And then there were two! By now I’m sure you all know that this year’s Belgian Bowl will be contested between the Brussels Black Angels and the West Flanders Tribes. Over the course of the season, I think it’s fair to say that these have been the two best teams in Belgium, and so it will be a worthy final. And not only that, but from all reports it’s going to be an excellent crowd as well. It’s just a pity that we have to wait two weeks for it!
Game One : Brussels Black Angels 38, Brussels Tigers 10
The score might have been comfortable in the end but what price did the Angels have to pay? Injuries to FB Banza and WR Killens were just the beginning (both will play in the Belgian Bowl though, I’m sure), but their outstanding OT Meys got ejected in the final quarter and will not play in the final, after allegedly punching a Tigers player.
Things started pretty well for the Angels, their running game in control but they were unable to finish as well as they might have liked, settling for two K Killens field goals and one RB Trouillez touchdown in the first half. The Tigers scored on a nice pass to WR Denis after some ill-discipline from the Angels gave them good field position, and after the two point conversion on the ground the Angels led just 10-8.
The Angels caught a break when the Tigers committed a penalty during an interception return that otherwise would have been a touchdown and given them the lead, but instead they were forced to punt. They did get a safety though to bring the score to 13-10 at the half.
The second half was much more like it, as far as the Angels were concerned. Yet another touchdown by RB Trouillez was followed with some more good work on the offensive side of the ball which led to two touchdowns from RB Sarta. S Godichal racked up yet another pick-six to make the scoreline a bit of a blowout. Again the Angels defense was extremely strong, especially in the second half, including when they weren’t confused by a few weird formations that the Tigers threw at them.
All in all, yet another solid performance from the Angels in all three phases, as they head back to the Belgian Bowl for the first time since 2008.
Game Two : West Flanders Tribes 27, Brussels Bulls 21
At the time it seemed a little excessive, but a 12-yard touchdown catch from Tribes WR Thomas DeGroote made the score 27-14 with only a couple of minutes to go, and it turned out to be very neccessary for West Flanders.
The Bulls got the ball back and behind the arm of QB Fogarty he drove them the length of the field and finished the drive himself with a sneak to bring the Bulls back to within 6, however there was just 1 second left when this happened, not enough time for the Bulls to complete a comeback.
The Tribes started the game with the ball but were forced into a turnover on downs. On the Bulls first play from scrimmage WR Leroy was left wide open and QB Fogarty found him on the first of many deep completions for a 65-yard touchdown strike. K Simon nailed the extra point and the Bulls led 7-0. Once they got the ball back, the Tribes had their longest drive of the season, 15 plays, which culminated in a QB Vermaut to TE Brutyn 24-yard score, knotting the score at 7 at quarter time.
The second started well for the Tribes with RB George tip-toeing his way down the sideline before finding some open space and cutting it back inside, going 65-yards of his own to the house, K Dossche does the rest and Tribes lead 14-7. The Bulls come right back with another long ball to WR Leroy, great effort by S Huyghe to make a diving ankle tap tackle, but not after he’d gained 72 yards. It was up to RB Abrakan to score from 2 yards away and again we were tied, this time 14-14 at the half.
The Bulls had most of the possession in the third quarter but couldn’t score, LB Jamin making a sack and P Brutyn pinning the them back at their own 3-yard line. On the other hand, the Tribes gained just 4 total yards in the quarter.
At the beginning of the fourth, Bulls K Simon missed a 30-yard field goal and the Tribes got the ball back, putting together another long drive which was ended with a touchdown after a little trickeration on a fake field goal, TE Brutyn walking in for the score by himself and the Tribes were up 21-14.
On the ensuing possession the Bulls had to punt from their own 1-yard line after a sack from DL Ongena. The punt was fielded by WR Gancharov and he wove 40 yards for the score, but it was called back on an obvious block in the back penalty. It wasn’t the only bad penalty on the drive as the Bulls were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct call just when the Tribes had failed a third down conversion. This all led to the touchdown from WR DeGroote, the attempted comeback of the Bulls, and a final score of 27-21 Tribes.
I think the scoreline was a good representation of the play. The Bulls running game hadn’t been stopped like that all year, but they made up for it by completing three huge passes. The Tribes offense had a pretty regulation day at the office, doing it both on the ground and in the air, but they’ll want to shore up their pass defense going into the final.
Like I said, it was a tough day for the Bulls halfbacks, RB Abrakan with 9 rush, 23 yards, 1 td, and RB Acheson with 9 rush for 16 yards were the best of the ground game. WR Stalmans had 4 catches, 38 yards in another solid performance. On their defense, DE Nyati-Panzu led the team with 7.5 tackles and 1 sack, and he was helped out by Nicolajeff 5.5 tackles, and S Ammadi had 1.5 tackles and 1 interception.
On the side of the winners, RB George continued his wonderful season with 22 rush, 146 yards, 1 td. TE Brutyn caught 3 passes for 72 yards and 2 td. On the defensive side of things, LB Stepman had 5 tackles, DE Dossche 5 tackles and .5 sacks, CB Van Marcke 5 tackles too and LB Jamin 4 tackles and 1 sack.
Tribes total offense : 346 (132 passing, 214 rushing). Bulls total offense : 274 (223 passing, 51 rushing)
This week’s All-FFL announcement
So I promised an announcement about the All-FFL team today (the team itself will be anounced next week, as you know). I hadn’t planned on doing this, but in order to keep a little momentum going, I’m going to list 11 players and 1 coach as “Honourable mentions”, and it’s those that I’ll give today. These aren’t done per position, but there’s at least one per team. These are all players who had great seasons but didn’t quite make it into the final 40.
Representing Antwerp Diamonds : QB Elliott Keymolen, Coach John Jolie
Representing Brussels Black Angels : WR Bart Killens, T Charly Cohen
Representing Brussels Bulls : LB Jean-Christophe Kitoko, RB Ben Acheson
Representing Bornem Titans : G Kabil Baldemir
Representing Gent Gators : DL Didier Timmermans
Representing Leuven Lions : DL Erwin Janssens, CB Christophe Olenaed
Representing Limburg Shotguns : WR German Oyen
Representing West Flanders Tribes : LB Greg Jamin
Not surprisingly, the new numbers 1 and 2 are our finalists. The Tigers drop to 3, the Titans jump up to 6, and Gent complete their jump over the Shotguns into the number 9 spot.
1 – West Flanders Tribes : 2937
2 – Brussels Black Angels : 2703
3 – Brussels Tigers : 2613
4 – Brussels Bulls : 2243
5 – Louvain-la-Neuve Fighting Turtles : 1480
6 – Bornem Titans : 1391
7 – Charleroi Cougars : 1380
8 – Antwerp Diamonds : 1059
9 – Gent Gators : 563
10 – Limburg Shotguns : 560
11 – Liege Monarchs : 474
12 – Leuven Lions : 309
13 – Andenne Bears : 31
Players of the week
No disrespect to the Angels and Tigers, but I can’t really put any players from those teams in as I don’t have the stats to do it.
Bulls WR Leroy. 3 catches, 179 yards, 1 td. The most dangerous player on the field constantly got behind the Tribes last line and caused trouble.
Bulls QB Fogarty. 8/24, 233 yards, 1 td. 4 rush, 9 yds, 1td. Threw his deep passes really well today and managed to sneak a touchdown in as well. Gave his team a chance to win.
Tribes QB Vermaut. 6/22, 132 yards, 3 td, 1 int. 9 rush, 65 yards. Had a few drops which didn’t help his passing stats but made the ones that were required. Took off and ran when his pass protection broke down and actually threw a ball away when he didn’t have anything.
Tribes DL Mestdagh. 8 tackles. This is a little more personal than I’d normally write, so just bear with me. I remember when he first showed up at the Tribes about 6 years ago, he was like a big teddy bear. Now he’s giving opposing offensive lines nightmares because he’s becoming so hard to block.
Stat of the week
The Bulls 51 yards rushing for the game were lower than RB George’s yards rushing on his touchdown in the second quarter (65).
Quote of the week
“Well kick me in the balls, let’s go get a beer”, Bulls coach Curtis Plybon. My Missourian isn’t all that great, but I believe a proper translation into the Queen’s English would be – ‘Well, the game is over, so let’s drink a cool, foamy beverage’. Or something like that!
Ten thoughts I think I think
1 – I think former Tribes CB Vandendriessche (aka Swatten) is being deployed to Afgahnistan for 5 months a week after the Belgian Bowl. All respect for that – stay safe, my man.
2 – I think Tribes LB DeGrendele was injured in the game against the Bulls. I’m sure he won’t miss the Belgian Bowl but whether he’ll be at 100% is another question.
3 – I think it was yet another nice day for football on Sunday. The question is – how much longer can this go on for?
4 – I think the Bulls used every trick play known to man (and a few that weren’t before yesterday) on their last drive. I do love a bit of trickeration. Did I really see a throwback to an offensive lineman? I assume he was supposed to throw the ball downfield. Brilliant!
5 – I think it was an excellent crowd in Izegem. Hard to estimate as I was sitting in the middle of them, but there were probably 250 or so in the main stand, and the Bulls had brought a bus-load of supporters too.
6 – I think both teams showed a lot of class today. Tribes and Bulls don’t exactly get along, but it all seemed to be above the belt to me. It was definitely good for football, at any rate.
7 – I think Nelson Vanlocke is busy working on BFL and FFL pages on Wikipedia. Anyone with information should feel free to put it up there as well!
8 – I think I’m not exactly sure what to do with this blog after the season. Well, first I will be taking a well deserved rest, and after that I’ll see. I have some ideas – will just be a once a week thing, I guess. I was thinking about writing something for non-football fans (we all know plenty of those) to try and gently introduce them to the game, as it strikes me that many people who go to watch don’t really know what’s going on. Also I had some ideas for some Onion-like stories for a bit of a laugh. Anyway, if anyone can think of a good idea, then you know where to find me.
9 – I think I just read my very first column again. How embarrassing! It’s like looking back at photos of yourself when you were just 10 years old! Anyway, one of my ten thoughts back then was that there would be two FFL teams in the Belgian Bowl this year. My predictions haven’t been that far off this year, have they?
10 – I think these are my non FFL thoughts of the week
– Because there’s no football next weekend, I’ll be spending my time very wisely and going to watch Piet Piraat in Ostend with the wife and my daughter, Mai. Better get some golf in too.
– Kids look so helpless when they’re sick. My son is under the weather at the moment and there’s no energy in him at all – totally the opposite of normal. Get well soon, little guy.
– I wonder how much longer Lance Armstrong is going to have his 7 Tour victories. Then again, this whole doping thing is the reason I don’t watch cycling any more.
– I saw a trailer on youtube for the X-Alps. Now that is one crazy race, how can anyone actually complete that?
Ostend, June 4, 17:30 (gates open at 15:30)
Belgian Bowl XXIV
Brussels Black Angels v West Flanders Tribes
It’s going to be a long couple of weeks while we wait for the Belgian Bowl. Thursday will be your mailbag, so be sure to comment so I’ve got plenty to write about as there will be no football to preview. To the Tribes and the Angels – get to training, I am sure that your coaches have a lot to teach you! Until next time