Bydgoszcz Archers QB Jake Schimenz finding Polish Bowl motivation in teammates’ tears of joy

The Bydgoszcz Archers have put together an undefeated season for the ages, rolling through Poland with a purpose. Along the way, there have been victories large and small, but for quarterback Jake Schimenz, it’s what happened after their 50-8 drubbing of the Silesia Rebels in the Polish Football League semifinal that will stick with him.

“The thing that brought me the most joy is seeing the faces of my teammates and how happy and elated they were to get to the championship game,” he says with a smile.

“I know how hard all of these guys have worked not only this year, but in previous years as well. Seeing the faces of those guys, the tears running down, getting to play for their first championship game, it means more to me than anything.”

The Archers have a right to be crying tears of joy. The semifinal blowout booked them tickets to the Polish Bowl for the first time in club history, a monumental achievement. On Saturday, they will get a chance to one up themselves and take home their first title against the Tychy Falcons.

It’s a game in which Bydgoszcz will be heavily favored and Schimenz is a big reason why. A former college baseball player, he rediscovered the game of football playing intramurals and took the advice of friends to explore his options overseas. He first returned to the gridiron in Brazil, where he starred for four seasons, before earning his first opportunity in Europe. His production has not dipped in Poland, even if both the weather and style of play differs from South America.

“I do think that overall, the Polish league is deeper. They are pretty equivalent as far as the top level talent in both leagues, but from a depth perspective, I feel like Poland is a little bit of a step up,” Schimenz explains. “The organizations are just a little bit more solidified here as well and the football IQ is a little bit higher.”

What hasn’t changed is Schimenz’s unique playing style. Listed at just 5’10, he remains capable of making some ‘wow’ throws, something he credits to his days on the diamond.

“As a shorter quarterback, it takes a lot of throwing from different arm slots. You’ve got to be able to throw on the move. I played a lot of short stop and second base in college, so playing middle infield you have to constantly be throwing off balance,” Schimenz says.

That means when the chips are down, no matter the situation, he’s able to make the big plays necessary to win. Seizing those opportunities is always important, but never more so than a title game.

“I always tell my guys it’s about making plays in the moments. When you get your chance to make a play, you have to make a play at that time. Especially in a game like the championship where it could be a play here or a play there maybe even in the second quarter that could change the entire momentum of the game,” he stresses.

“The teams that are able to execute in those moments are usually the teams that come out victorious. That’s obviously the goal and the mindset going into this one.”

Standing in the way of that goal and the Falcons, a fellow first-time Polish Bowl contender and a scrappy underdog as evidenced by their upset of the Bialystok Lowlanders in the semis. The Archers topped Tychy 28-14 in their lone matchup this season, but Schimenz will not take his opponent lightly.

He has tremendous respect for the Falcons coaches and a defense full of weapons that he calls “solid” across the board. He also knows that rival quarterback Gabriel Losada has returned from injury and that dangerous import defensive back Laparish Lewis, who was absent in the first matchup, will give him another element to worry about.

While some might bemoan the added challenge in such an important game, Schimenz welcomes it.

“I never wish an injury on anyone and I just think you always want both teams fully healthy when you’re playing in the championship game,” he insists. “You want both teams at full strength and may the best man win that match up.”

Schimenz fully expects the Falcons to throw him early wrinkles and he’ll be ready to counter. The Archers have been emphasizing execution on the things they do best in practice, the rest will be finding the right matchups to exploit in game.

“It’s going to be a lot of noticing what they do early and trying to create the match-ups that I’m looking for while also making sure to execute the best way possible,” he states matter-of-factly.

No amount of simplification will change how big this game is for the Archers organization however and it has an added personal element for the quarterback as well. Schimenz’s parents, now retired, have arrived in Poland to watch their son play, the first time they’ve taken in one of his games in person since he began playing internationally five years ago. In fact, because he chose baseball in college, they’ll be watching him sling the rock for the first time since 2013.

Schimenz fully intends to savor that memorable moment no matter the result, and he’s encouraging his teammates to do the same. They are focused on victory, but it’s ok to soak it all in on your way to making history.

“I told the guys, enjoy every moment of this. This is obviously a huge game, but it’s a time to enjoy it and really play loose, play fun, play fast and believe in the preparation that we’ve put in. Whatever outcome happens after that, you can be happy with,” Schimenz emphasizes.

“The guys are excited. I think they’re super pumped. These last two weeks they couldn’t wait for this matchup, so it’s going to be a fun, hard fought game.”

Watch the Polish Bowl live here on Bydgoszcz Archers vs Tychy Falcons, Saturday, July 17 at 14:00 CET (2 pm, 08:00 am ET).

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.