RB Andreas Hofbauer (L) and QB Kyle Callahan (Photo: Schellhorn)
The SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, finally enter the international stage this season. On Saturday, May 25 the Tyroleans host the Helsinki Roosters from Finland in the European Football League (EFL) quarterfinals. Kickoff at Tivoli Stadium is at 8:00 a.m. PT (5:00 p.m. CET).
The EFL is the most prestigious American football competition in Europe with the continent's best teams fighting for the Eurobowl. The SWARCO Raiders have won the title in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
"Finally we will play in the EFL. I'm excited about that", explained SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "The Roosters are a football dinosaur in Europe. They have won the Eurobowl when I was still playing".
The Roosters have qualified themselves for the quarterfinals after winning group 3 of the EFL group stage. They started with a 49-44 road victory over the Soelleroed Gold Diggers from Danmark, followed by a 29-22 win over their local rivals Helsinki Wolverines. Last Sunday the Roosters defeated the Wolverines again – this time in their league season opener. They won 48-10 on the road.
Founded in 1979 the Roosters are one of Europe's oldest American football teams. They have won 15 Finish championships, including the 2012 title. This season is the eighth time the Roosters participate in the EFL. The first time they played for the European crown in 1988, they have won the tournament. They have reached the semifinals the following season as well as in 1997, 1998 and in 1999 – which also was the last time the Roosters participated in the EFL until now.
Meanwhile the SWARCO Raiders have played their first EFL game in 2001. They have reached at least the semifinals in eight straight years now, winning the Eurobowl three times (2008, 2009, 2011).
Despite both team's tradition-rich history they will meet for the very first time on Saturday. This will be only the second time the SWARCO Raiders face a team from Finland. They have beaten the Porvoo Butchers 31-13 in the 2009 EFL semifinals.
The Austrian team is led by QB Kyle Callahan. In eight games in the 2013 Austrian Football League (AFL) season he has completed 119 of 185 passes for 1,610 yards with 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also ran the ball 33 times for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns. Callahan's completion percentage (64.3) and his passing yards rank second in the AFL. He also is tied for first place with 20 touchdown passes.
RB Andreas Hofbauer leads the Tyroleans with 78 rushes for 476 yards and 4 touchdowns. RB Lukas Miribung had 38 carries for 189 yards and a touchdown. RB/DB Jaycen Taylor gained 94 yards and scored a touchdown on 15 carries. He also caught 8 passes for 70 yards and a score.
WR Damaso Tarneller is first on the team with 33 catches for 481 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Julian Ebner has caught 23 passes for 382 yards. His 9 touchdown catches lead the league. WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher caught 23 balls for 278 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also had 2 carries for 63 yards. WR Talib Wise had 18 receptions for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 10 times for 45 yards and 2 scores.
Erlsbacher also excels on special teams. He converted 29 of 30 extra points and kicked 5 field goals (18, 33, 42, 43, 43 yards). He also had 16 punts for an average of 36.8 yards per punt with 5 punts downed inside the opposing 20. And half of his 44 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. On top of that Erlsbacher had 4 kickoff returns for 67 yards. Wise had 3 kickoff returns for 54 yards and 3 punt returns for 87 yards. DB Enrico Martini returned 8 kickoffs for 234 yards. Taylor's lonely return was good for a 78-yard punt return touchdown.
The defense is led by LB Florian Hueter and his 37 tackles (26 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. LB Chrisoph Schilcher had 30.5 tackles (22 solo) and a tackle for loss. He's followed by LB Fabian Seeber, who had 28.5 tackles (24 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and a fumble recovery.
DE Philipp Margreiter had 19 tackles (17 solo). He also leads the AFL with 13.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. Margreiter also forced 2 fumbles, caught an interception and blocked a punt. Martini had 16 tackles (12 solo). DL Korbinian Hoffmann had 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss. DL Maximilian Pichler had 2 sacks. LB Simon Hoser intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown. DB Markus Krause and Taylor also caught 2 interceptions each.DB Patrick Pilger and Martini each recovered a fumble.
As Fatah explains, the Roosters are known for their dangerous offense: "QB Robert Johnson is one of the most dangerous players in Europe. Stephen Peyton is kind of a Talib Wise clone. Roberto Ciasulli is a strong receiver as is Henri Myöhänen, who was invited to several NFL Europe camps".
Johnson has thrown 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Roosters two EFL qualifiers. He also ran for a score. RB Aleksander Kuronen scored a rushing touchdown, too. Ciasulli caught 3 touchdowns. WR Markus Lievonen and Myöhänen each caught a touchdown pass. WR Ilkka Laitinen caught 2 touchdowns.
In their season opener in the Finish Maple League Johnson completed 16 of 28 passes for 202 yards with 2 touchdowns. He also had 5 carries for 56 yards and 2 scores. WR Kimi Linnainamaa caught 5 balls for 96 yards and a touchdown.
On defense the SWARCO Raiders need to prepare for LB Roni Salonen, DB Stephen Peyton, DL Emil Westrin (scored a fumble recovery touchdown in the EFL) and LB Mark DeSwart. DB Sampo Ranta caught 2 interceptions. DB Pekka Rantala and DB Ville Roitto each caught an interception. In their first league game Peyton scored on a 36-yard interception return and the defense gave up only 173 total yards.
May 25 – Berlin Adler (GER) vs. JCL Giants Graz (AUT)
May 25 – SWARCO Raiders Tirol (AUT) vs. Helsinki Roosters (FIN)
May 26 – Calanda Broncos (SUI) vs. Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns (GER)
May 26 – Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna (AUT) vs. Soelleroed Gold Diggers (DAN)
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2013 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.