By Charlie Neal
The Saints began their 2017-18 BUCS Premiership campaign with a crucial victory over close rivals Loughborough. What’s more, they completed it without conceding a single point.
“The team has practised extremely well, and they’re coming together nicely,” Head Coach Jonathan Rooney said. “Everybody was relieved that the first game went to plan.”
On the Saints’ first offensive drive of the game, experienced scholars Clayton Turner and Isaiah Pinson connected amongst the Loughborough secondary, which was converted to give the Saints a 7-0 lead.
Just moments later, on the subsequent offensive drive, the Saints propelled themselves to a 13-0 lead after a 30-yard Jacob Shotton reception. Shotton, who attended the Newcastle Vikings football camp over the summer and marked his territory with ‘Offensive MVP’ in his debut game there, has quickly established himself as one of Durham’s starting receivers.
“We encouraged him to go to the Vikings over summer,” Rooney said. “He had all the skills last year, but he just had to be patient. It’s starting to pay off for him.”
With offence in the spotlight for most of the first half, Durham’s defence then responded with a score of its own, making it a 20-0 game. The score came in the form of a Joe Wilderspin fumble recovery in the Loughborough end zone – his first as a Saint.
The defensive core continued to dominate the Students, recording six total turnovers on their way to a 20-0 shutout victory.
The win was not merely the result of a few players displaying respectable performances; it was a solid, all-round effort from the team. Being able to utilise most players, even those making their first appearance in an American football match, is a Head Coach’s dream.
But watching them compete against one another for roster spots while developing a better knowledge of the game is undoubtedly more encouraging.
“Contributing in your rookie year can be difficult,” Rooney said. “But, we already have three or four starter-calibre rookies and I expect that there will be other players fighting for those positions by Christmas.”
Photograph: Photo Finish Sports Photography