Botafago, Timbo, and Flamego lead the way in lopsided week in Brazil

Dominating performances are the story of the week in the top American football league in Brazil, the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol Americano (CBFA) Superliga.

As Brazil’s Superliga races toward the end of the regular season, playoff spots are begining to be snatched up. With their win this weekend, the João Pessoa Espectros were the first team from Conferencia Nordeste to clinch a post-season birth, leaving 4 teams (Recife Mariners, Recife Pirates, Ceara Caçadores and América Bulls) fighting for the final three spots. In Conferencia Leste, where only Flamengo has clinched, wins for both Vasco da Gama and the Botafogo Reptiles have those teams a step closer to the post-season as well.

Joaõ Pessoa Espectros – 30
America Bulls Potiguares – 9

Vila Olimpica Parahyba – João Pessoa, Paraiba

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above: Safety Carlos Cox and the João Pessoa defense were key in bowling over the América Bulls chances of victory this weekend. Photo Credit: Anderson Silva Fotografia

Half time adjustments and a smothering defense spelled the difference for the Espectros, in a win that saw them fall behind 9-0, and score 30 unanswered to rout the Bulls in a playoff clinching victory.

‘’We started way too slow on offense and couldn’t run the ball well,’’ said Espectros Head Coach, Kevin Veloso. ‘’I have to take the blame for the first half fiasco,’’ added Veloso. I called the wrong plays at the wrong times, and every time we had a big play, we would mess up the next play.’’ he said.

Whatever blame Veloso might accept for a lackluster first half, his in-game adjustments should be credited as well.

‘’When we came back (after half time), we had a different approach on offense and started hitting our bubbles and lateral passes, and the Bulls had to decide whether they would load the box or not,’’ said Veloso.

That offensive game plan led to quarterback, Vitor Ramalho, scoring with a run, and then hitting the speedy Heron Azevedo on a bubble screen that he turned into a touchdown. Bruiser, Everton Pingo, continued his dominance with two touchdown runs.

“The comeback would not have been possible without our defense and without the special teams winning the field position battle,’’ added Veloso, of a defense that harassed and hit Bulls quarterback, Brian Gessel, all day.

“Shercules” the celebrity-couple nickname for Espectro defensive tackles Bruno Sherman and Marcos Hercules, were nearly unblockable, and penetrated the Bulls offensive line throughout the game, which led to good things for the rest of the João Pessoa defense. Standout safety, Edvaldo ‘’Pezao’’ Rosas came up with a key red zone interception, and Jesus ‘’The Lion of Judah’’ Emanuel, put the fear of God in the Bulls passing game with four sacks.

AFI’s take: Huge win for the Espectros leading up to a ‘’circle on the calendar’’ game for the against their rival, the Recife Mariners.

Botafogo Reptiles – 38
Rio Branco Cabritos – 0

Vila Olimpica – Duque do Caixas, Rio de Janeiro

The Reptiles utilized two talented quarterbacks with equal effectiveness to secure victory against the winless Cabritos. Quarterback Ramon Matire ran for a score and threw touchdown strikes to Marcelo Bruno and Marcus Paulo, while quarterback Raphael Harrison ran for two more scores.

AFI’s take: The Reptiles have a lot of talent and are still finding ways to win games in the absence of their tough-running ball carrier, Aluan Souza.

Timbo T-Rex – 76
Curitiba Brown Spiders – 0

Complexo Esportivo Brown Spiders – Curitiba, Parana

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above: The Timbo T-Rex swarmed its way to a blowout win over the Curitiba Brown Spiders. Photo Credit: Overtime do F.A

The Timbo offense exploded again, hanging 76 on the Brown Spiders at home. Speedster running back, Well Garcia, ran for three scores and his backfield mate, Clair Jose Simao Junior, ran for another. Guilherme Meurer caught 3 touchdowns passes from Carlos Bassani, and Ivan Tonolli, Denis Fraga and import Drew Hill each caught one. Linebacker Luis Polastri continued his breakout season by adding a pick 6.

‘’We imposed our tempo from the beginning of the game,’’ said T-Rex Head Coach, Amadeo Salvador.

AFI’s take: The battle for third place in Conferencia Sul will take place in Timbo against the Parana HP. The match-up of the Rex’s high-octane offense against the smothering defense of the HP will be one of the best contests this year in Brazil.

Vasco da Gama Patriotas – 26
Minas Locomotiva – 15

SESC Venda Nova – Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais

Special teams and a big play by a veteran spelled the difference for the Patriotas this weekend. Safety Samuel Nascimento returned a blocked Locomotiva field goal attempt for a score, and Vasco kicker, Leduc Fauth, went 2/2 on field goals to help the short-handed Patriotas secure an important road victory.

‘’Minas came really well prepared,’’ said Vasco Head Coach, Gabriel Mendes.

Vasco da Gama made the trip to Belo Horizonte missing four defensive starters due to injury, and with only 16 defensive players dressed for the game, but for Mendes, that depleted defensive roster made the difference. Mendes cited OLB João Gabriel Hollyfield (#27), Nascimento, defensive lineman, Viktor Costa, and DB, Juan Senra, who nabbed his third pick of the season, as keying his squad to victory.

Vasco quarterback, Daniel Gazelle, overcame a rough start with a solid second half.

‘’(In the first half) the offense had a lot of trouble finding openings in their 4-4, single high look,’’ said Mendes. ‘’ In the second half, the offense played much better, and Daniel did what he is supposed to do when our receivers are covered. He ran a lot; both on scrambles and designed runs,’’ added Mendes, of Gazella, who finished the day on 15-31 passing for 156 yards and two touchdowns, and added 110 yards on the ground on 13 carries.

Patriota tight end, JP Fabres, had a scoring reception, while Marcelo Aragão had a touchdown catch for the third consecutive game.

AFI’s take: Vasco has faced a lot of adversity this year, and the road only gets tougher for this veteran squad, with rival Flamengo up next on the schedule.

Flamengo – 42
Santos Tsunami – 7

CT Meninos da Vila – Santos, São Paulo

Flamengo overcame a lackluster start offensively to beat a feisty Santos squad and remain undefeated.

‘’We had a bad start on offense, Santos played very aggressively, and we were struggling to set up our running game,’’ said Flamengo Head Coach, Otavio Roichman. ‘’(Our) defense started on fire,’’ said Roichman of a defense that opened the games scoring with a Yolandis Pratt fumble return for a touchdown.

Santos started the game with an 8-man box, in an attempt that initially worked to stymie the potent Flamengo running attack. After trading some possessions, and the score at 7 a piece, Flamengo started to stretch the field on the Tsunami, with KC Frost hitting Gabriel Curty with long touchdown pass. Later in the half, Flamengo linebacker, Herbert Ferreira, continued his breakout season by returning and interception to the Santos three yard line, after which, running back, Felipe Florencio, punched it in for the score and a half time lead of 20-7.

This was the first adversity that Flamengo has faced all season, and Roichman sees some positives in that.

“It was good to face problems and to have to change strategies during the game, the makes us stronger for the rest of the competition,” he said.

AFI’s take: Flamengo calls ‘’struggling’’ what most teams would call ‘’a blowout.’’ This squad has a ton of weapons and will face their first true test of the season in its next game against city-rival, Vasco da Gama.

Clayton Lovett
Clayton Lovett has served football in Brasil in a variety of roles, including as the member of the coaching staff of two CBFA national champions (Cuiaba Arsenal 2010, 2012). Football is his hobby. Professionally, he is the founder of CS Educacional, which provides educational and competitive opportunities abroad for student-athletes.
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