For the third time in this Austrian Football League (AFL) season the SWARCO RAIDERS, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, face off against the Prague Black Panthers. Only this time this game means more as the winner will advance to Austrian Bowl XXXI. Kickoff at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium is at 8:00 a.m. PT (5:00 p.m. CET).
"This will be a very tough game for us. It is extremely important to start fast and show our whole potential from the very first minute. We were not able to do that in the first two games against the Black Panthers and both times they almost found a way to defeat us. So we have to start fast", said SWARCO RAIDERS head coach Shuan Fatah.
The Black Panthers enter the AFL playoff semifinals with an even 4-4 record. Yet they have lost their last two regular season games, falling to the SWARCO RAIDERS (33-27) and to the Vienna Vikings (45-28). All four season losses came at the hands of Vienna and the Tyroleans.
For the Czech record champion it's the second straight playoff appearance in Austria. The main reason for that is once again the passing game. Led by former Oakland Raiders QB Kyle Newhall-Caballero Prague threw for 355.5 yards per game (1st in the AFL). With 432.9 total yards per game the Black Panthers are the most dangerous offense in the league.
The SWARCO RAIDERS enter the postseason as the second-seed. After losing their first two games of the season the Tyroleans have won six straight. They remained unbeaten at home, having played all regular season games in Wattens, just outside of Innsbruck.
Now returning to their "living room" the Tyroleans know they haven't lost a single home game against Prague as they have won all four contests on their home-soil. This season the SWARCO RAIDERS were able to beat opponents with offense and defense. They scored 41 touchdowns and 297 points – the most in the AFL. On the other side their 16 interceptions and 246.1 passing yards allowed per game are the best in the league.
Overall the SWARCO RAIDERS have won 10 of 12 matchups with Prague. They also have reached the Austrian Bowl final for five straight years, having won all their semifinals at home.
#7 Sandro Platzgummer (RB, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol): In the last regular season game RB Sandor Platzgummer burst onto the scene with a 4 touchdown performance against Prague. He had 14 rushes for 194 yards and caught 2 passes for 54 yards in the process.
#12 Sean Shelton (QB, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol): Sean Shelton completed 101 of 174 passes for 1,487 yards with 13 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in the AFL. He also had 37 rushes for 181 yards and two scored.
Defensive Backs, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol: The entire defensive backfield has played extremely well this season. The four starting DBs lead the team in tackles. Alexander Achammer comes first with 34.5 stops, followed by Patrick Pilger (29.5), Markus Krause (27) and Enrico Martini (25.5). The foursome also caught 13 of the team's league-leading 16 interceptions. Achammer intercepted 5 passes, Pilger 4 and Krause and Martini had two picks each.