On Saturday the SWARCO Raiders will play a historic game. Finishing their 20th season in team history the sister-team of The Oakland Raiders will play their 200th game overall in the Chevrolet Austrian Bowl XXVIII. They face the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna in a battle for Austrian supremacy. Kickoff at Hohe Warte Stadium in Vienna is at 11:30 a.m. PT (8:30 p.m. CET).
"This will be a very emotional game", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "Therefore it's very important for us to concentrate on our strengths. The Vikings are an extremely talented team. I expect this game to be a nail biter until the very last minute".
The final of the Austrian Football League (AFL) season is a re-match of last year's Austrian Bowl. Back then the Tyroleans won 23-13. The two meetings this season were also very close. In week 5 the SWARCO Raiders fell 17-15 at Vienna. In week 10 they had to play without QB Kyle Callahan and still were able to make it a game, losing 14-12 at Innsbruck.
On Saturday both teams will face each other for the 30th time in an AFL or EFL game. Vienna has won 20 of these contests. Both teams will play each other in the Austrian Bowl for the seventh time, with each team winning three of the previous six encounters. The SWARCO Raiders have won all their three Austrian Bowl titles against the Vikings.
Before the Vikings lost 27-14 in the Eurobowl to the Calanda Broncos last weekend they advanced to the Austrian Bowl with a 48-32 victory over the Danube Dragons. The SWARCO Raiders made it to the finals thanks to a 48-42 win over the JCL Giants Graz. In that game Callahan celebrated his comeback from injury. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 182 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception. He also caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from WR Talib Wise, who caught 2 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown and had 22 rushes for 168 yards and three scores.
In the regular AFL season Callahan completed a total of 103 of 173 passes for 1,538 yards with 13 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. He led his team with 454 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on 60 carries. Callahan's 1,992 total yards from scrimmage were the third best in the AFL.
RB Andreas Hofbauer had 75 rushes for 289 yards and 8 touchdowns. He caught 5 balls for 68 yards and a score. RB Florian Grein gained 270 yards on 62 carries and scored 3 touchdowns. He also had 8 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown. RB Lukas Miribung had 21 rushes for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns. He caught 5 balls for 79 yards and a score.
WR Julian Ebner led the SWARCO Raiders in the regular season with 27 catches for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. In the playoff semifinals he caught 3 balls for 80 yards and a score. WR Damaso Tarneller had 26 catches for 296 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Clemens Erlsbacher hauled in 17 balls for 299 yards and 2 scores. Wise caught 10 balls for 180 yards and a touchdown in the regular season. He also had 18 carries for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns. And WR Christian Willi caught 10 passes for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Vikings offense is led by QB Christoph Gross. His 159 completions, 259 pass attempts, 61.4 completion percentage, 24 touchdowns with only one interception and 2,035 passing yards all ranked first in the AFL regular season. Against the Dragons in the semifinals he completed 13 of 31 passes for 283 yards with 4 touchdowns and one pick.
RB Dusty Thornhill gained 688 yards on 84 rushes and scored 11 touchdowns. He also caught 24 balls for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB Timothee Bach had 43 carries for 221 yards and 4 scores. He caught 9 passes for 31 yards. Both didn't play in the playoff semifinals due to injury. Against the Dragons RB Islaam Amadu had 17 rushes for 48 yards.
WR Laurinho Walch led the Vikings with 40 catches for 683 yards and 7 touchdowns in the regular season. WR Stefan Holzinger caught 20 balls for 298 yards and 3 scores. WR Kyle Kaiser played in only four regular season contests, yet he caught 18 passes for 316 yards and 6 touchdowns. In the AFL playoffs he had 4 catches for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass.
An import part of the SWARCO Raiders success this season is the play of the special teams. Erlsbacher was the AFL's best punter during the regular season. He punted 26 times for 955 yards (36.7 yards per punt). 18 punts were downed inside the opposing 20-yard line. He also returned 5 punts for 138 yards. S John Clements had 6 punt returns for 94 yards and a touchdown. Wise had 6 returns for 95 yards. The Tyroleans had a total of 20 punt returns for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns. The punt coverage unit allowed only 15 yards on 5 returns.
But the Vikings have some dangerous special teams of their own. DB Tillman Stevens returned 8 punts for 121 yards. He had a 63-yard punt return touchdown in the playoff semifinals. Walch had 8 punt returns for 116 yards and 8 kickoff returns for 271 yards and a score.
The SWARCO Raiders best kick returner is DB Enrico Martini, who averages 42.2 yards per return (9 for 380 yards) and scored once. K Christian Kellner was good on 11 of 15 field goal tries and on 24 of 25 points after touchdown. Erlsbacher connected on 15 of 17 extra points.
The Tyrolean defense forced 15 turnovers in the regular season (8 interceptions, 7 fumbles). CB Manuel Eisenführer, LB Christoph Schilcher, (2 each), Clements, LBPhilipp Margreiter, LB Florian Hueter and DB Patrick Pilger(each with one) caught the interceptions. Clements returned a pick 90 yards for a score. DL Bene Brugnara, DL Markus Eitzenberger, LB Mario Rinner, Margreiter, Clements, DL Markus Hechenberger and Hofbauer each recovered a fumble.
Margreiter leads the team with 44.5 tackles (30 solo). Hueter had 35.5 tackles (22 solo) so far. Next in line are Schilcher (34.5 tackles; 27 solo), DB Martin Breitsching (26.5 tackles; 15 solo), Rinner (23 tackles; 12 solo), DT Reinhard Pardeller (21.5 tackles; 17 solo) and Eisenführer (21 tackles; 19 solo).
Margreiter also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. LB Chris James had 17.5 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked punt in three games. Eitzenberger, Schilcher, Pardeller and DB Arno Andreas also forced one fumble each. The team's sacks were prdouced by Pardeller (2), Eitzenberger (1.5), Breitsching, Rinner, Margreiter, DE Max Pichler (one each) and Hueter (0.5).
The Vikings even forced 16 turnovers (11 interceptions, 5 fumbles). DB Benjamin Bubik leads the team with five turnovers (4 interceptions, one fumble recovery). LB Dustin Illetschko leads the team with 41.5 tackles (24 solo). He is followed by DB Peter Tutsch (37 tackles, 29 solo), Stevens (34 tackles, 25 solo), and LB Marcus Greber (33 tackles, 20 solo). LB Simon Blach had 13.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2012 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.