Twelve months of hard work and anticipation finally came to a head for the mighty Denver Bulldogs, the weekend of 13 & 14 October. Even with all that anticipation, there were still some challenges for some of the boys in getting to Racine. Posey award-winning regulars were making early runs, with Phil Camping repeatedly confusing Chicago with Detroit and looking for the car factories, and the Posey’s and Ben Powell missing their flights. Despite these challenges, all did eventually make the very classy bread stick team dinner at Olive Garden on Friday night.
Denver Bulldogs vs New York Magpies
A brisk Saturday morning saw all Doggies players intensely focused and energized in what was a great opportunity for some of the club legends to run around with Div 1 Nationals first timers in Andrew Alvarez, David “Tex” Villani, Cameron “Unicorn” Freeman, “BD” Nick Moretto, Tom Ryan, Mick Sosnowski, Ben Harling, Jezz O’Connell, and Lachie Beatty (who even brought his own life-size mascot). Ok, Benny has played in a couple before but it was bloody great to have him back. Although there had been no overnight rain, morning dew had provided surface moisture, and recent conditions had created a very soft and muddy surface. Much to the joy of our stalwart fullback Tim Wilson-Humphries who lost a boot in the goal square mud. Fortunately, he did manage to find it again, just ever so slightly over the goal square line after a kick in. These conditions producing a fairly scrappy affair against old foes New York Magpies, with clean possession being difficult to come by as was reflected in the scoring. Despite a well fought out affair, an igniting halftime speech from Brian “Rippa”Rippeto, some brilliant ball movement down the wing from Andy ‘Running man’ Vanica to Tommy Ryan and some serious forward line pressure, with a large outnumbering of inside 50’s, the Doggies were unable to convert the final goal needed to finish the Magpies and fell 2 points short at the final siren
New York 2.3.15
Denver Bulldogs vs Golden Gate Roos
Rightly devastated about the first game loss, energies were refocused to the second game of the day against the Golden Gate Roos. The Roos would go on to play in the Div 1 final and as such proved too strong for a courageous Doggies outfit. Although they really only did damage after Half Back Ryan ‘Revs’ Garthright was stretchered off with an Adam Treloar like hamstring disintegration. Michio MacGrath providing one of the highlights when channeling his inner Rioli and turning 7 Roos players inside out on the back flank, before delivering a delicious daisy cutting stab pass into our forward line nugget in Tait Carmody. 2 losses on day 1 unfortunately excluding the Div 1 team from Semi-Final contention. This did, however, provide the opportunity to turn attention to the Reserves and Ladies team who did, fortunately, have greater success on the day.
Golden Gate 8.8.56
Denver Bulldogs vs Quebec Saints
There was, however, a third consolation game on day 2 against the Quebec Saints who had suffered a similar fate on day 1 of their campaign. This game saw a significant wind favoring one end of the field and helped the Saints extend a strong first half lead. Despite having the wind in our favor in the second half, team discipline certainly was not, and a number of 25m penalties helped the Saints convert enough goals to retain the lead and win the match.
The Players cup for the tournament went to the much loved and soon to be missed John Clayton, whose cold, bald head caused all sorts of issues for the opposition forwards throughout the weekend. He was also dazzling by boot, so dazzling that on one attempt missed the leather all together, and was still able to clear the ball from the backline. With votes and shout-outs also going to Paddy ‘Dukes’ Devlin and members of the new-look midfield in Tex, Mick, and the Unicorn.
As mentioned above recruiting was the strength of the Bulldogs this year. The dogs had a host of new face pulling on the jersey this weekend with Dylan “Dyldo” Braun, Christopher Elliot, Richard “Big Brother” Hordern-Gibbings, Brad Mathers, Tim McCole, Taylor “Tyler” Morseth, Dave “Davey” Nelson, Harry Palmer, Ben Powell, Max Robertson and Tom Gillespie all making their Nationals debuts for the Bulldogs. The doggies would have an extended bench and would be needed with Ben “Sexpest” Marcum withdrawing from the tournament after receiving “a falcon” while umpiring the first match of the day.
Denver Bulldogs vs Austin Crows
The reserves wouldn’t be scheduled their first game until 12 pm and spent the morning supporting the Division 1 squad and watching the crows win their first match. Coach, Captain and Bulldog Legend Rich Mann prepared the boys for what would be their toughest competition all weekend. The Reserves played on the same muddy and messed up field as the Division 1 squad and this would lead to what was a tough scrappy contest in the first half. The doggies kicked with the wind in the first half and controlled much of the possession. The Dog’s midfield of Rich Mann, Troy “Kirky” Kirk, and Harry Palmer continued to push the ball forward to the offense towers of Ben Powell, Taylor “Tyler” Morseth and Tom Gillespie. The boys would convert giving the dogs a handy 2 goal lead at the half. With Austin now kicking with a strong wind, the boys knew they would have to run the game out hard. Chris Elliot was given the important role of shutting down the Crows ball winner but would fall victim to a hamstring injury a few minutes in. Kirky was then told to run with the Crows best and continued the great shutdown effort that Chris had provided. Jared “pirate” Thomson had his head taken off and left the field with a nasty cut. This was then followed by ruckman Drew McMahan and rover Troy Kirk both leaving the field with a broken nose and the blood rule. The doggies continued to push and Brad Mathers slotted a important goal. The Bulldogs defensive Posey pair would hold tight until the final seconds when Austin stole a goal and a 3 point victory. The Dogs would lose their first game and 2 key players with Jared and Chris out for the remainder of the weekend.
Austin Crows 3.5.23
Denver Bulldogs 3.2.20
Denver Bulldogs vs Golden Gate Roos
After the disappointment of the last second loss in game one the doggie reserves had one thing on their mind, a couple of massive wins to boost the team’s percentage. Harry and Rich stated in the middle and controlled some early clearance. Kirky and Brad lead strong up forward putting the dogs up by a couple of goals at the half. Luke Durkin and Dave “Davey’ Nelson provided plenty of speed along the wings, attempting sliding marks where possible and gathering key possessions. Rich “Legend” Mann would be the fourth casualty of the day leaving the field with a bloody nose. The Bulldogs defense lead by Dan Umbdenstock and Pete Taylor refused multiply attacks from the roos while providing the footy to runners Max Robertson and Scott Tuttle. Dylan “Dyldo” Braun continued to torment opponents up and down the wing while the bulldogs kicked away to take a 4 goal victory. With this win came the belief that the Doggie Reserves had a chance of a premiership. The reserves would enjoy a steak dinner before heading to bed early Saturday night.
Denver Bulldogs 6.5.41
Golden Gate Roos 2.2.14
Denver Bulldogs vs New York Magpies/Minnesota Freeze/Portland Steelheads
The Bulldogs would wake early and prepare for their 3rd and final game at 8am Sunday Morning. The grass was wet, Davey was keen to take sliding marks and the doggies were staring from the outside at a premiership. The Dogs knew that if a premiership was to be taken then a huge win was a must and a hope of Austin crows loss. The Doggies would start fast against an undermanned Minnesota squad with Kirky kicking 2 early goals. With a third goal in his sights, he would make direct eye contact with Dave “Davey” Nelson, not give the handball and snap over his shoulder for a missed opportunity (a beer and a laugh were shared later). Harry and Rich continued to get leather poisoning throughout the midfield. The Bulldogs rebound strong from the half back line with long kicks and running play from the Poseys, Dan and Pete Taylor. The big men up forward joined the party with Taylor, Tom, Ben, Bayden and brad just too big for Minnesota to defend. Vickers and Snoble run free around the forward line crumming and providing plenty of opportunities. Entering the second half the boys Dogs defence was to strong. The boys were aware that a huge score was need and so along came Nick Garcia and Tim McCole each kicking a couple while controlling the forward line play. The Bulldogs would record a huge win and gather the club for a song.
Denver Bulldogs 10.7.67
All that was left now was a few frothies (20 if you were Dyldo), some meat pies and to watch the crows loss. As soon as the crows and roos came began was the dream of the bulldogs destroyed along with the Golden Gate roos. Congratulations to the Austin Crows 2018 reserves premiers.
In what was a great effort by everyone on the team some shout outs for best on field went to Harry Palmer, Brad Mathers, Taylor Morseth, Troy Kirk, Dave Nelson and Rich Mann. Rich Mann would also win the “Posey award” for multiply reasons, one of which was being tackled holding the ball by the smallest player in the USAFL.
The reserves squad would finish in second place and receive the runner-up medal. This was a proud moment for the team but will now be a reminder and motivation for huge 2019.
The Denver Lady Bulldogs placed third at the 2018 USAFL Nationals in Racine, Wisc., on Oct. 15. Although this was the first year in nearly a decade they didn’t get to play in the Grand Final, the women exceeded all expectations, as 12 rookies traveled out of a team of 23 participants.
“This was a huge win in my book,’ said veteran player and Denver Bulldogs vice president Sara Rohner. Our goal this year was to build a solid foundation and not necessarily base our success on wins versus losses.”
The DLBs pulled out two impressive wins on Day One, including a tight match against the Portland Sockeyes. Portland won the last two Division Two championships; however, they couldn’t compete with Denver’s string of experience and sheer athleticism.
Excited by their first win, the Denver Lady Bulldogs pulled off a ripper of a game against Minnesota. Denver entered the halftime down 8-20 and stood by as a confident Minnesota celebrated about the current upset. However, Minnesota upset quickly narrowed down, as Sara Rohner kicked two clean goals within a minute of each other. As the clock ticked down, Denver kept defensive pressure on until the final siren, racking up 15 points and defeating Minnesota 23-21.
Unbeknownst to the DLBs, the semifinal game against Seattle would be their last of the season. Forced to play down 15 players a side, the Bulldogs just couldn’t jive and lost the semifinals by a mere four points.
Only losing one game by four points with 12 rookies on the field was monumental. We accomplished what we set out to do: rebuild this team from the bottom up.
2019 looks to be promising for a revitalized Denver Lady Bulldogs side.
2018 Nationals Roster
Kimberly Chan, Twannia Clark, Kimberley Dickey, Zoe Do, Jennifer Elliott, Anna Evans, Val Gil, Sydney Gonzales, Jessica Gray, Baylee Hurtado, Hallie Kastanek ,Lindsey Kastanek, Alexis Koo, Colleen MacNab, Kaitlyn Mascher, Joliet Moya, Amanda Newell, Rebecca Pieseski, Sara Rohner, Anna Thexton, Syrina White, Marlyse Aguirre, Alison Bremner
END OF SEASON
Congratulations to Kaitlyn Mascher who won the Usafl women’s goal kicking competition and Baylee Hurtado who one the Usafl women’s skills competition. Cameron Freeman also represented the club well, smashing down 8 pies in the meat pie eating contest. It was later found out that The Unicorn was a massive disappointment getting flogged by 8 pies.
In what was a bitter pill to swallow for such a proud and successful club, the strength of the Denver Bulldogs remains in the quality of its people, which was highlighted by our bold and spirited leaderS Harko, Rich and Brucey in their post-match address and our determination to turn this into the low water mark for club, using this to continue to grow and develop into once again, the powerhouse club of the USAFL. The Bulldogs are proud of every player that pulled on the jersey this past weekend. We were the biggest club to feature at the 2018 Nationals. This club is one! Join us on November 10th for our annual PRAP Night. GO DOGS!