Austria: Chad Jeffries leads SsangYong Danube Dragons into playoff showdown with Swarco Raiders in Innsbruck

The SsangYong Danube Dragons sent shock waves through the Austrian Football League in their final regular season game of the season when they knocked off the defending Austrian Bowl champion Swarco Raiders 24-17.

The win was an emotional one for the Dragons as they’ve had epic battles against the Raiders through the years including, a 49-43 barn burner in their last playoff matchup. Despite many close games, the Dragons hadn’t beaten the powerhouse Raiders since 2018. Now they’ll meet again this Saturday in the AFL semifinals.

Dragons quarterback Chad Jeffries feels confident heading into Innsbruck:

“After this last win against the Raiders it kind of built that confidence up. Our defense has been playing really well towards the end of the season. Offensively, I think we have a great game plan going into this game. We’ve been practicing really well these past two weeks, while the Raiders haven’t really had the chance to focus on us.  They had a CEFL game and the Prague game. We’ve had all of our focus on the Raiders. So, I think going into this one we had the time, we had the preparation, and we’re gonna go in there confident as ever after the last win we had.”

Photo: Benny Radauer

Danube takes the field led by a familiar face. Now in his third consecutive season at the helm quarterback Chad Jeffries has led the Dragons back to the post season. Jeffries came to Vienna back in 2017 after a phenomenal season in Germany’s top league with the Marburg Mercenaries. Before hopping the pond, the Glendora California native played his college ball at both San Diego State and Azusa Pacific University. Since arriving in Austria, the dual threat passer has been one of the league’s best signal callers. This year, he’s led the Dragons to a 5-3 record and a third consecutive playoff appearance, in the process throwing for 1,612 yards and 18 touchdowns. Clearly, one of the highlights of the season was recently defeating the Swarco Raiders for the second time in his career, a feat only a handful quarterbacks have matched.  Jeffries on the keys to scoring against a physical and well coached Raiders defense.

“ I think it’s just being consistent in what we do, communicating upfront, and seeing what they give us. Then my job is to put the team in the best possible position to be successful. Coming into this game we have a solid game plan. I think we’re clicking on a high level right now, we’re gonna have some good plays for the Raiders”

One key to the Dragons’ success this season has been Jeffries’ ability to spread the ball around. Talents such as Felix Reisacher, Dominik Mattes, and 6’3″, 240 pound Byrone Rhone have been able to move the sticks for this Danube squad. Austrian receiver Phillip Haun however, has been the team’s clutch playmaker, putting up 799 yards and nine touchdowns, accounting for almost half of Jeffries passing stats.

The veteran quarterback commented on his go-to receiver.

“Since I got here in 2018 the connection was there. He’s a great player with an amazing work ethic. Having him on the field is almost like having another A (American). If you look at the stats, he’s always in the top the league.”

Now living in Vienna full time, Jeffries has been able to help the Dragons build their program since 2018, alongside head coach Stefan Pokorny. Being such a vital part of the Dragons has been a rewarding experience for the 28-year-old.

“It’s been good, the first year I was getting the feel for everything, learning people’s names, getting to know the coaches, and different guys. But now it’s like I know the team I know my players now it’s just kind of putting the guys in the right spots to be successful.”

This Saturday, Jeffries and his potent passing attack will enter hostile territory as they visit Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck determined to knock off the defending champs in this semifinal matchup.

Expect the Dragons and Raiders to play a highly competitive game as these two foes have had several hard-fought bouts that have yet to disappoint.

Make sure to watch the Ssangyong Danube Dragons visit the Swarco Raiders with a ticket to the Austrian Bowl on the line, live on AFI.tv, Saturday, July 17 @17:00 CET (5 pm, 11:00am ET).

Alex is a former professional American football player who is now studying in London. His goal writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and players and sharing different football