these games as an extended pre-season for 2022.
Game 1: 11/07/21 Away to the Gladiators
The season opener should have actually been at home against the Gladiators. However, this was postponed until 05/09.
The Cats Offence managed to find their groove fairly early on. The Defence held firm under Defensive Co-Ordinator, Andy Whiteoak. After putting together some strong consistently strong drives, the Cats came away with their first scalp.
Gladiators 0 – Cats 21
Game 2: 18/07/2021 Home against the Devils
Under a scorching sun, the Cats played host to the Devils. It really was hot as hell, as even the referees struggled at times. One referee even had to take shelter to recover from the heat.
The weather seemed the level the playing field. Both teams made plenty of mistakes, which really opened up the score lines. The Devils certainly did not go down without a fight, leaving the home fans thrilled when the Cats finally got their first win at home for the year.
Cats 28 – Devils 20
Game 3: 01/08/2021 Away to the Cardinals
On the road again, the Cats put another team to the test. Holding out defensively and also creatively mixing runs and passes, the Cats were once again victorious.
The weather was also in contrast to the last game, as it poured with rain for most of the second half.
Cardinals 6 – Cats 32
Game 4: 15/08/2021 Away to the Eagles
The Eagles hosted the Cats in what was a very one sided match. The Cats Defence happily scored with interceptions and gave the offence possession through fumble recoveries and turnovers on downs.
The Cats Offence was able to use a much faster tempo to keep the Eagles off balance.
Eagles 0 – Cats 38
Game 5: 22/08 Away to the Devils
The return fixture was a much different game. The lack of sun, and some starters for the Devils, meant that the Cats had a much easier time. With some experimentation and change of personnel, the Cats Offence moved the ball and scored without much opposition.
Devils 12 – Cats 34
Game 6: 05/09/2021 Home to the Gladiators
After 3 games away, the Cats could look forward to 3 games at home, to end the season. The first opponent in this run of home games was the re-arranged match against the Gladiators. With teams across the UK following Covid protocols, there were many cancelled games due to player availability. But the Gladiators managed to get this game in, which was massively respected by the Cats.
But it was business as usual as the Cats played hard on both sides of the ball. Keen to sharpen their claws for the 2022 season.
Cats 27 – Gladiators 7
Game 7: 12/09/2021 Home to the Eagles
The Cats were in full flow. Feeling full of confidence and assured by their coaches of a perfect year, they played even harder. This gave the Cats the biggest win so far.
Cats 42 – Eagles 12
Game 8: 19/09/2021 Home to the Cardinals
The Cats were able to close off an unusual season with another win. This time getting the bragging rights of a “50 burger”.
As stated before, the Britball community expected nothing less. But on any given Sunday…
Cats 57 – Cardinals 8
Overall, the Cats ended 8-0. The new Offence, with some help from the Defence, bagged 279 points. That’s an average of 34 points per game. The solid reputation of the Cats Defence remained in tact by only allowing 65 points. That’s an average of 8 points per game.
If the 2022 season can have a similar outcome, then we all know which Cats got the cream.