DL Philipp Margreiter (R) leads his team with 5 sacks (Photo: Schellhorn)
The European American football championships are just around the corner. On Saturday, May 17 the SWARCO Raiders will play their last game before the Austrian Football League (AFL) takes a one-month break. The sister-team of The Oakland Raiders hosts the Prague Black Panthers. Kickoff at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium is at 8:00 a.m. PT (5:00 p.m. CET).
The week 8 matchup against the Black Panthers is the last one for the Tyroleans until June 14. From May 30 to June 7 Austria hosts the European American football championships. Many SWARCO Raiders players will participate in the tournament.
"We want to win our sixth game in a row and stay in first place when we head to the season break", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "Prague will be a big challenge for us. Their extremely dangerous on offense and we have to be careful with these black cats. But we're very confident and want to give our fans another reason to celebrate".
The team from the Czech Republic plays much better football this season than in the previous four years it played in the AFL. Prague has won two of its five games and is on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs.
The Black Panthers started the season with a 27-7 loss to the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna. Then they beat the Graz Giants twice. They won 28-21 on the road and 33-28 at home. In their fourth game of the season the Czechs almost handed the Vikings their first loss. Prague lost 34-31 on a last-second field goal.
Yet when all experts saw them on the rise, they fell 28-25 at home to the Danube Dragons two weeks ago. Prague had two weeks to prepare for the SWARCO Raiders and should be rested.
Beating the Tyroleans will be hard to do, though. Last weekend they won their fifth straight game (AFL and BIG6) beating the Dragons 43-14 on the road. Plus they have the Black Panthers' number.
Eight times both teams played against each other. The Czechs won the very first matchup in 2002 in the group stage of the European Football League in Innsbruck. But since then the SWARCO Raiders have won seven games in a row. Six times they beat the Black Panthers in the AFL since Prague joined the league in 2010. The Tyroleans also defeated them once in the EFL. In the last seven matchups the SWARCO Raiders scored an average of 43.6 points per game and gave up only 12.3 points per game.
Last season they celebrated a 42-0 victory at home, just one week after beating Prague 46-21 on the road. In 2013 the SWARCO Raiders also won a game by a 42-point margin against the Black Panthers as they defeated them 56-14 in the EFL quarterfinals.
The SWARCO Raiders best player this season undoubtedly is RB Andreas Hofbauer. He had 74 rushes for 556 yards (7.5 yards per rush) and scored 12 touchdowns. He also caught 5 balls for 139 yards and a score.
RB Lukas Miribung gained 27 yards on 5 carries and scored a touchdown. RB Markus Wenzel had 4 rushes for 12 yards and RB Romed Zangerle had 3 carries for 22 yards.
QB John van den Raadt completed 64 of 131 passes for 878 yards with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also had 53 rushes for 424 yards and 5 touchdowns.
WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher caught 16 passes for 209 yards. WR Adrian Platzgummer had 15 catches for 252 yards and a touchdown. He also scored 2 rushing touchdowns. WR Julian Ebner had 9 catches for 136 yards. 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 17 extra points. He had 14 kickoff returns for 343 yards and punted 14 times for 570 yards (40.7 yards per punt).
LB Fabian Seeber leads the Tyroleans with 28.5 tackles (22 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack. LB Florian Hueter had 21.5 tackles (17 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss and an interception. He also scored a safety in the BIG6 game against the Calanda Broncos. DL Philipp Margreiterhad 25 tackles (19 solo), 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks and a forced fumble. LB Simon Hoser had 21.5 tackles (18 solo), one tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
DB Markus Krause had 16 tackles (14 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 16.5 tackles (14 solo). He caught 2 interceptions in the BIG6. DB Alexander Achammer had 20.5 tackles (19 solo) and a tackle for loss. DB Simon Unterrainer had 7.5 tackles (6 solo) and a tackle for loss. DB Enrico Martini had a tackle for loss and 4 tackles (3 solo).
DL Maximilian Pichler had 2 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss and 3 tackles (2 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 7.5 tackles (6 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Prague enters Innsbruck with a new signal caller, who has a connection to The Oakland Raiders. QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero was with the Silver & Black in training camp 2012. Playing for the Black Panthers he has been outstanding. Newhall-Caballero completed 118 of 194 passes for 1,556 yards with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also leads his team with 24 rushes for 186 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB Adam Synacek had 25 rushes for 117 yards and RB Ondrej Visek gained 91 yards on 21 carries.
Thanks to their quarterback four receivers already have caught passes for more than 200 yards. WR Jan Dundacek leads his team with 34 catches for 486 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Jakub Wolesky had 27 catches for 428 yards and 6 touchdowns. WR Jan Stiegler caught 13 balls for 238 yards and a touchdown. WR Stanislav Jantos caught 22 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown.
The defense is led by DB Jan Kabat, who had 20 tackles (15 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss and 2 interceptions. LB Tomas Svoboda had 15.5 tackles (10 solo), 3 tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. DL Jan Simanek had 15 tackles (9 solo) and 1.5 tackles for loss. LB Milos Hildebrand caught 3 interceptions, had a sack and 12 tackles (10 solo). DL Pavel Hruzik had 7 tackles (6 solo), including 5.5 tackles for loss. DL Vojtech Svoboda had 11 tackles (10 solo), including 4.5 tackles for loss.
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2014 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.