Christian Cantrill will have a simple, but stark, message for his Bury Saints players on Sunday: ‘play every play as if it’s the last one of your life’.
Those are the words the head coach of Bury St Edmunds American football team’s head coach will use before sending out his players for the BAFA National League 1 Championship final.
Unbeaten Saints take on the undefeated Edinburgh Wolves at the John Charles Stadium in Leeds (4pm).
With both teams having already won promotion to the Premier League, on Sunday they are playing for glory, and to extend their unbeaten runs.
“There can be only undefeated team in National League 1,” said Cantrill. “The players know that, and they also know that on Sunday there is no tomorrow. We have won promotion, so that pressure is off, but we want to be the number one team.”
The Saints went through last season undefeated, and won nine of their 10 conference matches this season, the other ending in a 28-28 tie with Sussex Thunder.
With post-season victories, the unbeaten run over the last two years stretches to 29 games, the latest victory 42-13 against the Yorkshire Rams to earn the final place.
The Wolves have had a perfect 100 per cent season, sweeping aside Kent Exiles 35-0 in their last match.
Although the teams will be rivals on the pitch, Cantrill says they have an excellent relationship.
“We have done a lot of scouting, we’ve swapped game film, so there are no secrets,” he said. “They have a number of great athletes, as do we. It could be a 7-0 game or 35-36. At this level you never know.
“We really have our work cut out. Edinburgh are a very good side, and the fact that they have lost only one game in two years speaks for itself.”
The Saints offence averaged 38 points a game over the season to Edinburgh’s 37. Defensively, the Wolves conceded an average of five points to Bury’s 10.
Saints know they have to take away the threat of Wolves wide receiver Lloyd Dignan, but with 27 interceptions this season, confidence in the defensive unit is high.
On their website, Wolves highlight the threat of wide receiver Joe Hill, and warn that Saints’ high-powered offence is capable of scoring at any moment. Saints will be well supported on Sunday. Some of the players are going up with their families the night before, others travelling with their families by coach on the morning of the game.