Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Austrian Football League Week 1 Review

The Prague Black Panthers take the field. © Kellner Holly Thomas/Gridiron Photography
The opening two games of the AFL season took place on Saturday and Sunday and whilst both of last year’s finalists took home the spoils, the competitive nature of the AFL gave us two compelling games, both of which are going to be reviewed here.

SWARCO Raiders 31 – JCL Graz Giants 21

Alex Good fights against the Raiders defence.
The tone, and seemingly the result of the game, was set after the opening drive when without hesitation, the Graz Giants gambled on 4th and 7 and lost with only 11 yards to go from pay dirt instead of taking the field goal. It was clear that after last year’s two shootouts against the SWARCO Raiders, the Giants knew that they needed every possible point. Their belief was proved correct when Kyle Callahan and Co capitalised by driving the ball 89 yards in little over 3 minutes and put 7 points on the board.

From there, the Raiders dominated the game to until they had an insurmountable 31-0 lead with 7 minutes a 15 seconds left in the 4th.  Their dominance was highlighted by a standout performance from wide receiver and running back Talib Wise, who’s first of two touchdowns was a toe-tapping 17 yard catch to take the score to 14-0.

Graz did put up 21 straight points to close out the game, but this meant little as the game was already dead and buried. Quarterback Alex Good is clearly the teams most dangerous threat and in my opinion should have scrambled more than he did on the day, as it looked like the Raiders didn’t have a suitable answer when #7 tucked the ball and got himself upfield.

Player of the Game: Talib Wise, WR/RB #9

His punt returns were a real game changer, breaking off returns of 45 and 48 yards to give his team excellent field position as well as contributing with both a rushing and receiving score.

Talib Wise
Prediction: Wrong. I went with the upset but the Raiders were just too strong on opening day at home.

The next re-stream of the game is the 30th March at 14:30 CET at www.raiderstv.at

Prague Black Panthers 14 – Raiffeisen Vikings 31

© Kellner Holly Thomas/Gridiron Photography

Last year’s champs started their title defence at home in Vienna against a new look Prague Black Panthers who were out to shock the league on opening day. In what was reportedly some cold and windy conditions, the two sides put on a good show with the Raiffeisen Vikings showing their class to race to a 24-0 lead before the Black Panthers showed how much they have grown as a team from last year’s two shutouts by putting up two nice looking touchdown passes in a mini comeback bid.

Whilst the Vikings presented a very balanced attack, the Panthers were too one dimensional to really threaten the tough Vikings defence as their rushing game was non existent, the only man with positive yardage in the rushing column was quarterback Andrew Shoop. Our highlighted player Christoph Gross looked on point with his throws and was very efficient, only letting a poor decision on a deep ball blot his copybook with an interception on the day.

Being the first game of the season both teams will have kinks to iron out going into week two. The Vikings will look to capitalise on the momentum they have by rolling last year’s bottom dwellers the AFC Rangers whilst the Black Panthers can take heart in the emergence of their passing game and look to utilise it more in next weekends game against the Swarco Raiders.

Player of the Game: Christoph Gross, QB #8

Gross quickly got back into his groove from last season tossing 2 touchdowns to go along with his 258 yards passing which included an 85 yard strike to Stefan Holzinger.

Chris Gross found last season's form a sliced up the Panther defence.  © Kellner Holly Thomas/Gridiron Photography

Prediction: Correct. The Vikings didn’t reach the 40 point mark whilst the Black Panthers exceeded expectations by 4 points but overall the result was pretty expected.

Andrew Shoop on the run.
© Kellner Holly Thomas/Gridiron Photography

Ross' Season Prediction Score: 1-1

Double Coverage would like to give a big thank you to Kellner Holly Thomas and Gridiron Photography for providing us with pictures of the Panthers - Vikings game. We will be working together throughout the season to bring you some of the best shots from the league. Please visit the Gridiron Photography page and give it a 'like'.

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