Badalona Dracs and Valencia Firebats Advance To Spanish Title Game

For the third year in a row the Badalona Dracs and Valencia Firebats will battle for the Spanish championship. The Dracs easily dispatched the Reus Imperials in one Spanish semifinal as expected while the Firebats had a tougher time but still prevailed over the Barbera Rookies.

Badalona has appeared in the final 14 times and won it six times while Valencia will be playing in its eighth championship final. They have won it four times.

Badalona Dracs 49 – Reus Imperials 3

Spain - Dracs-Imperials playoffs 2016

The Dracs, still smarting from their spanking at the hands of the Frankfurt Universe in the EFL toournament, made no mistake against the outmatched Reus Imperials. Quarterback Sergio Gonzalo threw five touchdown passes to Xavi Gonzalo (2), Drew Clausen, Eric Ros and Ferran Llinás. However it was Badalona’s defense that paved the way early on. Veteran Jordi Soler recovered a fumble early in the first quarter and returned it for a touchdown. Then defensive back Brugnani Caesar returned an interception for another touchdown giving the Dracs an 14-0 lead.

Xavi Gonzalo dealt the Imperials another blow hauling in a touchdown pass and the Dracs were up 21-0 still in the first quarter.

Reus finally got on the board with a field goal by Francisco Caballero to make it 21-3 but then Gonzalo kicked the offense into a higher gear scoring another touchdown before the break giving Badalona a 28-3 halftime lead.

The second half saw the Dracs continue the onslaught with three more majors. With the win, Badalona moves on to face the only team that gave them any opposition in Spain this season, the Valencia Firebats.

Valencia Firebats 17 – Barbera Rookies 6

Spain - Firebats-Rookies playoffs 2016

This semifinal was a far different contest as Valencia was facing a team coached by one of the successful head coaches in Spanish league history in Teo Polanco. Although the Firebats took an early 7-0 lead after quarterback Thomas Murphy moved his team easily down the field, relying on the short passing game with running back Hector Pertegaz scoring, the Rookies were still in the game.

Neither team could mount much offense after that until Firebats kicker Pedro Blasco hit a 40 yard field goal still in the first quarter. It looked like Valencia was gaining momentum and would take charge but Rookies quarterback Michael Van Deripe connected with receiver Pau Sanchez in the end zone and Barbera closed the gap to 10-6 just before halftime.

This see-saw battle continued in the second half as neither team could get their offenses untracked until Valencia gambled four times on fourth down late in the final period and capped the drive with another touchdown by Pertegaz to seal the victory and send the defending champions back to the final.

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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