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Cavaliers VS Panthers/Lancers – Old Boys Game

Cavalier Old Boys beat the Panthers & Lancers: 12-6

The Oxford Cavaliers were an American Football team which competed in the university leagues. It was a joint squad composed of players from both the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes University.

Changes to the league format meant that the team had to disband, which paved the way for the Oxford Universities to field their own teams: The Oxford Brookes Panthers and the University of Oxford Lancers.

In 2014 a special game was arranged where retired former Cavalier players would take on the new generation of student players in Oxford.

Last week a rematch was played when the Cavalier Old Boys returned for more action. In 2014 it was only against the Oxford Brookes Panthers, due to the fixture being out of term time for the Lancers. Though this year both Oxford teams combined (nicknamed the “Lanthers”) to take on the Cavaliers.

There were some interesting story lines going into this one, with coaches playing against or with their former students. Current Lancer coach and Oxford Saints defensive back Ian Hiscock, who kitted up for the Cavaliers, certainly has to be the face of Oxford football. He used to play for the Cavaliers when they existed, then he had a stint with the Panthers after the split.

As a existing coach of the Lancers, he was eligible to compete alongside the Lanthers, but he decided to go with the Old Boys and represent his old team. His presence inspired 4 Lancers to go up against their enthusiastic coach.

With the Panthers hosting the game at their Wheatley Campus, they contributed 22 of their current players, kitting up in their Panther grey and green Pro Bowl style jerseys. The 3 Lancer players put on their cross town rival kit too, while the Cavaliers wore a mix of their old navy blue Cavalier jerseys and some old Panther maroon ones.

To boost the numbers on the Lanthers, three Panther coaches kitted up, Chris Ellis, Toby Durant and James Water, while Panther Head Coach Nick Wykes and Lancer Head Coach Andy McKenzie refereed the game.

Some of the common penalties were observed but overall the game played well the referees allowed the contest to flow at a good pace.

In the first few drives there were several fumbles. The Lanthers played their own play book with their quarterback Harry Brookmyre calling the plays in the huddle, and Panther President Julian Wakeford organising the depth chart on the sidelines. The Cavaliers were coached by their old coach Phil De Monte.

Last year, De Monte’s team won in a close game, but could he do it twice against the current Panthers who now also host some Lancer players on their squad?

The Lanthers quickly figured out that running the ball was going to be tough, especially up the middle. The Old Boys had muscle up front and could hit hard. So the Lanthers elected to pick on the secondary with quick passes instead.

It seemed like for the whole first half, speedy Panther receiver Brad Maybury was wide open on every play. The Panthers were enjoying themselves and they were designing plays on the sideline to implement moments later. The pitch to James Waters who lined up at runningback to then throw it deep to Brad Maybury was certainly one of the best plays of the game.

The Lanthers struck first; it was a perfect pass from Panther qb Harry Brookymre to Brad Maybury, who beat a defender for the td. Though two point conversion was unsuccessful. To keep things safe, there were no special teams, so when it came to punting the referees moved the ball 30 yards from the line of scrimmage.

The dry weather allowed for a lot of passing and the Old Boys got their passing game going especially with the receivers running plenty of hitch routes, soon scoring a touchdown themselves. The pass was caught by former Panther runningback Jay Smith and but their two point conversion was also unsuccessful and it was a tie game at 6-6.

The game was fun to watch with the Old Boys demonstrating a strong desire to win. The Panthers rotated a lot of players and wanted to stay fresh because the following Saturday they were to play their Varsity game against Reading. This allowed the Lancer players to get plenty of field time. At one stage, all four of them lined up as a defensive front four.

On one particular play the Old Boys runningback sliced through them and Panther coach Chris Ellis had to clean up the tackling at linebacker.

Still three of the Lancers got a sack each on the day. If any Lancers came out as a wide receiver or tight end, their DB/WR coach Ian Hiscock came down on the line to play a little man coverage on his students.

With the game tied the Lanthers were driving. Jonny “Priest” Brooks, the Lancers defensive MVP and WR/RB broke outside on a run play that got everyone cheering, and feeling that maybe the run game might just work. Though after moving the chains and getting plenty of momentum, the Old Boys picked off Harry Brookmyre, who then made a touchdown saving tackle.

With time running out, the players began asking what would happen in over time if it were to occur. Yet over time was not needed…

The Old Boys looked like they had been stopped in the red zone, if not for James Walter to make a huge late tackle. The penalty was called by Nick Wykes, his coaching colleague at the Panthers. This gave the Old Boys a fresh set of downs, and it was Jay Smith once again in the end zone who caught his second touchdown of the day. They could not convert the two point conversion and the Old Boys were 6-12 up with 30 seconds to go.

With a long field the Lanthers needed one great long play. Wakeford called up the deadly duo of Walter and Maybury, and dialled in the trick play that got them so many yards in the first half. This time the Old Boys were covering far better. Though with 30 seconds to go, they naturally played with a very deep secondary. Walter zipped in a low pass down the middle, and it was beautifully intercepted by a diving Old Boy defender…

The game was over, and the Old Boys won for the second straight year.

Next year we all hope that more Lancers can be involved, not just for the current team, but it would be great to see some former Lancers play on the Old Boys side too. Although a couple of players had sadly gone off injured, the day was a big success.

Certainly the banter on the Lanthers sidelines was lively and fun with the OBU Panthers welcoming their Lancer brothers. The Old Boys captain lifted the Cavalier Cup, as it was “loaned” to him for some pictures. The Lancers certainly did not want to part with the team’s first piece of silverware for too long.

Both teams felt the game was a tribute to the growing football community in Oxford, and long may the Old Boys game continue to grow.

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