With the 2018/19 play-offs looming, it’s time to review to the regular season for the Saints’ senior men’s team before it disappears into distant memory. Pre-season opened with the usual mix of returning vets, rookies and the odd comeback as well as some experience that transferred in from the Jets. Rino also returned as Offensive Coordinator whilst Head Coach Nigel March looked after the D and special teams with the assistance of new coaches Jesse Modic and Renato Santoro.
Once again, we opened against the Titans. We couldn’t establish a consistent running attack and the Titans were able to convert lengthy 3rd down in the first half to lead 18-0. Some half-time adjustments shutdown the Titans’ run game to hold them scoreless in the second half but only successful TD came via WR Luke Hegney as we failed to make a comeback, losing 18-6.
Week two, saw everybody get game time as we demolished the Steelers 42-0. The Defence had 5 turnovers, (3 interceptions by DB Daniel Strickland and a first ever pick by LB Brett Ripper and LB Chris Clarkson had a fumble recovery). Special Teams also showed some improved work as both DB Ayden Wood-Stribley and DB Strickland both returned punts for TD’s. The offence chipped in with over 110 yards on the ground.
Week 3 saw the Saints travel to Lark Hill to take on the reigning champs; Rockingham Vipers. In an absolute slobber knocker of a contest as both Defences limited the offences to under 150 yards of TOTAL offence each. In a game that Coach March described as a missed opportunity as we failed a couple a times to get in from the Red Zone especially after a 70 Yard Interception return by DB Wood-Stribley. The feelings about the 14-8 loss were magnified as we lost star lineman David Olivieri for the season and wideout Dev Wake for 6 games.
A return to Curtin, saw us entertain the Jets in week 4 as RB Doug Stewart mashed the Jets with 84 yards on 10 carries though LB Steve Bray got a rare carry which he converted into an 8-yard TD run which Doug said should have been his! The defence was once again dominant including a Fumble Recovery TD by lineman AJ Wright as we strolled to a 48-zip victory.
November saw the Saints make the short journey to James Miller Oval to play the Blitz. Despite losing corners; Cam Groenheide and Scott Winter early in the contest, the game was locked up at 8-all, Blitz ball, entering the 4th Quarter. The Blitz scored on their drive and then picked off a Nathan McCann pass and one play later they led 20-8. A quick McCann strike to Luke Hegney was turned into 75-yard scoring gallop. A recovered onside kick saw another Saints drive which was capped by a Strickland TD catch, the extras were converted to give us a 22-20 with about 2 minutes to go. With 19 seconds left, the Blitz hit their tall receiver in the corner of the endzone to lead 26-22. The game ended at midfield with another pick as the Saints attempted the miracle play.
The Wolverines visited Curtin and saw the Saints run out to a comfortable 46-18 victory, lead by QB McCann 4TD, 200 yard through the air and a pounding 106 yards on the ground by RB Stewart. The defence added a 5 sack, 2 interception performance.
Another home game against the Broncos followed and resulted in a 42-20 victory with QB McCann throwing for 237 yards and 5 TDs. Luke Hegney lead the receivers with 103yards and 3TDs. RB Stewart again pounded the D with 15 carries for 88 yards. Whilst the Broncos moved the ball between the 20’s, the D made it difficult for them to score as LB Bray and DB Strickland snared picks.
A trip up north to the Wolverines saw the Saints run away with a 42-6 victory as the D strangled the Wolverines passing attack with picks for DB Groenheide, LB Bray and DB Travis Offord though they were upstaged by a Strickland pick for six. QB McCann picked apart the Wolverines secondary to the tune of 252 yards and 3 TDs as WR Luke Hegney had 10 catches for 184 yards, 2TDs.
December opened with a home game against the Vipers, and despite leading 6 zip at the half on the back of a DB Wood-Stribley pick six. Unfortunately, the Saints lost the turnover battle by 4 as interceptions and fumbles stalled drives resulting a 24-6 defeat and the loss of LB Josh Marsden for the rest of the campaign.
The return fixture with the Blitz was another humdinger, DB Wood-Stribley returned the opening kick-off for a 95-yard TD for an 8-point lead. However, the Blitz lead 14-8 at the break. Their opening drive of the second half was stopped at the 7-yard line. The Saints then put together an 18-play, 93-yard drive that resulted in a rare Wood-Stribley offensive TD. The points after attempted failed to leave the game tied at 14-all. A good stop by the D, gave the Offence a chance but the drive stalled at the 8. With under a minute left, the Blitz got to midfield for one final attempt which DB Strickland picked off and ran back only to be caught a mere 3 yards from victory.
A trip to Lighting Park to play the Broncos was the pre-Christmas game. The Broncos scored early whilst a Saints drive was killed by a red zone interception. Another Broncos TD left the Saints with under two minutes in the half to mount a response. QB McCann had 6 successive completions capped by a WR Luke Fredericks TD reception. RB Stewart banged in the extras. A couple of 3rd quarter interceptions by DB Winter stalled the Broncos and gave the offence put together a 16-play drive resulting in a WR Luke Hegney TD (on his way to 10 catches), once again RB Stewart banged in the extras for a 16-14 lead. A key sack by lineman Wright put the Broncos in an insurmountable position on their final drive.
The Jets away game after Christmas resulted in another 48-0 win. WR Luke Hegney hauled in another 8 passes whilst the O-line opened holes for RBs Stewart (10 for 92) and Lionel Mumba (6 for 49) to control the game. The D man-handled the Jets offensive as they only mustered 80 total yards whilst DBs Offord, Gareth Weinbrecht and Strickland (2) picked off the QB and LB Clarkson blitzed his way to a strip-sack-recovery.
The home game versus the Titans started badly as they scored on their opening drive and then forced a 3 and out, returning the punt to the two. Despite a series of long drives, the Saints only muster one TD via WR Sam Hegney and allowed too many explosive plays on D despite getting the Titans into third and long repeatedly to lose 33-8.
The final game was forfeited by the Steelers as they were certain to finish bottom. So now it is onto the play-offs at Lark Hill versus the Rockingham Vipers as we finished fourth with an 8-5-1 record with 351 scored whilst allowing 185 points.
Team passing 197 of 338 attempts for 2200 yards 27TDs 12Ints
Team Rushing 267 for 1211 Yards 17TDs
Nathan McCann 189 of 323 for 2102 27TDs 12Ints
Luke Hegney 76 for 1105 yards 14TDs
Luke Fredericks 29 for 289 yards 4TDs
Sam Hegney 26 for 204 yards 3TDs
Doug Stewart 150 for 860 yards 5TDs
Nathan McCann 68 for 200 yards 7TDs
Team passing D 132 of 316 attempts for 1552 yards 15TDs 28Ints
Team rush D 305 for 1314 yards 13TDs
Travis Offord 43
Chris Clarkson 34
Nathan Meagher 28
Leading Forced Fumbles (team 14)
Connor Staunton 3
Leading Interceptions (team 28)
Daniel Strickland 12 (1TD)
Sack Leader (team 18)
AJ Wright 3
Steve Bray 3
Most Bat Downs
Cameron Groenheide 5