It’s that time again where in the west the battle against Rugby, Aussie rules and cricket is taken head-on by 8 clubs to get fields, assistance from councils and recruit players to the Minority sport that gets bigger by the day and we love so much American football. Gridiron West and all involved continue to break down barriers and bring another option to the people and continue their pursuit of becoming a centrepiece of sport in WA.
In what was an exciting year of football the 2016-17 season saw the Rockingham Vipers take out there 9th Senior championship and the Perth Blitz get there 1st on the junior level. What will season 2017-18 have in place for us here are some of my thoughts on the clubs of Gridiron west Senior teams!
ROCKINGHAM VIPERS – The 9-time Champions finished last season 11-1 with another ring but it was possibly the one that got away from the clubs in GW as starting the season without there ever young but really old QB it was possibly the chance teams needed to knock them off their perch…..IT DIDN’T HAPPEN !!! This season there are new challenges as possibly the best RB in Australia and even best ever Nate Lansdell says goodbye to the playing field and focuses on his Junior team that he also has led for many years. As per last year the core group is still there and led by big John Leilua, Lanu Kennach and the return of that OLD GUY the Vipers will pack some punch as they go for the 4peat.
CURTIN SAINTS – The Curtin Saints looked the team to beat all season dominating their opponents on both sides of the ball! Defence led by Ty Henry one of the most all-around players seen in GW made it hard for any offense they faced and their own offense stacked with a Superstar Wideout group and American Import Qb Justin Sottilare throwing the ball like a cannon they never struggled to put up points except in 2 games both against the Vipers and 1 in the championship they would soon rather forget. While both Henry and Sottilare have moved on no doubt the coaching staff have a plan in place to replace these guys with equal talent and with monsters on the line like David Olivieri and AJ Wright they will continue to sit at the top end of the ladder.
PERTH BRONCOS – The Perth Broncos had one of those years getting oh so close to teams they shouldn’t and having a tough time against teams they should easily beat. Head Coach Justin Rogers was faced with many hurdles as key players were constantly missing yet he always made sure they had a plan in place enabling them to challenge teams no matter the personal. With as many QB changes as he has Pepsi’s it made putting points on the board tuff at times but his team nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in their semi-final loss to the Saints. This season he gets the full-time QB he wants with the return of Joel VanDeMeer where the potential has no limits as this kid has talent. On the other side of the bal, he welcomes back Damien Donaldson who some say has the brain of Bill Belichick when it comes to football we will find out if these guys can lead the Broncos back into the big dance!
CLAREMONT JETS – The Surprise to some finishing 4th but for the jets it was a great achievement and the 1st half of football in the semi-final showed that with the right pieces this team could be a force not to be taken lightly in years to come. Young Qb Nathan McCann has turned into one of the best up and coming talents in Gridiron West and his time as an understudy in the WA Raiders camp to that Old man we mention in the Vipers seems to have given this kid the direction needed to become GREAT! The question mark on this team is can they hold a coach as they seem to have a new one every season and can they find the right mix to form a defence that can be consistent and get there star QB more opportunities to put points on the board to get them some wins.
PERTH BLITZ – A once force of Gridiron West on the field seemed to go backwards the last few years and didn’t look a shadow of the team that won it all 4 years ago. Ask the people in charge and they are on track with their plan which is not all about on-field achievements and after losing 90% of their core after that championship in 2013 some pretty tough decisions were made to change the culture at this great club. The future is very bright with some up and coming future stars transitioning to seniors this year. Led by one of the most committed people in the sport and probably one of the longest-serving members’ Coach Kevin Wilson has helped develop a talented group of young men to be the future at the Blitz and these kids might just shock a few in the west.
WEST SIDE STEELERS –Another onetime powerhouse of GW who has had to deal with mass exodus in the playing ranks struggled their way through the season in what was a very tough year for the steel curtain. Looking to the junior ranks to develop and fill some much-needed Senior positions this will be a testing season for Veteran players in the team but with the return of Australian Representative Bryn Nightingale we might just see the Steelers of old if he can draw back 1 or 2 of the many Ex Steelers spread threw out the league.
WEST COAST WOLVERINES – In probably one of the toughest seasons encountered by the Wolverines since the start of their short existence it saw them not manage a win all year and having to play some tough iron man football to complete games. Led by STUD linebacker Jonathan Bielawicz who covers more of the field then the grass we play on they remained a tough opponent and a team that you had to keep your head on a swivel so to speak as this guy can hit!!! This year they also will see some very talented youth transition into Seniors and the hard work by Club President and GW legend Casey Stein should start to see those wins become a regular item on game day.
SWAN CITY TITANS – The Unknown??? Well here are some things that are well known Founder Layke Rossiello has done all this before and has set the standard for recruiting, marketing and promotions at a new level in GW. The Titans once a mere thought in some minds is now the REAL DEAL with a huge recruitment drive seeing the club develop into already one of the strongest member bases in GW and possibly pulling off one of the biggest player moves made for some time in the west by luring Ty “Mr Fix it” Henry into the club as a Founder, Coach, Board member and QB for the Titans.
Ty Henry made an impact last season by solving all the Saints problems firstly with his brilliant defensive work and then turning into one of their standout offensive weapons no longer a Saint now bleeds the blue and white of the Titans and it will be exciting to see what Layke, Ty and the coaching staff can achieve with a raw group of talent that is amassing by the herds week by week. I believe these guys will be taking a spot in finals it’s just a matter of who will they knockout!