American Football League of China heading to midpoint

It has now been over a month since the American Football League of China’s 2017 regular season has kicked off, and with every team in the league having played at least one game, let’s take a look back and recap some of the action so far.

AFLC North

The three teams in the AFLC North are now all halfway through their four-game regular season schedules, with the Beijing Iron Brothers sitting atop the division at 2-0. The Iron Brothers kicked off the 2017 AFLC season on August 12th on the road in Taiyuan against the Taiyuan Troops on a rainy night, in front of a raucous home crowd of a few hundred that witnessed Shanxi province’s first ever American football game. Beijing raced out to an early 16-0 lead at halftime, and held on for a 18-14 victory after a furious second half rally by the Troops came up just short. Standout performances on the night came from Iron Brothers running back Chen Chao (#27) and Troops running back/linebacker Yang Hao (#52).

Many fans came out to see the Taiyuan Troops play in Shanxi’s first ever American football game

Two weeks later, it was Taiyuan’s turn to hit the road, as they brought twenty players to Tianjin to take on the Pirates. The first half was back-and-forth, with Taiyuan entering the break up 22-16 behind Yang Hao’s three rushing touchdowns. The Troops then once again turned it on in the second half, as quarterback Yang Hongliang (#9) took control of the game with a deep touchdown pass to Chen Bingxuan (#13) and a long touchdown run himself, as the Troops evened their record at 1-1 with a 36-24 triumph.

Taiyuan (white) facing off against the Tianjin Pirates (black)

On September 9th, it was Beijing’s turn to play host, as the Iron Brothers welcomed the Pirates to the nation’s capital with a dominating performance on both sides of the ball. Two first-half touchdown passes by Hasiter (#13), as well as two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Hai Yunfei (#39) and Fu Weiqi (#77) were the highlights of the game, as the Iron Brothers moved to 2-0.

The Beijing Iron Brothers (orange) and Tianjin Pirates (black) after their game on September 9th

The Iron Brothers now have the inside track on the North’s sole playoff spot. But it won’t be a walk in the park for Beijing, as outside of traveling to Tianjin, they still have one more game to play at home against the Troops before the end of the regular season. That second matchup, set for October 6th, could determine the fate of the North division.


The Chengdu Pandamen (black) facing the Mountain City Fury of Chongqing (white)

The AFLC West has so far gone down just as predicted, with the Chengdu Pandamen cruising to a 2-0 record by scoring a combined 102 points to 0 against their two opponents so far. All four teams were in action on August 26th, as the Pandamen kicked off the season with a 56-0 drubbing of the Mountain City Fury. Quarterback Ivan Yuan (#7) completed 6 of 8 passes for 152 yards and 2 TDs, and also ran for another touchdown while Zhang Zhengzhi (#14) and Duke Huang (#71) each caught touchdowns.

Running back Florian Wanesse (#37) added 4 carries for 93 yards and 3 TDs. The Chongqing Centaurs escaped Xi’an with a close 2-0 win against the Dark Tide on the same day. The only score of this defensive battle came on a snap that sailed over the Dark Tide punter’s head and out of the end zone, giving the Centaurs a safety, and a lead that they would protect for the rest of the game. Offensive lineman Zhao Yutian (#59), running back Qian Yi (#71), and defensive back Gu Jiayang (#99) were some of Chongqing’s outstanding performers in the game.

The Chongqing Centaurs (white) and Xi’an Dark Tide (black) in action

Chengdu then traveled to face the Centaurs on September 9th, and this one was all Pandamen, as Yuan passed for 3 TDs, Huang ran, caught, and passed for a touchdown apiece, and wide receiver Zheng Yujiang 郑宇江 (#11) also caught 2 TDs to give the visitors a 46-0 win. The Pandamen are the clear favorites in the West, and look poised to make another deep playoff run. With a second playoff spot up for grabs however, the Centaurs, Dark Tide, and McFury all have a shot at second place in the division, and a historic first playoff appearance.

Pandamen (white) taking on the Centaurs (black) on September 9th

Current AFLC standings

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for the second part of Life in the Huddle’s American Football League of China Early Season Recap, featuring the AFLC’s East and South divisions!


Danny Zhang is a Chinese-American college student who grew up playing American football in the Boston area. He has a keen interest in the development of the sport in China, where he has recently studied, worked, and experienced football’s rapid