Top 10 Plays of the U19 2019 Season!

Words by Bruin White

With the 2020 BAFA Junior season in question due to the coronavirus pandemic, we revisit some of the biggest plays from last year in the Hawks’ 4-2 regular season campaign.

10 Ryan Robinson-Smith and Will Barker team up for a big time INT

In advance of gameday three, the Seahawks found themselves sitting on a 1-1 record after a narrow 26-20 loss to the Warriors a fortnight before. The Bird Gang travelled to Kent to play the South East Legion, a new team in the league. Despite being the undeniable underdogs, the Legion opened the game by moving the ball well and acquiring multiple first downs - until this play. Seahawks down lineman Mikey Stringer got around his blocker, forcing the Legion QB to step up in the pocket - right into the arms of defensive captain Ryan Robinson-Smith! The Qewb tried dumping it off in a panic, but first-year junior linebacker Will Barker read it perfectly and returned the interception all the way down to the 6 yard line - immediately setting up the first Solent score in what ended as a 47-0 Seahawks victory!

9 Ollie Clemo 70-yard touchdown run

Playing the entire game against South East Legion on a running clock due to an issue with referee availability, the Seahawks still managed to put up 47 points so there were plenty of scoring plays in this game to choose from. However, this 70-yard touchdown run from Ollie Clemo is a brilliant display of awareness, power and speed - especially from a rookie player. Annoyingly for WR/KR Marcus Paramor, if it wasn’t for a 95-yard kick return touchdown getting disallowed for a block in the back a mere couple plays plays earlier, Clemo’s 70-yard rush would’ve never happened - meaning Paramor’s return would have taken its place on this top 10 list!

8 Marcus Paramor 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown

Coming into gameday five, the Seahawks were working to keep their playoff hopes alive - at 2-2, they had to win the remaining two games indefinitely. In the back-and-forth affair with the Cobham Cougars on the road, the Hawks jumped out to an early lead thanks to a scramble from QB Louis Benzey, but the Cougars leveled the scoring on the following series. Having had the momentum shift the Cougars’ way, the Seahawks were looking for something to regain their lead. The answer to that came sooner than expected, when Marcus Paramor returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for 6!

7 Ollie Clemo 30-yard touchdown run on 4th & 2

This was the Seahawks’ second game of the 2019 season, travelling to the London Warriors. The Hawks, having struggled offensively all day, found themselves 12-0 down with little time left in the first half. In 4th-and-short going in from the 30, offensive coordinator Russ Hewitt calls in a halfback draw. It initially seems as though the blitz has gotten to it as Clemo is hit by two Warriors defenders in the backfield, but fear not - Clemo uses strength to get past the first down marker, before using speed to take it all the way home with 33 ‘yards after contact’. Don’t worry Aaron Smith, we saw your pancake.

6 Josh Roberts opens season scoring with 72-yard pick 6

Picture this: it was the season opener, playing the Wembley Stallions at home. The Seahawks started with the ball, but couldn’t get anything going offence - the Hawks’ first three drives resulted in two punts and an interception. Wembley took the ball for their third possession of the day; enter Josh Roberts, a rookie free safety from Luton. On the first play of that series, Roberts made a break on a post route and grabbed a pick - continuing to return it 72 yards for the touchdown, and the first Seahawks points of the 2019 season. This play got the ball rolling in a 33-0 washout over Wembley to kick off the rat race to the playoffs.

5 Ollie Clemo breaks a 78-yarder for a late score

Within two minutes and up by a score on the road to Cobham, the Seahawks get the ball back and look to tie up this game. Rookie running back Ollie Clemo had plans besides ‘run out the clock’, though: by making a guy miss, and another, and another, and another, he finds himself in a foot race to the endzone he was never going to lose. Clemo’s tremendous trash time touchdown sealed the deal on a 35-20 win over the Cougars, earning a spot on our list. Clemo is the only player to be featured three times.

4 Josh Roberts 64-yard interception returned for a touchdown

It was the last play of the game on a successful road trip to South East Legion. The Hawks were up 41-0 following a 68-yard TD pass from QB Louis Benzey to WR Marcus Paramor, and the Legion got the ball back for one last play of the game. Some might have said ‘let’s wrap this up and all go home’, but rookie safety Josh Roberts wasn’t done. He picks off the throw at the Hawks’ own 36, and takes it to the house when the clock is already at 0. The game’s never over ‘til Josh Roberts says so!

3 Sam Gee forces fumble during second-half shutout

During their week 2 road game with the London Warriors, the Seahawks were trailing 26-7 in the dying moments of the third quarter. The Warriors were driving, and a score at this point could well have been fatal. However, Sam Gee came up with a huge play by forcing a fumble on speedy Warriors receiver Issai Aluko. The Seahawks offence had to punt it away on the following drive, but Sam Gee forced yet another turnover on the ensuing Warriors series by picking off quarterback Matthew John. Pair that with another interception late in the fourth quarter, and Gee’s three forced turnovers counted a huge deal towards the second-half shutout of a high-powered Warriors Offence - an impressive defensive stand that kept Solent in the battle ‘til the bitter end.

2 Andrew Banda endzone interception

Down 6-0 in the fourth quarter to the reigning national champion London Blitz, the Seahawks D found themselves defending a 1st-and-10 from their own 14 yard line. Blitz quarterback Marco Livi throws a jump ball into the endzone, but Solent fourth-year cornerback Andrew Banda jumped way, way up in the air to reel in the pass for himself. Banda’s pick stalled a dangerous Blitz redzone attack and earned the ball back for Solent’s offence in the most crucial part of the game. It was but one of many great defensive plays in a game that held the Blitz under-19 team to the fewest points they’ve ever scored (12), for as far as the records go back.

1 Tom Phillips “Mosses” DB for 33-yard touchdown

Despite starting off strong in game five with an incredible first quarter, the Seahawks’ offensive efficiency eventually dipped and gave the quick-hitting Cougars a chance to catch up on points. With the Seahawks holding a narrow 21-20 lead late in the fourth quarter, this 33-yard touchdown from Nathan Harvey to Tom Phillips extended the lead to 8 points and gave the Hawks the breathing room they desperately needed. Phillips, who didn’t catch a single pass in his rookie 2018 year, eventually became the go-to guy for quarterbacks Benzey and Harvey. TP11’s sophomore 2019 campaign started slow again with a catchless game in the season opener, before he started pulling mega-stunts such as this one to bag victories in the latter half of the season. Pair Tom’s antics with a 78-yard touchdown run from Ollie Clemo in trash time (this ranked fifth in our list), and you have yourself a Seahawks victory! The reason why this snatched the top spot is because this play swung the weight of the game in the Seahawks’ favour. That alongside Tom’s journey as a football player makes for some great storytelling, and makes a deserving candidate for our #1 Top Play of the 2019 under-19 Season.