2017 Season Recap: Axemen End Season With Semi-Final Loss
The 2017 season for the 121 Financial Jacksonville Axemen came to an end last Saturday in a 42-22 loss to the Tampa Mayhem. This was a disappointing loss coming just 3 weeks after Jacksonville defeated Tampa 40-6. Too many costly mistakes seemed to plague the Axemen all season and can again be blamed for the loss in the first round of the playoffs.
For a team not having very many losses over the span of 12 years, the Axemen struggled in what the owners consider a rebuilding year. Several key players from last season moved on to either play abroad or had work obligations that kept them from playing this season. On top of that, the team took some blows over the first few games with several players getting ruled out for the rest of the season due to serious injuries.
“The roster had to change every week and players were forced to play in unfamiliar positions,” said Drew Slover, Axemen Co-Owner and General Manager. “We weren’t able to keep any kind of consistency with the team and there was a need to put in less experienced players. This being said, I think Sean (Rutgerson) did a great job of coaching the new players and we will be better for it next season with an improved core of players.”
“It was a tough season with lots of challenges and changes to personnel,” said Coach Sean Rutgerson. “All the guys who had never played before showed massive improvement in their development, it’s something we are looking to build on for next year. I’m hoping all the guys realize that we can’t just turn up a couple of weeks before the season and expect it to just happen. We need to start early for next year. I want to thank everyone involved for the effort throughout the season.”
“In 2015 we had another challenging season and came back in 2016 to win the South and play in the National Championship game,” adds Drew Slover. “We fully expect a winning season for 2018 and we hope to see all our fans back out there supporting us. The competition in the South is improving every year and that just makes for more entertaining rugby league. Best of luck to both the Tampa Mayhem and the Atlanta Rhinos in the South Championship and we hope to see the South claim the USARL National Championship this year.”
Just because the USARL season is done for the Axemen doesn’t mean the opportunity to follow rugby league in Jacksonville is done for the year. On September 9th the USARL North vs South All Star game will be played in Tampa and the Axemen hope to have several players on the roster. Also, on September 30th the Axemen will play an exhibition match against the Coogee Dolphins from Australia right here in Jacksonville! We will welcome back former 2012 and 2014 Axemen player/coach Matt Keeley with the Coogee Dolphins. Stay tuned for more details coming later this month.
“On a final note for the season, we want to thank our fans and sponsors,” Says Slover. “Without your continued support we wouldn’t have been able have had these 12 season. From everyone in the organization THANK YOU!!”
Photo Credit: Allene Rachal