The FFL season has entered its second half, which means things are going to get interesting around here (not that they weren’t before), as teams jostle for playoff spots, or at least to play spoiler if it’s too late to make a run. Unfortunately, this week has also been a bit too controversial for my liking. Anyway, let’s go to work.
Game One – Limburg Shotguns 20, Leuven Lions 14
The game started with the typical Lions start, which meant they were two touchdowns down early in the first quarter, despite creating a fumble early on. But it was again QB Saffo who lead the way with two touchdown passes.
However the Lions would fight back thanks to a 40-yard rushing touchdown from RB Baeté, and a 1-yard sneak from QB Mike Olenaed. Combining that with a change to their pass defense and Leuven made a good charge at the victory, however their chances of winning were snuffed out on a bit of a weird play. QB Saffo was able to walk into the endzone after the Lions had been flagged for going offside and had given up on the play.
Although Limburg walked away with the victory and kept their playoff chances alive, there were some good signs for Leuven too, again their corners didn’t allow a big play and DL Van Rymenant played hard all day too.
Game Two – Brussels Black Angels 49, Gent Gators 0
This was a dominant defensive performance by the Angels, with their defense forcing a shutout and managing a few scores themselves. CB Oshe the star with 3 interceptions including one returned to the house, the Angels D also recovering a fumble in the endzone and scoring a safety.
On the other side of the ball, it was yet another great performance of the Angels backfield, with RB Trouillez opening the scoring with a long touchdown run. QB Njufom connected with FB Bellin for another score and FB Banza crossed the goal line as well.
Later on in the game the Angels sent in the back-ups but that didn’t stop the flow of points, QB Killens sneaking one in and passing one to FB Banza for his second of the game which settled the score at a dominant 49-0.
Gent’s best plays were made by WR Depreitere, but the Gators were under pressure the whole time, no room was given to them by the Angels front seven and they couldn’t force an opening themselves.
Game Three – West Flanders Tribes 35, Antwerp Diamonds 0
This was one ugly game, marred by penalties, ejections and an extremely nasty injury to Tribes G Vandenabeele. Titi, as he’s better known, has a broken ankle and I wouldn’t think we’ll see him on the field again for quite a while. Titi, get well soon mate.
As if the injury wasn’t enough to suck all the life out of the game, the 21 accepted penalties sure did (and that doesn’t include ones that were declined, flags picked up or one or two that I didn’t write down because they had no influence on anything).
I should probably mention something about the football though, as there was actually some played in the game too. Antwerp were without QB Keymolen, and this took away an extra dimension to the Diamonds game. The Diamonds ground it out (111 yards on 31 carries), but couldn’t really get any big plays, and their only trip into the red zone ended in a missed field goal.
Tribes RB George had a touchdown called back on the first drive after a holding penalty, and a possible touchdown pass was broken up by a brilliant intervention by Diamonds S Vanderaa. RB George made up for it by opening the scoring in the second quarter by busting one 77 yards to the house, and the first half scoring was rounded out by a sneak from QB Vermaut just before half time, K Dossche with both extra points.
RB George got into the endzone again, this time from 4 yards to make it 21-0, and then it was up to WR Gancharov to make things happen, catching a 9 yarder from QB Vermaut and taking a reverse 7 yards to paydirt, K Dossche going 5/5 on the day, and the final score was set.
Despite saying after the game that it was his worst of the year, LB Borra led Antwerp with 6 tackles, meanwhile Tribes LB DeGrendele had 11 for the winners.
In other stats, Tribes had 455 yards of total offense compared to 149 for Antwerp. Busiest receiver was, as usual, Antwerp TE Verhelst, with 7 catches, however he was limited by LB/S Van Marcke to just 38 yards on those catches.
Game Four – Brussels Bulls 27, Bornem Titans 0
A wise coach once told me that the two most important stats are third down conversions, and average yards per rush. In this game, the average yards per rush were Bulls 5.8, Titans 1.5.
And yet, I didn’t feel that the Titans were pushed around up front as I’d thought (for more on that, see the players of the week). Bulls G Beck, however, was totally dominant until he got tossed from the game, and T Chiotis was excellent as well. 5 Bulls players rushed for more than 20 yards, led superbly by RB Abarkan (10 rushes, 72 yards, 3 td).
It was a busy day to be a Titans linebacker, Meersmans (12 tackles), Eerens (9) and Van Moorleghem (7) all doing their best, but unable to stop the flow of Bulls yards and first downs. On the other side of things, the Bulls forced 4 Titans turnovers, including a pick by LB Kitoko and a recovery of a muffed punt, which all led to the final score of 27-0 for the Bulls.
I’d expected the Bulls to sling it around a bit more too, a lovely throw from QB Fogarty to WR Stalmans just past the diving CB Peirsman was the highlight of both teams’ air attack, as the Titans WR Vermeir was held pretty quiet (2 catches, 23 yards).
The Bulls racked up 285 total yards, the Titans just 82. And to all those Bulls’ coaches who kept reminding me, yes, the Bulls young players are definitely standing up and being counted!
Here are the updated rankings. Nice to see that Leuven aren’t ranked with a 0 any more!
1 – West Flanders Tribes (4-0-0) : 3000
2 – Brussels Black Angels (3-1-1) : 2145
3 – Brussels Bulls (2-2-1) : 1775
4 – Antwerp Diamonds (3-3-0) : 1371
5 – Limburg Shotguns (2-2-0) : 1197
6 – Bornem Titans (3-2-0) : 1172
7 – Gent Gators (1-4-0) : 169
8 – Leuven Lions (1-5-0) : 111
Players of the week
Tribes RB George. 17 rush, 161 yards, 2 td. After being denied by a penalty, De Rosten turned on the turbos and scored twice, on runs of 77 and 4 yards.
Tribes QB Vermaut. 10/16, 191 yards, 1 td. 4 rush, 28 yards, 1 td. Started slowly but a long 60 yard pass to WR De Groote, and a 45 yarder to TE Brutyn were the highlights.
Bulls RB Abarkan. 10 rush, 72 yards, 3 td. Scored on runs of 2, 5 and 21 yards, and as such was the only person to cross the goal line with the ball in the game.
Titans DL Van Put. Could well be the most unlikely player of the week ever, but throughly deserved, with an amazing 10 tackles from the defensive tackle spot.
Note that the players of the week all come from the games I saw. Standouts at the other games were Angels CB Oshe and Shotguns QB Saffo.
Stat of the week
The two games in Bornem had 36 accepted penalties for 339 yards. Penalty kings were the Tribes, 14 for 164.
Quote of the week
“I wish they’d just end this game so I can go and have a beer!” – Tribes FS Kenneth Huyghe who pretty much summed it up for everybody midway through the final quarter.
Ten thoughts I think I think
1 – I think I’m glad it was such nice weather on Sunday. I don’t think I remember a season where so many games were played in such good weather. By the way, early forecast for next week is good as well.
2 – I think it’s getting bloody hard to pick this All-FFL team. Can’t 40 of you guys just play really well and nobody else? I just know that I’m going to agonise over it until I reveal the team, and then afterwards too! It’ll be announced the week before the Belgian Bowl (only regular season games will count though).
3 – I think this has been the most lopsided weekend this season. Still good to see that no game has been ended early this season.
4 – I think Tribes K Dossche did something on Sunday that I never did – kick 5/5 extra points in one game. Nice work big guy!
5 – I think, should they make it, that the Bulls are going to be the team that nobody wants to play in the playoffs. They go very deep and are extremely well coached.
6 – I think it was a nice read on the FFL website about those brainstorming sessions that were held. Interesting that they’ll buy a scoreboard. They didn’t have to go that far, even one dude with a black marker and a whiteboard would have been an improvement over what’s available now! (Sorry, I’m in a joking kind of mood at the moment after all the seriousness of Sunday)
7 – I think I wonder why it takes Leuven 10 minutes at the start of every game to wake up? I know some teams are slow starters but putting yourself down two touchdowns every week isn’t really ideal.
8 – I think I felt like I was in the press contingent for a while during Tribes v Diamonds. I had Gary Dibble on one side of me and Lorre Janssens on the other. Glad I didn’t have my camera with me or I’d have felt really inadequate! Should be starting a ‘photo of the week’ section on Thursday.
9 – I think this is my Dad quote of the week : “Bad kicking is bad football” – of course he was talking about Australian football, but it applies here too. This reminds me that I have to email the old man and tell him how popular he is!
10 – I think these are my non-FFL thoughts of the week
– India won the cricket world cup. It’s about time – they’ve had the most talented team for just about the last 20 years.
– I believe this week is the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia. That’ll have me glued to my TV Saturday and Sunday evening (probably Thursday and Friday too). A truly beautiful and magical place. Hard to explain, I suppose!
– I’m so totally over watching cycling on TV that there are no words for it.
– 11pm tonight on Eurosport2, the highlights of the Australian football games from the weekend. Looking forward to watching Hawthorn run over Melbourne!
April 10 – St. Agatha
12:00 – Antwerp Diamonds (3-3-0) v Brussels Black Angels (3-1-1)
15:00 – Brussels Bulls (2-2-1) v Gent Gators (1-4-0)
April 10 – Leuven
12:00 – Bornem Titans (3-2-0) v Limburg Shotguns (2-2-0)
15:00 – Leuven Lions (1-5-0) v West Flanders Tribes (4-0-0)
It’s a pity that sometimes emotions get away from people. This is a beautiful sport we all play (or watch, or coach) but it quickly goes to hell when people get out of control. Just a little more respect for each other and, dare I say it, the refs, would go a long way. This is all of our hobby, don’t forget that. Whether another guy on the field is wearing the same color jersey as you or not, that fact makes us all the same. The best games to watch are the ones when everyone gives 100% during the game and has a good laugh and a chat with the opponents after the game – those are some of my best memories of playing football.
Anyway, enough of that. Thursday’s blog will have the usual previews and your mailbag, as well as what each team needs to do in order to make the playoffs. Until next time, people.