Matching up against the US teams is the main hurdle for every other team at WUCC. Sean Colfer watched Chevron take on Austin superteam Doublewide.
Chevron had a good first day at WFDF 2018 WUCC, winning both of their games and setting themselves up for a huge game first thing against Doublewide. The Texans, second seed at this tournament, had a very similar day and entered the game unbeaten too.
Chevron came out on offence, and slotted it in pretty efficiently. Both teams did so until Chevron managed to get a turn at 3-2, Issa Dualeh finding Jake Aspin for the first break of the game. Chevron were pumped, and they were loud. They had been building for this game and this environment all year; they were desperate to test themselves against a team of Doublewide’s quality and show off their own.
Doublewide, though, are experienced campaigners. They ripped off three points in a row, Jay Froude central as they ground out yards a bit at a time, pushing Chevron to cover the whole field and taking the easy, calm options. Chevron took a timeout at 4-4 to try and gather themselves but conceded the next point anyway. A Joe Wynder huck to Dec Cartwright stopped the bleeding and levelled the game up at 5-5.
Chevron were now finding it incredibly tough to stop Doublewide, and yet every offensive point they had was a slog. The teams traded the next three points, but those points were very different experiences. The Doublewide handler defence was terrific, aggressive and smart, and they forced Chevron to earn every inch they gained. Finally, the pressure told; Dan Emmons made a spectacular layout block on a high Rollo Sax Dixon catch, and Chase Cunningham found Froude in the far corner with a hammer for half, 6-8.
Chevron broke out the football, trying to stay loose and clear their minds. Both teams took on water, sat in the shade and covered themselves in ice and wet towels – the conditions were slightly less humid than yesterday, but it was still stifling.
Doublewide went out on offence and made light work of a stacked Chevron D line – Ben Burak, Sax Dixon and Nick Williams are all O line players but made the switch to try to exert some pressure. It was the Texans, though, who exerted defensive pressure more effectively. Steve Kolthammer turned on a swing and Doublewide punched in another break – their fourth point in a row with two either side of half. They now led 6-10, an imposing four-point buffer given their defensive pressure so far.
Chevron tried to respond with a huck, but Elliot Moore made a great block, getting there just ahead of Sax Dixon. Doublewide gave it right back, though, and Wynder tried for a second time, keeping the disc slightly flatter and leading Sax Dixon into the endzone. He chased it down brilliantly and went full extension for the score, slightly winding himself and ruining his nice white shirt with grass stains. The grab ignited the Chevron sideline, who came onto the field with renewed energy.
Another huck went up from Doublewide on the ensuing point. Jake Aspin chased it down from the weakside and made a sensational leaping interception, landing on Rory Orloff in the process and winding himself. Despite some tetchy discussion as Aspin was gathering himself following the play, Chevron kept their heads with an excellent, patient defensive possession. Mark Penny found Mark Simpson for an important break – Chevron pegged the Americans back a bit, now trailing 8-10.
Doublewide pulled themselves together and scored their next point easily. Chevron responded with another huck, Wynder ripping a huge backhand to Sax Dixon but it bounced out of the receiver’s hand. A poor upline cut gave Chevron a short field, but they turned it with a shot into the endzone. Doublewide took a timeout and executed a perfect huck for a score to restore their four-point buffer, 8-12.
Doublewide were made to pay for a poor pull on the next point, Burak finding Cartwright at the back of the endzone after the short field opportunity. Chevron were then desperate for a break, and played tight defence all the way down – Steve Dixon was a hair’s width away from getting a wonderful layout block on his own endzone line but Froude just about got there first and threw an assist. Doublewide repeated their bad pull, though, and Chevron scored a quick point for 10-13.
Doublewide turned on a bad huck, Dixon intercepting it and starting the offence. Chevron worked it around with admirable patience for a D line, taking plenty of passes to find a gap deep. Dualeh eventually found Aspin in the back corner and the whole team went wild. They were still 11-13 down, but had generated some momentum. The D line charged down, the sideline engaged, but again – Doublewide have been here before. They have seasoned, experienced and talented players up and down their roster, and that experience told. Doublewide scored easily, and then they got a turn on a dump miscommunication just outside the endzone and scored an easy break to win, 11-15.
Doublewide were efficient and professional, but they’ll need to find another gear or two as this tournament goes on if they want to topple Revolver. They have time. Chevron, on the other hand, were a few plays away from making this a really tight game. Doublewide exerted intense pressure on their dumps, in particular, and made it difficult for them. They should still qualify for the upper power pool and they’ll feel good about where they stand, but they’ve seen where they need to improve.
A real takeaway from this game, though, was Chevron continuing with the philosophy that’s been ingrained in the club for years. At 11-13, on a crucial defensive point, they matched up Kurt Gibson, quite possibly the best player to ever play this sport, with Ethan Morrell, a 17-year-old Flux player who’s still being taught by Chevron majordomo Matt Beavan. Chevron may very well make the top 16 at this tournament. Even if they don’t quite make that level, the one thing that we can be totally sure of is that they’ll keep doing things their own way.
Feature photo by Kevin Leclaire for Ultiphotos.