NATIONAL CHAMPIONS - Weston's American footballers win title in remarkable debut campaign
PUBLISHED: 13:16 21 August 2019 | UPDATED: 14:03 21 August 2019
Weston's American footballers are national champions in their debut season after a stunning against-all-odds victory on Saturday.
Weston Supers won the British American Football Association (BAFA) League One Playoffs in Manchester with a threadbare squad decimated by injuries and absences, completing a remarkable first 12 months for the club.
A five-man team of Sam Matthews, Matt Keyse, Dan Frost, Gareth Brock, and Jacob Matthews performed heroically to complete one of the finest sporting achievements in the town's history.
Founded last summer, the Supers - who play a five-a-side, non-contact version of the sport - finished top of the South West conference in the regular season, booking a place in the play-offs at Belle Vue Stadium.
They were not fancied for victory, seeded seventh in the eight-team tournament, but they immediately upset the odds in their quarter-final - narrowly beating hotly-tipped Leeds Samurai 31-30.
In the semis, number-one seed Southern Reapers awaited Weston - who were thumped by the Andover side in the regular season.
But it was the Supers who advanced to the final with a thrilling 45-38 victory.
South Midlands Outlaw Gunslingers were their opponents in the final, which saw Weston race into a two-touchdown lead.
But their more experienced opponents fired back and tied the score at 32 apiece late on to force overtime.
Frost made a crucial interception in the endzone to curtail the Gunslingers' drive, and when Weston got the ball Sam Matthews made a winding run to put them within inches of the goal line.
Quarterback Keyse delved deep into his bag of tricks and superbly executed a quick pitch which saw Matthews glide into the endzone - sparking wild celebrations which lasted long into the night after a 38-32 victory.
Supers captain Matthews, who was awarded the most valuable player (MVP) accolade, told the Mercury the achievement still hasn't sunk in.
He said: "We played our first competitive games in April so to be national champions just four months later is unbelievable.
"Most teams involved had at least 12 players to choose from on the day, but we had the bare minimum of five.
"It's a fantastic achievement that we were able to complete three games in a day with five guys - let alone win a national championship along the way.
"Every player made game-changing plays throughout the day; really all five of us should have been MVP."
Next season the Supers will take part in the BAFA Premier division, which will see them play all across the country.
Matthews added: "We were a little apprehensive about our promotion to the premiership but this has given us the confidence we can compete at the very highest level."