American football: Focus on Sheffield Predators and Hallam Warriors

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Head coach Richard Batty is aiming to improve on a disappointing 2014 for his Sheffield Predators this coming season.

Last season was plagued with injury for the Premier North Team and branded a ‘rebuilding year’ by chairman Clive Stephenson.

The team had a losing 4-5 record, compared to the 8-2 season in 2013.

And Batty said: “Playing in the Premiership is where every team in the UK wants to be.

“We have our first goal, in maintaining our Premiership spot. We always aim for a play-off berth.”

Batty believes that with more finance and exposure the Predators could become a top-three team and European contender.

The Predators, with their new intake of players, travel to Leeds to play the Yorkshire Rams in their first game of the season on April 12.

The Rams, under the stewardship of new head coach David Pawson, have experienced a lot of change during the off-season and the new regime will be looking for a strong start.

Sheffield will return to their Bawtry Road ground on May 10 to play their first home clash against the visiting Tamworth Phoenix.

The Predators formed in 2008 and saw success, including an unbeatean season in 2012 before the league restructure saw them propelled into the Northern Premiership.

And coach Batty hopes the increasing popularity of the sport will see an increase in fans at Predator games this season: “This sport is getting bigger and bigger in the UK, with both Sheffield universities being regarded amongst the best in the country,” he said.

He added that the Predators welcome newcomers and want to be able to provide “an avenue for everyone” to get involved in the sport.

The team is always looking for new players and game day helpers. They can be contacted on Facebook or Twitter: @sheffpreds.

Batty also coaches the Sheffield Hallam Warriors University American football team - who have completed an unbeaten season, achieving promotion in the process.

The Warriors beat Glasgow Tigers 26-6 in the Northern Division one final on Sunday to round off a 9-0 season and gain premier division status.

And head coach Batty said: “This is without doubt the proudest moment I’ve had as a Warrior coach since 2012. The guys have put in a lot of hard work to be here, and I’m really proud of every one of them.”

Glasgow and Hallam were unbeaten going into Sunday.

Glasgow started quickly, scoring the game’s first touchdown with a quick throw to the receiver catching out the Hallam defence. Glasgow missed the follow-up PAT.

Hallam’s defence answered in the second quarter, with centre Stephen Connolly forcing a fumble. That was scooped up by defensive-lineman Jordon Eaton, who carried the ball into the end-zone.

The Warriors forced a safety before the end of the second quarter, as the Glasgow quarterback was judged to have intentionally grounded the ball in the the end-zone, taking a 10-6 lead going into the break.

In the third quarter Hallam’s team took control, scoring two touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Allen scored first, keeping the ball on a quarterback sneak into the end-zone. That was shortly followed-up by rookie running back Keith Kapishe’s effort off a screen-pass.

Line-backer Gerry Lee-Pierre halted Glasgow’s last chance with a acrobatic one-handed interception, sealing promotion.

And Batty is confident the team will only improve: “We’re gonna get tighter, we’re gonna get better, we’re gonna get the system down and this team will go from strength to strength.”

“The university should be very very proud, they should be as proud as I am.”