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When I first met Ian Miles in Starbucks at St Pancras Station in the winter of 2012, I could never have believed, from the early joint training sessions in 2013, that SEYAF would have achieved so much and are starting to deliver high quality tournaments with high quality play from the Under 11 and 14 age group teams.

With 4 summer tournaments this season, we decided that we could attempt to run a Championship Finals day, which would determine the best team in each age group of the season. Sunday 25th June saw the first SEYAF finals day, hosted by the East Kent Mavericks at The Langton School outside of Canterbury.

Four programmes and 5 teams in each age group registered to play. Kent Exiles had 2 teams in each age group with Kent Phoenix, Hellingly Hound Dogs and East Kent Mavericks expanding the roster. Occasional participants, Gravesend Grammar School, were unable to raise a team.

Under 11’s - Number 1 seeds were Kent Exiles Stags, with East Kent Mavericks seeded 2.

Unfortunately, Hellingly withdrew from the competition, due to a lack of players, so the semi-finals were set as Exiles Stags to play Exiles Bucks and East Kent Mavericks playing Kent Phoenix. East Kent dealt with an improving Phoenix team and went straight into the Final.

Inter Exiles games are always fun, we have them every Sunday, however, could the younger, development Bucks team take out the number 1 seeds?

The Stags took the ball on offence and started moving the ball – then Quarterback Thomas Summers launched a “bomb” only to be picked off by the Bucks Harry Johnson. A couple of plays later, Ayla Bilal sprinted down the side line for the opening score.

Then the Stags kicked into action with a Jaden Smith TD and 2 TD’s by Ben Platt, who had a “man” of the tournament day.

So, this result set up the expected final, which were the two most competitive teams of the season playing for the championship.

The Exiles Stags came out, with Coach Richard Powell, not under estimating the East Kent running game, which had accounted for a decisive result against Kent Phoenix. Exiles Stags had conceded that least amount of points during the season and put out their strongest defence, led by Logan Alexis and marshalled by Coach Mark Summers. The game started with the Stags on offence and Ben Platt running the ball.  Platt made no mistake, scoring 3 TD’s during the game. Both teams played great football, but 3 Platt TD’s together with a Callum Boden TD, made the score 24 -6. Mavericks QB Luke Cope, was determined to respond and not to give up, which led to spirited play. To demonstrate the “never say die” attitude EK Mavericks, who scored with the final play of the game to make the final score 24 – 12. Great defence by Logan Alexis, Jaden Smith and Isabelle Covey, who played strong all day.

Under 14’s – No1 seeds East Kent Mavericks – No 2 seeds Kent Exiles Wild Dogs

Due to the number of teams, the Kent Exiles second team – Wolves, played an eliminator against Hellingly Hound Dogs. Wolves nicked the game 24 to 12. This put the Wolves into the First semi-final against East Kent Mavericks.

The Wolves had their hands full with a very good and determined East Kent outfit who had a very good day. The Wolves went down 24 – 6.

The second semi-final was Kent Phoenix playing Kent Exiles Wild Dogs. Although the score could be seen as one sided, Kent Phoenix played hard, but 2 TD’s from Kayode Oteh and 1 from Zeshan Rezak. What really hurt Phoenix was 3 interceptions, by Bailey Man, Kayode Oteh and Tom Vowles.

So, for the second time we ended up with the expected Final, East Kent against Exiles Wild Dogs. What a game! End to end. Great offence and even better defence. This is what a title game should all be about.

Exiles appeared to have the edge in early play when East Kent QB, Matt Allen was picked off twice, by Ed Kwakye and Qasim Bilal. The break-through came when Tom Vowles caught a Bailey Man pass and sprinted into the end Zone.

The atmosphere became, even more tense, as East Kent threw everything at the Wild Dogs defence to stay in the game. With the final play of regular time, East Kent QB threw a pass to the end zone which was caught by the East Kent player.

To overtime. Each team had a series starting from their 5- yard line to score or hand the ball over.

OT1        Tense, no one wanting to make a mistake, Exiles struck first when Kayode Oteh caught a Bailey Man pass for a score. East Kent responded.

OT2        Even more tense! Exiles Dogs went first and could not make a score, ball handed over to East Kent. Strong Dogs defence held out until on until a 4th down they managed to squeeze the ball into the end zone.

This was the que for an explosion of emotion, relief but also despair. What will be exciting is that most of the under 14’s from both teams will be moving onto Youth Padded next year, which bodes well for those programmes.

Congratulations to all teams, coaches, players and supporters for making a day a great event

Under 11 winners            Kent Exiles Stags              Runner Up          East Kent Mavericks

Under 14 Winners           East Kent Mavericks        Runner Up          Kent Exiles Wild Dogs

The 2018 season starts on Sunday 17th September at The Beaverwood Club. Should be fun!

Report by Ted Smith


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