This Sunday, November 6th in Shanghai, the China Arena Football League (CAFL) will play it’s final Super Series VI of it’s inaugural season. History will be made and an arena football champion will be crowned in China.
SHANGHAI, CHINA – Played at Shanghai’s Oriental Stadium, the match-up between the Beijing Lions (5-0) and the Qingdao Clippers (3-2) will end with the handing out of the the China Bowl trophy and the first ever CAFL Championship.
The Beijing Lions will likely be favored to win the the title this weekend. The Lions are undefeated at 5-0.
Even more impressive, while some teams seem to be feeling the effects of 10 weeks on the road, in the form of injuries and fatigue, Clint Dolezel’s team is undoubtedly peaking. The head coach is coming off an American championship just nine weeks ago and will go for an international double on Sunday.
Dolezel took a different tact from the very start, when he used the CAFL draft to pick experienced American lineman around which to build his patented short, crisp, quick passing game. Blockers Neal Tivis and Wayne Tribue are among many familiar faces from the coach’s Philadelphia Soul teams. Defensive end/linebacker Calvin Fance is quick enough that he actually returned a kick in the current season – for a touchdown. It was called back, but Fance is almost unstoppable as a pass rusher.
Part of Beijing’s Chinese defensive roster is 38-year old Paul Cheng, fighting on the defensive line. An MMA champion, the Taiwanese Chang is a part-time Hollywood actor as well. A surprise headliner on Beijing’s defense has been young defensive back Torez Jones. A part-time player in the U.S., Jones has exploded with big plays in the CAFL. A leading contender for Defender Of The Year, Jones leads the league with six interceptions and six caused fumbles.
Still, no-one has more marquee power than James Romain. The defensive back has scored on interceptions and kickoffs, and 5 times as a pass receiver. And that brings us to the Beijing quarterback.
Luke Collis (6-3, 225) stands tall in the pocket in more way than one. With a stat line of 110 completions in 154 attempts, for 1,178 yards, and 24 touchdowns against just two interceptions, Collis easily leads in almost every quarterback category. While Beijing uses more Chinese natives in their pass attack than any CAFL team (in one game, Collis spread passes to an unheard of nine different recievers, – four of them were from China including Erwin Sennet Wu who ranks among league leaders,) his go-to target is a another proven U.S. star.
Collin Taylor has great size and strength, as well as speed and the knowledge to read defenses. Taylor has often been wide open to snare 38 passes for 509 yards. Add to that,the league’s most proficient kicker in Patrick Clark – Beijing has been, and will be tough to beat.
Veteran Clippers look to overcome underdog status
The Qingdao Clippers are happy to have the chance to spoil Beijing’s unbeaten streak.
They are lead by one of the CAFL’s oldest, but perhaps best, quarterback in veteran Bryan Randall. The 34-year old starred at Virginia Tech, and spent several seasons playing under Beijing coach Clint Dolezel, Randall has evolved into a great combination of accurate short passer, deadly long thrower, and nimble scrambler. His 13-yard tuck and run to the end zone in Super Series Week IV was one of the most exciting plays of the CAFL season. While Randall’s raw stats may not measure up to Collis or Austin, Randall’s leadership and clutch play delivery cannot be missed by the naked eye. He has a powerful 1-2 punch to work with on offense.
Head coach Rod Miller drafted small and tall at wide receiver with big results. Virgil Gray (25 catches for 597 yards and 11 TDs) might be the CAFL’s best pure deep threat, but it was the emergence of tall target Xavier Boyce (6-4, 235) in the red zone that keyed the upset of Shanghai and sent Qingdao to the title game. Boyce finished with 11 catches and 3 TDs in the thrilling last second win that was capped by China native Cha Ron Li’s field goal as the buzzer sounded to end the game.
Still, beating Beijing will boil down to stopping the Lion’s roar on offense. And on defense Qingdao has a proven pair who might be able to do just that.
Matt Moss, a former U.S. Defensive Player of the Year is at a defensive end, and current U.S. Defender Of The Year Jake Metz will line up, well, wherever he wants in Miller’s defense. Metz, at 6-6, is the J.J. Watt of the CAFL. He can take over a game by himself.
He will probably need to, in order to help defeat Beijing and take the China Bowl home for Qingdao.
CAFL Super Series VI – Game 3 – The China Bowl
Time: Saturday, November 6th, 3:00 pm (GMT+8). 3:00 am EST
Location: Shanghai, China – Shanghai Oriental Stadium, capacity: 18,450
Matchup: Beijing Lions (5-0) vs. Qingdao Clippers (3-2)
Head coaches: Clint Dolezel / Rod Miller
At Stake: The CAFL Championship – The China Bowl Trophy
TV: iQIYI, Announcers: Wuzhi Lu, Datong Wang and Sandra Park / ONE World Sports, Announcers: Mick Moninghoff and Lou Tilley