Part 1 – 2016 Season Review

As the kickoff to the USARL 2017 season is only one week away, the Philadelphia Fight would like to present this two part series to review the magical 2016 season and preview the 2017 season. Here is Part 1 – 2016 Fight Season Review

From the first kickoff of the 2016 USARL International 9s Tournament, to the final whistle in the 2016 USARL Grand Final, the 2016 USARL season was filled with excitement for the Philadelphia Fight and its fans. Even at the first training session, the energy was palpable. Every player knew that the team was destined for special things.

The Fight bolstered their ranks with amazing import talent – Datpo forwards Josh Vaartjes and Jesse Fogg. Rhys Bowdich and Joel Weeks returned for their third and fourth stints, respectively. An added bonus was French U-17 player, Yoann Reynauld. Reynauld arrived just before Round 5, and made his first grade debut during Round 6, winning the Man of the Match honors. Unfortunately, he was not able to stay for the playoffs, as he had to head home.

The Fight started the season coming in second place for the 2016 USARL International 9s tournament. Leading the entire match, the Fight gave up try on the left edge on the last play of the game to the Mindaribba Warriors. It would be the only time the Fight lost during the 2016 season.

Rounds 1 through 4 were easy going for the Fight. During this time, the Fight outscored their opponents 286 to 22, with two shutouts. The Fight went into the 4th of July weekend with a strong hold on the competition, but knowing that Round 5 would be their biggest test.

Round 5 was a special round for many reasons for the Fight. First, the Fight were to take on the New York Knights for the top sop in the north. Secondly, this game marked the first game in the history in the Northern Conference of the USARL were a reserve grade match was played in addition to the main game.

Finally, and most importantly, it was the Fight’s Charity Match dubbed The ‘Clash with Cancer’. The fundraising effort was put on by the Fight and The Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. Through the afternoon, the Fight were able to raise just over $8,000 dollars for the B+ Foundation!

Rounds 6 through 8 were formalities for the Fight, as they were rounding into playoff form. For the third straight season in a row, the Fight went undefeated in the Regular season. During that timeframe, the Fight outscored its opponents 384 points to just 72 points.

The Fight entered the playoffs as the top seed in the North, resulting in a first round bye. They made quick work of the Delaware Black Foxes in the Mid-Atlantic Final, defeating them by a score of 76-6, setting up a rematch of the 2015 Northern Conference Final against the Boston 13s.

In one of the most exciting game played in 2016, the Fight were able to barely defeat Boston in overtime, by a score of 33-24.  This win setup the Fight up for its fourth USARL Grand Final Appearance in 6 years.

The 2016 USARL Grand Final had the Fight squaring off against their Southern Conference Rivals, the Jacksonville Axemen. This would be the third time the Fight would square off with the Axemen in a Grand Final, with the Fight winning the previous two. The first two times, were held in Philadelphia and Jacksonville, respectively; this would be the first Grand Final between the two combatants in a neutral venue.

The game started off as both teams were evenly matched, but eventually the Fight pulled too far ahead for Jacksonville to catch up. The Fight won their Fourth Grand Final by a score of 42 – 20.

The Fight capped their season by having multiple players selected to the USARL Hawks including, Mike Timpano, Roman Lowery, Andrew Kneisly, Rich Henson, Jared Frymoyer and Casey Clark.

2016 FIGHT AWARDS:

  • MVP – Casey Clark
  • Players Player – Josh Vaartjes
  • Best Forward – Jesse Fogg
  • Best Back – Joel Weeks
  • Most Improved – James Coleman
  • Encouragement Award – Sevvi Russo
  • Clubman of the Year – Sam Pearce
  • Outstanding Service – Donald Morrison

The Fight are looking forward to the 2017 season, for a preview of it click here.

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