DB/RB D.J. Wolfe caught an interception in his BIG6 debut (Photo: Schellhorn)
Basically it's a final before the finals. On Saturday, June 14 the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders host the Berlin Adler in the BIG6 European Football League. The winner of this matchup will advance to the Eurobowl. Kickoff at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium is at 11:00 a.m. PT (8:00 p.m. CET).
Follow the SWARCO Raiders live on **www.raiderstv.at*. The live stream for this week's game starts on June 14 at 10:45 a.m. PT (7:45 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 and Berlin Adler play in Group B alongside the Calanda Broncos. In Group A the Raiffeisen Vikings, New Yorker Lions Braunschweig and Dresden Monarchs play against each other. The group winners will face each other in the battle for European royalty on July 19.
"One could say this is the final before the final. The winner will advance to the Eurobowl", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "This alone is motivation enough for us. Add the fact that there are many interesting connections between these two teams that are highly explosive and you get maybe the most exciting football game of the season".
The highly explosive connections Fatah is talking about start with himself: Born in Berlin, he started playing American football in the 1980's with the Adler. As a player and coach Fatah has won six German championships with Berlin as well as the 2010 Eurobowl. In between his stints as a player and a coach Fatah worked in NFL Europe from 1998 to 2004 with Berlin Thunder. There he coached Kim Kuci, who became the Berlin Adler head coach before the 2014 season.
One of Kuci's assistants is Jag Bal, who worked as a defensive assistant coach with the SWARCO Raiders last year. Bal came to Innsbruck alongside Alessio Warnstedt. The Berlin-native also played and coached for the Adler for a long time. Now he works as the running backs coach in Tyrol.
Another connection exists on the playing field. All-rounder Talib Wise was signed by Fatah in 2010. After one year with Berlin he followed his coach to Innsbruck and was a focal point of the team for three seasons. But this year Fatah decided to sign a new import player and Wise returned to Berlin. His replacement in Innsbruck is D.J. Wolfe.
No matter who plays for what team, both clubs belong to Europe's elite. The SWARCO Raiders have won the Austrian Bowl (2004, 2006, 2011) and the Eurobowl (2008, 2009, 2011) three times each. Last season the team reached the Eurobowl final for the fourth time in five years. The Adler were founded in 1979 and have since won six German Bowls (1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2004, 2009) and one Eurobowl (2010).
This season the SWARCO Raiders have won six straight games including five straight games in the Austrian Football League (AFL). They sit atop the AFL standings with a 5-1 record. Berlin started its season with three straight victories. First they defeated their inner-city rival Rebels 44-7. Next up was a 42-22 win at the Düsseldorf Panther. Their third win came in the BIG6 against the Calanda Broncos (42-20). But that streak came to an end just before the European championships, when the Adler lost 26-21 at the Dresden Monarchs.
On Saturday both teams will meet only for the third time. Each team has beaten the other once. Both matchups took place in the European Football League (EFL). In 2010 Berlin defeated the Tyroleans in Innsbruck, winning 29-27 in the semifinals. A year later the SWARCO Raiders took revenge with a 27-12 win in the Eurobowl finals.
Football fans all over the globe remember this game as it drew 8,600 fans, a record-crowd for a football game in Austria. That day the Tyroleans were supported by their partner team The Oakland Raiders. Hall of Famer Willie Brown and the Raiderettes were in Innsbruck to cheer for their sister-team.
These fans look forward to see their Tyrolean team which is led by RB Andreas Hofbauer. He leads the AFL with 88 rushes for 670 yards (7.6 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. Hofbauer also caught 5 passes for 139 yards and a score. RB Lukas Miribung has 5 carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. RB Markus Wenzel gained 12 yards on 4 rushes. RB Romed Zangerle had 3 rushes for 22 yards.
QB John van den Raadt completed 86 of 161 passes for 1,389 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also carried the ball 60 times for 427 yards and 5 touchdowns. In his last game against the Prague Black Panthers the Flying Dutchman threw for 511 yards and 7 touchdowns.
WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher caught 23 balls for 413 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Adrian Platzgummer had 21 catches for 358 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also scored three times on the ground. WR Julian Ebner had 15 catches for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 10 passes for 88 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Erlsbacher also is the focal point on special teams. He kicked 5 field goals and 24 extra points. He had 15 kickoff returns for 366 yards and punted 16 times for 636 yards (39.75 yards per punt).
In their BIG6 opener against the Calanda Broncos Hofbauer had 16 carries for 60 yards. Van den Raadt completed 16 of 37 passes for 273 yards with 4 touchdowns. Former quarterback turned WR Kyle Callahan caught 8 balls for 153 yards and 2 touchdowns. Erlsbacher had 3 catches for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB/DB D.J. Wolfe had 2 carries and caught an interception.
LB Fabian Seeber leads the Tyroleans with 35.5 tackles (28 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He also picked off a pass and recovered a fumble. LB Florian Hueter had 23.5 tackles (19 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception. He also scored a safety in the BIG6 game against the Broncos. DL Philipp Margreiterhad 27 tackles (21 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble. LB Simon Hoser had 22.5 tackles (18 solo), one tackle for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
DB Markus Krause had 18.5 tackles (16 solo) and caught 2 interceptions. DB Simon Muigg also picked off 2 passes. He had 9.5 tackles (8 solo) and 2 tackles for loss. DB Arno Andreas had 24 tackles (20 solo). He caught 2 interceptions in the BIG6. DB Alexander Achammer had 23.5 tackles (22 solo) and a tackle for loss. DB Simon Unterrainer had 10 tackles (8 solo) and a tackle for loss. DB Enrico Martini had a tackle for loss and 4.5 tackles (3 solo).
DL Maximilian Pichler had 2 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and 5 tackles (4 solo). DL Ralf Stefanitsch had 4 tackles (4 solo), a tackle for loss and a sack. DL Reinhard Pardeller had 7 tackles (6 solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. DL Korbinian Hoffmann also had a sack as well as 2 tackles for loss and 9 tackles (7 solo). DL Philipp Popp had 4 tackles (2 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. DL Manuel Jovic had 8 tackles (6 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. In his first game for the Tyroleans DL Brandon Collier had a tackle for loss and several quarterback pressures against Calanda.
Berlin is counting on a new, yet experienced signal-caller. QB Darius Qutlaw plays in Germany for ten years including a previous stint with the Adler in 2006. In the 2014 German Football League (GFL) season Outlaw completed 49 of 75 passes for 557 yards with 8 touchdowns and one interception. He ran the ball 14 times for 113 yards and a score.
Kuci is putting the running load on two pairs of shoulders: RB Björn Dreier had 24 carries for 140 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB Johannes Thiel carried the ball 20 times for 65 yards and a score.
WR/DB Conrad Meadows leads the Adler with 14 catches for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Danilo Naranjo-Gonzalez has caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. WR Daniel Voehringer hauled in 8 passes for 78 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Former SWARCO RAIDER RB/DB Talib Wise has mainly seen action on special teams and defense. He returned 5 kickoffs for 109 yards, had 2 tackles 8one solo) and a tackle for loss. He was not active in Berlin's first BIG6 game against the Broncos.
Against these Broncos Outlaw completed 21 of 27 passes for 263 yards and 4 touchdowns. Meadows caught 4 balls for 92 yards and a score. He also returned 4 kickoffs for 143 yards. Naranjo-Gonzales caught 7 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Thiel had 7 rushes for 51 yards.
Berlin's defense is led by LB Thomas Felgentreu, who had 17 tackles (11 solo). LB Mario Nowak had 15.5 tackles (13 solo) and 2 tackles for loss. DL Mamadou Sy had 10 tackles (5 solo), 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks. LB Rory Johnson had 8.5 tackles (6 solo), 3 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. DB Kevin Kus caught 2 interceptions in GFL action. DB Sebastian Karl has picked off one pass.
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2014 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.