Coach Karley Banks could not have been prouder after her Hunter Sports High touch football team won the All Schools state title with only six players, an “unheard of” feat in the sport.
The team of Kurt Donoghoe, Liam Squires, Jasper McGill, Luke Knight, Ashton Daley and Ryan Wright-Andrews beat Warners Bay 5-4 in the final of the NSW Touch Football All Schools Yr 9/10 State Championship in Sydney. Daley and Wright-Andrews are in year 7.
Touch teams usually play with a squad of 14 rotating on and off the field, but the Hunter Sports side won seven games in a row with no substitutes to claim the title.
“To even be competitive, let alone win seven games in a row over the top 16 schools in the state, is one of the most extraordinary achievements ever witnessed at an All Schools event in the history of the game,” Banks said.
She said the team had conquered “crippling fatigue” to win the final in “drop-off” extra time after the scores were tied at 3-3 after regulation. Captain Kurt Donoghue, a NSW 15-years representative, was player of the final. The team were meant to have a seventh player, Max Darcy, but he was out injured.
“In all my years coaching school touch I have never witnessed a better display of skill, teamwork, heart, courage and pure determination to stand up for your mates,” said Banks, who coached the NSW Rebels men’s team at the National Touch League Elite Eight this year.
Hunter Sports, Warners Bay and the third- and fourth-placed schools have been invited to the National Schools Cup in September on the Sunshine Coast.