OXFORD Saints have plenty to be excited about ahead of their first home match of the season, WRITES HARRY LAWRENCE.

The Abingdon-based side host Hertfordshire Cheetahs in the Thames Valley Conference this Sunday, as they look to utilise some new additions in the playing and coaching ranks.

Saints began their campaign with a 16-12 defeat at London Blitz B last weekend, but they have the chance to make amends at Tilsley Park.

After the 2020 season was cancelled, youth coach Nick Wykes is raring to get under way at home.

“This is an exciting time for the Saints,” he said.

“It has been a while away from the field, but the team is returning fired up.

“New players and coaches are making the team look even faster, more athletic and hard-hitting.

“I can’t wait to see what (head coach) Andrew Day has got in store this season.”

For those unfamiliar with American football, a brief run-down might be in order.

Saints were founded by Steve Abbott in 1983 and they joined the American Football League two years later, winning division titles and championships since then.

In 2016, the club introduced a women’s team, who also play at Tilsley Park, while their youth side are preparing for their first season of competitive matches.

These games are played by two teams of 11 players, with an ‘offence’ and a ‘defence’.

The offence’s aim is to get the ball into their opponent’s ‘endzone’ to score a touchdown, which is worth six points – they can then choose whether to kick the extra point, or run another play in the hope of adding two.

New quarterback Tim Lietchi showed his quality against Blitz with a 71-yard touchdown pass to teammate Ashley Lovell and Day feels there is more to come.

He said: “We have three new co-ordinators, so I’m excited to see what they do with their respective units.

“We have some exciting new talent on show: Tim Lietchi at quarterback, along with some speed at running back.

“The defence is looking very dominant as well.”

Saints usually compete in Division 1 of the Southern Football Conference, but because of Covid-19 they are in the Thames Valley Conference.

Their new co-ordinators have been hard at work as they aim for success in the five-team league.

Defensive co-ordinator Greg Kennedy said: “This is the most athletic defence I have seen in years.

“Now we have to use that athleticism to execute and compete at the highest level.”

Offensive co-ordinator Ali Galbraith added: “We’ve been putting in plenty of work on the offensive side of the ball to master the new offence emerging.

“The whole team is hungry to get back to competition after such a long time out which has given a great attitude to making the most out of every session.”