The York Centurions welcomed the Northumbria Mustangs to Fort 22 for a preseason scrimmage. Both sides saw this as an opportunity to throw their rookies in at the deep end and give them some valuable game experience. The match itself was an intriguing affair and one in which neither team could truly assert any offensive dominance.
WR Yuki Shiroo, fresh from his year abroad in Japan, set the field alight on the very first play as he evaded would-be tacklers and exploded round the edge for a large gain. Defence too started well, Club President and LB Andrew Chudnovsky coming up with a crowd pleasing bat down to blow up a screen pass on 4th down. The Offence then executed such an effective play fake that even the referee bit and blew the play dead thinking the RB had taken the hand off. It did not faze the Centurions as only a few plays later QB Theo Hewit found Rookie WR Aadam Jung on a quick screen. 2nd year WR Ed Mamet, who blocked exceptionally all day, sealed the Mustangs CB out of the play allowing for a huge running lane. Jung wasted no time in opening his Centurion scoring account as he took the 2 yard pass a further 58 yards into the endzone, his impressive acceleration proving too much to handle for the Mustangs defence. The subsequent 2pt conversion was unsuccessful after the pass attempt was deflected into the hands of Rookie RG Liam Heidrich but he was unable to force the ball over the line.
The Defence remained stout. A remarkable series from the Defensive Line saw DT Joe Atkinson terrorise the Mustangs QB and light him up in the backfield. DE Bart Hayden, who had an incredible game and rightly earned Overall MVP, came up with the play of the day as he breezed past the LT and creamed the unsuspecting QB on his blind side. Another notable play came from CB Sam Lock, as an End Around found a lane around the outside Lock tracked the ball carrier and knocked the ball out from behind. The loose ball was then gladly dived upon by FS Stephen Bates to complete the turnover. Defence also managed to chip in a score of sorts as they flushed the Mustangs QB out of the pocket and made him commit an intentional grounding penalty within his own end zone, resulting in a two point safety for York.
Offence were unable to sustain another scoring drive, despite Shiroo executing three spin moves in as many seconds to bring up a first down. A couple of penalties backed York up into their own endzone and Northumbria were able to stuff the 4th down run, after a significant pileup the referees deemed it a safety for the Mustangs. With just under 2 minutes on the clock, the Mustangs proved why they are a Division One outfit as they engineered an impressive final drive to score the go ahead play as time expired. They converted a 4th and 20 on said drive.
However despite this bitter aftertaste and being ahead for 58 of the 60 minutes, the York Centurions Rookies gained valuable experience and kept pace with a side that plies it’s trade in a higher division until the very end. With the corrections and improvements that will occur between now and the beginning of the season, the York Centurions look poised for a strong 2016/17 Campaign.