Al Ain Desert Foxes strive for more after notching another win
If it wasn’t clear before, it is now: expectations for the Al Ain Desert Foxes have been drastically raised and coach Johnny Sharp intends on meeting them.
The defending champions remained perfect on the Emirates American Football League (EAFL) season with a second win in as many chances by beating the Dubai Stallions 20-6 at Zayed Sports City on Friday.
But for Sharp, Al Ain eluded perfection when they allowed a garbage-time touchdown in the final minutes, marking the first time anyone has scored on Desert Foxes’ stingy defence through eight quarters of football.
Sharp, who proclaimed ahead of the season that he would be disappointed if his team allowed any points, wasn’t pleased to see the Stallions find the end zone on Taylor Avritt’s 2-yard pass to Theo Von Aspern late in the fourth quarter.
So after the game, Sharp made his squad run.
“Expectations are always ‘give up nothing at all’. I screamed to them, ‘if you give this up, we’re going to have to deal with it,’” Sharp said.
“Immediately, we shook hands, we lined up and we ran. The expectations are clear not only to my team, but to the league. The expectation is to give donuts to everybody, every week.”
These are the same Desert Foxes who were happy just to earn a win last season to end a multi-year drought.
But much has changed since and after claiming their first title, Al Ain have adopted the mentality of champions.
“We just need to finish. Every play is a new down,” said Desert Foxes receiver Nicholas Amica, who scored Al Ain’s first touchdown against the Stallions on a pass from Jay Hall. “[Coach Sharp] said he wanted us to finish. We just didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish.”
The Desert Foxes’ offence, meanwhile, was impressive in punching in three touchdowns.
After Amica’s score, Hall added a 1-yard quarterback keeper in the second quarter and then recovered a fumble to set up Thomas Newman’s 3-yard plunge in the third quarter.
In the day’s other game, the Abu Dhabi Wildcats suffered a lifeless 8-0 loss to the Dubai Barracudas on home soil in their opener.
The only points in the battle of attrition came when Barracudas quarterback David Pearce connected with Bernard Murray II on a touchdown pass, with running back Luke Norrey converting the two-point conversion in the third quarter.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game with both sides short on players, but we trusted our line, ran hard and we got the result,” said Norrey.
Jay Asser - Sport360