Hard work pays off.
By Marco Cummings
GLENDALE – The Glendale Raptors men kicked off 2017 with a road trip to California to face the Life West Gladiators last weekend. Hard work and preparation paid off for the visiting Raptors as the side cruised to a comfortable 50-19 win.
“This was our first competitive game as a team, and after a short pre-season period, the aims were very simple and clearly defined for the team: Win the physicality, play fast and accurate, have dominance in the set piece, stick to our pattern of play and take the opportunities as they arise,” explained Raptors head coach Dave Williams, who was hired to lead the team this past offseason.
Facing a Life West team that was in good match form, the weekend tilt proved to be a good early challenge for the Raptors to test their skills and shake off whatever offseason rust had accumulated.
“Life West had just come off their Cal Cup season and made the final, so we knew they had some quality players and had match fitness,” explained Williams. “They are a team that has really risen through the ranks and become a very good team. They have a big pack of forwards and some exciting backs. We stuck to our pattern on both sides of the ball and through the training that we had accomplished in preseason training gave us confidence going into the game.”
Perennial offensive threat Brian Wanless stood out for Glendale with his ball carrying skills, while USA Eagle and new addition John Quill helped the Raptors lock down defensively. Logan Collins also impressed the coaching staff with his work rate while Devin Vaughter and James DelBozque brought energy off the bench for the Raptors.
“A majority of the players hadn’t played since late July or earlier than that, so it was great to see the players actually play a full 80mins and to see how they reacted under fatigue and pressure,” commented Williams.
While the Raptors were able to secure the win, there’s still much work to be done in preparation for the upcoming season, as Williams was quick to point out.
“It was our first game, so we need to improve on both sides of the ball and have a greater understanding of how each individual plays within the system,” he said. “I was impressed with how the team played in our first game. We scored 50 points which is a huge plus and left a few tries out there as well. We let in 19 points which was disappointing, but some fixes have already been put in to remedy that.”
Up next for Glendale is a return home to Infinity Park on Feb. 11 with the Raptors set to face collegiate side BYU. Kickoff is set for 3PM and tickets are available.
Said Williams, “Our aim will be the same for this next match as it was for the Life West game. We have to get better on both sides of the ball as BYU are a quality team.”