In support of our BRITBALL WEEK podcasts, we have gotten in touch with a few people from different teams in order for us to know a bit more about the Britball community. We will have a series of written interviews over the coming week or so to ease up on the podcast overload!
First up we have Luke Carlton, the offensive co-ordinator for the Manchester Titans Adult contact team (Twitter/Instagram – @ljacarlton).
How long have you been with the team:
This would be my fourth season as Offensive Coordinator for the Adult Contact team, but I spent four years playing for the junior and youth teams.
How did you first get into American Football and what made you go in to coaching:
First got into American Football after being bored of playing Soccer and Rugby. Was off school ill for a few days when I was 14 and started playing my brother’s copy of ESPN NFL 2K5. Soon after, some friends at school started bringing in a football to throw around and we got playing games in the playground. Two friends and I decided to go down to the Titans in early 2008 and I’ve been infatuated with the game ever since.
On the coaching side, I was never injury prone until I got to American Football. I fractured, dislocated and chipped off part of my throwing shoulder in my first pre-season game at 11-a-side in 2010. Then came back the next year and tore my ACL and MCL in the third game of the next season in 2011. So, played four games, completed two, season ending injuries in the others. I took that as a sign that maybe I shouldn’t be playing anymore, so I got into coaching when I went off to the University of Central Lancashire a few months later in 2011, who were just in the process of setting up a team.
How would you describe the teams play style, do you have a particular way of playing and what does your team try and achieve:
We’re not a huge team in size, so our offensive hallmark is Space and Pace. We want to exploit space as fast as possible and manipulate you into covering the entire width of the pitch. We’re a calculated team, we’re never without a plan and we’re always working to take what’s available. I personally feel as though we do a great job of understanding what players can bring what to the table and work with their strengths.
Our defense does a great job of being opportunistic – they set up a plan to take away what you want to do most and force you into your plan B. As a team, we really don’t try to be something we’re not.
As for what we try to achieve – we try to play entertaining football. It sounds cliché, but for us, it’s important to put on a show and be fun to watch from the side-line. We want to bring ideas and styles to Britball that aren’t straight from the cookie cutter and allows our players to be creative. A Manchester Titans game shouldn’t look like any other game in the UK.
Give us a quick reminder of how the team got on last season and what your or the team learned:
We went 7-3 in the Premiership North for our second season in a row, with our three losses coming away to Merseyside and Edinburgh, and at home to Tamworth. Despite what we were able to accomplish, we all came away from the season feeling as though we could and probably should have come away with more, with only ourselves to blame. It felt as though in 2018, we had more to prove than we did last year. We maybe struggled to adapt to being the team with a target on their backs.
However, in the grand scheme of things, it was a successful season for us. We were able to assert ourselves once again as a playoff team in the Premiership North and beat each team in the North at least once, which is something nobody outside of the Phoenix can say they’ve done in recent years. We’ve seen our youth and Flag teams in the organisation consistently be near the top of the pile and now it finally is starting to feel as though our Adult Contact team is up there with them.
Obviously the offseason has been disrupted, but did you manage to conduct any offseason training/rookie days (and how important are the rookie days in your view?):
We’d been training since the first weekend of January all the way up until the order from BAFA came in. So we’d been training twice a week working towards a training camp that was due to take place from April 3rd-5th and our opening game taking place on April 19th.
Rookie days are massively important for us. It gives us an opportunity to fill out our roster and evaluate incoming players who are eager to impress and develop. It also allows us to continue to add to our Bee Team, which gives players who might not be able to immediately contribute at a Premiership Playoff level a chance to develop and not slip through the net. We began to realise that for where we are as a team, we need to do a better job of retaining those players within the organisation and it’s been great to see the Bee Team begin to set up and really flourish.
What other teams (Flag/Youth) do you have as part of the setup?
Oh boy, where to start! We’ve got:
– Adult Contact A Team
– Adult Contact Bee Team
– Adult Flag A Team
– Adult Flag B Team
– Women’s Contact team
– Women’s Flag Team
– U19s Contact team
– U17s North Contact team
– U17s South Contact team
– U17s Flag team
– U12s Flag team.
It’s probably the part of the organisation I’m most proud of – being able to consistently offer American Football to so many people in North West.
What has been advised to the players to help them try and stay as well conditioned as possible considering the current pandemic?
We’re just telling them to not be idiots and follow instructions laid out by the government. While Football is important, there are more important things happening in the world that take precedent over it right now. We’ve got a few Personal Trainers in the team so one of our players (shout out Cade Makin) has put together a training programme for our guys who are interested. Other people like Sam Fossey is uploading videos of different home workouts to try. Outside of that, our hands are really tied. We can’t set the timeline for this, only the virus can. Once we understand when we’ll be back, we’ll start discussing what we need from our players.
Do you think we will see any Britball football this season and would you settle for a shortened/more compact season (i.e play each team once, less gaps between games):
I’d be surprised. Given the game plan from the government seems to be to time the peak for the Summer, it’ll be a struggle to give teams the appropriate amount of preparation time to safely be ready for the start of a season. Throw in the logistical issues of ensuring grounds and venues can be booked on certain weekends and then you’ve got to take into account the limited amount of refereeing crews, I think it’ll be a logistical nightmare to be able to get anything official off the ground. If I had to guess something, I think it’d be on teams to arrange friendlies and joint scrimmage days against other teams for Football to go ahead this season.
Who would win in a tug of war between your O-Line and all the defence?
I’m never going to bet against my O-Line. Sorry, D!
Favourite/least favourite training ground drill?
Favourite – Run Skelly. It’s nasty, physical, realistic and it’s so much fun throwing in a play action and we get to call out linebackers for assuming it’s a run.
Least Favourite – Any drill where the defense knows what the play is/where it’s going before the ball is even snapped. It’s not realistic and there are creative ways around it to ensure the defense can practice reaction and swarm.
Which player (or player position group) is most likely to forget their gumshield?
Wide Receivers. I won’t name names, but they know who they are.
Which player (or player position group) is most like to sleep on an away game?
Which player (or player position group) think they are in the NFL?