France: Passing, rushing leaders look familiar as Elite season heads into home stretch

With the season in France heading into the final three games three things are apparent.

One is that quarterback De’Auntre Smiley is a major reason for the improving record of the St. Ouen  l’Aumône Cougars.

The second is that the running game is key to the Thonon Black Panthers climb up into first spot. And the third is that the La Courneuve Flash from Paris who suffered their first loss of the season, do have explosive offensive power. The Flash now have three players in the top five in two categories.

The Thonon Black Panthers, have surged into first after amassing an impressive 314 points in six games behind a powerful ground game. They overwhelmed the Rouen Leopards 55-30 last week.

The Aix-en-Provence Argonautes made a statement in beating the previously undefeated Flash and are also the only team to have beaten the Black Panthers so far. Quarterback Jimmie Russell is among the league leaders in rushing along with teammate Cody Acker though which makes them always dangerous.

The defending champion St Ouen l’Aumône Cougars have clawed their way back into a playoff berth after suffering through a dismal stretch in March losing back to back games.

Passing

St. Ouen  l’Aumône Cougars quarterback De’Auntre Smiley continues to shine and helped engineer 36 points in the Cougars’ latest win over the Nice Dauphins, completing an astounding 19 of 23 passes for 374 yards and three TDs. This brings his total to 2,170 yards passing and 148.97 QB rating which is by far the best in France. Rouen Leopards QB Connor Reilly remains one of the reasons Rouen is challenging for a playoff berth in their first year in France’s top division. He has thrown for 1,999 yards and a league leading 21 touchdowns. Moses Skillon with his 1,141 yards for the is in third with his sixth place Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons and Jeremy Duponchelle of the last place La Queue-en-Brie Gladiateurs is in fourth. Meanwhile, La Courneuve Flash signal caller Paul Durand has edged up into fifth with 842 yards passing.

Receiving

Rouen Leopards wide receiver Nicolas Cremer has taken the lead in receiving yards with his 532 yards in seven games. Flash receiver Mickaël Doukoure has moved up into second catching five passes for 161 yards in the loss last weekend and how has 501 yards in receptions.  David Rosette dropped into third with 455 yards. Rosette did not play in the Cougars win over Nice. Leopards receiver Oktay Tulan with 448 holds onto fourth while Stéphane Fortes from the Flash has moved up into fifth with 433 yards.

Rushing

The Thonon Black Panthers remain the runaway offensive leaders in France and the offense, behind the running of the league’s top rusher Andreas Betza, has put up 314 points in seven games. Betza has been a beast in the backfield rushing for 1,101 yards and 18 touchdowns, or 157 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game. The 2016 rushing leader, Rondell White of the Nice Dauphins had a huge game in the loss to the Cougars rushing for 240 yards upping his total to 793 yards and an average of 132 yards per game. Argonautes quarterback Jimmie Russell ran for 142 yards against the Flash giving him 497 so far and third place. Teammate Cody Acker now sits third with 457 yards another Black Panther, Vincent Begou has now moved into fifth with 430 yards.

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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