The Sandwell Steelers kicked off their 2017 campaign in record-breaking fashion as they faced off against the Coventry Jets last weekend. 10 touchdowns, 9 point after attempts and a 2-point conversion saw the Grey & Gold put up 71 unanswered points, which is a club record total.
The game got off to a great start with Coach Butler’s offence scoring on their first drive. QB Callum Davidson extended a number of plays with his illusiveness before capping off the drive with a 50-yard completion to rookie WR Josh Lawrence for the 1st score (7-0).
With the tone being set by the offence, it was the turn of the Steeler’s defence to take the field. Facing a run heavy offence, discipline and sound tackling was paramount throughout the day with an emphasis on forcing the Jets’ out of their comfort zone. This call was answered by resolute defending, forcing numerous ‘three and outs’ and turnovers from the Jets’ during the game.
The first turnover gave the offence the ball back inside the Jets’ 20-yard line and again Davidson connected with Lawrence for another touchdown (14-0). The scoring continued for the rampant offence, this time via the ground game through debutant James Jones-Cross (21-0) and veteran Lewis Horton (28-0).
Not wanting to be outdone in the scoring column, the defence was challenged by DC Stuart Andrew to get their own score. This challenge was answered three times during the match with the first via a second new recruit Gareth ‘G3’ Thomas. Having worked against the Jets’ screen game in training, ‘G3’ read the play superbly and was in the right place to take a tipped ball back to the house (35-0).
Completing the perfect performance, the Steelers got a score via their Special Teams unit too. Following an errant snap on a Jets’ punt, numerous players ferociously hunted down the loose ball before veteran Jake Hill came away with the ball in hand and carried it into the endzone for another score (42-0).
This was the last notable action of an intense 1st half and both teams regrouped on their side-lines to make any adjustments for the 2nd period. HC Ross Barrow took this opportunity to remind his players that energy levels and ruthlessness couldn’t drop, as the Jets’ were a team who not long ago were playing at the highest level in the country.
This message was definitely heard by the troops with the defence getting another turnover on the first drive of the 2nd half. Linebacker Alex Mackenzie-Grist was able to rip the ball out of the grasp of the Jets’ RB and Shane Green was able to pounce on the loose ball. Again with great field position, Coach Butler went back to his ground attack and Jones-Cross ran in for another TD on debut. This bringing the score to 48-0, HC Barrow allowed the offence the chance to grab a rare 50-burger, in which Davidson duly answered with a completion to fellow Lions’ Junior graduate Jeevan Sandhu for the added extras (50-0).
Still hungry for points on defence, Coach Andrew continually rallied his troops focusing on getting the ball back and the next player to answer the call was Mackenzie-Grist again, this time in the form of a “pick 6”. He then stepped up to convert the point after attempt, a job he was perfect on during the day converting 9 out of 9 perfectly (57-0).
The scoring also continued on offence with Davidson completing his final drive by connecting with Lawrence again (64-0). Following Davidson’s withdrawal from the game, replacement QB Joe Reynolds took up the mantel of increasing the score. He connected with another new recruit, Phil Leader who plucked the ball out the air and found the endzone (71-0).
A couple of reactions following the game showed how much this result and performance meant to members of the club. HC Barrow said “I am proud of every single player today. We worked way above the level we set ourselves in pre-season and have made our intentions crystal clear to the league.” New recruit Gareth Thomas added “This is exactly why I came to Sandwell. The ambition, attitude and drive this club has to succeed motivates all involved to raise their levels.”
The Steelers are back in action this weekend against cross-town foes, the Birmingham Bulls. Last season’s bragging rights went to Sandwell both times and the Grey and Gold will be looking for another emphatic performance and result. Kick off at Tipton Sports Academy is 2.30pm with gates open from 1.30pm.
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