CBFA Superliga Playoffs: Conferencia Sudeste – #2 Vila Velha Tritões v #3 Vasco da Gama Patriotas

#2 Vila Velha Tritoes

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#3 Vasco da Gama Patriotas

Campo do Tupy – Vila Velha, Espirito Santo
Sunday, October 23, 2 PM local time

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Coach Lener Fernandes doesn’t sound like the man heading up what might be the hottest team in the country.

“We didn’t have good numbers on third down; we had some penalties in particular situations,” he said after his Vila Velha Tritões wrapped up its regular season with a 40-0 win over the Minas Locomotiva.

“If we want to win in the playoffs, we have to play better. We have to play more physically up front. We have to be clean. We have to go faster. We have to be more disciplined. We have to block better and we have to catch the football,” the coach fumed of his laundry list of improvements for his 5-1 #2 seed.

Perhaps it’s the deja-vu like scenario that he has watched unfold throughout the season, that is making him hyper-vigilant. Once again, just as in 2015, the Tritões beat Vasco in the regular season to secure a home playoff game in which Vasco was the guest. 

“They (Vasco) came up here (in the 2015 TTD playoffs) and played their hearts out,” said Fernandes, of the heart breaking elimination game loss that Vasco inflicted on his squad in last year’s TTD playoffs.

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Above: Giorgio Bryant has added a bounce (and some speed) to an already speedy Tritões attack. Photo credit: www.facebook.com/silveira.leonardo

In a sport where speed is the most critical of factors, the Tritões are arguably the fastest team in the country. Led by quarterback, Giorgio Bryant, who is literally a track star, the Capixaba squad boasts athletes like receivers Stephan Cirilo (6 TDs on the season, and according to Tritõe statistics, is 100% on snagging ”catchable balls” this season) and Pedro Medici (2 punt returns for TDs on the year), linebacker Jefferson Martins (3 interceptions in 2016, two of which her returned for touchdowns), and corner, Junis Bozetti (zero TD passes allowed this season), who are all in the conversation for “fastest in the league” at their positions. Not to mention Alex “A-Train” Allen, who has been choo-chooing and chugga-chugging through opposing defenses all season with force equal to anything Burlington or Union Pacific could put on a train track. Laying the rail for the A-Train is an O-line led by a strong left side in LT Vinicius Braga and LG, Fagner Batista.

Lining up across from the Vila Velha squad will be a battle-tested group of veterans who have played in back-to-back TTD national title games. Young Vasco QB, Daniel Gazelle, will need to have a solid game to give his offense a chance. The key factor will be Gazelle knowing when to throw the ball to standout receivers like ‘Lipe Fernandes and Ruda Andrade, and when to pull it down and get some yards with his legs. In 2016, when Gazelle makes those choices wisely, Vasco has had success.

Defensively, the fans at Campo do Tupy can expect to see Steve Gifford’s defesne bring all kinds of pressure from all over their formations. Pressure from the down linemen will likely be led by Viktor Costa, while João Gabriel Hollyfield will need to continue his breakout season at the linebacker position. Veteran DBs Andre Mackaskill and Samuel Nascimento will be expected to contribute, and the Patriotas hope to see Juan Senra add to his 5 interceptions this season.

Vasco has been, without question, the team most consistently and widely decimated by injury this season, losing the likes of National Team players, RB Romulo Ramos and CB Bruno Rosa for the rest of the season, and playing some guys with as few as five regular starters on some sides of the ball.

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Above: Vasco Head Coach, Gabriel Mendes, will have his injury-ridden, but veteran squad ready to go against Vila Velha on Sunday. Photo retreived from Facebok page of Coach Mendes.

The fact that they are in the playoffs is amazing, but not surprising, as the man leading Vasco, Head Coach Gabriel Mendes, is one of the sharpest and detail oriented coaches in the game, and oozes intensity, personality and leadership. His Patriotas, although under-manned, will be ready to go. This is not lost at all on Fernandes, who said of the legend who will be on the sideline opposite his, ”Gabriel Mendes is a hell of a coach. He’s a great guy and I love him to death. He’s brilliant and we know he will adjust throughout the game.”

AFI asked some of Brazil’s top American football bloggers to pick the first round. See their thoughts on this game below:

ygormartinghcbrsilYgor Martins, Head Coach Brasil

Tritões – Tritões will win this game, but will be a tough one. Although having many injuries, Vasco will play a very hard football, like always.”

riffellogopicHenrique Riffel, Futebol Americano Brasil

”Tritões – The 2010 TTD champs want to shine again. Following the departure of quarterback, Alvaro Fadini, to the Belo Horizonte Eagles, coupled with a loss to Flamengo in their season opener, there were a lot of questions as to if Vila Velha could remain a strong team. However, in the remaining four games the defense carried the Tritões, allowing only 19 points – 12 against the Santos Tsunami and 7 more against the Vasco da Gama Patriotas.

haim-finalHaim Ferreira, Blog Touchdown

Tritões – This the most unpredictable game of the playoffs. Vila Velha raised its ceiling of potential after the arrival of Giorgio Bryant. In three games, he has accounted for more than 10 touchdowns. The Patriots, however, have the Head Coach of Brazilian National Team, Gabriel Mendes, and a very experienced roster.”

romuladofinalVictory Romulado Francisco, Salão Oval

Tritões – Things started bad for Vila Velha, losing its QB (Alvaro Siqueria Fadini) and FS (Fernando Giovannotti) to the BH Eagles and Flamengo, respectively. The arrival of the new QB (Bryant) was key to handing Vasco their worst defeat on record (34 x 7) during the regular season.”

bruno-gentil-salaBruno Gentil, Salão Oval

Tritões – I think the Tritões are one of the most under-valued teams in the playoffs. Many people do not believe in Capixaba’s, but the numbers show the strength of the team: 236 points scored and only 19 points conceded.”

overtimefalgoGeraldo Takanage, Overtime do F.A.

Tritões – The Tritões beat the Patriotas, based on their excelente regular season, finishing behind only Flamengo (in Conferencia Sudeste) and their regular season victory over Vasco. It’s a long trip for any visiting Vasco fans.”

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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