Ending a 5 year absence the rejuvenated Manchester Titans Youth team travelled to Durham to begin their ‘Youth Contact’ title challenge. Under a new coaching regime and with a travelling squad consisting entirely of rookies, the 2013 opening tournament was always going to be one of mass learning.
The Titans became their campaign against the newly-created D.C. Presidents Youth team. Proceedings started well for the Titans with cornerback Shea Roach scooping up a fumble recovery and running it back for a touchdown in the game’s opening drive. Despite a promising start, the Titans with a travelling squad of 7 were struck with an early injury to running back Adam Leach. The now squad of 6 came undone by an elusive outside run game by the D.C. offense. Compounded by an untypically northern day, the Manchester Youth found it difficult to keep up with the D.C. offense as every member of the Titans’ squad was playing both ways. The Manchester Titans offense did however manage to score a brilliant long run with Daniel Issa carrying the ball from his own half after an improvised hand-off by Clarence Ehondor. Final Score: D.C. 46 – Titans 12.
Game 2 for the Titans was against the Woodham Warriors, who travelled with an impressive 16 players. Similar to the D.C. game the outside run game proved the principle difficulty for the Titans’ defence with the Warriors lightning-fast running back making several top quality runs. Despite increasing fatigue, the ‘outnumbered but never outgunned’ concept began to surface within the Titans youth camp-personified by do-it-all Clarence Ehondor. Clarence, drawing attention from coaches, supporters and even the referee took the game into his own hands and lead the game in tackles, catches and rushing yards. Numbers and inexperienced proved to be decisive factors in the Titans second game with the final score being Woodham 46 – Titans 15.
The Titans finished their opening tournament of the season to the Burnley Tornados; a very experienced side that finished as one of the best youth teams last season. Burnley’s experience compounded with sloppy handling errors resulted in Burnley scoring 2 quick touchdowns to start the game. The Titans, who were now down to the bare minimum 5 men, never looked defeated and took each offensive and defensive series as a chance to develop their skill and attempt a comeback. Unfortunately the Titans were unable to stop the rampant Tornado’s offensive and found it difficult to pass against what was a veteran defence. The game finished 50-7 to the Tornados.
Although the results went against the Titans, the youth team earned the respect of not only their coaching staff but the respect of every coach at the tournament. The Burnley Tornados tweeted following the tournament, ‘@ManchesterTitans Your youth team are a credit to your club’.
Overall the results did not go the Titans’ way but the experience acquired by both the coaching staff and the players has kept a positive atmosphere in the youth set-up. The next tournament for the Titans Youth team is their home tournament on the 14th July at Salford City Stadium. The Titans will be looking to pick up their first win and thus keep them on track for their season goal of making the playoffs.