Now the dust has settled on our season opener against Northumberland Vikings, the Tigers are looking ahead to the first home game against Yorkshire Academy Rams.
But what can we learn from the trip to the north-east of England? We watched the game again and picked out three key takeaways for the Tigers as they look to clinch the first win of the year.
1. New Faces in Old Places
After narrowly avoiding relegation in a disappointing 2018 season, it was clear the Tigers would have to do some solid recruitment under new Head Coach Ryan McCluskey if they were to cement their place in the division, let alone challenge for promotion.
That overhaul of the squad was evident on Sunday, with six new faces on the starting defence that did an excellent job holding 2018 promotion contender Northumberland for most of the game.
This stout defence meant the Tigers offence had a chance to take risks on 4th down, knowing they could trust their defence.
With a fully revamped defensive line, improved depth at linebacker, and promising rookie Ross Thompson in the secondary, this defence is one other teams should be wary of.
2. Experience Counts In The End
The story of Sundays game can be summed up by two words – mental mistakes.
From the opening minute it was clear penalties would play a huge part in the outcome, with the sweltering heat making it hard on both teams.
For the Vikings, a 1st and goal opportunity at the 10 yard line early in the 1st quarter turned into a 4th and goal from the 50 thanks to a number of penalties during the drive.
Similarly for the Tigers, a go-ahead goal line opportunity was squandered due to a fumble that was recovered by Northumberland.
This pattern continued most of the game and the separating factor between both teams seemed to be experienced heads on last year’s division champions that turned the game in their favour.
3. Resiliency and Belief
In 2018, an unfortunate statistic followed the Tigers – they won every game they scored in.
This can be interpreted a number of ways, but perhaps the most clear interpretation of it is that players heads went down whenever they went behind early in games.
The fire inside them dimmed, and their belief that they could win the game was shattered. Against the Vikings this past Sunday, nobody could accuse the Tigers of lacking in resiliency, belief, or passion.
After trailing early through a Vikings safety, the Tigers fought back in the second quarter and took the lead after a perfect pass from Jig McCoy to Dan Mathews for the TD.
Even after a goal line fumble, confidence was high going into the second half and the team more than acquitted themselves with their performance, nearly coming away with the victory.
This showing was an important step for the Tigers as they move forward in the season.