Dubai Barracudas show sharp bite in Zavier Cobb's coaching debut

Jay Asser 17:26 21/01/2018
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Swimming upstream: Barracudas quarterback David Pearce avoids the Al Ain pass rush. Picture: Julia Dreher.

Zavier Cobb’s coaching debut offered a promising glimpse into what the Dubai Barracudas could be this season.

In his first appearance on the sidelines with the Barracudas’ men’s team, the former quarterback oversaw a winning start as his squad impressed in a round robin format at The Sevens on Friday.

With the Abu Dhabi Wildcats unable to field a team in the Emirates American Football League’s (EAFL) season-opening weekend, the Barracudas, Dubai Stallions and defending champion Al Ain Desert Foxes played each other for one half of football.

The Barracudas and Desert Foxes battled to a scoreless tie in the first game, before Cobb’s side defeated their cross-town rivals 8-6 in the second contest.

The final game saw Al Ain triumph 6-0 over the Stallions to also earn a victory on the weekend.

In the most action-packed clash, star running back Luke Norrey scored the first points of the season on a 50-yard touchdown run, while former Stallion Gary Stillman punched in the two-point conversion to put the Barracudas up 8-0.

The Stallions answered on quarterback Matt Duncan’s slant pass to Michael Salvati for a touchdown, but the two-point chance failed as a sack by the Barracudas’ Stefan Kirsten kept his team ahead and ultimately sealed the win.

Speaking on what Cobb brings as a coach, Barracudas veteran linebacker Alex Rodriguez said: “He’s doing great. We miss Kyle [Jordan, previous coach], obviously he was a big part of the team and still is, still supports us. But I think with coach Z we’re freshening things up and switching things up, so guys who’ve been on the Cudas for a while are seeing new schemes, different types of practices and different types of formations. I think we like that to keep it fresh.”

The Desert Foxes, meanwhile, didn’t look fully up to speed as they began their title defence with a relatively modest start, especially after coach Johnny Sharp’s bold proclamation that his team would put the rest of the league in “body bags” heading into the weekend.

While Al Ain’s defence looked as stout as ever, their only points came on a 5-yard touchdown run by Shaun Harvin in the win over the Stallions.

Offensive lineman Adeeb Labaran believed the unusual schedule played a factor, saying: “I think it was a matter of it being a round robin and we weren’t used to it. The next game we play, I think it’ll be a different outcome.”

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