BURNLEY Tornados American Football Club have been busy preparing for the new season ahead.
The club’s youth team hosted its first friendly tournament of the season with teams from Scotland and the north of England making the trip to the Prairie Playing Fields.
Teams that took part included East Kilbride Pirates, Hamilton Buccaneers, Chester Romans, and the two Pennine Panther teams from Leeds and Manchester.
The Tornados, watched by parents and supporters aptly named the Storm Chasers, kicked off proceedings against Manchester Panthers.
And it all started well for the host side as they lead 6-0 at half time.
The second half, however, was a much different story and after rookie Dom Ward was taken off with suspected concussion, the team were down to nine men and the Panthers pounced to take advantage and ended up winning 18-6.
Next up for the Tornados were East Kilbride Pirates who had sat out the first round of matches and were raring to go.
Team captains Josh Bonnick, Ben Dyer and Jonny Robertshaw met the captains and ref and the game began. Both sides were matched point for point with Gino Mann and Sam Zak scoring the touchdowns but the Pirates ground out another score just before the half.
Rookie Ellis Crumb made a couple of good tackles in the second half but also picked up a slight leg injury, and with points being matched again in this half the Pirates ran out eventual winners at 28-36.
The Tornados last game of the day was against Pennine Panthers Leeds team Being down to eight men the coaches asked the team to dig deep, concentrate and pull out all the stops – which they did.
Zack Leigh improved as the day progressed and was able to hold up the opposing nose tackle to give the QB a bit more time to release the ball.
Jonny Robertshaw had settled into the QB role, grew in confidence and linked up some excellent deep passes to Gino Mann and Sam Zak to take the score at the half to 14-0 in the Tornados favour.
In the second half Baylee Deevers made a good tackle to stop the Panthers making progress and Ben Dyer, who had been ferocious at nose tackle all day, was able to recover a fumble for another touchdown.
And in one of the last plays of the day, rookie Jonny Gunson intercepted the ball and the game was over, with an impressive shutout win for the Tornados who won 20-0.
Head Coach Paul Brammer said the tournament was another learning curve for the season ahead - and was delighted with the way his depleted side ended the day.
“The most important aspect of pre-season is to learn and that is what we did,” he said. “We went out to face teams of 20 plus players but in true Tornado spirit we started each and finished each game – a Tornado never quits.
“As coaches we have a job to do and we learnt a lot. changes we can now put into practice as we look forward to our next pre-season friendly in Manchester next weekend.
“The day highlighted the passion there is for youth American football around the country and the Tornados team did everyone proud.”