This season marks the the Liverpool Raptors’ fourth year, the University’s resident American Football side, a club which has grown beyond the expectations of many of it’s founding members.
Competing in the BUCS North Division 2A, the Raptors put up a good performance last year- five wins and two losses in seven league games, placing them third in the league for the second year running. The two regular season losses came against the now-Division 1A Yorkshire and Lancashire side, Manchester, and the returning Bangor Muddogs, who are firmly in the sights of the Raptors this time around.
The season gets underway on the 10th of November, away at the Leeds Gryphons, before the home opener on Sunday 18th November against Bangor, in what is expected to be a top of the table clash, at JMO Sports Field.
In preparation for kick off, we spoke to Chris Dadswell, the Raptors Committee President, to gain an insight into the team’s hopes and expectations.
The club’s now in its fourth season. How does the current side compare to what you imagined on day one?
The team has become so much bigger and more professional than I thought possible at our first practice four years ago. In just a few short years, we’ve gone from only winning one game of ten in that first year, to making it into the playoffs, which I definitely didn’t expect.
Having finished the season with a loss against Manchester in the league and Coventry in the cup, how do you expect the more experienced players to bounce back?
In my eyes, we’ve already bounced back after winning Varsity and the Christie Championships in quick succession. A defensive shutout against the Leeds Gryphons and a convincing 30-12 win against LJMU Fury, both of which played Division One last year, was a great response.
Who are the key players to look out for when attending a Raptors game?
Fourth year running back Jimmy Sutherland (#80) is a must watch in every game. Returning to full fitness after breaking his collarbone last season, he’s ready for a big season. Alex Dodd (#40) will be looking to build on his fantastic rookie campaign with more big plays after claiming our 2017 Defensive Player of the Year award. Fellow linebacker Dafydd Sion Roberts (#57) is also in line for a big year after earning a starting spot on the Merseyside Nighthawks defense this summer, while wide receiver Alex Totir (#97) has dominated through pre-season practices and looks set to continue doing so through the regular season.
Who might be an under-rated star of the season to look out for?
Rookie defensive end Andrew Garnett has flashed a lot of potential through our opening month of training and should be a key player on our defensive line.
How can people come down and support the side?
We play all our home games at JMO sports park in Skelmersdale and we’d love to have as many supporters down as possible! The Liverpool Foxes cheerleading society will also be with us at every game this year cheering us on from the sideline, so come on down!
What are the ultimate goals for the upcoming season?
In our fourth year as a team, we’re looking to win the division and start chasing a conference championship. With a strong squad of over 30 returning players, we definitely have the talent to finish at the top of the list this year.
If you’re interested in attending a Raptors game, just head down to JMO Sports Park for all the home games; the site has a fully stocked bar which serves hot food, so feel free to come on down whatever the weather!
The first home game of the season kicks off at 11am on the 18th of November against long term rivals, the Bangor Muddogs.