Good evening and welcome to this weeks’ edition of the FFL Blog. And for the first time this season, we have real football to talk about, as yesterday, the Diamond Bowl was played in Berendrecht. The three teams involved were the home town Antwerp Diamonds and the visiting Leuven Lions and Lelystad Commanders.
I’m going to be honest, the Commanders were much too good for either of our FFL squads at this early point of the season, and deservedly won the trophy by beating Leuven 56-0 and Antwerp 36-0. The tournament MVPs were also Lelystad players, although the runner-up awards were picked up by Diamonds QB Keymolen on offense and LB Kovalenko on defense (I don’t think I have ever seen someone so surprised to win an award), so well done for that.
Game report : Antwerp Diamonds 24, Leuven Lions 6
I had expected a very scrappy game marred by penalties but actually there wasn’t a lot of yellow on the ground (apart from Leuven QB Mike Olenaed’s boots, at any rate). Leuven had a few players playing their first game and it showed, however the kids are going to be better for the experience, and their coaches will have a better idea of what each player can and can’t do. Plus the coaches might have nailed down which punt formation they prefer to use, as there were a couple of variations on display.
Leuven’s quarterback situation is still up in the air too as their former starter Floris Van Hoof moves over to the sideline to call the plays, leaving the coaching staff to decide between three players. For Antwerp, QB Elliott Keymolen is off to Boston for a year of prep school, and this is a huge loss for the Diamonds, which will probably see everything-man Michael Vervaet back into the quarterback role he played several years ago. Not that Vervaet isn’t capable, but he was a big part of the Diamonds offense at his slash role – to illustrate, he rushed 6 times for 36 yards and 1 touchdown, plus caught 3 balls for 22 yards and 2 2-point conversions in this game, and that’s tough to replace.
But the scoring was opened by TE Verhelst on a 29-yard rush which was followed by the first of those conversions by Vervaet. After an excellent kickoff return, Lions RB T’Jonck (who ended with 5 rushes for 44 yards) took the very next play 35 yards to the house over the right side. The extra point was no good and the Diamonds led 8-6 after the opening half (which all went very quickly due to the 20 minute running clock that was used).
The second half was opened by a nice Diamonds drive capped off by a 1-yard plunge by Vervaet, followed by his second two-point conversion on a pass from QB Keymolen. It was the quarterback himself who would rush for the final touchdown of the game from 5 yards away, finishing with stats of 6/7 for 61 yards, and 6 rushes for 53 yards and 1 touchdown, and once again the two-point try was successful which led us to a final score of 24-6.
Diamonds RB Smet did most of the good work on the ground, rushing 11 times for 84 yards, meanwhile TE Verhelst had 3 catches for 39 yards.
All in all, it was an all solid Antwerp performance, good defense held the Lions in check for the whole game apart from that one kickoff return and follow-up run. But questions will remain as to how the Diamonds will get it done without their playmaker on offense.
In any case, I think I speak for the whole FFL (I certainly speak for myself) when I wish Elliott all the best in his grand adventure. He’s a good kid so let’s hope he can show those Americans a thing or two!
For the first time in my life, I had to speak in front of a group of people on a microphone, to award the winners of the MVP awards at the Diamond Bowl. I hope you guys could hear me alright, I have a bad cold at the moment. Anyway, thanks to coach John Jolie and the Diamonds for their hospitality and a well run event. A possible switch to October next year will only make it easier as far as attracting teams to the Diamond Bowl goes, and help the future of the tournament. There was a pretty good crowd in attendance as well, as the weather held off just about long enough so we didn’t get too wet.
Also, it should be said that the Diamonds were looking good as they sported their new jerseys in competition for the first time.
Quote of the week
“This is a football game, not a debating match”, ref Ike Baggett to the Diamonds and Commanders after a bit too much talk after a play.
It’s hard to gauge a team by a little practice match so early in the season, so the most important conclusion of the day is that football is back! Until next time