Bialystok Lowlanders match-up with Warsaw Eagles a return to roots for Paszkiewicz brothers

When the Bialystok Lowlanders take the field against the Warsaw Eagles on Saturday, it will be as heavy favorites.

The Eagles may be Poland’s oldest American football team but they remain winless in the inaugural PFL season. The Lowlanders, on the other hand, have been to three straight Polish Bowls, winning the national title in 2018 before falling short against the Wroclaw Panthers in both 2019 and 2020.

Bialystok has carved themselves into a Polish powerhouse, but for some of their players Saturday will be a bit of a homecoming.

Despite being two hours away down “The Route of Heroes”, several prominent Lowlanders players got their start in American football with the Warsaw Eagles program before departing for greener pastures. Chief among them is stand-out defensive lineman Konrad Paszkiewicz, who gives full credit to the Eagles for setting him on the path to success.

“They meant a lot to me. I started my career there! I’m a player like this thanks to the Warsaw Eagles. I still remember how excited I was when I came for try outs in 2010,” Paszkiewicz recalled ahead of the matchup.”

Lowlanders DL Eryk Paszkiewicz #52 tracking down a ball against Warsaw Mets Photo: Bialystok Lowlanders

Like many players, Paszkiewicz jumped to the Lowlanders as they began to gain steam under the leadership of  Piotr Morko and Tomasz Zubrycki. The team has allowed him a chance to grow, but he will never forget the Eagles‘ early influence.

A champion strongman, Paszkiewicz won’t be on the field for Saturday’s matchup, choosing instead to rest his body to better sustain his high level of competition. His younger brother Eryk will be however, another player developed by the Eagles who made the transition to Bialystok earlier this year.

“The Eagles have always been close to me, since I was a kid watching their games to when I started my football journey with them,” Eryk said. “I appreciate them helping me learn the game but I decided to transfer to the Lowlanders to take it a step further and try to win a championship.”

Despite the close connection, this will be just another game for the younger Paszkiewicz.

“For me, this game won’t feel any different. The goal is the same, even if it’s against my former team and colleagues,” he explained. “I think we still haven’t seen 100 percent out of the Eagles and them improving every week can pose a challenge for every team in the league.”

Lowlanders DL Konrad Paszkiewicz #51 tracking down Gdynia Seahawks QB in 2019 game Photo: Bialystok Lowlanders

On that point, his older brother agrees. The Eagles may not have a win to show for it, but there are talented players on their roster who will challenge the Lowlanders regardless.

“They brought in an experienced coach in Talib Wise and two dominant players in quarterback Shazzon Mumphrey and defensive back Darrian Winston,” Konrad noted. “I believe these guys will challenge us but the Warsaw Eagles struggle with the Polish core of the team. The key to win this game is taking those two guys out of the play.”

Watching from the sideline, he won’t have a role to play in making that happen, but Konrad has complete confidence in his brother and the rest of the team’s young players as they gain experience.

Former junior team quarterback Marcin Wojtulewicz will be taking the reins as starter and is expected to give a good show, but nothing can be taken for granted. Those who have left know all too well the type of talent that the Warsaw Eagles have discovered before and could well have again.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.