This Sunday sees the Shropshire Revolution competing in the first round of the 2016 playoffs away to Leeds Bobcats. It’s quite a turnaround from a side who finished winless in 2015 and were relegated from Division I.
It’s been a long season, stretching back to December last year, when the first of two rookie sessions were run in the hope of recruiting more talent.
The turnout was a success and from those who stuck through the tough winter training, won themselves a spot alongside the rookie class of 2015 and seasoned veterans. With a new look coaching staff and playbook overhaul the Revolution were ready to face another challenge.
Things didn’t get off to the best start, as the Revolution were beaten in their first two games against Staffordshire Surge (35-14) and Leicestershire Falcons (49-0). A moral boosting first win of the campaign against Humber Warhawks at home was followed up with victory over Lincolnshire Bombers.
At 2-2 the mood in the camp was a confident one. There were still creases to iron out on both sides of the ball, but when the offence and defence started clicking they looked every bit the dominant force. A trip away to Leicestershire in warm and humid conditions saw the Revolution go down 57-7, but the following game at home was season defining.
Staffordshire were going to be close rivals for second place in the division and a win would put Shropshire 3-3. In a gripping encounter the Revolution ran out winners 28-24 and people within the club started to believe that post season football might be more than a hopeful dream.
Another loss to the Falcons saw the Revolution slip to 3-4, but the Falcons were sweeping up every team in the division and weren’t going to be caught. The race was on for second place. The math was simple, win the final three games of the season and a playoff spot would be all but guaranteed.
Away to Staffordshire the Revolution ran riot, playing the best football of the season by far. They ran out comfortable winners 42-0, and should the two teams end up tied at 6-4 come the end of the regular season, held the head to head 2-1.
Two long road games followed, with trips to Lincoln and Humber. Both saw the Revolution victorious 26-6 and 31-6 respectively. Placed as 6th seeds in the knockout stage they face the Leeds Bobcats, a team who won the NFC II West with a 9-1 record. It’s not going to be any easy game, but playoff football is completely different, and on the day anything can happen.
Shropshire has only made the playoffs four times in their ten year history so it will be a moment to savour for all involved, and it’s no more than the club deserve, as it exorcises the demons of 2015.