Junior History > 2011


OFFMUIR, Stewart


1RBDARE, Folahamni
17WRLEGGETT, Freddie
22DBPETTITT, Sebastian
26DBJONES, Michael
30DBMOORE, William
55OL/DLKWAN, Robert
70OL/DLKING, Kenneth
80WRRAND, Stefan
89DBALLEN, Haydn
92LBOBARA, Yannick
93LBNEALE, Elliot

2011 Season

Heavy on talent and heart, light on numbers


 Date Time OpponentVenue       ResultMedia
 27-03-2011 12:00 Farnham Knights HOME W   View Photo Gallery  

Regular Season

 Date Time OpponentVenue       ResultMedia
 24-04-2011 12:00 Colchester Gladiators AWAY L- 11View Match Report View Photo Gallery  
 01-05-2011 14:30 South London Renegades AWAY W18 - 14View Match Report View Photo Gallery  
 15-05-2011 12:00 East Kent Mavericks AWAY L24 - 34View Match Report View Photo Gallery  
 29-05-2011 12:00 Cambridgeshire Cats AWAY L- 8 
 05-06-2011 14:30 Colchester Gladiators HOME L- 20View Match Report View Photo Gallery View Match Programme 
 12-06-2011 14:30 Cambridgeshire Cats HOME L- 8View Match Report View Photo Gallery View Match Programme 
 24-07-2011 14:30 South London Renegades HOME W20 - 6View Match Report View Photo Gallery View Match Programme 
 31-07-2011 14:30 East Kent Mavericks HOME L- 6View Match Report View Photo Gallery View Match Programme 

The 2011 season for the Kent Exiles Junior team will be remembered for many different reasons.  The final record in the division stood at a somewhat unspectacular 2-6, and with no playoff berth. However 2011 may be looked back on as a season that laid an important foundation for future success of the junior program, and one that was key in the development of several players who are expected to have a very bright future in the game. 

Head Coach Paul Samartin returned for his second season at the helm, accompanied by the full time return of former Exiles Senior Head Coach Phil Wood to run the defense and Stewart Muir to assist with the offense and special teams.  The team itself was to be a mixture of experience and new blood.  Several players saw their final year of eligibility at this level before graduating to senior team ranks – among them long-time junior players Charles Mulvihill, Tom Rowles and Fola Dare.  A new crop of rookies were also welcomed into the fold – and with squad numbers down on the previous year, the opportunity for significant playing time was available.

Kent's 2010 playoff run had also seen a large number of players pad up at junior level for the last time, and the names on the roster were not the only big change going into 2011.  After several seasons of basing the offense around an I-formation running attack, Coach Samartin and staff decided to implement an innovative switch to the spread option, lining up in the shotgun every play.  This was an ambitious move to a more intricate and ambitious system, but one which would provide greater offensive rewards if the young Exiles could master it.  Ben Abbott, a linebacker on the 2010 team, took over at quarterback.  The Exiles looked to continue their strong defensive showing in 2011, led by defensive captain Dare, and several players returning with another year's experience under the belt.

The Exiles opened the season against last year's division winners, the Colchester Gladiators – a tough test on the road.  Kent put in a strong performance, and kept the game close, but were still finding their feet on offense, finishing on the wrong end of an 11-0 shutout.  However, Kent were quick to improve in the next game against the South London Renegades with Abbott starting to click with his weapons on offense.  This game saw Abbott begin to develop a connection with slotback Ryan Nestor that would pay dividends all season, and counted for two scores in this contest.  After an interception return by Charles Mulvihill put the game away, Kent survived a late  Renegades rally to hang on for an 18-14 victory. 

It was in the Exiles third game of the year that the offense really hit its stride in a shootout with the East Kent Mavericks.  Behind an impressive display from the offensive line and a sterling passing performance from Abbott, Nestor chalked up all four touchdowns, including a record setting 94 yard run and a kickoff return score.  Despite the offensive fireworks though, the Mavericks won the battle of Kent that day, pegging the Exiles back to 1-2.

The next three games proved to be the toughest part of the season, as low numbers saw the Exiles forced to play much more iron-man football than was hoped.  The result was Kent slipping to a four game losing streak that would effectively end their season.  However, this was a key time for players to step up and prove themselves in challenging circumstances.  Dan Reeves, a reliable target all year at receiver, showed his worth to the team by doubling up at linebacker.  Sebastian Pettitt found his calling at defensive back, with interceptions in consecutive games.  Haydn Allen  became a real force to reckoned with from his cornerback position, with aggressive run support all season, and  Joe Mulvihill made his presence felt on both the offensive and defensive lines.  The Exiles suited up only 14 players on the road at Cambridge and held the Cats all game, only being defeated by a late defensive score.  After a rain-soaked home loss to Colchester, Kent faced Cambridge for the second time.  Again undermanned, this game will be remembered for Fola Dare and Yannick Obara's team-first attitude in stepping up to play offensive line, both showing their great ability as all-round football players.  However, Kent finished with another narrow loss, 8-0.

The Exiles rebounded with their second win of the year in the return match with South London, with an impressive performance on both sides of the ball, and  scores from Nestor, Dare and Abbott.  Kent were playing for pride in their last game, at home against East Kent.  Trailing 6-0 in the second half, the Exiles were determined to end their season on a high.  The game again went down to the wire, as the offense drove from their own 10 in the last two minutes.  Kent were in position to steal the game at the death, and thought they had as Abbott found Alex Orphanau for a touchdown in the final seconds.  But there was one last heartbreak for the Exiles, as a penalty negated the score and the season ended on a incomplete shot at the endzone.  The final drive was somewhat symbolic of the whole season - the Exiles had showed great skill, toughness and heart, but in the end came up just short. 

With a slightly bigger squad, it was not difficult to imagine such a talented team going deep into the playoffs.  However, the 2011 season ultimately left both players and coaches hungry for success and with a strong foundation to take into 2012.

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