The Tigers took to the road over the weekend for the second time this season, traveling to Atlanta for a showdown against the rival Kookaburras. They were greeted by plenty of familiar faces, many of whom they had played alongside just a few short months ago at Nationals. One of whom even played as a Tiger last year. Nice to see you Kyler!
Expectations were tempered as the Tigers approached Candler Park. The trip to Atlanta has seldom been kind to the visitors, and last year was particularly lopsided. The Tigers were determined not to repeat those results and came out firing on all cylinders.
The Tigers played aggressive footy right out of the gate, winning the stoppages and locking the ball in their forward half for most of the first quarter. This early intensity resulted in the Tigers leading the Kookaburras by 7 points at quarter time, 2.2.14 to 1.1.7. In the 2nd quarter, the Tigers were just a little less accurate in front of goal and Atlanta took the lead 4.2.26 to 2.4.16. At three quarter time, Atlanta’s lead remained the same (6.4.39 to 4.5.29).
The fourth quarter proved to be a struggle for Baton Rouge, as the speed of Atlanta’s midfield and the depth of its bench began to take its toll on the traveling Tigers. On seemingly fresher legs, the Kookaburras kicked 6.0 for the final term. Whereas, the Tigers faded down the stretch kicking only 1.1. Final Score: Atlanta 12.4.76 to Baton Rouge 5.6.36. Tigers Best: Lachlan McQueen
Following the match, both clubs and their supporters gathered at The Bird to drink away the bumps and bruises celebrate another footy weekend gone by. The Tigers now have three weeks to lick their wounds, gather their focus, and meditate on lessons learned from this defeat before traveling to Little Rock for the Central Regional Tournament and the end of the first half of the 2017 season.
After three months of hard training, the Tigers left Baton Rouge Friday night in search of their first live action of the USAFL season. After taking in the sights and sounds of beautiful Houston, Texas, they made their way to Cullen Park for their annual showdown with the Lonestars.
The Tigers’ first match of the day for the Ruggles Cup was against a Houston squad that just defeated Tulsa/OKC by a comfortable margin. It was easy to see that the Lonestars continued to fire on all cylinders early in the first half as the Tigers struggled for answers to slow down the Houston midfielders and keep the ball out of our defensive 50. After several halftime adjustments, and with some encouragement from Coach Heintze, the second half saw a group of Tigers playing with an increased confidence and intensity around the ball that helped them to win a few more contests and eventually kick 2.2.14 for the match. However, it was not enough to stop the Lonestars from kicking 12.7.79 and retaining the Ruggles Cup for 2017. Tigers Best: Ryan Baldasarro
The Tigers took a few breaths and regrouped to face off against Tulsa/OKC in their second game. We expected a tough, well coached club to make the trip down from Tulsa and they did not disappoint. However, the adjustments made in the second half of the first match were carried over into this contest, and there was no lack of intensity to be found from the Tigers in this one. As a result, the Tigers had more success moving the ball forward to impact the scoreboard than the Buffaloes. In the end, we pulled out our first victory of the season with a final of 7.7.49 to 3.5.23. Tigers Best: Austin LeBouef
All three clubs and supporters gathered at The Pheonix on Westheimer to celebrate the day. Meat pies were devoured, ice cold beers were drank, and rookies did their shots! A wonderful way to end a fantastic day of footy!
Next up: St. Pete/Tampa Bay on May 6th at 2pm at Clark Park in Baker, LA.
It’s been quite some time since our last update, due in no small part to the massive flooding from August that affected and continues to affect the entire Baton Rouge area. Many Tigers were displaced from their homes, and everyone on the team was impacted in some form or fashion. However, this heavy burden was lightened due to the boundless generosity and support of the entire USAFL community, who donated over $3,000.00 so that those most affected could continue playing the game we all love.
The second half of the season started on a sour note, as the Atlanta Kookaburras lit up the scoreboards against a skeleton squad of Tigers to the tune of 19.24.138 to 5.8.38. Not to be perturbed, the Tigers used that loss as motivation and re-doubled their efforts leading up to their September 17th Tailgate game, when they hosted the Kooks and neighboring Houston Lonestars.
October 15th marked the first day of Nationals in Sarasota, Florida. In their first match against the Des Moines Roosters, the Tigers had a difficult time adjusting to playing with the Atlanta Kookaburras and found themselves down 3.6.24 to 0.3.3 at halftime. After gaining some familiarity with their new teammates, the “Kookatigers” outscored Des Moines 1.1.7 to 3.0.18 in the second half, falling just short as Des Moines secured a 4.7.31 to 3.3.21 victory. Bouncing back with a 5.4.34 to 3.5.23 win over the Denver Bulldogs later in the day, the Tigers ended the day in hot contention for the Division IV semifinal.
After some heartbreaking calculations, the Kookatigers just missed the semifinal and instead found themselves paired against the Tulsa Buffaloes in what would be their last game of the season. Determined to stake a claim for next year’s Nationals seeding, they blew past the Buffaloes with a final score of 11.4.70 to 1.0.6, finishing with a 2-1 record in the division.
After an inspiring 5-4 season, which included an undefeated home record, and having finished out the season with the 2016 Grand Final Party, our 2016 Annual Meeting, and having piled on the pounds during the holiday season, the Tigers will be returning to action in the coming weeks. Check back for updates on the 2017 training schedule or check out the Baton Rouge Tigers Australian Football Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13181053834/. For any questions or to join the Baton Rouge Tigers for the 2017 season, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
It was an early lightning filled morning when I got the call to join the Tigers on their team truck, a black suburban named Tequila.
Although the team bus has been ready and willing, the logistics have not played in favor. Luckily the driver seat of Tequila was open and I was eager and overjoyed to have the opportunity to ride with (drive) the bulk of the team. Coach Neil, Rob, and Mark had already made the trek to Houston in order to scout the area. In our truck was Adam & Josh, Ryan & Ryan, and the Aussies in the back: Matt and Mitch. We had decided that sitting alphabetical order would improve the feng shui of the trip.
The drive started at 4:15 am from Cartmill Ranch, which is just outside of Baton Rouge. Our 7th passenger was held up from the torrential rains that evening, but managed a ride with FOTT (Friend Of The Team) Maryanne, who was making the trip to Houston for the sole purpose of supporting her Baton Rouge Tigers, and taking care of other business during while in Houston. Around the halfway point, Tequila stopped for some human fuel at the Cracker Barrel, an establishment made for King’s of the Road who crave breakie at all hours of the day. Mitch was only able to leave 3 pegs on the puzzle. Throughout almost the whole drive, thunderstorms and rain came rolling in like Stannis Berathean’s warships during the Battle of King’s Landing.
Finally, as the team eased Tequila into a slow halt, allowing her ancient springs a moments rest, we realize the pitch had been relocated to another park. And again, off we were to face the now delayed challenge of our arch-friends the Houston Lonestars.
There’s a long friendly history between The Lonestars and The Tigers, and it didn’t stop until the first whistle after warm ups. The Lonestars pulled ahead early, winning several contests inside shooting range. At the start of the second quarter, the Tiger’s regrouped and organized their lines and began contesting marks with a bit more authority. However, Houston did not let up and continued to add to their lead.
The third and fourth quarters began to rise in physicality as the players started to get tired. The moisture heat rose out of the ground like a basaltic lava flow fueled by the solar radiation of the now visible sun. When the final whistle blew, the Lonestars emerged as victors.
There were some great moments for the Tigers during the game. Rookie Ryan Baldassaro had a spectacular mark just above the reaching hands of the mob-filled contest. He managed to calibrate his boots and sink his shot on goal. Ryan Moran showed bull-dozer qualities in driving to the ball, sometimes from 15 meters away only to explode through the other side of the pile with the skippy-skin. Both of the Ryan’s showed glorious potential and a positive future for the Tigers. They were both recognized by Coach Neil after the game. Veteran player and Club President Josh Cartmill came away with Coach Neil’s approving nod as the Tiger’s best man on the pitch.
The whole day served as a stark reminder that you should get out and enjoy the day at its fullest. The Houston Lonestars Ruggles Cup is played in memory of Ruggles, a solid Lonestar Footy player, and the Ruggles Family was properly honored at the start of the match. Also, April 25th was the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landing by Australian and New Zealand forces during WWI. ANZAC Day is remembered annually and is comparable to America’s Veteran’s Day, as a remembrance of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in preserving the way of life we know and love.
A beautifully orchestrated service with a trumpeter playing the Last Post and a silent moment for the Ruggles Family wrapped up the field activities for the day. Despite the morning rainy weather, the day turned out to be quite brilliant.
After the game, the Tigers went to the team locker room, provided by La Quinta, and Shh, showered, and shaved in preps for the ANZAC remembrance event put on by the Houston Lonestars Footy Club for the City of Houston. Never have so many fake Australian accents turned out to be real ones; as the place was packed with Aussies. Footy players, families, and other American counterparts joined in the fun with a replay of some AFL action on an imported outdoor television while the joeys bounced in the inflatable castle. There were even footies flying through the air like a scene from Deep Impact. Also, a uniquely Aussie menu was prepared by The Pheonix on Westheimer, the host site of the event. Aussie burgers, sausage rolls, and more helped bring the day a little closer to home for our expats.
Despite the loss, the Tigers walked away with some experience for the rookies, some play time for the veterans, and a continuation of the awesome friendly relationship between The Lonestars and The Tigers.
Standing on a windy empty parking lot, late on a Friday afternoon, we start hand-balling the footy to one another. Every so often, an American style pass gets thrown and eventually we’ve spread out enough for kicks. The six of us; Josh, Daryl, Stephen, Nicki, Mark, and I are waiting on Zimm to show up so that the seven of us can set course for College Station, TX for the 1st ever College 10s Tournament. Our drive was virtually music free as casual cantor bounced around the cabin while the mile signs counted down to the LA/TX border. We made our first and only stop in Sulphur City, where the team indulged in gourmet square burgers from Wendy’s, served by an up beat cashier named Victoria. Finally, after a few more hours on I-10, and several seemingly out-of-place turns on a road called “105”, we pull into College Station as the midnight chimes ring. After a lovely “we’re not lost” tour of College Station, the morning greets us with a quick field set up and some rain. The boys, representing LSU, warmed-up their footy and slowly the teams trickle in. Team were proudly representing Louisiana State University, the University of Texas, University of Houston, Texas Tech University, and of course our hosts, Texas A&M. To spite the rain, the field was Astroturf, and played fast. The ball, however, was soaked thru and flopped around like a bouncing lead weight. In a true showcase of the sportsmanship of the players and the sport itself, a couple of teams had to join together to make teams of 10. Our boys played well, with moments of brilliance shining through. Josh received a lot of compliments from the sidelines with smart passing, and great tackling. Mark had perhaps the best defensive play of the day, holding off a double team from 10 yards off the goal to prevent a score. Daryl was quick to the ball, and showed calculated aggression in getting to the ball as the day went on. Zimm had some great clearances to the wing, getting the ball out of the mess in the middle. Stephen had an eye for the uprights, racking up the majority of points for the team. Nicki and I assisted with water breaks and some goal umpiring. Nicki may have taken home the MVP with a timely beer run as the day reached the halfway point. Although the boys didn’t make it to the final, the day was fun. Unfortunately lightning interrupted the Grande Final. With everyone under the pavilion, the BBQ line was opened with a full Eskie near by. Team photos and great conversation wrapped up the day in College Station. We fueled up the truck with gas, our bellies with Freebirds, and began the long journey home. We were Karaoke-ing and talking about our football club most of the way. One of the biggest lessons learned on this trip was whether or not any of us were qualified to be Mark Chambers’ friend, but that won’t stop us from trying. It was a great trip, and good end to the season. Everyone is looking forward to growing the club next year; hopefully we’ll see you out there.
Zimm, Stephen, Josh, Mark, Nicki, Daryl , Adam. Photo courtesy of Nicki K.