On Saturday 24th September the Chorley Buccaneers made Club history when for the first time in their eleven years existence all three teams attended the National Finals in Crystal Palace.
The Cadet flag team were to face the Coventry Jets in their semi final and started off on Offense but couldn’t advance it and so the Jets took were to take possession and try and find the endzone, but Bucs Rookie Kyle Webzell had other ideas and make a great interception to run it all the way back for a the score making it 6 – 0 to the Bucs. Webzell was in the picture again when QB Zach Christie glided the pass to him for the one point conversion making it 7 – 0.
The Jets took the field back on Offense and meant business as after two plays, they did a trick play which fooled the Bucs defense and allowed them to pass downfield to an open receiver for the score, the Jets then went on to get the one point conversion making the game tied at 7 – 7.
As both teams moved the ball well on ground and through the air, neither of them could find the endzone until Dylan Chesters made his first of two interceptions of the game and ran it back for twenty yards before being tackled. Chesters not content with not reaching the endzone, took the ball on a hand-off and dodged through several tackles to waltz into the endzone giving the Bucs the lead 13 – 7. It was the Christie / Webzell link up that got the Bucs the extra point to take the score to 14 – 7 to the Bucs.
As halftime got closer the Jets the broke through the Bucs defense and looked set to score but for the other half of the Chesters duo Joel, coming from the other side of the field to make the tackle one yard shy of the endzone to save the touchdown and to bring the game to halftime at 14 – 7 to the Bucs.
The Jets started the second half on Offense and started strong with a full length touchdown pass to their star receiver to bring the score to 14 – 13 to the Bucs. The Jets looked set to make score tied as they completed the pass on their one point conversion attempt but a great tackle by Joseph Hill stopped them just short of the score! The game now saw both teams trading possessions without scoring but showcasing some incredible talent on both sides of the ball, and it was Dylan Chesters that highlighted this talent with an amazing interception which he ran back for ten yards to give the Bucs possession.
The Bucs took the field and ran the ball effectively to run down the clock but then when they had to pass the Jets were ready and intercepted the ball for no gain. With only a couple of minutes remaining the Bucs had to dig deep on Defense to ensure their place in the final and this is exactly what they did forcing the Jets to go four and out and allow the Bucs Offense to run the clock out and put them in the Final against the Marlow Wolves.
The Final saw the Bucs face a strong Marlow team and the Bucs looked like they meant business when on the first drive Bucs QB Christie passed to Dylan Chesters for the score and then again for the one point conversion giving the Bucs a 7 – 0 lead. Marlow though composed themselves and slowly but surely got their game together on both sides of the ball to win the game 35 – 7 and be crowned National Champions 2011.
The Bucs older flag team were to play against the Coventry Cougars in their semi-final game and delivered a thrilling game.
Buccaneers were the first to score with a short catch thanks to James Schofield but they missed the conversion. Cougars fought back with a fantastic long run by Kieran Mulcahy then Jordan Leith turn it into a touchdown after fooling Buccaneers with a fake hand off. The Bucs offense took the field once again led by QB Chris Varney who along with some strong running from Running Back Jason Hoyle, got the Bucs back in the lead when Varney linked up with Schofield again to take the score 12 – 6.
As the game saw both teams take the lead several times, the Bucs offense turned into the Varney – Schofield show as they completed over a dozen receptions and put all of the Bucs twenty five points on the scoreboard.
However the twenty five points weren’t enough to win the game and the Bucs lost in a heartbreaking finish which saw the Cougars clinch the win by one point to win 26 – 25 and end the Bucs dreams of being crowned the National Champions.
The Kitted team who were attending the National Finals for their fourth consecutive time, were to face off against the unbeaten Woodham Warriors. The Bucs started with the ball and drove the ball well on the ground with Running Backs Matt Holt and James Mallon gaining some good yards to put the Bucs six yards away from the endzone. A good fake saw the Warriors bite on the run and enable QB Ben McNally hit Wide Receiver Tom Salerno in the endzone to give the Bucs a 6 – 0 lead. McNally then made a great pass to Holt for the one point conversion to take the score to 7 – 0.
Warriors came out on Offense and faced a very strong and pumped up Bucs defense who led by Cornerback Paul Toulson immediately shut them down to the give the Bucs the ball back. The Bucs Offense picked up from where they left off and ran the ball hard at the Warriors defense soon finding themselves down near the Warriors endzone. McNally again sold a great fake and found team captain Matt Clayton in the endzone to take the score to 13 – 0 to the Bucs and leaving the Warriors stunned.
The Warriors though dusted themselves off and drove the ball downfield to score just before half time and then get a two point conversion to make it 13 – 8. The second half saw the Warriors come out strong and ready to prove why they had been unbeaten all season, a quick start on Offense saw them soon find the endzone and take the lead 14 – 13.
The Bucs seemed to drop their heads and couldn’t move the ball on Offense as they had done in the first half and so the Warriors to possession once again. The Bucs defense stepped back up though and the two teams traded possession back and forth and it wasn’t until towards the end of the game when the Warriors manage to deliver a deadly blow and score through the air to seal the win 20 – 13.
The Bucs then had to play the London Warriors for the playoff place game and started on Defense. The Warriors moved the ball effectively with their Running Back and soon found the endzone and went 6 – 0 up. The Bucs though came out on offense with all guns blazing pounded the Blitz defense with their running game and it was Fullback James Mallon that broke two tackles and ran twenty yards for to tie the game 6 – 6.
The Blitz offense retook the field but failed to generate anything productive against a strong Bucs defense and were forced to turn possession back to the Bucs. It took the Bucs just two plays to find the endzone with Mallon once again breaking tackles ran a homeward bound but this time for thirty five yards putting the Bucs 12 – 6 up. Quarterback McNally added the one point conversion to increase the Bucs lead 13 – 6.
The Blitz though using their strong running back managed to grind the Bucs defense and once again found the endzone and then get a two point conversion taking the score 13 – 14 to the Bucs.
With halftime closing in the score looked to be set not to move until some amazing blocking from Wide Receiver Chris Slessor allowed fullback Mallon to not only reach over 100 yards rushing in the game but also get his third touchdown of the day and increase the Bucs lead to 19 – 14 at halftime.
The Second half saw a fired up Blitz offense come out onto the field and once again using their star play gain ground towards the endzone and add another touchdown to his tally and give the Blitz the lead 20 – 19. The game then saw both teams swap possessions until QB McNally drew all the Blitz defense in and then hit Receiver Tom Salerno with a perfect pass who then breezed into the endzone to give the Bucs lead 25 – 20 with less than five minutes remaining!
As the clock dwindled down the Bucs were punished with a harsh penalty which put the Blitz just two yards outside of the endzone in which saw them take advantage and add six points to the scoreboard as the lead once again changed hands back to the Blitz 26 – 25. The Bucs took the field once again but were unable to make it count and the ball was handed back to the Blitz with less than two minutes remaining!
Some amazing tackling and the Bucs taking their timeouts, the Blitz were unable to run out the clock and so the Bucs were given one last chance to score with just thirty-eight seconds left. QB McNally hit Captain Clayton on a ten yard pass but he couldn’t get out of bounds to stop the clock, so the Bucs ran to the line and snapped the ball, as McNally checked down his receivers he found Mallon open and got the ball to him for a twenty yard gain. Mallon trying to fight his way to the endzone was tackled just one yard short and with just ten seconds remaining the Bucs ran back to the line, and as Offensive Assistant Coach Greg Adam shouted in plays which confused the Blitz defense and caused them to call a timeout giving the Bucs one last lifeline.
As the Bucs took the field for these last three second it seemed like everything was in slow motion until the McNally snapped the ball and hit a wide open Team Captain Matt Clayton for the one yard pass and gave the Bucs the win 31 – 26 sending the Bucs sideline into a frenzy.
The Bucs then played the Balby Carr Mustangs in a small last game in which they lost to finish 6th in the standings, but for the Bucs it was more about getting the players game time and rookies Alan Barrow and Sam Thompson certainly stepped up to the plate during the game on both sides of the ball. However the game took a turn for the worst when QB McNally took a thunderous hit causing him a severe concussion to put a damper on the day.
After the games Kitted Head Coach and Club Manager Ian Nicolson said “Firstly I am immensely proud of what my team has done today, the performances they have put in throughout their three games could not of made me prouder and I couldn’t of asked for more. Secondly and more importantly as Club Manager, to have all three teams here today making club history really does make me the proudest club manager in the country and every player and coach should be proud of what they have achieved this season.”