This Saturday playoffs in Serbia were in full mode. Belgrade Vukovi vs Nis Imperials in Belgrade, and, Novi Sad Dukes vs Kragujevac Wild Boars in Novi Sad.
Vukovi vs Imperials - 35:22
Current champion of Serbia - Vukovi were the favorite to win this one. However, the score was a surprise to many, since during the regular season they won in Nis 49:0. This was the first time for Nis to be in the playoffs.
It's interesting to mention that Vukovi are playing in 3 leagues - SAAF, CEFL and IFAF Champions League, and so far - they had no bye weeks. Right now they have advanced to the SAAF and CEFL Championship, as well as to Final 4 of the IFAF CL - and will be headed to Paris in 2 weeks from now, after the SAAF finals.
We managed to catch up with the Vukovi president, Goran Nisavic, who gave us a quick statement: "I give a lot of credit to Nis, they came with a short roster, and never gave up the fight. We didn't expect that, and we expected a similar game like the last time (49:0). Everybody got surprised. I would like to congratulate the whole team and organization."
Dukes vs Wild Boars - 26:27
This was definitely a must watch game. There was no favorite in this one, both teams were having a great regular season. Dukes were 6-1 (lost to Vukovi), while WB were 5-2 (lost to Vukovi and Dukes). 4th quarter was when things got interesting for the audience. After Dukes scored a TD and made a 6 pt lead with 3 minutes left on the clock, Wild Boars offense managed to fumble and let Dukes have the ball again. However, Dukes didn't manage to score again, where just 10 seconds before the end of the game - Wild Boars took the moment and scored the winning TD. After a small chaos on the field, game went back to normal, but Dukes didn't have enough time to at least get to a decent FG distance.
We can freely say that in the Dukes vs WB scenarios - this was the re-run of last year, however, this year with much more interesting matches (in the regular season Dukes won in 2nd OT).
Before the game, we talked to WB HC, Richard Bonds, who said: "Dukes have played less games and had plenty of rest and like the last game we have one tough game after the next. But this situation is to see who will play for the championship. One of the reason for me to return to Serbia is to get another shot at the domestic championship. This may not be a familiar situation for the organization but we knew all during the season it could be close. I still think we have one of the best defenses in Central Europe despite how we played last weekend against Budapest in CEFL, we need to limit the big plays and be productive on special teams. The key for us is our offense. We can't be on a roller-coster ride at this time of the season and we have to be efficient and limit mistake."
Quarterbacks of both teams - Ike Whitaker (WB) and Rastko Jokic (Dukes) are the best two QBs in the league. Coach Bonds compared the two before the match: "When Ike's on he is such a talent to watch, and is a nightmare for defenses because he can run and throw. I don't know how he stacks up as far as statistic, but when he's on his game he is definable one of the better QB's in the league. three good QB's , three good teams, that's what fans want in this country. It's a tight race and Ike did not play all games, I'm a little bias but I'm pulling for him for a lot of different reason some that has nothing to do with football and more to do with seeing him complete a mission."