Cuiaba Arsenal (Cuiaba, Mato Grosso)
Tubaroes do Cerrado (TdC) (Brasilia, Distrito Federal)
Saturday, September 24th
Estádio Municipal Rogério Jesus de Almeida – Nossa Senhora de Livramento, Mato Grosso
Home field advantage in later playoff rounds and an undefeated record, for these two 4-0 sqauds tied atop Conferencia Oeste’s Grupo 1.
- Ken Joshen (Coastal Carolina) is not only his teams Head Coach, he is also one of its best players. Joshen’s speed is lethal on offense (he caught two touchdown passes from Brandon Watkins in the Arsenal’s previous game), and he is a ball hawk when roving around the Cuiaba secondary as a safety, or a shut-down option if he needs to line up at corner against a talented receiver.
- Brandon Watkins is a video game. Nicknamed ‘’The Rocket’’, the Detroit, Michigan native, who played collegiately at Notre Dame College, has dusted defenders from the Pantanal to São Paulo, and done it in just about every way imaginable. Watkins as thrown for touchdowns, caught them, ran them, and as well as returned for them in the form of kicks, punts and interceptions. He might be the single toughest match-up in the country.‘’The key to stopping the Arsenal is containing him (Watkins),’’ said TdC defensive tackle, Augusto Oliveira.
- Arsenal offensive line, led by one of the best linemen in the country, Hatila Fogo, has been plowing through opposing defenses all season. Otavio Alves and veteran, Vitor Venega join Fogo on the Arsenal offensive line, along with João Kleber Carvalho and Michael Arona, two of the more athletic linemen in the country.
- Lanky receiver, Michael Douglas “Alemao” Klitzchke is extremely physical in his run blocking, can go up and get balls, and when his long strides get moving, is very tough to catch from behind. ‘’He is turning into a big time player,’’ noted Joshen. Klitzchke had 3 catches for 70 yards and a score in his previous game against the Saõ Paulo Storm.
- The Arsenal D-line is anchored by Marcos Alves, Gabriel Montagner and the speedy Jadson Santana.
- Igor Mota, one of the most decorated players in the history of Brazil (and a First Team All-World selection at the 2015 IFAF World Championships) is the intellectual and emotional leader of a veteran Arsenal linebacker and secondary group. Linebacker Higino Gomes (who is also the teams punter) and speed to the linebacker unit and can be counted on for big plays.
- Hanay Goncalo leads an opportunistic and aggressive Arsenal secondary in pass break ups. Goncaly has 3 of the mind boggling 18 interceptions that the Arsenal have bogarted this season.
- James Springfield (Tennessee State) is a big, strong athlete who opens holes for the TdC offensive line and plugs them for their defensive line.
- The TdC running back tandem of Bruno Oliveira and Bruno Cavalcante has run all over opponents this season. The TdC’s wing-T attack, one of the only of its kind in Brazil, has proved difficult for some defenses to prepare for, and these two hard-running backs have taken advantage all year long.‘’Offensively, they like to control the game with their old school smash mouth, physical play. Their base Wing-T formation has been tough for a lot of teams this season,’’ said Joshen.
- The Tubaroes have one of the best defensive lines in the country. The 6’3, 305 pound Augusto ‘’The Bus’’ Oliveira has feet like a running back and uses his amazing combination of size, strength and athleticism to regularly penetrate opposing offensive lines with devastating effect. His fellow defensive lineman, the 6’4, 240 pound, Felipe Marques, has the athleticism to line up anywhere on the D-line, and can create havoc off the edge for a passer.
- In the secondary, team captain, Pedro Yoshida, has an interception in every game this season. Lucca Michels is all over the field for the TdC, and always seems to find himself near the football.
The Game & Storylines
- Watkins and Joshen have accounted for a considerable amount of the Arsenal’s scoring this season. Will that trend continue or will some of Cuiaba’s other offensive firepower be showcased? Where will Watkins line up? Cuiabá has used Watkins frequently at quarterback this year. Will he take the snaps this weekend, or will Marcelo Roversi?
- TdC DL vs Arsenal DL: These two groups are filled with big, strong, athletic football players. Oliveira, who will likely receive double teams all night, might not need to make any tackles to have a huge impact on the game – if he can get quick and effective penetration on the Arsenal OL, he can make Cuiaba’s running game go laterally (as opposed to North and South and at the speed of light when Watkins has the ball) and force Roversi or Watkins into throws outside of the pocket.
- ‘’We are practicing hard to stop Arsenal run game, and defeat the blocking scheme of their very good OL,’’ said Marques
- If that penetration doesn’t happen, it could be a long, long night for the TdC defense. If it does, the TdC linebackers and secondary must make solid gang tackles to secure the talented Arsenal ball carriers, and then be on the look out for Cuiaba’s very effective screen, trap and counter game.
- ‘’Their DL is arguably one of the best in the country, led by James Springfiled and “The Bus”. These guys have caused havoc for every team they have played against,’’ said Joshen.
Tackling the Wing-T: The Arsenal defense is fast, disciplined and experienced at most positions, but they have some relatively inexperienced athletes on their defensive line. Will the TdC wing-T attack create confusion in the Arsenal’s one-gap defense?”Our focus for the past two weeks has been making sure everyone knows their gap responsibility and gang tackling. Our goal is to make them have to pass the ball to be successful,’’ said Joshen.
- Where’s the crowd?: In Cuiaba, the Arsenal have as many as 15,000 for their home games at Arena Pantanal, but that stadium is not available to the two-time national champion Arsenal for this game, so the game will be played in the city of Nossa Senhora de Livramento, about an hour outside of Cuiaba. According to a 2010 census, the population of the entire city of Nossa Senhora do Livramento was 11,609 – or, about the average crowd size of an Arsenal game at Arena Pantanal. Will the Arsenal fans travel? Will the lack of the electric atmosphere that Cuiaba has come to be known for create a letdown for the Arsenal players?
- ‘’The Tubaroes are a very good football team. They have talent at every position. For us to be successful, we have to take advantage of mismatches, and not turn the ball over as we did in our previous games. I expect this game to be a hard fought, physical contest.’’ – Cuiaba Arsenal Head Coach, Ken Joshen
- ‘’This will be a great challenge for our defense.’’ – TdC defensive lineman, Felipe Marques
- ‘’This is our most anticipated game of the year.’’ – TdC defensive tackle, Augusto Oliveira