In their final game of the 2012 Austrian Football League (AFL) regular season the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, host the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna in a battle for first place. Kickoff at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium on Saturday is at 8:00 a.m. PT (5:00 p.m. CET).
Both teams have won eight of their nine regular season contests. The winner of Saturday's game will have home-field-advantage throughout the playoffs and will host the number four team on the weekend of July 14/15 (Dragons or Panthers). The loser will enter the playoffs as the number two-seat and host the JCL Giants Graz. While the Vikings have qualified themselves for the Eurobowl for the ninth time last weekend, the Tyroleans lost their EFL semifinal. Plus they have to deal with an injury to QB Kyle Callahan, who got hurt against the Calanda Broncos.
"After last weekend it is very important for us to look forward. This game against the Vikings will be a real indicator of where we stand as a team. We definitely want to enter the playoffs as the best team in the league", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "But we know about Vienna's strengths and their confidence. It will be a tough game".
Before falling 17-15 to the Vikings in their matchup in week 5 the Tyroleans had won two straight against Vienna. They beat the Vikings 13-10 to reach last season's Eurobowl final and then defeated the Vikings 23-13 in Austrian Bowl XXVII.
This season's loss was already the 19th defeat at the hands of the Vikings in the AFL and the EFL. Though six of their nine victories against Vienna came in the last ten encounters. And the four losses in those battles came by a combined total of 15 points.
Their week 5 loss was no different. The Vikings secured the victory when they recovered an onside kick with 80 seconds left. In that game SWARCO Raiders QB Kyle Callahan completed 16 of 25 passes for 216 yards with an interception. He rushed 4 times for 19 yards. WR Talib Wise caught 6 balls for 111 yards and a score in his second game of the season. He also had 7 rushes for 15 yards and 2 touchdowns. CB Manuel Eisenführer led the defense with 7.5 tackles (7 solo) and DT Bene Brugnara recovered a fumble.
In the nine AFL games played this season Callahan completed 103 of 173 passes for 1,538 yards with 13 touchdowns and 2 interceptions (all good for 3rd place in the AFL). He also leads his team with 454 rushing yards on 60 carries and scored 7 rushing touchdowns. But there's a major question mark behind his status for Saturday's game. His backup is 17-year old QB Adrian Platzgummer, who completed 4 of 9 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in AFL action. He also ran 9 times for 52 yards and a score.
RB Andreas Hofbauer had 73 rushes for 286 yards and 8 touchdowns. He caught 5 balls for 68 yards and a touchdown. RB Florian Grein had 43 carries for 225 yards and 3 scores. He also hauled in 8 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. RB Lukas Miribung had 21 carries for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns plus 5 catches for 79 yards and a score.
WR Julian Ebner leads the team with 27 catches for 368 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 22 passes for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Clemens Erlsbacher caught 15 balls for 277 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wise had 9 catches for 177 yards and a score and he had 7 carries for 15 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Christian Willi caught 10 balls for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Vienna's offense is led by QB Christoph Gross. He threw the most passes (238), the most completions (146), has the highest completion percentage (61.3), threw the most passing yards (1,918), the most touchdowns (23) and the fewest interceptions (one) in the AFL this season.
RB Dusty Thornhill rushed 63 times for 578 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 272 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB/WR Timothee Bach had 43 carries for 221 yards and 4 scores. He caught 9 balls for 31 yards. WR Laurinho Walch caught 38 balls for 667 yards and 7 touchdowns. WR Stefan Holzinger caught 19 passes for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns. Despite having played in only four games WR Kyle Kaiser caught 18 balls for 316 yards and 6 touchdowns.
An import part of the SWARCO Raiders success this season is the play of the special teams. Erlsbacher punted 24 times for 865 yards (36.0 yards per punt). 16 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 5 returns for 83 yards. The Tyroleans had a total of 18 punt returns for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns. The punt coverage unit allowed only 15 yards on 4 returns.
The team's best kick returner is DB Enrico Martini, who averages 35.7 yards per return (10 for 357 yards) and scored once. K Christian Kellner was good on 7 of 11 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 AFL games (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 38 tackles (27 solo). Hueter had 35.5 tackles (22 solo) so far. Next in line are Schilcher (32.5 tackles; 26 solo), DB Martin Breitsching (24.5 tackles; 14 solo), DT Reinhard Pardeller (21 tackles; 17 solo) and Eisenführer (18.5 tackles; 17 solo).
Margreiter also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. LB Chris James had 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked punt in two 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 34.5 tackles (22 solo). He is followed by DB Peter Tutsch (31.5 tackles, 25 solo), LB Marcus Greber (29 tackles, 19 solo) and DB Tillman Stevens (28 tackles, 23 solo). LB Simon Blach had 10.5 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2012 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.