With the 2021 season now in the rear view mirror the Phutures programme switches its focus on preparation for 2022. After a successful undefeated campaign for the U19 team, they now see nine players graduate to senior football from the roster.
On the offensive side of the ball they say goodbye to some players who have grown with the Phutures over several years. Offensive lineman and team captain Ajay Benning joined the programme in 2015, he has been the anchor in every Phoenix offense since he arrived and was selected for Great Britain U19s in 2018, being involved with the Lions every year since. Ajay will appear for Nottingham University through the winter before continuing his football with Coach Jason Scott at Phoenix seniors in 2022.
WR Josh Russam returned to the Phoenix after first appearing in U16 football some years ago. Rejoining the Phutures in early 2021, he quickly became a regular on the offense and showed a real talent for contested catches and disciplined route running. During the winter Josh will be playing for Leicester Longhorns University team.
Two way player Owen James was predominantly used at RB throughout the season due to injuries to other players. Owen joined the Nix shortly before the season started, he made an immediate impact at practices and gamedays with his relentless & competitive playing style. Often ripping off chunks of yardage when possessing the football. Owen returns to Filton College this term.
Two offensive players who are stepping up to seniors a year early are QB Josh Allsebrook and WR Joe Perkins. Having both been with the programme from the age of 14, their development has been one of immense pride for the Phutures staff. After starring in the 2019 U16 squad that travelled to Britbowl, this year they again linked up for an unbeaten season with the U19’s. Team MVP Josh is currently at Filton College and a member of the GB Lions since 2019, Joe is also with GB Lions and had secured a place at Midwest Prep Sports Academy in Illinois for 2021 however missed out due to Covid travel restrictions in the US. He will be guesting for Team North against his Nix teammates at Filton later this month. Both are keen to contribute to the senior set up next season.
Defensively the Phutures will see four players graduate to seniors, the longest serving player is LB Kavan Chatha who joined the programme in 2017 for the U16’s before moving up to the U19 team for three years. Kavan’s reputation grew throughout that time, as a disciplined and technically sound player who was quietly effective on the field. He will be reunuted with his cousin Taran, who graduated into the senior set-up last year.
Two more LBs also graduate from this year, Josh Oldfield has been at the club for two years after transferring locally and has been a constant force on defense and special teams. Another player to grace the GB Lions roster, he will be playing his football in Sheffield at University this winter. Josh was a vital addition to the squad and formed a formidable duo with fellow LB Luke Ashman. The pair wreaked havoc on opposing offences in 2021 with their swarming & tough tackling style. Luke himself a GB Lion and Nix team captain has been with the team since 2018, this winter he will be returning for his second year at Filton College.
The final player to graduate this year is DB/K Dylan Pole, joining the Phoenix towards the end of 2018, Dylan quickly established himself as the starting safety when stepping up to U19 with his smooth coverage skills. Signing off in style in his last game with an interception against the Nottingham Caesars. Dylan also was an integral part of the special teams unit, often pinning teams deep with his punting and also hitting a team record 42 yard field goal. He was also one of our many GB Lions and will be appearing for Team North later this month.
Whilst it’s always sad to see players move on, it’s more rewarding seeing the progress these players have made since joining the Phamily. With our focus always being on development first, it’s an added bonus that these players have been apart of some of the most successful times at Phoenix Phutures. We wish them all the best in their winter activities and look forward to seeing them with our senior team in the spring. Ajay & Joe will also be returning to the Phutures programme as positional coaches