AFLC Quarterfinals Set to Kickoff This Weekend

The American Football League of China has reached the quarterfinal stage with all four matchups this weekend. The unbeaten Beijing Barbarians take on the Mountain City Fury while the 4-1 Shanghai Titans face the Foshan Tigers on one half of the bracket. On the other half, the Hong Kong Warhawks square off against the Shanghai Warriors while the Chengdu Pandaman play the Wuhan Berserkers.

Foshan Tigers (South #2, 4-1) at Shanghai Titans (East #1, 4-1), Zhangjiang Sports Center, Shanghai, Saturday, December 1st, 10:40am

Foshan is coming off a loss to the Hong Kong Warhawks in the regular season finale, which is why they are traveling this weekend, instead of playing at home. QB Hyman Chen (#19) will need to bounce back big-time for this game, after throwing multiple interceptions against the Warhawks, while LB Michael Xiao (#54) and the defense will have the unenviable task of having to stop the Titans high-powered offense.

For the Titans, home-field advantage will be key, as the Tigers are not used to playing in colder weather. Star WR Eason Chen (#47), a former member of the Tigers, will look to get back on track, after being limited for most of the regular season by various nagging injuries. If the Titans take an early lead, expect CB Diao Xiaoming (#21) and the rest of the Titans secondary to be ready to take advantage of the Tigers’ recent struggles in the passing game.

Mountain City Fury (West #2, 4-2) at Beijing Barbarians (North #1, 4-0), Dulwich College Beijing, Saturday, December 1st, 1:00pm

The McFury have a history of struggling in road games, and this one will not be any easier for them than before. Beijing has been waiting for months after an early conclusion to their regular season schedule, and they will have the advantage of being used to the cold temperatures forecasted for Saturday (high of 7 degrees Celsius).

WR Du Ranjun (#20) will have to step up and make key plays for the McFury offense against an aggressive Beijing defense led by LB Stan Tytarenko (#80). CB Wang Yuhang (#34) and the rest of the McFury defense will have their hands full trying to contain the Barbarians’ offense, led by QB Hester (#13).

 

Shanghai Warriors (East #2, 5-1) at Hong Kong Warhawks (South #1, 4-0), Happy Valley Racecourse Pitch #6, Hong Kong, Saturday, December 1st, 8:00pm

Another year, another Warriors-Warhawks quarterfinal matchup in Hong Kong. This year’s game may favor the visitors from Shanghai even more than last year, when the Warriors won 42-3, as the game’s 8pm kickoff will mean cooler temperatures than last year’s game.

The Warriors offensive and defensive lines, led by Allen Zhang (#78), while not strong in numbers, will still have a noticeable size advantage. Safety Hou Xiaoqing (#13) will be counted on to contain Hong Kong’s effective short to medium-range passing game. QB Jonathan Wong (#14) has been effective in leading the Warhawks offense in his first year with the team, and the Warriors have struggled against dual-threat quarterbacks such as Wong in the past. Safety Lui Sze Ting (#10) and the rest of the Warhawks defensive backs will have a tough task trying to stop the Warriors’ stellar passing game.

Wuhan Berserkers (East #3, 5-1) at Chengdu Pandaman (West #1, 5-0), Sichuan University Wangjiang Campus, Chengdu, Sunday, December 2nd, 2:00pm

The Berserkers will have to be road warriors if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs, and Chengdu is their second stop so far. RB Mark Lememea (#88) has terrorized opposing defenses this year with his combination of speed and ability to break tackles, and will look to keep that momentum going against a Pandaman defense that has not faced a rushing attack like Wuhan’s in a long time. DB’s Wang Shida (#1) and Wang Lei (#32) will be key to stopping the Pandaman from passing the ball effectively like they are used to. Duke Huang (#71) has made a smooth transition from wide receiver to quarterback this year for Chengdu, but he has yet to face a defense like the Berserkers’ so far this season. Defensively, the Pandaman front seven will have their hands full. DE’s Pan Hongyu (#40) and Tan Yuqi (#42), as well as LB Yang Kailin (#13) will be key in trying to stop Wuhan’s dangerous outside runs.

Danny Zhang
Danny Zhang is a Chinese-American college student who grew up playing American football in the Boston area. He has a keen interest in the development of the sport in China, where he has recently studied, worked, and experienced football’s rapid growth firsthand.
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