Edinburgh Wolves head coach Don Edmonston would usually have been relaxing in front of the television this week as the new NFL season kicked off.
Instead, he’s preparing his American football team for the biggest game in their 12-year history.
The Capital outfit have made it through to the National BritBowl final for the first time and will meet the Merseyside Nighthawks at the John Charles Centre for Sport Stadium in Leeds on Sunday.
Edmonston, who has been with the Wolves since 2005 as they’ve competed in the National section of the British American Football Association, is proud to see all the club’s hard work finally pay off.
“Normally at this time of year, I’d be sitting down to watch as much of the NFL as possible. However, I’m delighted that I’ve got a BritBowl final to focus on instead,” said Edmonston. “It’s a great achievement especially given our poor start to the season. The boys have worked extra hard both on and off the park and I couldn’t have asked for any more commitment from the guys this season.
“When I took over the club there were 15 players. Today, we have about 90 players across the age groups and about 20 members of staff off the field. We’ve built a strong and thriving youth development system, so we hope the foundations we’ve put in place will help keep the Edinburgh Wolves at the top of the game in years to come.”
The Wolves clinched their place in the play-offs by being one of the best second-placed sides in the five National Divisions. Ranked last in the seedings, their first match in the post season saw them beat unbeaten title favourites the Watford Cheetahs 9-6. Next up came another undefeated side and new BritBowl favourites, the Solent Thrashers. The Wolves travelled to Southampton and came away with an impressive 17-14 victory.
This weekend, yet another undefeated side stand in their way. The Merseyside Nighthawks won the National North West Division with ease and made their way in the play-offs with a 65-48 win over the Farnham Knights in the first round, before an impressive 33-16 win over the Shropshire Revolution in the semi-finals. While they again go into the game as the underdogs, the Wolves have shown themselves capable of racking up points this season with quarterback Jamie Morrison’s accurate passing and the impressive performances of wide receivers Lloyd Dignan and Andy MacIver as well as rookie Steven McFarlane, helping on offense. They’ve also had the reliable boot of Murray Rendall, who has contributed towards a number of victories with his field goals.
While scoring 422 points in 12 games, the Wolves have also been superb in defense, allowing just 132 points this season.
Coach Edmonston knows that area of his team will play a huge part in Sunday’s final.
“All parts of our team are important to the results on the field,” he insisted. “We’ve built a new defense and are running it in a way which means we are very confident in our plays.
“Previously, we had a couple of strong individuals. However, over the last two seasons we’ve worked well as a unit and while our offense has been immense, our defense has been exemplary in the way they have performed together on the field.”