Post-season football is always very different to regular season football. For starters, the stakes are higher. Win or go home. Also, the teams you play are the best of that year. We last made it to the post-season in 2019 and got as far as the semi-finals. We set our sights on post-season football again, but we expected to make the final. This year, we achieved that and promotion to the Premier Division of British American Football.
Home vs Wembley Stallions
Previous years saw a crossover of divisions within the respective conferences for the quarter and semi-finals. However, this year was different, as we were seeded against our regular season rivals, the Wembley Stallions. As we finished top of the SFC 1 East, we had home field advantage. This was a tough fixture because we were at 1 win a piece through the summer. The Stallions have always provided a strong game. Winning here was definitely not a guarantee. The first quarter ended scoreless. Both defences stayed strong and the offences couldn’t get ahead. WR and Kicker Will Browning broke the stalemate with a passing touchdown from Mark Rivett. He then kicked the PAT claiming all 7 points. The first half ended without any more scores. The Stallions came out swinging and looked close to equal the score. But DB Mikey McLaughlin put paid to that with an interception inside our end-zone. DB Maleek Addae added insult to injury shortly after with an interception that he returned for a massive 79 yards and a touchdown. But the PAT was no good. This seemed to have fired up the Stallions who came back quickly for a rushing touchdown. PAT is good. MJ then stepped up to his usual form with a passing touchdown with a 44 yard run after catching the ball. Jimmy runs the ball in from the QB position for 2 points. Once again, the Stallions respond quickly and score another rushing touchdown on the next drive. The PAT is good. The Stallions look to get ahead with another promising drive. But our defence makes a valiant stop on our 9 yard line. It’s a turnover on downs in what was quite possibly the make or break moment in the game. MJ then breaks his previous long run with a 94 yard touchdown. The PAT is good with only 2:28 on the clock and the score now at Cats 28 – Stallions 14. Mikey then gets his second pick at the 2 minute warning on the Stallions 23 yard line. It gets to 4th down and with 50 seconds remaining before Kay Dennis puts the final nail in the coffin with a passing touchdown. The PAT is good.
Final score Cats 35 – Stallions 14
O MVP – The whole Oline
D MVP – Maleek Addae
ST MVP – Will Browning
Game MVP – Mikey McLaughlin
Away to Hertfordshire Cheetahs
The Hertfordshire Cheetahs have been going from strength to strength over the past few years. They were the National Champions for Division 2 in 2018. Going into the semi-finals of Division one in 2 playing seasons is big achievement. The Cheetahs got off to a flying start scoring on their second drive. The PAT is good. The Cheetahs get the ball back and score again, this time through the air. The PAT is no good. It wasn’t until the second quarter until we responded. MJ catches the ball and runs 72 yards for the touchdown. The PAT is good. The game turns into a mish-mash of defensive stops and penalties. At one point, the Cheetahs are at 1st and 30! Jimmy keeps our next drive alive with solid passing reception. MJ defies the laws of physics with a one-handed grab in traffic. We go for it on 4th and 1 and Andy Evans gets the first down. Riv eventually finds Jimmy for a passing touchdown. PAT is no good, with the score tied at 13 a piece. Shortly after the 2 minute warning, Maleek Addae gets a pick 6. The 2 point attempt is no good but we close the first half in the lead. The Cheetahs open proceedings with a long passing touchdown. DB, Gregg Prettyjohns, is able to tackle his man before he can score but breaks his arm in the process. Cheetahs go for 2 and score, pushing them further ahead. The Cheetahs then get an interception in the dying seconds of the third quarter. They manage to get to our 2 yard line. But our defence keeps them out with their back to the wall. Time runs out and its Cheetahs 21 – Cats 19. The Cheetahs capitalise on a fumbled ball. They are able to score and the PAT is good. Riv finds Kay in traffic, but he makes himself impossible to tackle and goes on to score a touchdown. The PAT is good. DT Chris Fenton recovers a fumbled ball, setting our offence up nicely. MJ is able to catch the pass, shake a man off of him, and run on to score a touchdown. 2 points attempt is no good. DB Chris King then get a pick and runs the ball over 30 yards for the touchdown. The PAT bounces off of the left upright and is no good. Chris King gets another interception, but isn’t able to score this time. The Cheetahs haven’t given up and they score again with a passing touchdown. The PAT is blocked and LB Ben Bailey scoops the bobbling ball before running40 yards before being chased down and tackled. The score is now Cheetahs 34 – Cats 38 and the seconds are ticking away. Jimmy scores a touchdown but it’s brought back for a block in the back penalty. MJ comes in clutch with a catch on 3rd and long to give us a fresh set of downs at midfield. Jimmy and Andy Evans both drive the ball forward. But it’s Kay who brings it home with a handed off run. The PAT is no good. The Cheetahs go for one last drive. But MJ turns his skills to from WR to DB and gets the interception. There’s nothing more to do except kneel the ball and run out the clock.
Final Score Cheetahs 32 – Cats 42
Division One National Final
Away to East Kilbride Pirates
The East Kilbride Pirates have been the perennial Premier side of Scotland. They were demoted to Division 1 in 2018 and came close to going back into the Premiership the year after, but were beaten by Sandwell Steelers in the semi-final. The Pirates had a formidable year and on paper were very closely matched to us. Naturally, we went into this game with high hopes of the National Championship. But the Pirates set the tone of the game within the first 2 possessions. The returned the kick off and managed a touchdown shortly after. The full game can be seen here.
The Pirates put in a dominant performance that left us struggling to keep up. There is absolutely no shame in being soundly beaten by a better team. However, we played hard until the very last play. MJ and Jimmy scored a touchdown each. Mikey McLaughlin had 3 interceptions. We certainly didn’t hand it to them.
Final Score Pirates 50 – Cats 12
We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support. We have been blown away from the amount of positivity towards us throughout our campaign. Our players, coaches, side-line crew have all certainly enjoyed this year and have all improved in some way, shape, or form. Our focus and attention now turns to next year. The last items on the Cats calendar for 2022 is the end of season award night in November, including our AGM. Our annual Rookie Days will take place around the end of November/start of December time. Pre-season training will begin in January.