The Norwich Devils youth team attended in their first competitive event in more than 4 years last Sunday. The youth team took to the road and headed to London to compete in the new 5v5 tournament format aimed at getting more 14-16 year old players into American Football. Unlike the older 9v9 or traditional 11v11 format 4 teams attend each tournament and play multiple matches. Each match lasts 30 minutes split into 2 halves and is played on smaller pitches to suit the lower numbers. The new format makes for an exciting spectacle as the play is geared towards open field running and passing.
While absent from the opening tournament of the year due to low numbers, the Devils managed scrape a skeleton squad of 5 players together to do battle. This made for a tough first outing for the young Devils with their first fixture setting them against the powerful 20 man strong squad of the London Blitz. The Devils fought hard in the first quarter limiting the Blitz to only two scores behind some strong defense led by Linebacker Joey Santori and Safety Mitch Baldwin. Unfortunately despite their best efforts and some promising offensive play the Devils eventually lost 0-33.
Devils Youth vs London Blitz Youth
The second match of the day had the Devils take on the Watford Cheetahs. Sore from a narrow loss against the Warriors in the previous match the Cheetahs set out to grind down the Norwich defense. As the second half reached half way the Cheetah’s efforts had rewarded them a trio of scores putting them up 20-0. Tired and in desperate need of a lift the Devils’ offence finally found the rhythm it had been lacking all day and marched up the field securing Mitch Baldwin’s name in Devils history as the first youth player to score a competitive 5v5 touchdown. With time running out the Devils started to eat away at the Cheetah’s lead with Baldwin running in an interception for a score. Despite a strong finish the comeback could not be sealed as time ran out before the Devils regained possession of the ball leaving the score 13-20.
The third game against the London Warriors was unfortunately cancelled as the handful of weary Devils that had battled all day was deemed to fatigued to carry on by Coach Steven Hoskins. When asked to characterize his squads performance in their first tournament coach Hoskins stated, “I thought they done really well. There were only five of them so they had to play every snap. All the other teams had squads in excess of 12-13 players which allowed them to rotate and eventually wear us down. Our guys played some real iron man football today.”
The Devils youth team now have four weeks to prepare for their next tournament which will take place in Norwich. The Devils are still recruiting players for the current season to strengthen the squad. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org