QB Sean Shelton threw two touchdown passes and scored on the ground against Stuttgart (Photo: Markus Stieg)
Another weekend, another double-header for the SWARCO RAIDERS. On Saturday, April 11 the second act of the BATTLE4TIROL is taking place. The sister-team of The Oakland Raiders host the Düsseldorf Panther in Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium. Kickoff is at 9:00 a.m. PT (6:00 p.m. CET). On Sunday, April 12 the Tyroleans face the Graz Giants in their first home game of the 2015 Austrian Football League (AFL) season. Kickoff at Gernot Langes Stadium in Wattens is at 6:00 a.m. PT (3:00 p.m. CET).
raidersTV will broadcast the game against Düsseldorf live. Coverage on www.raidersTV.at starts at 8:45 a.m. PT (5:45 p.m. CET).
"The first matchup of the BATTLE4TIROL was a lot of fun. Not only did we win, but after months of planning and preparing we were finally able to see, how this idea turned to life and how people react to it", said SWARCO RAIDERS head coach Shuan Fatah. "The team played better each minute. We want to continue doing that against a young and hungry Düsseldorf team. We have to stay focused and we can't make any mistakes. The same goes for Graz on Sunday. It will be a tough task to concentrate for two home games in two days, but we want to do everything in our power to win our first game back in Wattens."
The Düsseldorf Panther are in a rebuilding mode after a disappointing 2014 season. New head coach Marc Ellgering found a way to motivate his troops. Step by step he wants to bring his team back to where it once was: on top of Europe's football scene.
His debut as the Panther head coach comes against his former team as Ellgering coached the SWARCO RAIDERS wide receivers in 2013. He knows exactly what to expect come Saturday: "No doubt, the SWARCO RAIDERS are one of the best teams in Europe. They've shown their potential with several Austrian Bowl and Eurbowl championships and finals over the last few years".
Last Sunday the SWARCO RAIDERS needed some time to get going in the freezing cold of Innsbruck. But in a strong second half the Tyroleans scored 28 points against Stuttgart in the first ever BATTLE4TIROL, gaining lots of confidence in the process.
Among others the new import players showed of their skills in the team's first victory of the 2015 season. All but QB Sean Shelton played for the very first time this year. RB David Oku was named his team's MVP of the game for his performance. He gained 73 yards on 11 carries, scored a touchdown on the ground and returned a punt 82 yards for a score. DB Talib Wise led the Tyroleans with 14 tackles. Young prospects such as WR Fabian Abfalter also shined. He played his second game in as many days and scored all four extra points. DB Enrico Martini intercepted two Stuttgart passes.
Only one import is allowed to play in AFL action on Sunday, giving many of the younger players on the Tyroleans' roster a chance to compete against the Giants.
Graz is led by new head coach Blaine Bennett, who has 25 years of coaching experience in the NCAA. Since this will be Graz' first game of the season he had plenty of time to scout the Tyroleans.
While the Giants have a new head man the roster looks the same as last year. The team is led by QB Christoph Gubisch, who enters his second season at the helm. Alexander Sanz had the most rushes in the AFL last year. Philipp Sommer, Florian Wolf and Armando Ponce de Leon are the best three receivers on the team. On defense last season's top three tacklers return.
#12 Sean Shelton (QB, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol): Sean Shelton played his best game as a SWARCO RAIDER, yet against the Scorpions. The quarterback completed 16 of 26 passes for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also scored on the ground.
#4 Talib Wise (DB, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol): Talib Wise's comeback as a member of the SWARCO RAIDERS could not have been much better. The former Chicago Bears pro led his team with 14 tackles (11 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. He also batted down three passes.
#11 Enrico Martini (DB, SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol): Enrico Martini, who won the European championship with Team Germany last year, had one of his best games as a member of the SWARCO RAIDERS. The defensive back intercepted two passes. His first pick came in the closing seconds of the first half, when he picked off Stuttgart QB Thomas Schneider in the endzone to prevent the Scorpions from scoring. His second interception came late in the game.