SWARCO Raiders open season at Vienna

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RB Andreas Hofbauer(Photo: Schellhorn)

The new football season begins in Austria. In week 1 of the 2014 Austrian Football League (AFL) season the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, travel to Vienna to face the Raiffeisen Vikings on Sunday, March 23. Kickoff at Stadium Hohe Warte is at 6 a.m. PT (3 p.m. CET).

Due to restrictions the SWARCO Raiders are not allowed to cover the game live on www.raiderstv.at. An as-live version will be shown on Monday, March 24.

The season opener is more than a regular game for the SWARCO Raiders. It's a chance for redemption. Last season they lost both finals – the Azustrian Bowl and the Eurobowl – to the Vikings.

No wonder SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah is highly motivated for Sunday's clash: "We're ready to play this game. What better way to start a season than with a chance for revenge. Vienna is the team to beat in the league and Europe this season. So this game will be a good measuring stick for us".

The Vikings remained unbeaten last year and have won the Austrian Bowl and Eurobowl. They haven't lost a game since July 21, 2012 when they fell 27-14 to the Calanda Broncos in the Eurobowl final. Their last loss in Vienna was to the SWARCO Raiders in the 2011 Austrian Bowl (23-13). And the last time Vienna was defeated on their home soil was in Eurobowl XXIV, when they lost 34-31 in a nail biter to Berlin Adler, back then coached by Shuan Fatah.

34 times the SWARCO Raiders have met the Vikings in AFL and European Football League action. Vienna won 25 times, including the last seven games. In 2013 the Tyroleans lost four times to Vienna. In week 4 of the regular season they fell 48-13 at home. Later that season they lost 24-6 at Vienna. Next was a 37-14 victory for the Vikings in Eurobowl XXVII. And finally the Vikings won 48-31 in the Austrian Bowl in St. Pölten.

The season's first game will also be the first game in a new uniform for QB John van den Raadt. He's the new signal-caller for the SWARCO Raiders. Last season he led the Falcons de Bron-Villeurbanne to a Division 3 championship in France. Before coming to Europe van den Raadt set numeral records at Azusa Pacific University, where he played from 2008-2011. He gained 9,335 total yards and scored 83 touchdowns – both school records.

In the AFL regular season RB Andreas Hofbauer led his team with 92 rushes for 575 yards and 5 touchdowns. He had 87 rushing yards and two scores in the playoff semifinals, before gaining 159 yards on 16 carries and scoring twice in the Austrian Bowl. RB Lukas Miribung had 60 rushes for 349 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Damaso Tarneller was his team's best receiver this regular season, having caught 40 passes for 642 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Julian Ebner caught 25 balls for 439 yards and 9 touchdowns. WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher hauled in 25 passes for 307 yards and 2 scores.

Erlsbacher also excels on special teams, having converted 38 of 41 extra points in the AFL. He also kicked six field goals, scored a total of 68 points and punted 19 times for a 37.3 average with 6 of his punts being downed inside the opposing 20-yard line. 30 of his 58 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. Erlsbacher also had 7 kickoff returns for 133 yards.

On defense LB Florian Hueter led the SWARCO Raiders in the AFL with 43.5 tackles (28 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. LB Christoph Schilcher had 34.5 tackles (24 solo) and one tackle for loss. LB Fabian Seeber had 31.5 tackles (25 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and a fumble recovery.

DL Philipp Margreiter had 19 tackles (17 solo) with 13.5 of them being for loss. He had 6 sacks, forced 2 fumbles and intercepted a pass. Margreiter also blocked a punt. DB Markus Krause had 26 tackles (16 solo) and caught 4 interceptions. DB Enrico Martini had 21.5 tackles (16 solo), recovered a fumble and intercepted 2 passes. He also had 15 kickoff returns in the AFL for 425 yards. DL Korbinian Hoffmann had 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss among his 16.5 tackles (13 solo). DL Maximilian Pichler had 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss. LB Simon Hoser and Taylor each caught 2 interceptions. Hoser returned one for a score. DB Patrick Pilger recovered a fumble.

The Vikings are led by QB Christoph Gross, He completed 32 of 51 passes for 532 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in two AFL games against the SWARCO Raiders. In the Eurobowl he tossed three more touchdown passes. And he added five more touchdown passes in the Austrian Bowl. In the AFL regular season Gross completed 147 of 227 passes for 2,283 yards with 25 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He led the league in passing yards and touchdowns thrown.

Replacing RB Jesse Lewis is RB Emmanuel Moody, who comes from the Dresden Monarchs to Vienna. Moody started his college career at USC, where he gained 458 yards on 79 carries in 2006. After transferring to Florida he had 124 rushes for 644 yards. He later signed a deal with the Buffalo Bills.

Vienna is without WR Michael Zweifel (not resigned) and WR Stefan Holzinger (retired). So WR Laurinho Walch is the go-to-guy. Last year he had 36 receptions for 560 yards and 5 touchdowns.

The Vikings defense is led by LB Dustin Illetschko, who had 41 tackles (28 solo), 6 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the AFL. LB Marco Aigner had 30 tackles (20 solo) and 4.5 tackles for loss. LB Simon Blach led his team with 15 tackles for loss. He had 5 sacks, 27.5 tackles (24 solo) and forced 3 fumbles. LB Paul Werner had 22.5 tackles (18 solo), 6 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. LB Philip Stojaspal led his team with 7 sacks. DL Alexander Taheri had 5.5 sacks. And DB Benjamin Bubik led the league with 6 interceptions.

Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2014 season live and as-live on www.raiderstv.at.

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