ST. PETERSBURG SWANS - 2016 USAFL DIVISION IV GRAND FINALISTS

(04/22/17): FROM FOUR ‘N TWENTY FIELD @ CAMPBELL PARK, ST. PETE: SWANS 22.14.146 – MIAMI 6.2.38

DESTINATION: MELBOURNE

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Looking to improve on the side’s 8th-place finish at the 2014 AFL International Cup, Senior Coach Tom Ellis and the USA Revolution convene in Dallas this weekend for the Revos final training camp session before IC17, August 5 -19 in Melbourne.

The St. Pete Swans are represented at camp by Senior Coach and Ruck Rover Dustin Jones, who seeks a return to the US Men’s National Team.

Read Brian Barrish’s camp preview at usafl.com

‘JONESING’ FOR THE MCG

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St. Petersburg Senior Coach and Ruck Rover Dustin Jones Seeks Return to US Revolution MNT

St. Petersburg Swans Senior Coach and Ruck Rover Dustin Jones is looking to wind back the clock.

Among the first AFL International Scholarship Awardees – and two-time US Men’s National Team top-scorer and MVP, Jones will participate in this weekend’s Revolution training camp in a bid to return to the MCG for this year’s International Cup.

The Revos and Coach Tom Ellis will be looking to improve on an 8th place finish in the 2014 International Cup, and Jones faces intense competition from a USA talent pool that has expanded in recent campaigns.

The AFL International Cup will open August 5th, with the Grand Final scheduled as an MCG curtain-raiser before the Ausgust 18 Round 22 match pitting Collingwood and Geelong.

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This year’s AFL International Cup will be capped off with the Grand Final, August 22 at the MCG.

Jones, 37, is a 19-year veteran of US Footy and the USAFL.

He has played for Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia and Florida.

Having been unofficially retired from footy, he joined the Swans and Tampa Bay ARFC as Senior Coach in 2015, and piloted the new squad to the USAFL D4 Grand Final in the club’s first competition at the USAFL National Tournament in 2016.

St. Petersburg is expected to be promoted to compete in Division III in 2017, and is currently the top-scoring offense in early-season USAFL metro rules play.

THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
Offensive Fireworks at the F’NT

Danny McDonald (24) nails a major from point-blank range vs. Miami in metro rules footy action in St. Pete, April 22. Teammate Jake Keglor leads St. Petersburg with 21 goals in the club’s first three 2017 matches.

Although it’s early days on the St. Petersburg Swans 2017 campaign, it’s quickly becoming obvious that fans of defensive or ‘tempo’ footy might feel they’re on an unpleasant roller coaster at the Swans’ Four ‘N Twenty Field @ Campbell Park.

Fans of frenetic offensive fireworks, on the other hand, might call it a thrill ride.

With just a few 2017 metro matches in the books, the two highest point totals – and three of the top five – have been recorded at the friendly confines of the St. Pete Home Ground.

First, the younger members of the Red & White put up 158 in a March 11 pre-season match, with that mark coming in atop the score sheet from around the league. That high water mark was seriously challenged April 22, as the Swans lit up the Pepsi scoreboard for 22.14.146 against the Ft. Lauderdale AFC / Miami Saints metro side.

With Jake Keglor now leading all St. Pete scorers with 21 majors in three games, he could potentially eclipse 100 before the season’s end, an unprecedented feat in any level of American footy. Of course, he’d have to keep up that breakneck pace over the season’s remaining fixtures.

Given the pyrotechnics already seen on the rectangle just a few matches in – it’s a mark that’s certainly within reach.

The St. Petersburg Swans resume training with sessions this Thursday at 6 PM and Saturday at 10 AM on the club’s training ground at the Rollbotto Oval at Crescent Lake. The club hits the road for their first 2017 away match, Saturday, May 6 at Baton Rouge.

SWANS TAKE FLIGHT; BEDEVIL SAINTS, 146-38

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Austen Kugler (19) and Pat Bilder (10) helped propel a young Swans side to the biggest winning margin in club history, and second highest score, in Saturday’s 10s vs a gallant Miami side.PHOTO: Katherine Matson

In their first 2017 match against a USAFL opponent, the St. Petersburg Swans controlled play from the opening bounce, running out 22.14.146 – 6.2.38 over a scrappy and gallant Miami Saints side Saturday at Four ‘N Twenty Field at Campbell Park in downtown St. Pete.

The Swans are now 3-1-1 in their last five USAFL contests, dating back to the 2016 USAFL National Tournament, where the club advanced to the D4 Grand Final.

With league pundit Brian Barrish forecasting a promotion to D3 play in 2017, St. Petersburg was eager to put its best effort forward in hosting the 10s side of cross-state mates Ft, Lauderdale – and also eager to correct an offense that had been lethargic in the early goings of the 2017 season.

Although missing the services of 15 veterans – including Senior Coach Dustin Jones, who is preparing for the USAFL Revolution USMNT camp next weekend – St. Petersburg won play from the start and maintained pressure throughout – encouraging signs as the Bloods head into upcoming challenges in Baton Rouge and Nashville.

Fueled by strong midfield play from Kyle Roun, Basil Benjamin, Pat Bilder and Ken Scheidt and huge output from a frontline of Austen Kugler, Jake Keglor and Aaron Crittenden, the Swans jumped out to 64-point advantage at the big break. That margin included shutting Miami out completely in the 2nd frame.

After a fiery intermission talk by Ft. Lauderdale club founder Cameron Pinnock, the Saints came out of the break with a renewed attack and disciplined approach, as savvy veterans Anthony Colarusso and Gavin Caddy guided the young Saints to the first two majors of the second half before St. Pete regained momentum and scored the stanza’s final 29 points.

As Greg Bray captained the Bloods back to life in the fourth period, St. Pete amassed a 7.4.46 – 3.1.19 edge, although that tally doesn’t accurately portray Miami’s impressive second-half fight.

Newcomer Jeremy Tartt was most impressive in his debut on the St. Petersburg backline, with Danny McDonald also contributing a solid performance in his season debut. Youth players Jackson Bray and Amaran Subramanian made the very most of their minutes as well, with both making outstanding plays in the effort.

Leading scorer Jake Keglor added to his tally with a several long-range majors on the evening.

The St, Petersburg Swans return to practice Thursday evening at 6 PM, with the next full training Saturday, April 29 at 10 AM – on the Rollbotto Oval on the Common at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg. The next Swans match is May 6 at Baton Rouge.

1 2 3 4 F    
Miami 1.1 0.0 2.0 3.1 6.2.38    
St. Petersburg 5.2 6.3 4.5 7.4 22.14.146

FLORIDA FOOTY BRETHREN CLASH IN EARLY-SEASON TANGLE

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#FOOTYNIGHTINFLORIDA: The Sunshine State’s footy clubs face off in an early-season metro match as Ft. Lauderdale AFC dispatches the Miami Saints 9s side to the ‘Burg Saturday Night

It’ll be an evening of exciting Florida-centric footy Saturday, April 22, when the St. Petersburg Swans host the Miami Saints at Four ‘N Twenty Field at Campbell Park.

With a special 6 PM start, the Red & White will be hosting the Saints (a 9/10-a-side metro squad of the Swans’ cross-state brethren Ft. Lauderdale AFC) as the 2017 season rolls on in earnest.

While the Swans and Ft. Lauderdale clubs have tussled in four official USAFL matches (splitting the series, 2-2) since the Tampa Bay side came into the league in late 2014, this trip marks the first metro-specific clash, as Ft. Lauderdale looks to re-stock their ‘Fighting Squids’ senior list.

Fresh off two seasons in the USAFL’s Division 2, Ft. Lauderdale is expected to this year join a promoted St. Pete club in Division 3 play, and the two Florida clubs are engaged in a co-operative push to grow Australian Football throughout the state.

Saturday’s match is also the clubs’ first meeting in association with the Major League Footy Florida League, the Tampa Bay ARFC-administered competition for metro Aussie Rules.

Squids veteran and USAFL Men’s National Team candidate Tom Hecker and other key members of the Ft. Lauderdale side are expected on the ground Saturday night in downtown St. Pete.

The match begins at 6 PM Saturday, April 22 at Four ‘N Twenty Field at Campbell Park. The Swans’ home ground is directly south of Tropicana Field, and free parking is available in three on-site lots.

All the action will be broadcast live on Radio St. Pete – the Official Broadcast Partner of the St. Petersburg Swans, with Rich Libero on play-by-play and Miro Gladovic with commentary and analysis.

USAFL PUNDIT PREDICTS BLOODS’ BUMP

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In the just-issued 2017 Season Previews, USAFL social media manager Brian Barrish forecasts a St. Petersburg Swans promotion to Division 3, come the National Championship Tournament this Autumn in San Diego, CA.

Taking an early-season survey of the league’s Men’s Eastern Division, Barrish recaps the Red & White’s surprising success at the 2016 USAFL Nationals, and notes the enmergence of the club’s 2016 debutants Austen Kugler and Jordan Calero, alongside veterans Dustin Jones and more.

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The emergence of 2016 Most Improved Player Kyle Roun and Rookie of the Year Austen Kugler helped propel the St. Petersburg Swans to the D4 Grand Finals. Kugler, Roun, Rising Star Jordan Calero and the Swans’ veterans will look to elevate in 2017.

The Swans advanced to the Division 4 Grand Finals in the USAFL National Championships last October in Sarasota/Bradenton, before ultimately dropping a high-scoring tilt vs. five-champs Cincinnati/Ohio Valley.

St. Petersburg will host the Miami Saints metro side of the Swans’ USAFL brethren Ft. Lauderdale AFC Saturday evening at Four ‘N Twenty Field in downtown St. Pete.

First bounce will be 6 pm.

The match will air live on Radio St. Pete, with Rich Libero and Miro Gladovic calling the action.

ON THE GOOD FOOT: SWANS LOOK FOR MAJORS IN OPENER

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The St. Petersburg Swans head into Saturday’s 2017 Twilight Home Opener looking to recapture an offensive attack that highlighted last season’s run to a berth in the USAFL D4 Grand Final.

In the club’s two Rollbotto Pre-Season Series matches (which also included the 2nd Annual International Rules Test match vs. Tampa Bay GAA), the Red and White were consistently able to maintain pressure and control play, only to see errant kicking a consistent issue.

Having notched 15 majors in the pre-season, St. Petersburg also tallied a whopping 29 behinds, causing last Saturday’s training to be almost entirely devoted to fundamentals, as Senior Coach and USMNT member Dustin Jones went back to basics.

Seeing the squad respond well to a drill-laden session, the focus this Saturday is on finishing the attack with majors.

Saturday’s St. Petersburg Swans Home Opener is set for 7 PM at the newly-christened ‘Four ‘N Twenty Field @ Campbell Park’, as the Bloods host the debuting Pittsburgh Blackbirds metro rules side.

General admission tickets are just $10, and are available at stpeteswans.com. 2017 Season Memberships are also available, and the 2017 season promises to deliver great footy and family entertainment at the historic rectangle in the shadow of Tropicana Field.

#KNITOUTSIDE: STITCH N KICK RETURNS FOR HOME OPENER

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Downtown St. Pete’s Stash – A Place For Yarn Presents the 2nd Annual ‘Stitch N Kick’ at the St. Petersburg Swans Home Opener, Saturday, April 8 at Four ‘N Twenty Field at Campbell Park!

Lasy year’s Stitch N Kick was a huge success, so bring your project and come barrack for your Swannies!

Stitch N Kick tickets are BOGO ($10 for 2 tickets – cash only) – and only available at Stash, 625 Central Avenue (yes, that’s the ultra-hip ‘600 block’).

FINAL TUNE-UP: AUSSIE RULES CLUB PREPS FOR TEST

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The St. Petersburg Swans host Tampa Bay GAA Saturday night in the 2nd Annual International Rules Test match. Game time is 7pm.

With one final practice session before Saturday night’s International Rules Test Match vs. Tampa Bay Gaelic, the St. Petersburg Swans will take to the training ground Thursday evening at 6 PM in one last preparation for the match.

Having emerged with the win in last year’s Exhibition, the Bloods will look to fine-tune their approach to the compromise rules tomorrow night.

While St. Pete figures to have superior numbers for Saturday’s test, the head into the affair with an unsettled situation at goalkeeper, due to the unavailability of  last year’s minder, Arthur Beredjick.

The Swans are also at a disadvantage for the tilt, as the Test Match is during the club’s Aussie Rules pre-season, forcing players to re-acquaint with International Rules while still in early-season prep for their own regular season.

Thursday’s Practice is 6 PM – on the Common at Crescent Lake in St. Petersburg. All trainings and practices are always free, and are open to co-ed players of all ages and skill level.

 SWANS EYE FIRST FLORIDA WINTER LEAGUE FLAG

0225STPS_SUNWhat a difference a week makes in the fast-changing #floridafooty landscape.

Just a few days ago, the St. Petersburg Swans were facing elimination in their quest for the Major League Footy Florida Winter League Championship Final.

A nine-major outburst in the late-going changed all that.

Having scratched back in ‘win-by-attrition’ fashion against a Redbacks side that had thoroughly dominated last Saturday’s proceedings before succumbing to a rash of injuries – the Swans (2-1) lived to tell the tale, and will square off with the undefeated Suncoast Suns for the winter circuit Premiership.

They can expect another nail-biter this Saturday.

After successfully navigating their way to a 3-0 tally in the Inaugural Major League Footy Florida Winter League season, the Suncoast Suns are also aiming to take care of business Saturday

Finishing at the top of the ladder, and with the only unblemished mark in the seven-side competition, the Suns also lead all clubs in scoring and point differential, although St. Pete is close behind in both categories.

In order to capture the winter season premiership, the Swans will have to rely on the players captain Jake Keglor selected in the 2016 Winter Footy Draft.

Those players, including Aaron Crittenden, Jason Kofender and Austen Kugler – form the nucleus of the Red and White’s emerging talent base – and are certainly capable of taking control of the offensive attack.

The Suns, meanwhile, will be without winter captain Kenneth Scheidt – a big loss on the Suncoast backfield.

Game time Saturday on the Common at Crescent Lake is 11 AM. The match will immediately follow the combined club’s 10 AM weekly training. All trainings, practices and competitions are always free, and are open to co-ed players of all ages and skill level.

Following an off-week, the combined club will begin 2017 weekly Saturday trainings with a pre-season match vs. Orlando AFC Saturday, March 11 at 7 pm.