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SWARCO Raiders begin battle for Europe's crown


RB Andreas Hofbauer scored twice against Calanda last year (Photo: Schellhorn)

The SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, play their first game in the newly founded BIG6 European Football League this upcoming Saturday. The Tyroleans travel to Switzerland to face the Calanda Broncos. Kickoff at Stadium Ringstrasse is at 6:00 a.m. PT (3:00 p.m. CET).

Follow the SWARCO Raiders live on ***. The live stream for this week's game starts on April 12 at 5:45 a.m. PT (2:45 p.m. CET).*

The BIG6 is a new European league. Six of the best and most successful teams in Europe compete for the Eurobowl championship. The SWARCO Raiders (Eurobowl winners 2008, 2009, 2011) and Calanda Broncos (2012) play in Group B alongside the Berlin Adler (2010). In Group A the Raiffeisen Vikings (2004-2007, 2013), New Yorker Lions Braunschweig (1999, 2003) and Dresden Monarchs play against each other. The group winners will face each other in the battle for European royalty.

"I'm excited about the challenge to play in the BIG6", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "Europe's best teams compete against each other under equal conditions. Of course we want to prove what a fine team we are".

It's not going to be a walk in the park. That's for sure. The Broncos have won the last five Swiss championships in a row. They started their 2014 campaign with a 45-15 road victory against the Winterthur Warriors and beat Lausanne 26-12 last weekend.

It's the third time the SWARCO Raiders face the Broncos in an international encounter. Calanda won the first meeting as they beat the Tyroleans 35-3 in the European Football League (EFL) semifinals in 2012 in Innsbruck on their way to the Eurobowl championship. On the day a year later the SWARCO Raiders took revenge, beating the Broncos 37-7 in the EFL semifinals to advance to the finals.

Both teams also met in a preseason contest on March 16, 1997. The Broncos won 33-6 at home, although back then the SWARCO Raiders played in Austria's division 1 and had yet to advance to the Austrian Football League (AFL).

So this Saturday is the first in-season meeting between these two heavyweights in Chur, Switzerland. It is also the SWARCO Raiders' first road game in a European competition since seven years. On April 14, 2007 the Tyroleans won 39-6 at Valencia, Spain, against the Firebats.

This year's SWARCO Raiders team is led by QB John van den Raadt. In two games in the AFL he has completed 35 of 66 passes for 458 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. He also had 18 rushes for 115 yards and a score.

RB Andreas Hofbaueralready scored five touchdowns in the AFL this season. He gained 149 yards on 30 carries. Last season Hofbauer had 23 rushes for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Broncos. RB Lukas Miribung had 5 carries for 27 yards and a touchdown in the AFL this year. RB Markus Wenzel had 2 rushes for 12 yards. In the BIG6 RB/DB D.J. Wolfe will get to see his first action in silver and black. He played for the Broncos from 2011-2013.

There will also be a new face at the wide receiver position in BIG6 competition. Although that face is not new at all. Kyle Callahan will enter the field as a receiver. He was the SWARCO Raiders quarterback from 2011-2013. Callahan played receiver in college. He caught 125 balls for 1,789 yards and 23 touchdowns at Union College in Kentucky. He also had 112 carries for 459 yards and 2 touchdowns.

WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher caught 7 passes for 92 yards in AFL action. WR Adrian Platzgummer caught 7 balls for 120 yards and a touchdown. WR Julian Ebner hauled in 6 passes for 111 yards. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 6 balls for 35 yards.

Erlsbacher also was the focal point on special teams. He kicked a field goal and 6 extra points, had 5 kickoff returns for 133 yards and punted 6 times for an average of 37.5 yards per kick.

On defense DL Philipp Margreiterleads his team in the AFL with*11.5 tackles (8 solo), 3 tackles for loss and a sack. LBFlorian Hueterhad 11 tackles (9 solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. He also has caught an interception. DBSimon Unterrainerhad 7.5 tackles (6 solo) and a tackle for loss. DLReinhard Pardellerhad 6 tackles (5 solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. Next to him DLBrandon Collier* will debut for the Tyroleans. He used to play for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011.

DB Markus Krause had 5.5 tackles (4 solo) and caught an interception. DB Simon Muigg also picked off a pass. DB Arno Andreas had 4 tackles (3 solo). LB Fabian Seeber had 5.5 tackles (3 solo) and 0.5 tackles for loss. DL Ralf Stefanitsch had a sack. DL Korbinian Hoffmann and DB Enrico Martini each had a tackle for loss. DL Philipp Popp had 0.5 tackles for loss and LB Simon Hoser recovered a fumble.

The Broncos entered the season with fewer American imports than in previous years. QB Cedric Townsend played for the Franken Knights in the German Football League (GFL) in the last four years. He threw for 12,881 yards and rushed for 3,938 yards for the Knights. He also scored 176 touchdowns (127 passing, 49 rushing).

Another dangerous weapon for the Broncos is Dea Baumann, who can play quarterback and wide receiver. WR Christian Steffani had the Tyroleans' number last time around, catching 7 passes for 111 yards.

Without Wolfe in the backfield homegrown RB Tino Muggwyler will carry the load. In last season's contest against the SWARCO Raiders he had 8 carries for 54 yards. Also getting carries is Swiss junior national team RB Orlando Frehner.

The defense is led by recently acquired DB Stacey Thomas. He was with the Buffalo Bills in 2007 and 2008. Last season Thomas played in Finland for the Seinajoki Crocodiles. DL Bert Whigham was brought in from Illinois State College to improve the defense in BIG6 competition.

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