After much anticipation and delay, the inaugural season of the Phoenix U14 flag team finally took place in 2021. With a small squad of just six players, they entered a tough Midlands division against successful & established teams including 2018 & 2019 National Champions the Leicester Huntsman.
In May the opening tournament of their season saw them travel to local rivals Birmingham Lions where they would play the hosts and the experienced Nuneaton Jaguars. The opening game with the Jaguars would be a quick and harsh introduction to the league, losing 67-0. However in their following match up with the Lions they picked themselves up and earned their first ever win with a 27-0 score line. To round out the day they faced the Jaguars once more, despite the heavy defeat the first time around and weary legs for the five available players, they managed to limit the Jaguars to a 38-0 win.
Moving into June it was time for the Phoenix to host their first ever flag tournament, they would again face the Lions but this time the National Champion Leicester Huntsmen were on the agenda. First up the Phoenix faced the Huntsmen and despite showing obvious improvement from the previous tournament, couldn’t find much success against an excellent Huntsmen team who took the win 28-0. In their next game, they would face the Lions for the second time of the season and this time it would be a lot closer, the Lions themselves showed excellent improvement but the Phoenix managed to hold them off for an 18-6 win. Again going into the final game of the day with just five players, the Nix had to face the Huntsmen once more and despite going behind early, found themselves driving down field in the final minute behind by just one score. With a great home support behind them they found themselves at 4th & goal but couldn’t quite pull off a miracle and lost 19-12.
With half the season played the young team had a 2-4 record and had made themselves some memorable moments. However with such a small squad and the school holidays in full flow, they were unable to take the field for their third tournament as player availability became an issue.
Even as they approached the final tournament in Nuneaton they had the absolute minimum number of players required but once again showed amazing determination and desire to compete against the top three sides in the division. They opened the day against the undefeated Nuneaton Jaguars and put together one of their best displays of the season. Down by six in the final minute, QB Theo Stone confidently passed his way down field to tie the game at 26-26 but just couldn’t convert the extra point to win the game. However being the first team of the season to avoid defeat against the powerhouse Jaguars was an accomplishment in itself, especially when you consider the 67-0 defeat to them in the first game of the season. They would go on to finish the day and the season with defeats to both the Huntsmen & Houghton Bears.
By the end of the regular season the first ever Phoenix Flag team logged a 2-9-1 record and won many friends with their determined & tireless displays. First year Head Coach Terrell Burgess instilled a confident and fun loving attitude into his players throughout the season and their development has impressed many. Going into 2022 all but one player, Kieran Hawkes who will graduate to the U16 contact team, will return and new recruits have already arrived at practices in preparation for the new season. With the team now established in the league, the future for Nix flag looks as bright as their brilliant orange jerseys.