By Ollie Stratford
On Saturday 24th of July Hellingly Phoenix competed against the Wembley stallions and the Kent Exiles at the Kent Exiles home ground in Bromley. This was the second tournament that the Hellingly Phoenix team were participating in this season. With London Blitz having to pull out of the tournament due to player numbers, Hellingly Phoenix would only compete in two games one against Kent Exiles and the other against the Wembley Stallions.
Hellingly Phoenix kicked off against the Kent Exiles in the first game. Kent exiles attempted to march the ball down the field but thanks to High Pressure from Lucas and Kyle Bandaa, both playing at Nose tackle. Tight coverage from a strong Hellingly Phoenix defence managed to hold the Exiles to 2 touchdowns in the first half. Hellingly Phoenix’s defence further showed off by an interception from Ryan Hedges, playing in only his second tournament, along with a forced fumble by Calvin Clark, topped off with key tackles at pinnacle times in the game by Fin Wilson and Sam Espie who both remained as strong leader on the defence helping to keep them organised and forcing them to take risks by keeping the run game inefficient and under lock. Offence took to the field against an extremely tough and physical Kent Exiles defence. Alex Krajeweski, playing in his first ever Football tournament played the at the key Centre role throughout and remained a pillar of strength for the Hellingly Phoenix offence by allowing the QB time in the pocket with strong blocking but also by being a viable pass catcher to convert on fourth downs, Charlie Booker showed off his leadership qualities and his ability to act as a Swiss army knife player by playing multiple positions on both the defence and offence. However, the Hellingly Phoenix offence was held to no points throughout the first half but this was not due to a lack of trying but rather a strong Kent Exiles defence. The half ended 14-0 to the Kent Exiles. In the second half the Kent Exiles began to find a rhythm and put more scores on the board. The Hellingly Phoenix offence put its first points on the board on a Hail Mary play from Ollie Stratford at QB to Rowan Crouch at receiver who streaked down the side-line into the middle of the end zone to make the touchdown catch. Unfortunately, the game ended 43-6 to the Kent Exiles however the consensus among the players and coaches was that this was still a vast improvement from the last time the teams met.
Next up for Hellingly Phoenix was the Wembley Stallions. The first half remained a close battle with Hellingly Phoenix still playing a passing game as it was helping to keep the defence on their heels and propel the offence forward. The first half points were scored by Harry Stone in the back of the end zone with a touchdown catch, this was followed up by Alex Krajewski who converted the two-point conversion in which he forced his way into the end zone. Charlie Booker played a role in putting scores on the board by getting a crucial interception which he then ran up the field for a pick 6. The half ended 14-14.
The second half of football did not disappoint as another close contest was fought out. Wembley Stallions put points up first which gave them an 8-point lead with less than 2 minutes left in the game. That put the Hellingly Phoenix offence under pressure to execute effectively and move the ball down field with no turnovers. This was successful thanks to a handoff to Kyle Bandaa who ran the ball up field and punched it into the endzone. The Hellingly Phoenix defence once again showed off their strength by holding the Wembley offence to only 22 points the entire game this was helped by another strong performance by the Nose tackles Kyle and Lucas who’s plays resulted in forced fumbles, the defence also defended against the pass game at a professional level. The pair forced the Wembley stallions to use the run game, resulting in the linebackers and nose tackle stopping them in their tracks and clamp down on any big plays. The game went down to the wire resulting in a heart wrenching loss for the Hellingly Phoenix team, the score ended 22-20 to the Wembley Stallions.
Even Though the day ended in two losses, the team has progressed tremendously from the last tournament coming on leaps and bounds, really showing their grit and determination and overall team spirit and how they were able to remain positive even when results didn’t go their way. Hellingly Phoenix wishes all players who unfortunately suffered injuries, a speedy recovery. We hope to see everyone at the next tournament on the 21st of August at Maidstone.
MVP Offence – Alex Krajeweski, Grew in confidence through his first tournament.
MVP Defence – Lucas Apps, Worked hard on the Dline and regularly made in roads to rush the QB.
MVP – Kyle Bandaa, A superb overall performance