Poland: TDEUs Wojciech at SFVIII - Giants Wroclaw Win The War

Photo: Lukasza Skwiota 
I’ve described the SFVIII as War in Warsaw and it was a true battle – the Giants defeated the Eagles and they have taken the title back to the capital city of American football in Poland - Wroclaw. 

Out of four titles in the modern PLFA, three has been won by teams from the capital of the Lower Silesia – in 2010 by Devils and 2011 by The Crew, in 2013 by Giants the successor of the Crew. 

But let’s start from the beginning – the coin toss was won by the Eagles who elected to return the ball, Clarence Anderson III ran the ball to the 30yd line of the Eagles, and from there they’ve started their first offensive series – they were able gain one 1st down before being force to punt – Eagles lined in spread and Gimzo kicked the ball deep into Giants territory. It was Giants turn – so it was “Schulters time” he started with few good rushing attempts, then Bartek Dziedzic found Paweł “Nasty” Światek who was playing fullback for 13 yds and a first down. The Giants seemed to be rolling when a short Dziedzic pass was intercepted by WE LB Mark-Avery Airhart – the PLFA Topliga’s best linebacker run down the sideline but instead of returning it to the house he stepped out of bounds when Dziedzic tried to tackle him, to give you a better perspective Airhart is built like a tank listed at 104 kg, Dziedzic is 76 kg. This could have been a key-play of the game for the Eagles - yet they still had the ball starting their drive on Giants 26 yd line – three plays, two sacks and minus eleven yards later Gimzo punted the ball for a touchback – Eagles left empty handed on next two possessions teams exchanged punts – first quarter finished at 0-0.

First points in the game were put on board in the second quarter by Giants defense… Good punt by PLFA best Punter Mateusz Ruta pinned Eagles way deep in their territory, false start and ensuing sack by Kamil Ruta and Bartosz Świątek forced WE to play 2nd and 23 from their own 3yd line. Two plays later Shane Gimzo was sacked for safety by Defensive Lineman Paweł Sekuła – this play was a microcosm of issues for both teams – for Eagles bad field position Gimzo trying to make something happen, makes a bad decision- holds on to the ball too long. Giants front four makes a relentless pressure wins at LOS and makes a huge play.

Photo: Lukasza Skwiota 
The kick-off was returned to Eagles 48yd line by Mateusz Ruta - Giants offense capitalized on this good field position marched down the field, 8 plays later Jamal Schulters celebrated his first TD of the day. Eagles responded with a good 39yd kick-return by Clarence Douglas Anderson III, starting near mid-field they successfully moved the chains – before attempting a Field Goal with 5 tics on the clock. Marcin Łojewski missed a 35 yarder and Eagles still couldn’t produce their points of the day.

In the first half alone Shane Gimzo was sacked six times, Eagles produced only 36 yds of total offense vs Giants 116 yds.

Sometime into the break I tweeted that first offensive drive after the break - by the Giants will have the key importance – if Eagles can force a quick 3&out and score they will be in the game if GW march and score it will be game over.

Good return by Deante Battle and Jamal Schulters legs moved the sticks, Eagles helped their opponents with penalties - on key 3rd down Caleb Singleton forced Bartosz Dziedzic out of bounds and the Giants had to settle for a FG- but another WE offside proven to be costly – instead of 4th and 6 at WE 25 it was now 4&1 – Schulters plowed for 5 . And four plays later he galloped into the Endzone . Giants led 16-0 and were able to eat 5 minutes of the third quarter. The next drive by the Eagles was arguably the best of the day – not only they scored their first points of the day with a nice 16 yd screen pass to Witold Szpotański – but they started from their own 20 and consequently run against the Giants – with effective pitching. The Giants lead was cut to 16-7, but short kick by Łojewski – who was playing with a knee injury- good return by Battle and few good Schulters runs allowed the G-men to move to WE On third and 12 GW were penalized for illegal block, instead of taking a 15 yd penalty HC Philip Dillon decided to make it a 4th down at own 39, a pooch punt by Ruta was downed at WE 19-yd.

Photo: Lukasza Skwiota 
The Eagles were entering the 4th quarter, if they were to make a comeback now was the time to put another points on the board. Defensive unit from Wrocław had different plans – sack by Adam Matryba and another Eagles penalty erasing a positive gain on the pass forced a classic 3&out.

Giants offense stepped up to the challenge – QB Bartosz Dziedzic send a long 35yd bomb downfield to Mark Philmore. Another pass to MP3 and two runs by Schulters later Wroclaw side was leading 22-7. Again it was Jamal who was proving who is the Season’s MVP.

With every tick on the clock the eagles were pushed closer to the edge – CDA III used all his magic to return the ball midfield – yet for another time Eagles were stopped, on 1st another sack this time by DE Robert Rosołek then 3 straight incompletions – none of the balls was addressed to CDA III. Giants took-over on downs at their own 45 yd line Bartosz Dziedzic rushed for 2 yds and the rest of the damage was done by the ultimate weapon Jamal Anderson his 44yd gallop was the ultimate dagger in the heart of the Eagles.

The score was 29-7 Giants – 5:07 on the clock - Eagles were in desperate position – they needed a miracle or a greatest comeback in PLFA history - they got a TD but it was way too little and way to late they needed 8 plays and 3:15 to move the ball 60 yds and score. Giants defense played it safe allowed passes in the shallow zones without being beat deep. Extra point failed and it was 29-13 for Wroclaw.

Onside kick was recovered by Giants and 5 plays later they could celebrate victory and the PLFA Topliga 2013 Championship.

Now few things I think:

- Jamal Schulters proved once again that PLFA can still be won by having one exceptional athlete, he scored something around 25 TDs on 10 regular season games. In two play-off games he scored 9 (nine !) TD all of Giants postseason TD’s. Still it was not enough to get him the MVP of the league it went to QB Seddrick Harris of Devils Wroclaw. His 4 TD, 189 yds of GW 366 yds performance was not enough to get him the Offensive Player of the Game Award, I guess the SuperFinal’s MVP was a nice consolation prize.

- During the pre-game Tailgating Party I could see the Eagles players walking around the promenade, enjoying themselves with girlfriends and families. I tried as hell to find Giants players – I couldn't I presume they were in the locker rooms concentrating .

-The official attendance of SFVIII given by the PLFA was 16 500, in 2012 it was 23 000 – should we complain? I think it would be something like a rich spoiled kid crying over the fact that last year his birthday present was a Ferrari and this year he got new BMW – but he expected a Bentley.


Photo: Lukasza Skwiota 
- The Giants dominated on both sides of the LOS, Schulters success wouldn’t be possible without OL. While DL’s 8 sacks must be a record in the leagues history – after all it must be in the name Giants . After the presentation of the trophy DE Adam Matryba proposed to his Girlfriend- what a fairytale finish of the season – she said yes ofc!

- We must bring the flag dance back it will improve the fan experience! During the Crew era on every flag during the game there was a special dance with yellow ribbons performed by Sista Crew – trust me it’s a great idea – don’t believe me – just type Sista Crew on Google Images.

- It will be a long, tough offseason for the Warsaw Eagles - the inevitable change of the generations is approaching fast. And I wanted to make it official I have plenty of respect for your organization.

- Can Giants repeat? Tough one, but unless something unexpected happens (meaning big money for other teams) my Topliga 2014 Play-Offs teams are: Giants and Devils from Wroclaw, Seahawks Gdynia and Warsaw Eagles 

- I’m not sure if SuperFinal IX should be played again in Warsaw or is it the time to use SB mode and try other Euro 2012 Stadiums - Wrocław, Gdańsk or Poznań.

-The day after the SuperFinal should be a public holiday - so even if you feel like Johnny Manziel after Manning Camp You have the time to recover from “dehydration” ;)

Wojciech Andrzejczak