REPORT | Eagles edge out Warriors in opener

13 Apr

The Eagles opened their 2017 BAFA National League campaign with a determined and gutsy 14-12 victory over the South Wales Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

Whilst the rest of the UK enjoyed BBQ weather, South Wales was overcast and windy which did not help either offence settle in their first outing this year. An uneventful first quarter was scoreless.

The Eagles offence established a foothold with their running game in the second quarter, but were frustrated by a spirited goal-line stand by the hosts when looking likely to score.

The breakthrough finally came after a Byron Chowles interception gave the Eagles great field position, and running back Ben Cockin was able to convert from five yards. Mike Turner added the extra-point to give the visitors the half-time lead.

True to form the Warriors opened the second half in determined fashion and soon replied with a rushing touchdown of their own. The extra point conversion attempt was blocked – crucially as it would turn out – so the Eagles retained a slender advantage.

The key offensive moment for Ouse Valley took place on the next drive when QB Justin LaRoda found wide-out Bob Benney in the corner of the end zone from 36-yards for a spectacular diving catch. Turner again converted the extra point to put the visitors up 14-6.

The Eagles then appeared to be content to keep their opponents at arm’s length playing ‘bend but not break’ defence. Spirited tackling from Harry Rackham and sacks by Ross Hubbard and Garvin Yarde continued to contain Warriors offence.

This effort was exemplified by Linebacker Kase Chibwe chasing down the opposing running back and tackling him inside the five-yard line when he looked certain to score. South Wales were unable to convert and were pushed back out of field goal range by an Eagles goal-line stand.

The fourth quarter was played out with both sides exchanging possession until the Warriors drove in the last two minutes. The Eagles may have thought they had closed it out with their opponents facing fourth down with one second of the game left, however the hosts brilliantly converted a scrambling play to score in the corner as time expired.

The Warriors’ ensuing two-point conversion attempt was snuffed out by a gang of Eagles tacklers leaving them to edge a close one by 14-12 and take the win back east.

Both teams should take credit for producing an exciting game played in a great spirit. The Eagles will be glad to get that one out of the way and will look forward to hosting the game five return in Bedford on Sunday 11 June.

The next challenge is another road trip, this time to Southampton to face the Solent Thrashers, on Sunday 30th April.

Photo courtesy of Daria Urban.

SENIOR | 2017 Captains Named

20 Mar

The Eagles captains for the 2017 season have been confirmed following a vote by the players.

Gareth Pullen has been named Team Captain, Danny Cousins is the new Offensive Captain, Ross Hubbard is Defensive Captain and Fabrizio Gargiulo is Special Teams Captain.

Linebacker Gareth “Tish” Pullen is a returning captain, having previously captained the team in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was named the Eagles’ Defensive MVP in 2015 and 2016, Player’s Player of the Year in 2014, and is a former Bedfordshire Blue Raiders MVP, Players Player and Defensive MVP:

Offensive Lineman Danny Cousins is in his third year with the Club. He won the Rookie of the Year Award in his first season, and was named Joint Players Player of the Year in 2016.

Ross Hubbard is also in his third year with the Eagles and is the current Joint Players Player, Most Valuable Player and Offensive MVP, having played Tight End in previous seasons.

Linebacker Fab Gargiulo is a vastly experienced player in his first year with the Club, having joined from the London Blitz.

Commenting on the appointments, Head Coach Neale McMaster said:

“I’m incredibly proud of these guys for being leaders to their team-mates, but also love the team for recognising the hardest working guys on our team as the people they want to follow.

“There’s a number of guys that they could have selected, but the players chose to single them out.

“There isn’t a finer person to have as Team Captain than Gareth, he is the epitome of what we look for as an Eagle.

“Danny as Offensive Captain is a great choice as he really understands football, and works well with Justin, who is our vocal leader on offense to really push the whole unit forward.

“Ross continues to be recognised by his teammates as a leader and having moved from offense to defense, has maintained his high standards and pushes people continuously.

“Having Fab as our Special Teams Captain is a huge statement by the players, as I don’t think you’ll find anyone more passionate about special teams in the UK. He has instilled a real pride in a unit we expect to produce a lot of points this year, and obviously the players are buying into it.”

The first game of the season takes place on Sunday 9th April away to South Wales Warriors. The first home game of the year is against the Solent Thrashers on Sunday 21st May.

2015 Award winners revealed

27 Sep

The Ouse Valley Eagles 2015 Player of the Year Awards took place on Friday at Windmill Hill Golf Club in Bletchley, where Justin LaRoda was the big winner.

LaRoda was named Player’s Player of the Year, Team MVP and Offensive MVP

Linebacker Gareth “Tish” Pullen took home the Defensive MVP Award, last season’s Rookie of the Year John Rudgard was named Lineman of the Year, and Offensive Lineman Danny Cousins won the Rookie of the Year Award.

Commenting on the afterwards, Chairman Neale McMaster praised the impact LaRoda had on the team in 2015:

“Justin came to the team late, but pushed his way into the starting line-up through some great plays at practice.

He took that form forward into games and was a revelation this season, not just his passing and running abilities, but his leadership.

“This year wasn’t a one off either. I’m sure if that form continues, this won’t be the last year we mention Justins’ name at an awards ceremony.”

Ouse Valley Eagles 2015 Award winners:

Players’ Player of the Year – Justin LaRoda
Most Valuable Player – Justin LaRoda
Defensive MVP – Gareth Pullen
Offensive MVP – Justin LaRoda
Lineman of the Year – John Rudgard
Rookie of the Year – Danny Cousins
Most Improved Player – Martin Day

The curtain may have only just come down on the 2015 season but plans for 2016 are already well under way.

American Football has never been more popular in the UK and is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. If you’ve always fancied having a go why not register to try it out at one of our Come and Try sessions taking place throughout October?

Open to those wanting to play for the Youth Team (aged 14+) or the Senior Team (18+), the first two sessions take place in St Neots on Sunday 4th and Sunday 11th October respectively.

We then move to Luton on Sunday 18th October at Lealands High School, before finishing in Milton Keynes a week later at Stantonbury Campus.

Each session takes place between 11am and 1pm. All you need to bring with you is football/rugby boots, some water, appropriate clothing to be out running in the weather and a valid form of photo ID.

To register your interest, please visit the relevant Event Page on Facebook or feel free to turn up on the day of the session:

Session 1 – St Neots
Session 2 – St Neots
Session 3 – Luton
Session 4 – Milton Keynes


Colchester stun Eagles

20 May

The Ouse Valley Eagles travelled to Colchester on Sunday for their first Inter Conference fixture of their American Football National League Division 1 campaign.  A disappointingly lacklustre performance saw the Eagles fall to their first defeat of the season and the Gladiators record their first victory.

It could scarcely have started better for the Eagles as free safety Kevin Kong intercepted opposing Quarterback Curtis Bourke’s first pass of the game on the second play from scrimmage.  Kong returned the ball 25 yards into the corner of the end zone for the opening score, with Ross Hubbard converting the PAT.  An uneventful first 15 minutes was played out with Ouse Valley leading by 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Colchester played their way back into the game during the second quarter and deservedly levelled when Bourke kept the ball on a triple-option play and swept into the Eagles’ endzone on a first and goal.  The half-time score was tied at 7 points apiece.

The Eagles have been a second-half team so far this season securing all three of their wins in the last two minutes of each game.  An improvement in performance was required in the second half.  Matters did not improve immediately for the Eagles with Colchester taking the lead with a second touchdown from Bourke in the 3rd quarter.  The Gladiators extended their advantage with a short run following a turnover in Eagles territory.  A lead they would not relinquish.

The Eagles did find some momentum in the fourth quarter and a sustained drive saw Quarterback Justin Laroda find returning Tight End Jack Judge for a well-timed eight yard touchdown pass.  The Eagles had the ball again as the clock was running down towards the end of the game.  The Gladiator’s defence held strong though and time expired with Ouse Valley driving.  The final score was 21-14 in favour of the home side.

Few Ouse Valley players can, in all honesty, be pleased with their performance and overall the Eagles did not match the standards set in earlier matches.  They fall to 3 wins and 1 loss but retain top spot in the table based on fewest points conceded by teams with the same percentage record.  The division promises to be a close run affair for the rest of the season as, with Ouse Valley and Farnham both losing this weekend, after four games there are no undefeated sides left.

Ouse Valley now has two weeks to prepare for two Inter Conference home fixtures back-to-back.  Farnham Knights are next up in a top-of-the-table clash on 7 June with East Kent Mavericks visiting the following Sunday.  An improvement in execution and effort will be both expected and needed against strong and experienced opposition.  We look forward to seeing you all at Bedford International Athletics Stadium for these match-ups.  Both kick-off at 12:00 Noon and the admission is £2.00 for adults.