It's April 22 and time to kick off the Nashville Kangaroos 26th football season. The weather is absolutely gorgeous with a temperature of 75 degrees, a few clouds providing periodic shade, and a light breeze coming out of the west. You couldn't ask for better footy weather (well you could ask but how much better could it possibly get?). The ground at Elmington is in good shape with the grass trimmed tight and the Friday night rain has softened the surface. Let's Play Footy!!
The Columbus Cats arrive early to get geared up for the match but most of the Kangaroos are already there; a sure sign of a great rivalry game. The Cats are on a three match win streak and looking for more, hoping to close the all-time record that favors the Kangaroos 13-10.
When the West End Middle School clock strikes 2 pm the whistle goes and the players line up. The Cats win the toss and elect to kick toward the school first. The players scatter to their starting positions and the ball goes up and the big men fly! For the first five minutes the players struggle to get and maintain possession of the footy as the intensity is high - no one is willing to give up anything easy. The Cats push forward first and score to minors. Returning Roo Matt Filchak shows he did not waste his time with the Swans in Chicago, helping keep the Cats from going up early, and Maurice "SloMo" Howell runs like the wind out on the wing as the Roos are able to reverse the field and level the score with two minors. The Cats reverse the field back for two more minors, and the Roos reverse yet again for a minor and then first-game Thomas Procter is finally able to put one through the big sticks for the first major of the game, and of the season! Roos lead 1.3.9 to 0.4.4 at the first intermission.
The second quarter starts with the Roos dominating the center play thanks to excellent ruckwork of Thomas Procter and the hard-nose on-ball play of Cody McLain and Andrew "OD" O'Dwyer. Newcomer Luke Chadwick kicking from 25 yards out giving the Roos their second goal of the game. As the players shake off the rust of the off season, the level of play begins to pick up and the Nashville Louisville contingent shows its mettle with Colt Atwell and Jack Jacobs making several strong plays to thwart the Columbus attack. After trading behinds, Mark "Stork" McClure shows why he plays for the USA Revolution, taking a tip-to-yourself mark and kicking true. That must if angered the Roos as they took over the game, with first gamer Hayden Sloane showing of his potential in grabbing loose footies and with dominating play from 2022 Best and Fairest Saul Camarena (playing in the forward line for the first time in his career) kicked his first goal followed quickly by the old man Luke Chadwick grabbing some crumbs in the goal square and nailing his second of the match. The siren goes and the Roos enter half-time with a moderate lead 4.6.30 to 1.5.11.
The teams spend half-time making adjustments and trying to figure out how to gain the advantage in the second half. As play begins, a few dark clouds roll in and throw a couple of raindrops on the game, nothing big, but it helps keep the players cool on the field. The Roos start strong again winning the center bounce and after a rushed behind, Joel "Finemaster" Thornton hits on the run from 20 yards out extending the Roos lead. Columbus collects themselves and starts to dominate the quarter, but their inaccurate kicking on goal is mounting up - they kick five behinds and no goals for the quarter. Meanwhile the Roos continue to get great play from both their newbies and their old-timers as Max Chadwick shows his dad he can play footy with a couple of clearances from the backline and blast-from-the-past Tim Kleman keeping the Cats midfielders from getting anything easy. Finally, the Roos manage to add a second goal of the quarter as mid-field sensation Cameron Atlas snaps a blinder from the deep left flank and squeezes it through for his first of the match (rumor has it the field umpire called it a behind but the goal umpire over-ruled it and paid six. Still looking for the video review to confirm.) As the Premier Quarter closes, the Roos have extended their lead to 6.8.44 vs 1.10.16.
Both teams have full benches and players have been subbing on and off throughout so as the fourth quarter is played there is no drop in the intensity of the play on either side. Eric "Polly" Politz get the Cats back in it with a 25-yard shot from out front followed shortly thereafter by Derrick "D-Shot" Shotwell nailing their third of the match and the 150 or so Kangaroo faithful in attendance start to stir around in their armchairs around the ground. The Cats keep pushing to close the gap but the Roos defenders stand tall getting plays from first gamers like Chris Marquardt, Brett Philpott, and Luke Henry keeping the Cats at bay. The quarter wears on as play stays mostly in the midfield with several more Cats missing shots at goal until the play of the game: veterans Ross "Rosscoe" Flemming and Brad "Chambo" Chamberlain work a four handball give-and-go around the Cats defender and hit Luke Chadwick just outside the goal square who then extends the Roos' lead with his third of the match (and given his eligibility to play Masters/Legends that qualifies him for a 'bag of goals'). On the heels of that Chris Murray nails the eighth Kangaroos goal, and if he did the Steph Curry "go to sleep" sign, no one would have thought it premature. Columbus got a late goal but the final siren sounds and the Roos have grabbed their first win to open the season, final score Roos 8.10.58 defeat Cats 4.13.37.
Nashville: Luke Chadwick 3, Cameron Atlas, Saul Camarena, Chris Murray, Thomas Procter, Joel Thornton
Columbus: Mark McClure, Eric Politz, Derrick Shotwell, Alec Dooley
Nashville BAF: Cody McLain
Nashville 1%er: James Duty
Nashville Coach's Award: Thomas Procter
Field Umpire: Jeff Persson
Goal Umpires: Toby Persson, David Gonzalez